|This was intended to show how many components go into a taco. |
I saw a fascinating movie today called Fill the Void
about love and arranged marriage in an ultra Orthodox community in Tel Aviv. I don't know if this is a spoiler, but it's definitely an alert: the ending is abrupt and devastatingly ambiguous. For the last 20 minutes of the film I thought, please, please, please not an abrupt, ambiguous ending and then the movie ended. Abrupt. Ambiguous. Ending aside, it's a wonderful movie and you should see it. If you do, I would like to discuss.
Back to cooking: Tacos are casual but they aren't easy and I need to remember that next time I decide to make a low-key dinner for a crowd. I saw a recipe
in the New York Times Magazine
last Sunday for fish tacos
and thought, perfect! That's what we'll have on Thursday night when Ben and Stella (nephew and niece) come to stay for the weekend. I'll just throw together some tacos.
It's easier to barbecue a brisket.
To make these particular tacos you season cod with various fiery spices, fry the fish, grate cheddar cheese, wash and slice radishes, trim and char scallions, mix chipotle peppers with sour cream, and then -- so weird! -- toast tortillas. I don't understand that step. When you toast tortillas they stiffen and break but what you want is for them to soften and fold. So instead of fish tacos we had fish tostadas. Fortunately, we like tostadas.
This was an elaborate taco recipe, but even with the simplest taco you need three or four components and each component needs its own plate that you subsequently have to wash and everyone reaches around to assemble their tacos and they drop shreds of cheese and fish on the table. When a 3-year-old eats a taco? Food all over the chair and floor. This is also the case when Owen eats a taco. Or, come to think of it, anything at all.
They were good tacos, but I won't rush to make them again.
|The thing on the plate is sachertorte.|
We've had a sachertorte
sitting on the counter for the last few days. Here's Rick Rodgers, author of Kaffeehaus
, on the genesis of the classic Viennese chocolate cake:
"The story begins in 1832 with Klemens, Prince von Metternich, one of the masterminds of the Congress of Vienna and no slouch in the party department. Here was a man who knew what he liked and got it. He had a big party coming up and he ordered his personal chef to create a new dessert. The prince wanted to make a splash, so he instructed the chef to come up with the opposite of the light, fluffy, creamy "feminine" Torten popular at the time, and to surprise his guests with a dryer, more compact "masculine" cake.
"The chef was never able to fulfill the princes's request because he fell ill. The kitchen's sixteen-year-old second apprentice, Franz Sacher, would have to take over in the master's absence. Chocolate, one of the most aggressive and "masculine" flavors in the kitchen would be his cake's motif, tempered by the tart tang of apricot preserves. . . ."
I used the sachertorte recipe
from The Cooking of Vienna's Empire
, but substituted a double recipe of the Indianerkrapfen
chocolate glaze from Kaffeehaus
. (Any simple chocolate glaze should work; the fussy recipe from Vienna's Empire
had already failed me once.) This cake has kept well and been popular with everyone who tasted it, including me. I especially love the "tart tang" of the apricot jam between the layers of chocolate sponge. That little vein of apricot is enough to change how I feel about chocolate cake, never my favorite.
I'm not having as much success with the entrees from Time-Life Foods of the World
. Last week, I made the recipe for paprika schnitzel
(veal scallops with paprika and sour cream) from Vienna's Empire
which resulted in skinny gray cutlets cloaked in coagulated bright orange sauce. Edible, but barely. Another night I made risi e bisi
(risotto with peas) from The Cooking of Italy
and it was tasty but you'd be better off with a Jamie Oliver risotto. More evolved, more exciting.
Even risotto is easier than tacos.