Thursday, April 10, 2014

The great and the really good


Owen and a famous person. But who? 
So many things I wanted to post about -- this charming story on the legacy of the food writer Laurie Colwin; whether it’s possible to eat 7 servings of vegetables per day without feeling like a lawn mower; the delectable, tooth-breaking caramel Rice Krispie treats from Sweet; the extended absence of the bobcat from our chicken yard and (related) return of the rats -- but somehow it hasn’t happened and now tackling it all feels overwhelming, like writing a term paper.

So I'm just going to shelve those topics for now. Two great things and one really good thing happened in the kitchen over the past week:

Great thing #1: parmesan-bacon gougeres from Donald Link’s new book, Down South. My sister likened them to carbonara in the form of crispy puffs. Absolutely fantastic. Adults, kids, everyone loved these cheesy little appetizers.
  
You can find the recipe here. They’re easy and I can't recommend them more enthusiastically. Some suggestions in case you try the recipe: I wouldn’t bother straining the bacon fat. I grated the Parmesan on the coarse blade of the box grater and ended up with gooey strings of cheese in the gougeres. Desirable -- to me. But if you want a more delicate, elegant gougere, grate the cheese finely. Finally, after putting the hot dough in the mixer, give it a minute to cool off before adding the eggs.

Great thing #2: Donald Link’s peas with feta and mint. Fresh, crisp, and bright, like a pea salad. Have you eaten cold, cooked peas before? I hadn't and it didn't sound appetizing, but since Whole Foods was promoting the hell out of English peas the other day, I decided to give it a shot. So glad I did. 

To make this dish, shell peas, cook them in boiling salted water until they start to float -- just a minute or two. Drain, plunge the peas into an ice water bath and let them cool completely. Drain again, pat dry, dress with olive oil and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, toss with some sliced fresh mint, and top with a crumbled, tangy cheese, like feta or goat. Everyone in my picky family enjoyed these peas and that's saying something.

Really good thing: Donald Link’s caramel-peanut butter ice cream with peanut brittle. Since the recipe made more than my ice cream machine can handle, I halved the recipe. I halved the eggs, cream, sugar -- and then forgot to halve the peanut butter. I almost cried when I realized what I’d done because this recipe was a big old headache and not something I was willing to do over. I froze the ice cream anyway and it was way too rich and moussey from all that peanut butter, but still very delicious. Made properly, it would have been spectacular.

I got a little bogged down with Momofuku and my goal is to make only five recipes from Down South, but if the next two recipes are as good as these three, I maybe unable to stop.


62 comments:

  1. Those are very plush cats.

    Now I have two open windows on my browser of recipes that need to be made as soon as I get time (Bo Ssam, caramel rice crispies). They make me feel guilty, but in a good way.

    Who is the famous person?

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    1. Very plush cats indeed. The answer to your question is below. . .

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  2. I know! I know! That's the hero of Arrow. Only know the character's name: Oliver McQueen. The show is surprisingly entertaining and funny for a superhero show. And it doesn't hurt that our hero there has insane abs and performs feats of unbelievable athleticism shirtless.

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    1. Yes, but it's the character Oliver Queen, not McQueen. Owen is so lucky!

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    2. Oops! Didn't see your post before I posted. I recognized him instantly -- even with his shirt on. He's one handsome guy.

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    3. You got me. It is Queen.

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    4. I am very impressed. I was wondering if there was any overlap at all between food blog readers and Arrow watchers and there IS. Good job, people!

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  3. I remember from a previous post that Owen is a big Arrow fan, so he must have been over the moon! He is getting that shifting bone structure, "adult look" in his face these days, if you know what I mean. He's going to be a good-looking man. I enjoyed the article about Laurie Colwin. What Ruth Riehl said about Colwin, I feel about you. You make me really want to be in the kitchen with you, making a mess, having an adventure, and maybe, just maybe having a great/good result. I think most of your fans feel this way. So, thanks, Jennifer. So you recommend the caramel Krispie treats? I don't want to break my teeth! I have been trying to figure out how to eat 5 servings of vegetables every day for a while, and now they say I should aim for 7. Since I read that a couple of weeks ago, I have been mystified as to how I would do that and not go vegan. Have you figured it out yet? I don't think it can possibly include cookies and meat.

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    1. Beckster, I have been TRYING to eat 7 vegetables/fruits a day since I read that story, partly just as an experiment to see if it's even possible. It is possible most days, but not all. Yesterday I couldn't get past 6. I should write about it. I don't know how long I can keep it up. (Thank you as always for your kind, encouraging words.)

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    2. Yes, you should write about your efforts to eat the recommended vegetable intake! It's very pertinent to a food blog. I just haven't been able to figure it out and have any variety. The only way I think I could pull it off is to eat a huge salad every day, and I fear I would tire of that eventually. Please share how you have done it. Maybe some of your readers will pipe up and share their approaches. You deserve a lot of kind, encouraging words. I know writing this blog and all it entails requires a lot of effort and commitment, and I really enjoy it.

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  4. I just lost my kitty last Friday morning to kidney failure and am enjoying looking at your plump healthy beauties.

    I feel infinitely better when I eat a plant based diet and have tons more energy, but would certainly live on spaghetti and ice cream if I had my druthers.

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    1. Oh, I'm sorry about your cat. Was he/she old?

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    2. Thanks, Jennifer. Your cats are so beautiful!

      My boy was only about 12, I think, although I adopted him as a full grown cat from a shelter so no one knew for sure how old he was. He might have lived longer but he refused to eat the kidney diet the vet prescribed.

      The Laurie Colwin article was lovely, wasn't it? I've been reading the comments and am just thrilled at, but not surprised by, all of the visceral responses from her readers. I have often wondered about Rosa, and I see I am not the only one.

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    3. Twelve isn't very old for a well cared for cat. I think my mother's cat lived to 18 or 19, though not with a lot of dignity towards the end. I haven't read the comments on the Laurie Colwin story, but I will. I'd never read much about Colwin and the story gave me a better idea of what she was actually like -- much quirkier than in her essays. The colander collection?

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    4. Was very tickled to see her kitchen full of ancient British tea paraphernalia, because it looks so much like mine. I have a passion for antique British sugar bowls, cream pitchers, serving platters, and bouillon cups.

      Yes, I was hoping to get a few more years of companionship from my boy. He was a very loving kitty. The shelter consisted of a large apartment with adoptable cats roaming about the premises. He was on my lap before I finished sitting down and we were inseparable from that moment on.

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  5. That's the actor that plays the lead in Arrow. My daughters would be so jealous. They love that show!

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    1. If they'd turned up at the Emerald City Comic convention, they too could have met him. Handsome.

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    3. Yeah. Super handsome. I have to admit, I'm a fan of the show as well. I think it's well written and acted but really what sold me was the shirtless beef-cake. ;-) (I'm also quite taken with the actor who plays John Diggle.) We watch all our shows via Netflix and we can't wait for the new season of Arrow (and Warehouse 13).

      My kid's and husband's dream vacation would be to visit one of the California-based ComicCons -- specifically San Diego. If we could afford the airfare, I'd spring for that vacation in a heartbeat! They would be over the moon.

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    4. San Diego. Probably Owen's dream vacation too. I need to watch Arrow. You've made it sound much more appealing than Owen does.

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    5. We've been watching Arrow as well. It's 'comic'y (as in the paper kind) enough for my husband and the beefcake is for me. I thought the acting was rather stilted to start, but when it's based on a comic you kind of expect 2-dimensional characters. This year everyone has come into their own and I've enjoyed the storyline as well.

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  6. I've never seen or heard of Arrow (and I have 3 boys). Wanted to share this post with you as I think you might find it interesting: http://yummy-books.com/2014/04/10/cooking-the-goldfinch-part-8-jasmine-caramels/#more-3275

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    1. Thank you for sending me to that fascinating blog. It's not only a great concept, but it's so well executed. I bet her book will be terrific.

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    2. You are so very welcome! I was hoping you'd like it. She recently culled her blog and now a lot of my favorite posts are gone. Perhaps she will be putting them in her book? Often, her reviews (like yours) give me that extra kick to search out a book that I wouldn't normally pick up. Have you ever made Laurie Colwin's Nantucket Cranberry Pie? It has become our Thanksgiving tradition.

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    3. Oh! That's frustrating. She should leave those posts of up there. Yes on the pie. Many times, though not for years and years. Such a good "pie." Have you made her chocolate pear cake? That was strange, but really delicious.

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    4. Off to track down some golden syrup...

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    5. About that Nantucket pie. I made it once and disliked it because of the lack of leavening in the cake part. Do you add any?

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    6. Hmm. I can't remember -- no leavening? I made it exactly as directed and always liked it. This was a dessert I made a lot 15 years ago, but not since.

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  7. Love Owen's Tacos shirt, love this post and the kitties are melting my heart. Is wine considered a serving of fruit? If so I am good to go one the fruit/vege intake.

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    1. Wine. . .hmm. Maybe you could count that as one serving?

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  8. Many thanks to Justme for sharing the yummy-books blog! WOW, she's really impressive. I read The Goldfinch in January somewhat fanatically so her posts about that book -- all 8!! of them -- will be a lot of fun. And her photos! Her writing! A very impressive woman. So glad you let us know about another great blog. So much good stuff out there, so many great ways to cook, to read, to connect. Glad to be a part of this little community.... thanks, Jennifer!

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    1. I have got to read The Goldfinch.

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  9. I've been meaning to say, ever since you recommended (and I read) True Confections, that I think you might like a book I read many years ago called The Debt to Pleasure. It, too, is about a main narrating character who, it slowly dawns on the reader, is "barking mad", as one reviewer put it. It's worth the read. There's an artistic, intellectual, bohemian family, and a wrongly accused governess, and a genuine artist in the family, and mayhem. And food. Very clever. Oh, and I love your cats. The orange one called Emily, right? I remember because a) orange cats are usually male, and b) my daughter is called Emily and my cat is called Isabel <3

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    1. I just started rereading Debt to Pleasure, Kristin, and there are whole passages that I want to copy. It is so clever. Yes, our cat is Emily. People have been surprised that Emily is a female before. Maybe she's not! I haven't actually checked in the 13 years we've had her.

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  10. Thanks for posting the story about Laurie Colwin. She is one of my "unmet friends" as Anna Quindlen says.

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    1. That's a sweet phrase. I've never heard it.

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    1. We just got back from a vacation in New Orleans where I had the BEST sandwich I've ever eaten in my life. No exaggeration. It was from Donald Link's restaurant, Cochon Butcher.

      It was so good, that we went back the next day so I could have it again!

      Based on the quality of the sandwich, I considered buying Donald Link's cookbook while we were at the restaurant. I passed, but after reading your review, I will definitely have to pick up a copy!

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    2. I've heard his restaurants are unbelievable. Someone else was just raving about something they ate there. What kind of sandwich?

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  12. Just want to second the recommendation for A Debt to Pleasure. Sort of wicked, very clever, really entertaining read. Lots of food. Also: The Epicure's Lament by Kate Christensen -- another debauched gourmand's view on the world, also a bit wicked and sly, with plenty of good cooking.

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    1. I've read both, but so long ago I forgot a lot. I took both out of the library the other day and plan to reread.

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  13. I just read your book and discovered your blog. Greetings from Poland!

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  14. I am making the chicken braised with salami and olives tonight for dinner. It sounds exceedingly intense, but I am thinking it could also be immensely wonderful. We'll be eating it with polenta to mellow it out a bit.

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    1. Did you see the New York Times review of the book? Kim Severson made that dish and gave it high marks: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/16/dining/flavors-of-the-south-from-one-of-its-own.html?_r=0

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  15. !! I love your blog. This is a cool site and I wanted to post a little note to tell you, good job! Best wishes!

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  16. I love your site and your writing. Thank you so much for the link to the story about Laurie Colwin. I just LOVE her books Home Cooking and More Home Cooking. I discovered them years ago and have read them countless times. I would never part with them. I loved her style of writing in the essays. Just as if you were sitting there with her. I've tried most of the recipes. I even named my cat Rosa. I was never a fan of her novels, I have to admit. I just couldn't relate to those characters. I still remember the one where the woman was repulsed by the idea of buying canned vegetables to feed to her children. Not something I can wrap my head around, since I was raised on them and still buy them now and again. But the cooking essays always make me smile. What a huge loss. Glad there were people like you to pick up where she left off.

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    1. I feel the same way about her fiction -- I could never entirely get into it. I think I've read all her novels and stories, but they felt insubstantial the way her food writing doesn't. Funny, because we usually think of food writing as light and fatuous while fiction is considered more serious and worthwhile.

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