Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Try this, won't you?

January is a grim month. I have some good news, and some bad.

We’ll start with the good. Grapefruit. It’s in season and it’s delicious, especially the pink kind. Not as delicious as a peach, but, hey, it’s January. So go buy some pink grapefruits. Come home and cut one in half. Preheat the broiler. Use a grapefruit spoon or a little knife to loosen all the sections, but leave them inside the grapefruit. This should take about 25 seconds.
The ancient grapefruit spoon on the left is soft, worn, small, and perfect. The one on the right is big, shiny, sharp and new. It mangles the grapefruit. If you want to find a good grapefruit spoon, check eBay.
Mix 2 tablespoons salted butter (or unsalted plus a pinch of salt) with 1/4 cup brown sugar until clumpy, like streusel. Add 1 cup Wheat Chex, crushing just a little bit so you have some small bits but also a lot of whole Chex. Mix briefly and gently. Pack about a third of this irresistible stuff on half the grapefruit. Put the rest of the streusel and the other half of the grapefruit in the refrigerator for subsequent meals. Broil the grapefruit until warm and slightly bubbly. Enjoy.

It looks like a bad joke, but it's my favorite food discovery of 2016.
If you're like me, you have doubts about the idea of streusel-topped, broiled grapefruit. How does sour, sharp, cold, and juicy possibly meld with sweet, buttery, warm and crunchy?

No idea. It just does. Miracle. Try it.

Now for the bad news: You won’t want to eat a grapefruit any other way after you've tasted it broiled and topped with streusel. The pleasure of unfattening plain grapefruit has been lost to you.

Don't thank me, thank Gabrielle Hamilton. Here's the recipe exactly as printed in Prune

Some other recommendations to brighten your January:

*The kale-apple-walnut salad from Zahav is tart, crunchy, and terrific. Recipe here

In the book it's called "tabbouleh," but it contains no bulgur. Really, it's just a salad.
*Also wonderful: the Zahav lamb shoulder, a superrich, hearty, easy, cheap, long-braised feast dish. Recipe here. You'll have lots of leftovers with which to make Suliman's pilaf.

*The sliced fresh oranges with honey from Zuni Cafe make a refreshing dessert after something rich like lamb shoulder. (Not that fresh fruit is ever a proper dessert.)

*The Zahav tahini cookies are a cross between shortbread and halvah. Couldn't be tastier. Couldn't be easier. 

*This is a stunning piece of writing.

*Karina Longworth’s fascinating history of Charles Manson's Hollywood on the podcast You Must Remember This enlivened many hours of tahini shortbread-baking, dishwashing, driving, folding, and sweeping last week.

*I saw the movie Brooklyn twice, most recently with a 10-year-old girl and 15-year-old boy, both of whom were enthralled. As was I.  It's a wondrous film, romantic and funny, but also thoughtful, compassionate, and poignant. I've seen all the Oscar best picture nominees. This is my favorite by far. 


  1. I love the idea of the grapefruit topping. It makes wheat chex seem meaningful, which is no small feat. Your comment about proper dessert made me think of a recipe I disccovered this weekend and made twice this week. It's called whipped yogurt. You use a cup of yogurt (I chose nonfat greek) and 1/2 cup whipping cream, then beat it in the mixer until it forms soft peaks. You should add some vanilla and a little bit of sugar too. It's light and fluffy and tangy and perfect on berries with buttered, toasted graham cracker crumbs.

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  3. I can't recommend highly enough reading some of Colm Toibin's (the author of the novel on which "Brooklyn" is based) other writing -- most especially "Nora Webster," a deceptively simple story of a woman's progression through early widowhood. I read "Brooklyn" first, and was blown away, and then I read "Nora Webster," and was left bereft.

  4. At Sundance now (where Brooklyn premiered last year) and highly recommend that you see Manchester By The Sea and Agnus Dei when they come out. Best movies I have seen here this year (so far...). I also heard Birth of a Nation is fabulous, but haven't seen it yet.

  5. The lamb is bookmarked, but now you have me worried about the bad news. Everything all right?

    My mom always made me broiled grapefruit as a child (sans the chex mix)-- just warm brown sugar and a cherry.

    1. @Eve

      Now YOU worried ME!

      I think everything's ok - read below

      "Now for the bad news: You won’t want to eat a grapefruit any other way after you've tasted it broiled and topped with streusel. The pleasure of unfattening plain grapefruit has been lost to you."


    2. Oh, I think you are right! I missed that.

  6. I'm so glad I saved Brooklyn until last some of the Best Pictures this year were so hard to watch.

  7. The Manson series is so fabulous! Also: household chores are so much easier to get through with podcasts.

    I'm not going to look for grapefruit spoons on ebay. No, I am not.

  8. I saw Brooklyn on Christmas day and adored it. I think I would adore that grapefruit concoction {and what could be more astringent than those directions for making it?} but am choosing to abstain.

    Maggie, you reminded me that I bought a copy of Brooklyn after seeing the movie and stashed it somewhere. Where? I did that Japanese decluttering thing and I still can't find stuff in my tiny little Manhattan apartment.

  9. I can't decide if I'm more excited to make the kale salad or the tahini cookies, which I think shows that I'm maturing.

  10. I really like this grapefruit recipe, but I still find it annoying and inefficient to cut all the little sections. So, the second time I made the grapefruit recipe, I just peeled the grapefruit, cut in into little cubes, put the cubes in a ramekin and topped with strudel, then broiled. Voila! It worked!

  11. I see recipes like the grapefruit-wheat chex- streusel combo and I can only imagine a nine year old boy must have thought it up. There is no way an adult came up with that combination.

  12. I am strangely resistant to "sugaring up" a food that is so healthy. I KNOW! Unreal, coming from me, the sugar addict. The kale salad sounds so much better to me. Sounds as though you are finding Zahav has several worthy dishes. I have not been able to cook from this cookbook for a variety of reasons, but I really appreciate your recipe reviews. I hope to get to it this coming week if things settle down a bit.

  13. Okay, I had just received a box of Coachella Valley grapefruit the SAME day I first read your post. Yellow, not ruby, but surely that's not a meaningful issue? Anyhow, I made this on Sunday, for a small crowd. The amount of streusel suggested in the actual Prune recipe for 2 grapefruit halves is ridiculous; you can't get anywhere near that much to pile on a grapefruit half. And it was delicious. But I stll really, really like them plain. Although, as I have TONS of leftover streusel, we'll broil them a time or two more. And I love Wheat Chex -- in the annual version of Chex Party Mix, I pick them out specially.

  14. Wonderful selection of winter reipes. The grapefruit recipe really made me curious, really! I have all kinds of citrus in my fridge except for grapefruit, so I can´t ty right now . But very soon, I guess, I ´ll have to. Have a great day, and many greetings from grey Paris. Sabine

  15. Also, I've been listening to that podcast, and I think I must be a terrible person. It's very interesting and well-done, but the narrator - Karina Longworth? -- cannot pronounce her interior "t" sounds, and it makes me crazy. It's not, say, "udderly." Or "bladantly." She does this consistently, and it's very odd and off-putting. Also, I googled Bobby Beausoleil, and he's not that much of a hunk. Longworth references him as a hottie at least 3-4 times in the relevant episode. Again, odd.