|bright and crunchy|
Just when you think you’ve licked your addiction, a day like yesterday comes along and Twitter gives gives gives and then gives some more, like a broken slot machine. Mark and I were recovering from a rich dinner and slightly queasy new episode of Girls when I checked my phone one last time and whoa. If you know what I’m talking about, great. If not, go read a newspaper! Today I met someone who had no idea what was going on in the world and while this is often sane and refreshing, sometimes I want to say: Dude, you are missing out.
Anyway, I didn’t sleep well after several hours of Don Lemon and Twitter, but in fact the insomnia had more to do with the rich dinner I served than the news. Pivoting now to cooking.
As cookbook lovers know, Food52 announced its 2017 Piglet finalists yesterday. I own several of the titles (Koreatown, Deep Run Roots, Dorie’s Cookies), know something about a few others (Simple, Sirocco), and hadn’t heard of most the rest. At the library, Naomi Pomeroy’s Taste & Technique was on the new arrivals shelf so I grabbed it. This handsome book will teach you to make aioli, braise short ribs, and saute kale, presumably, hopefully with better results than ever before. After flipping through the book a couple times, I was respectful, if not bubbling over with enthusiasm. After cooking a meal from its pages, I am respectful and more enthusiastic, if not bubbling over. It takes a lot to get me bubbling these days.
|big and strong|
The meal I cooked: pan-roasted salmon and long-cooked green beans. Here’s what went on my grocery list: salmon and green beans. It’s that kind of cookbook.
To make the vegetable, you immerse trimmed green beans in a pint (!) of warm olive oil and let them simmer very gently for an hour or so until they’re drab and almost falling apart. I thought I didn’t like overcooked green beans, but it turns out I do. They required a lot more salt than the recipe indicated and a slightly longer cooking time, but otherwise the recipe was flawless and the beans very, very good. I may re-use some of the oil to try the long-cooked broccoli variation.
|drab and soft|
The salmon was even better. The salmon was sensational. Probably the best technique I’ve tried for cooking salmon, and I’ve tried plenty. You season your salmon filet then sear, skin-side down, in a hot, oiled skillet for three minutes. Melt a hunk of butter in the pan, baste the top of your fish, pop in the oven for a few minutes, baste some more, and serve. You could add lemon and capers to the butter, I suppose, but it was delicious as was. My one qualm: It was superrich, particularly when served with green beans poached in a pint of olive oil. But we loved this salmon, loved this meal, and I have already decided what dishes to try on Thursday and Friday nights.
Today I put the leftover salmon into a green salad dressed with the cacao nib vinaigrette from Alton Brown’s EveryDayCook. Salmon and chocolate vinaigrette? I know. But it was fine. I made the dressing a few days ago and have used it on several salads with lovely results. You grind some cacao nibs, infuse into olive oil over low heat, mix with shallots and balsamic, and end up with a unique and tasty vinaigrette that would work especially well, I think, on a salad of spring greens, fresh cherries, and cheese. But it worked great on salmon salad, too.
*The fudgy mocha brownies from Dorie’s Cookies overwhelmed me. Too tall, too bulky, too nutty, too much chocolate, too much coffee. I served these bruisers to my in-laws, who are chocolate fiends, unlike me, and even they approached them cautiously. Not a fail, but I wouldn’t make them again.
*The narrative of villainy and greed that unfolds in Jane Mayer’s Dark Money beggars belief. I had taken it on faith that the Koch brothers were evil because that’s what the people I respect and the news media I follow always said. But I couldn’t have told you why the Kochs were awful; I would have muttered something vague and tried to change the subject. I’m only on disc 7 of this audiobook, but I can now tell you why the Koch brothers are terrible in gruesome detail. The narrator mispronounces a word every ten minutes or so, but otherwise does a great job with this informative and enraging book.
*Finally, I enjoyed this interview with Slate book critic Laura Miller. You should read it for yourself, but here is my favorite passage: “It’s such an act of grace to give someone else ten or fifteen hours out of your own irreplaceable life, and allow their voice, thoughts, and imaginings into your head. I can’t respect any writer who isn’t abjectly grateful for the faith, generosity, and trust in that. I think there’s an unspoken, maybe even unconscious contempt for reading as merely “passive” in many people who obsess about writers and writing.”
I am abjectly grateful to anyone who has given the last seven minutes of their own irreplaceable life to allowing my voice, thoughts, and imaginings into their head.