Saturday, December 18, 2010
Running my fingers through soft flour and greasy butter was a welcome relief from the chaos that is my life at the moment. I've had barely a moment to relax. My new schedule of winter quarter classes and working what amounted to 40 hours-plus at a new (part-time) job has me reeling. But Wednesday, Wednesday, Wednesday. It was cold and grey with a sludge of old snow tossed in haphazard mounds, but I found it dark solace. I cooked a braise of Trappist beer, beef and onions in my house slippers while the afternoon sun dipped below the dead fingers of the trees.
It started with the pie though. Cranberry and apple pie topped with whipped cream. It was a beautiful mess, just a slop of fruit and syrup covered over with a latice top, just like a nice but insecure college girl mistakenly wearing fishnet tights out to some parties. She looks so provocative that there won't be anything left of her when she needs it.
Apple-cranberry Pie: from On Baking
1 pound apples, sliced
4 ounces brown sugar
4 ounces granulated sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons corn starch dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water
1 pint cranberries
Combine apples, sugar, zest, cinnamon and salt. Stir to coat the apples with the dry ingredients. Saute in a saucepan. Pour in the cornstarch and water. Continue sauteing until apples are softened but still firm to the bite. Remove from heat. Add the cranberries and dump into a pie shell. Bake at 400 for 25 to 30 minutes.
Monday, December 6, 2010
Mistakes were made in the construction of this tart. It was supposed to turn into a lemon-polenta cake so beautiful on Nigel Slater's Web site that I couldn't resist. Things came a little undone in my kitchen, unraveling slowly and then nearly landsliding into defeat.
At some point Friday, I came up with a decent idea. The goo tasted good, and I hated the thought of just throwing it away, plus there was so much of it, it seemed like it might make a good topping to a pie.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Neither Emily nor I had heard him order, we were probably absorbed in something related to Harry Potter. But when the waitress brought out his soup, covered in a slice of melted cheese, we were immediately interested. We begged for one little sip. We wanted to know what kind of cheese that was. Did they use gouda, gruyere, Swiss, parmesan? Were there little chunks of crouton floating in it? We ordered a cup of our own, to share.
My mom made a batch later that week, the leftovers of which I enjoyed with aged gouda. Then when I finally retreated back to my own home, post-Thanksgiving, instead of delving into my fridge packed with leftovers, I made onion soup following Nigel Slater's recipe from Tender with a little help from Julia Child. That was the first recipe I had made from Slater's 500-some-page tome about his vegetable patch, complete with jelousy-inducing photos every few pages. I still haven't made it all the way through the volume that includes recipes on a couple dozen common garden vegetables.
3 large onions, sliced
3 tablespoons butter
bay leaf (I added rosemary and thyme only because I had them)
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
5 cups beef stock
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup red wine plus a teaspoon of sugar or cognac
Slice the onions julienne. A trick I learned in school is to cut the onion in half and then slice along the perforated ribs of the vegetable to get beautiful, sexy slivers. Saute the onions in melted butter on medium-low heat for 25 to 30 minutes until softened but not browned, stirring occasionally. Add the bay leaf and flour. Stir to coat the onions with the flour. Add the wine, let simmer for a minute. Add the stock. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to let it simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the wine with sugar or cognac or madeira, let simmer another five minutes. Serve in bowls topped with a slice of mild and aged cheese. Pop the bowls in the oven at 350 for five minutes to let the cheese melt. Serve.