Monthly Archives: February 2016

Caffè eterna

 

Renato Bialette died at age 93 last week. If you ever had a cup of coffee made in a Moka

coffee-Moka2

then you know him. He’s not the man who invented this machine; he’s the one would made it SOOO popular.

Bialetti_image

He identified himself with the moka. He was the little man with the mustache, L’omino con i baffi, 

Bialetti, Renato

bialetti cartoon

And so it is both fitting and no real surprise that his urn is shaped like…a Moka

Renato-Bialetti-Uitvaart-in-Stijl

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Darling Clementine

and other sunshine substitutes to warm up the winter…

I haven’t found that many Darling Clementines this winter…until this week!

clementines

The grocers shelves have been full of Halo Mandarins ( a New York Times story on Mandarin growing in California)

and of course, grapefruit

Grapefruit-Whole-&-Split

 

and mangoes – Van Gogh mangoes, no less

van Gogh mango

Van Gogh painted lots of fruit and veg, but no mangoes…although in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam there is a painting by Paul Gauguin of Mango Trees

Mango trees Gaugin VanGogh musuem

 

I bought some beets last week…..

Beets-Bundle.jpg

I once had a bunch of beets on the checkout counter. The cashier held them up and asked,”Bunch of radishes?” I shook my head, and he asked,”But they are a BUNCH???” Evidently ‘bunch’ is a category he could look things up by….we finally got to BEET.

With the bunch of beets you get the bonus greens, good by themselves, good for soup. I roasted the beets for salad, and ate them peeled, diced  with some blue cheese dressing. I was going to mix them with orange, but I just kept eating them (beet and orange) separately.

Lemons were in the markdown bin….

lemons

I’ll juice them and put the juice in an ice cube tray in the freezer. When frozen, I’ll pop them into a baggie (I get the freezer bags because they have a place to write what’s inside) and be able to have a little juice whenever…..

ice cube trays

I love the new ice cube trays! I don’t often use ice cubes, but I like to freeze bits of things to use them later.

I’ve had plenty of roasted pumpkin to keep me warm….I used some to make a pasta sauce. Or I could have used dome to top a pizza…..

roasted squash

.

I had some red and yellow peppers, and inspired by a recent New York Times story,as well as any excuse to use the oven because it’s SOOOOO cold outside,  I made a red and yellow pepper pizza…EXCEPT (you knew that this part was coming…..)

I didn’t have the sausage or the mozzarella cheese…..actually, I HAD the sausage, it was just in the freezer and a little hard to use at the time, so I left it out. Then I realized that I had no mozzarella or ricotta or cheddar… heavy dairy products were put on the shopping list, and I punted along with what I had.

I had some Parmesan.Actual cheese and not wood pulp.

.I froze half of the dough, because 4 pizzas are more then I can manage for myself.

I topped the piece I used with the peppers, and a little hot red pepper and olive oil and grated cheese.A little onion and garlic chopped very fine to mix it all up.  Peppers really need to be cooked a little ahead and/or cut very very small….So a B minus sort of pizza.

As I was washing up, I remembered that there was a little bacon in the fridge. THAT would have made the pizza into B plus/A minus grade.

I ended my meal with some dried apricots….

apricots Sunsweet

and some Jammin’ Lemon Ginger…..because this cold snap is going to break soon, right?:

Jammin Lemon Ginger

As for soups…..I want to cook beans and lentils and other sorts of pulses …with greens. I feel a soup week coming on.

 

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Susie’s Brownies

Susie loves to bake and she bakes great cakes. Susie makes some pretty awesome brownies, too, and since her sons are grown and live away, she doesn’t bake as often as she used to. Often when she does bake, she brings in plates of things to share with all of us at work because otherwise it’s too much. We do not object.

Susie makes a mint chocolate brownie that is simply divine – fudgy, rich and just a hint, a whiff of mint. So often mint overpowers the party, but not on this plate.

Susie has been making brownies with the Ghirardelli’s sweet ground cocoa.

Ghiradelli sweet ground cocoa

She also adds chocolate chips and Andes crème de menthe baking bits to thoroughly gild this lily. The Andes bits are fairly fantastic because they’re not too mint, encased as they are in chocolate.

Andes creme de menthe chips

The recipe is on the back of the Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Cocoa bag. Susie left me a bag full of ingredients (talk about your Merry Christmas) with a note that said she didn’t use the baking soda.

I started getting ready:

Oven to 350° (open it and make a quick check that nothing besides the racks are lurking there….)

2 eggs; ¼ cup sugar; 1 tsp vanilla;

½ cup butter

……and it needs to be melted – this is a job for the new mini-saucepan! Don’t throw that butter wrapper away – use it to grease the pan [I have a baggie in the freezer for saving butter wrappers].

¾ cup Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Cocoa (note: this is on the bag, too:Unsweetened Cocoa Substitution: For each ½ cup Unsweetened Cocoa, use 1 cup of Sweet Ground Cocoa and decrease the amount of sugar the recipe calls for by ½ cup.” In short, the Sweet Ground stuff is equal amounts of cocoa and sugar, adjust accordingly.

2/3 cup unsifted flour

¼ teaspoon baking powder*

(*When Susie left me a note that she said doesn’t include the baking soda,  I went through and as there was no baking soda, I put the baking powder in. Later, I realized she must have meant baking powder; the brownies from the batch I put it into were still good and squidgy…you’re on your own here. I’m sure Alton Brown has a video somewhere of the difference between leavens in the brownies or not, probably called “Welcome to the Dark Side: The Brownie Apocalypse”….but I digress.)

AB

¼ tsp salt; ½ cup of walnuts, chopped; ½ cup chocolate chips and ½ cup creme de menthe bits

  • Grease an 8 or 9 inch pan.
  • Beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla, add butter.
  • Mix the cocoa, flour and salt together.
  • Add the drys to the wets, stirring well.
  • Stir in the nuts and then the chips.
  • Spread into the prepared pan.
  • Bake 20-30 minutes.
    • From bag: for extra chewy brownies, use 9” pan and longer baking time.
  • Cut into squares. Makes 16-20 brownies. Serves 2 (or more if they insist….)

Adapted from the back of the Ghirardelli’s Sweet Cocoa Powder bag, notes and technical assistance from Susie Walker.

 

PS – Alton Brown HAS covered the brownie…..

ABbrownie message

Here’s the link to his website

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Chayote

Chayote_BNC

Chayote

Evidently, I’ve known chayote all along…..it’s been hiding in plain sight for DECADES right under my very nose. As it were.

JG Veg book

Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book

American pb edition 1981. $6.95 (that’s right – I’ve had this book since 1981 when it cost $6.95. I might have gotten it at Notes & Quotes in Kingston or else the Paperback Booksmith in Hanover)

Back cover text:

“Written with all the author’s customary warmth and erudition, here is a modern kitchen guide to the cooking of vegetables, from the well-loved cabbage and parsnip to the more exotic chayote and Chinese leaf.”

-The Times

Who’da thunk it?????

  • Chinese leaf is Chinese cabbage
  • Only a Brit could mention parsnips, cabbage and well-loved in the same sentence.
  • Chayote has its own chapter…..
  • From the glossary for the American edition in the back:
    1. CHAYOTE: choyote; christophine; mirliton, chayotte
    2. Other names: in Chinese: Buddha’s Hand Gourd
    3. Australia: chokos
    4. From the Aztec chayotl
    5. Also – choko, chaco, xuxu, christophene
      1. While were around the topic – is coyote an Aztec/Native word or European? Nahuatl coyotl .
  • Jane Grigson has a salad; a creole; a stuffed, New Orleans style; a meat stuffing; a cheese stuffing; also a chutney and a la grecque
  • Victory Garden CB
  • Marian Morash in Victory Garden Cookbook Under Squashes (Summer)
    1. “In the South you’d have good luck with chayottes (known as christophene in the Caribbean and vegetable pear or mirliton in the South). Substitute this bland tropical squash with all summers squash.” p. 270
  • Joy75
  • Joy of Cooking  (2006)(but I owned another earlier edition previous to this one)
    1. A tropical summer squash aka christophene & mirliton.
    2. “The harder the squash the better the flavor.”
    3. “ …unless you plan to stuff it, peel with a vegetable peeler working under running water to prevent being irritated by the sticky substance just under the skin, which disappears in cooking.”
    4. Boiled; Louisiana Style (stuffed with shrimps, ham, red bell pepper, hot pepper…
  • CD pasion veg
  • Crescent Dragonwagon  in Passionate Vegetarian  has them under Mirlitons a/k/a/chayote
    1. Stuffed Creole style

Sooooo….

I went the salad route

Chayote Salad

a la Jane Grigson

  1. Boiled 2 whole chayote  in salted water until fork tender, about 25 minutes.

  2. In the meantime, made a dressing of 3 Tablespoons lemon juice, 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard and 3 Tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper and a good amount of chopped parsley. Jane also recommends chervil , but I was right out…..

  3. Drain and peeled chayote under running water.

  4. Cut one in half, right through the seed….cut each half into 4 pieces and tossed into the dressing while they were still warm.

  5. I hard-boiled 2 eggs, because I decided on a more substantial lunch salad, versus side salad.

  6. Peeled and put the hot hard boiled eggs on my plate, topped with several pieces of the chayote, shared the dressing and ate with hot buttered toast.

adapted from Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book,pp. 198-9.

Notes:

I had 2 chayote and they were not from the same places…but they were in the same bin together…one was from Costa Rica – smoother, more pear shaped; the other, more ridges, was from Mexico.

chayoteCR

The Costa Rican chayote. Easier to peel, more texture then taste.

Chayotes

The ridge one was from Mexico – harder to peel, has a very faint, almost evocative taste of asparagus though

Antoine_Raspal_(1738-1811),_Intérieur_de_cuisine_,_vers_1776-80

Cuisine Provencale by Antoine Raspal in Musee Reattu, Arles

This image wraps around as the cover of the Jane Grigson Vegetable Book.

and a little more on chayote confusion: from wiki:

Chayote[1] (Sechium edule) is an edible plant belonging to the gourd family Cucurbitaceae, along with melons, cucumbers and squash.

Globally it is known by many names including christophene or christophine,[1] cho-cho,[1] cidra (Antioquia, Caldas, Quindio and Risaralda regions of Colombia),

sayóte (Filipino languages),

guatila (Boyacá and Valle del Cauca regions of Colombia),

centinarja (Malta),

sousou or chou-chou (chow-chow) (Mauritian Creole),

chuchu (Brazil),

pimpinela (Madeira),

pipinola (Hawaii),

tayota (Dominican Republic),

mirliton (Haitian Creole),

pear squash, vegetable pear,[1] chouchoute, choko, güisquil (Guatemala, El Salvador[2]),

pataste (Honduras),

piskot or sikot (Meghalaya),

is-kus (Nagaland),

dashkush (Manipur),

iskut (Mizoram),

is-Kush (Nepal) [3]

su su (Vietnam).

Its tuberous and edible root is called chinchayote or chayotextle in Mexico and ichintal in Guatemala.

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A Tale of Two Recipes, cont

Recipe the Second:

‘It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; “

I can’t think of A Tale of Two Cities without hearing Ronald Colman ….

roland colman

And now for a far better thing. Not that Broccoli Sauce’d Sicilano was bad…..

When I went to my friendly neighborhood super market and saw these little squashes, cute as bugs ears, live and in living color – and 50 cents a piece – I had to get me 2.  I swear I had seen SOMETHING about them in the last week or so, so I starting poking around……

Chayote_BNC

Chayote – it’s a kind of summer squash

 

But could I find anything that even had that word  in it, that word I’m still not sure how to  pronounce. The cashier called them coyote squashes….hey, she knew they were squashes….

So then I turned to the ‘grow veg/eat veg’, the straight and narrow garden to table books that I have unpacked. Several identified them, but didn’t mention how to use them…..and they have aliases….

Deborah Madison Vegetable Literacy, which I’m thoroughly enjoying and will need to read several times, there’s so much between these covers. No chaypote.

veg literacy

Dominca Marchetti The Glorious Vegetables of Italy, which has a dozen dishes I want to do, as well as small batch of giardiniera (five pints being as small a batch that 1 cauliflower can make) lots of summer squashes and zucchinis, no chaypote.

veg of Italy

Herbivoracious by Michael Natkin not a garden to table, but amazing vegetarian food and lots of great asides …..and the book falls open to the Sicilian Spaghetti with Pan-roasted Cauliflower – and where I sub out the pine nuts I’m not too terribly fond of, so why should I pay THAT sort of money for them, with almonds……shades of saucy broccoli….which may have even been the dish he served up at the book signing. My bus ticket is marking the page, so it was on May 6th 2012, in Somerville. His website is Herbivoracious ,too.

herbivoracious

And then I flipped through The Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon.

CD pasion veg

This book is over 1000 pages, a workout in every reading. I love this cover. Shades of Carmen Miranda!

A little back story: Bean By Bean was where I first met Ms Dragonwagon. But not this revised, 21st century edition, no, not at all. It was a slim booklet, like you’d get from some sort of community group edition. Back in the early ‘80’s vegetarian cooking stuff was still very much a small press/artsy/folksy/hippy-ified/ handmade/crafted sort of thing. I read the whole book standing up in a kitchen, oblivious to the gathering going around me. I don’t remember exactly where or what event, because there was a whole book about beans, and the beans were good. The beans were varied. The beans were interesting. The beans were amazing!

The cover was torn off, so I never saw it till I found it on the internet, much more recently.

CDBean bokk1only

The little pamphlet like book on the left is the first BBB that I met up with – without the colorful front cover.The one on he right is the new, revised edition.

The recipes were all beans and were all vegetarian. Since I knew if you give an Italian woman a pound of beans, she can feed a horde 30 different courses….I naturally had to wonder,

“What was ‘Dragonwagon’ before Ellis Island changed it when they came from Italy?”

Yes, I immediately and completely Italianized Crescent Dragonwagon.

I carried this assumption around for a really long time. Hey – there was no internet in the olden days! When The Passionate Vegetarian came out early 21st century, the cover image only reinforced my belief. Look at her – she’d fit right in an Italian crowd. My people do things with flair. And she was certainly my people…ironically, the very heft and size of The Passionate Vegetation kept me from it for a while.Not forever, but still…

arcimboldo friut basket

Another Italian, another fruit basket worn as a hat…..

Fast forward to 6 or 7 years ago.

I join Facebook.

I join to keep in touch with people who I’d worked with. I re-connected with some people I had seen or heard from in years. Then I discover Groups  – places with topics for like-minded people to gather….groups that talk about food and cooking….and in one of these Groups was

Crescent Dragonwagon

She also had her own pages, and she can tell you her own story – like about her name….. (Here’s a hint – she’s not the least bit Italian) This is her website about her, her writing,and workshops . Because she was commenting on some of the same pages I was reading, and I was even daring to offer some sort of comment from time to time, there were some occasions we were part of a ….conversation.

Now, if you want to continue to converse with certain people on Facebook, you have you request to ‘Friend’ them. You can also un-friend people, which isn’t as drastic as it sounds, and you can downright block people, if they turn out to be a troll (an apt image if ever there was one), and you can also set your privacy settings which helps you control where your stuff goes when it leaves you. In short, though – don’t say anything on the internet you wouldn’t want on the 6 o’clock News, film at 11.

So, I send a Friend request to Crescent Dragonwagon.

She wrote back and said the word friend was one she didn’t take lightly, and could I tell her something about myself that we might have in common (she phrased it much, much better). This is the only time anyone on Facebook has responded this way.

I was thrilled. Where to begin????

So I told her about my Aunt Eileen, who gave me my first cookbook and said,

“Every recipe is a story. And not all of them have happy endings.”

(Good Housekeeping).

I was particularly thrilled because she was working on revising – and by revising she pretty much re-worked it from stem to stern – Bean by Bean

cd bean by bean

Sooooo, as I was looking for chayote…..which in the index said, “Chayote. See Mirlitons”, which in turn brings me to the Squash Family which brought me to Pasta with Pumpkin. A pasta recipe on the same page as Pasta with Hearty Greens and Beans, which is rather a way of winter life for me….and because I had taken some of the roasted pumpkin out of the freezer to make a pumpkin panzanella but what I really wanted as a hot dish, which meant I would have to invent savory pumpkin bread pudding….OR I could just make the Pumpkin with Pasta, have my hot meal and be done with it.

But

WAIT

Read the recipe, the whole recipe and nothing but this recipe right NOW.

I have the actual ingredients, except my punkin is already cooked, so just needs to be heated through…..

And so

Punkin’ Pasta

7 oz fettucine or linguine (half a box)

1 # roasted deep orange pumpkin/squash (no peels, no seeds – I don’t really need to add that, do I?) PS – I love my freezer gold!

1 Tablespoon olive oil, plus more for serving

3 cloves garlic, pressed

Salt and pepper

Parmesan cheese

  1. Cook the noodles. Save about a cup of pasta water before you drain.
  2. Put the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the pumpkin and the garlic, stir madly about, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Breakup any of the larger pumpkin chunks – the smaller ones with break down mostly on there on to make the sauce.
  3. Combine the cooked noodles with the hot pumpkin. Adjust season. Add some of the pasta water to loosen, if that’s what you like (I find there’s such a moisture variation with different gourds, that a little extra water is always good to have on hand.)
  4. Serve hot with Parmesan cheese on top.

2 servings.

Note: These are generous servings. I’ve been eating a big bowl and had enough for a whole ‘nother meal, and still had the orphan portion that was just right for a 3 egg frittata.

Adapted from  Pasta with Pumpkin in Crecent Dragonwagon’s Passionate Vegetarian. Workman Publishing: New York. 2002. p.858.

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Filed under Books, Influencers, Recipe, squash, winter

A Tale of Two Recipes

Recipe the First:

The Recipe not followed…….

‘It was the best of times, it was – not exactly the worst of times, but definitely a sub-prime, not all cylinders sparking, Dickens of time.

Travel back in time to earlier in January. This January.

Weather forecast says clear; next day it snows. Weather forecast says snow. Next day is sunny and warm. The weather is not going to be average, although the stats are going to ultimately read that. Even this week the temperature range is from -11 to +48. In One Week. Which will average out to average which is why: nothing is average and average is lie.

Also – when I shop, I go to the back of the Produce section and check out the markdown rack, and fill my cart out after that. In the last few years (decades) I’ve been able to score cauliflower galore for very very little money. Once upon a time there was a soup recipe that called for roasted cauliflower, before the world had discovered roasted veg….maybe Gourmet or Bon Apeptit. We were living on Pleasant Street. I had my discount cauliflower, broke it apart, tossed it with oil, a little S&P, popped it into a hot oven, let the heat do it’s magic. It came out to be added to the rest of the soup fixin’s but as it was cooling…..I re-wrote the recipe to start by roasting 2 cauliflower, one to snack on and one for the soup.

Cauliflower

And NOW since everyone is roasting veg ALL THE TIME AND there’s a drought in California, cauliflower is now puny and rather sad looking and as expensive as beef…..

I don’t eat as much cauliflower as I have been the last few years/decades.

Which brings me back to broccoli. Broccoli was the standard green veg on our table growing up. Green Beans had their place, but broccoli was the Jolly Green Giant of the supper tale. Boiled and served with lemon and butter. The lemon is what made the difference. We all ate it all the time.

Which meant it was sometimes leftover. Cold, with a little more lemon, great on a lunch salad. When my son was little, leftover broccoli was chopped and added to the next night’s mac and cheese, or sometimes the chopped broccoli and olive oil was the macaroni sauce.

So, when the January 13th, 2016 NYT had a Recipes for Health column headlined:

Broccoli’s Saucy Side

I said YES, I remember that, I used to do that!!!!. I could do it again!

Sidebar – This is the way I generally feel Martha Rose Shulman’s column, and I have several of her books and always get distracted when I dip in. I do so wish that the column weren’t called Recipes for Health which sounds like more heavy lifting and less fun then it is. Why not call it Recipes for a Life Well Lived?

Back- … so I got some nicer looking, more my price range broccoli.

Saucy Broccoli, here I come!

The first part of cooking from a recipe is reading the recipe from start to finish.

Then – gather your ingredients and batterie de cuisine

Do not, in other words, put the water on to cook the broccoli BEFORE you’ve read the recipe the whole way through.

And thus begins the ‘not followed’ portion of the program.

It called for broccoli and I had broccoli – so far, so good. Although I hadn’t weighed it and it was….markdown broccoli. Trimmed and ready to go.

 

It called for fusilli and I had pipettes. In the pasta world, they’re same family, similar enough form and therefore function.

 

fusili

fuselli

pipettes

pipettes

It called for garlic, I got out the garlic.

It called for anchovy fillets and I ….

I often have anchovy in the house, and if I did, where would they be? Or are anchovies one of those staples that I current don’t have? And why didn’t I look at this before I went to the store earlier?

BUT

WAIT

I was just this afternoon reading something something and it called for anchovies and it said, “To make this vegan, substitute chopped capers for the chopped anchovy”

YES. Capers, olives, vinegar and hot peppers are all part of my

Fridge Door Pantry Collection.

Open the Fridge – mustards, rooster sauce, leaf lard, fresh ginger, Parmesan cheese….what, no pickled condiments??????Not even giardiniera? Quel dommage!

giardianero jar

Not even an empty jar…..

Now the pot of water is boiling, so I throw the broccoli in. Two minutes to come up with a B plan…..

Open the fridge, open the freezer, open the ONE cupboard that had foodstuffs in it…….

Hot pepper flakes? Yes. Mise those in place.

Olive oil? Also yes, ready to go next to the hot pepper.

Garlic?

garlic

Garlic? Garlic? Bueller??? Where did I put the garlic?

Fine garlic, play hide and seek….wait, beside the olive oil is the fancy flavored olive oil ….Orange Olive Oil….with some raisins in the cupboard and hot pepper and some almonds…..that’s impromptu sorta Sicilian style. Works for me.

So – put the Orange Olive Oil in a pan, toss in the chopped broccoli, add the chopped almonds, toss in a handful of raisins, sprinkle with the hot pepper flakes towards the end. Save some of the pasta water before I drain the pipettes…..pulling a little pasta water is my new fun thing to do with macaroni. I really helps to keep it loose and doesn’t just water down the flavor. It’s a secret magic ingredient, especially if you can remember to do it before you pour it all down the drain.

Mix the macaroni with the hot veg, toss like crazy. Add a little of the pasta water if you need it. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

And this is how I didn’t make Broccoli’s Saucy Side.

As for the garlic….it was in the other room with the car keys near the door…somethings are best not questioned too closely.

to be continued…..

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Pancakes! Pancakes!

Today is Shrove Tuesday

 a/k/a/ Mardi Gras

or

Fat Tuesday

and is also, also known as

PANCAKE TUESDAY

That would be today, day before Ash Wednesday, which is the day when Lent begins. Today is the day to traditionally chow down before the fasting begins. Chow down on pancakes.

pancake EC

Eric Carle walks you through everything you need to do to make pancakes in this gem. First, harvest the grain…..

As it happened, the box I was unpacking while waiting for the Blizzard (I’m sure it has a name, but we are NOT on speaking terms, raging storm and I) was the pile of magazines that was beside my reading chair the night before the fire in my old place. Since it was a Friday night, and the recycling was due on the curb first thing Tuesday morning, I was going through my April issues, earmarking, ripping out, passing on…..It’s a little spooky to find a magazine folded back to a page you left it on months earlier, let me tell you.

But FoodNetwork Magazine April 2015 issue was a special BREAKFAST issue

FNMApr 2015

So, of coarse, there’s a pancake story.

Pancakes, Your Way

click the links

FLUFFY

DINER-STYLE

THIN AND LACY

MULTIGRAIN

jack-of-lent

17th century English  Hunger is following Jack of Lent, riding a fish, following Shrove Tuesday who has a pancake pan, and possibly some weight issues….

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Cookbook Club(chair)

Evidently cookbook clubs are a

thing

thing-thing-1

A rather silly thing. If I know a group of people who all have the SAME cookbook, I’ll borrow it. And then I’ll just check out the dishes they’ve been dishing and maybe shop it a little more…..But every one cooking from the same book, at the same time …. unless they’re planning to cook their way through the book, which has done with assorted classics, books by Julia Child

julia1

or by Marcella Hazen

marcellahazaninterview

or other assorted sorts who have stood the test of time. But with something new?

So I hereby decree another sort of cook book club –  the

Cook Book Club Chair.

I’ll sit in the chair and read the cook book and write about the cook book. Eventually, some one will get hungry and get up and cook, and we can talk about that, too.

Book Review

Confections of a Closet Master Baker

by Gesine Bullock-Prado. 2009, Broadways Books

Confections GBP

1st read – July 2013; re-read Dec 2015

The timing of the first read tells me I bought it 2nd hand at a really great used book store that was next to my most frequently shopped supermarket. The store had great selection and fantastic help and was around for less than a year. Why does Plymouth have such a hard time keeping a book store open????? A lament for another day.

I had to double check the title more than once because my memory kept mangling it :

Confessions of a Closet Baker

or

Conversations of a Master Baker…..

Close, but no cigar. In subsequent reprinting, it has a new title: My Life From Scratch – not poetic, but easier to remember

My Life fom Scratch

Off the top – Bullock is yes, that Bullock – this is Sandra’s younger sister, who is proud to take her Big Sista’s ‘Sandmedowns’ but is also a trained lawyer in her own right. She worked in her sister’s production company, met the man she married (and seems to still married to) and felt wholly out of place in Hollywood.

Bullock-Prado

The Book is not really a cookbook, it’s a memoir with recipes, and an essential run through of her typical workday, so the first chapter is 3 am… and at the end of the chapter there is a recipe for Golden Eggs, one of the confections that was an early hit and has a family story, too. Her website G Bakes! has many of the recipes (and more!) as well as videos.

19 chapters and 17 recipes. (3 am – 6pm from getting ready in the morning to arriving back home again at night)

She actually writes well, and her German opera singer mother, as well as her movie star sister, keep things lively. And the ins and outs of starting a business aren’t exactly dull, either, and the fish out of water aspects…..there’s plenty going on to keep your attention, but with the bakery day as the framework, it’s also pretty focused.

The recipes she shares all have backstories, too.

The recipes often call for food processor, blender and /or stand mixer, and instead of down home and Grandma versions (or in her case Oma versions), they seem like scaled back production versions.

There’s a cheese cake and a cream pie that each have a different kind of cookie crust –  one Oreo that I will definitely be trying…especially since Marnie from work made me a chocolate ice cream pie with an Oreo crust for my birthday… because if birthday’s aren’t an excuse to eat ice cream, why bother? and Oreo’s  re-imagined as pie crust is GENIUS.

There is also an apple pie where the apple filling is cooked down somewhat, hence no empty dome with skim of apples at the bottom pie later that made me wish it were still October to get really good apple…

Although I thoroughly enjoyed eating – READING – this, I wasn’t sure that I’d actually be making anything from it. Lots of butter and cream, natch, and good doses of spice and sugar and high quality chocolate but…it made me think about the kitchen, but it didn’t get me out of my chair to check and see if I had any this that or the other thing.

There’s probably a reason I do the more folksy brownies/slumps/plain ole cookies then

CONFECTIONS

I have earmarked the apple pie and the cookie crusts.

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Filed under Books, Cake, Pie

To make Chocolate Cream

In 1604 Lady Elynor Fetiplace put together a commonplace book – her receipts for food and medicine.  In 1986 Hilary Spurling published excerpts form this collection, with notes and explanations.

EF pb

This is how I first met Elynor Fetiplace back in the 1980’s.

I was able to borrow this volume, but somehow I never bought a copy for myself.

It wasn’t until this century that I got the transcription from Stuart Press. (The Complete Receipt Book of Ladie Elynor Fetiplace: Late Tudor/early Stuart. Never before published in full this is a 3 volume set transcription of the whole original text. About 90% of the work is household remedies from a country gentlewoman the remainder mainly culinary. Stuart Press    )

ef complete3

In historical documents, nothing beats the real thing. Lacking that, the next best thing is an image of the real thing, a photocopy or an electronic image, some sort of facsimile. But even then there are nuances that can be easily overlooked. Skepticism is an important tool of historical research. Transcript is next best from that, and it’s  only if you assume some  error and omission are present.The question is where and what…..and move forward anyhow.

And in this transcript is a recipe To make Chocolate Cream. It’s on the same page as a Barley Cream.

.

Chocolate Melendez

Luis Melendez – that’s a chocolate pot with the handle from a chocolate mill in the background

 

To make Chocolate Cream

Take a Quart of cream, 3 ounces of Chocolate grated, boyle it well together & let it stand till tis cold, & then put in ye whites of 6 Eggs beaten to a froth & sweeten it to your Taste, and then mill it up.

The Complete Receipt Book of Ladie Elynor Fetiplace. Vol. Three. Transcription. Stuart Press: 1999. p.38.

To Make Chocolate Cream in January 2016:

  • Take a quart of cream – we used heavy whipping cream
  • 3 ounces chocolate – we use a 2.7 ounce disk of Taza
  • TazaClassicCollection_large

    the one that was most chocolate and no added anything

    Grate the chocolate into the cream and heat, while stirring to get the chocolate all melted

  • ChocolatePot 1682

    This is a 17th century chocolate pot. If you look close at the bottom of the pot there’s a chocolate mill there, too.

    The ‘A’ plan for cooling this off was to pour it out of the pot and into a bowl, which we could put in the snow…but no snow this January day, not even very much cold (this is NOT a complaint!) so we had to haul it into a fridge to cool.

  • Because 21st century chicken aren’t raised quite the way they were in the past, and Salmonella is an issue with raw eggs, I had searched , unsuccessfully for pasteurized eggs. I ended up with pasteurized egg whites, so we didn’t actually crack any eggs for this dish.  used a wire whisk for the whipping, lacking a chocolate mill.
  • chocolate mills 1687 French

    1687 French mills – Bleguy

    choc whip frotehr

    sold on Amazon as a Wooden Whisk Stirrer Molinillo Mexican Chocolate Cocoa Stirrer Frother. Yep, that about sums it up.

     

    Sweetened with a little sugar, whipped some more……

     

    chocolate cream 30Jan2016

    This is what our final product looked like – a very light very tasty chocolate mouse sort of dish.

    There was none left.

That good.

Sometimes the past should be repeated.

Again and again.

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Filed under Recipe, The 17th century, Wicked Wayback, winter

Candlemas Eve

Ceremony Upon Candlemas Eve

 

Down with the rosemary, and so
Down with the bays and misletoe;
Down with the holly, ivy, all
Wherewith ye dress’d the Christmas hall;
That so the superstitious find
No one least branch there left behind;
For look, how many leaves there be
Neglected there, maids, trust to me,
So many goblins you shall see.

– Poem by Robert Herrick

Herrick’s talk of Rosemary and Bays makes me think of Beef Stew…..

Rosemary_ca_1500

Rosemary – decorative and tasty!

Today is 39 days since Christmas, so get those Christmas decorations and gee-gaws put away  because tomorrow is the last day of Christmas.

In some places Carnival has already begun. Because before Lent begins, there’s still time to party! Mardi Gras is right around the corner.

Is it just me or are some of these masks a little…goblin like? Perhaps they didn’t get all their Christmas branches pulled down and put away!

Bergaigne_P_A_Carnival_Ball

Pierre Bergaigne Carnvial Ball – 17th century – some of these costumes would fit right in in Venice this week

It’s also the feast day of Saint Brigit of Kildare, one of the patron saints of Ireland. She’s often portrayed with an eternal flame.

Brigid bigbrigid large

The days are getting a little longer on each end….the darkness of deep Winter begins to lift.

 

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Filed under Irish, Italian, winter