Monthly Archives: May 2016

Postmortem

patrica cornwell Postmortem

is the name of a book by Patrica Cornwell and there was a copy in the coffee shop last week, so I took it home for a weekend read.

kisskadee interior

The coach is now in another nook, but around that corner is a bookcase for take one or leave one library. And, yes, MOM, I’ve left plenty.Like I’ll leave this little murder mystery. Eventually.

I’ve read it before, but a good mystery can be read more then once. Patrica Cornwell also has Dr. Kay Scarpetta  (the focus character) be a good enough that she is mentioned on the cover of  a cookbook….

Food to Die For

I’ve mentioned this cookbook before – in

Wednesdays Were Chili Nights and

Fresh Garlic Soup

A little quote from Postmortem:

When all else fails, I cook.

Some people go out after a god-awful day and slam a tennis ball around or jog their joints to pieces on a fitness course. I had a friend in Coral Gables who would escape to the beach with her folding chair and burn off her stress with sun and a slightly pornographic romance she wouldn’t have been caught dead reading in her professional world—she was a district court judge. Many of the cops I know wash away their miseries with beer at the FOP lounge.

I’ve never been particularly athletic, and there wasn’t a decent beach within reasonable driving distance. Getting drunk never solved anything. Cooking was an indulgence I didn’t have time for most days, and though Italian cuisine isn’t my only love, it has always been what I do best.

– Cornwell, Patricia. Postmortem. Impress. 1990. p. 128

This is the other reason I keep going back to Kat Scarpetta. I, too, don’t play tennis or swim or get drunk and I don’t have time for cooking – really cooking , not just throwing something together   –  most days. But if I can knead dough or roll out a pastry or chop some onions and add tomatoes……order returns to the world.

Anyhow, Kay goes on to make a pizza with more topping then I would put on a pie, but that’s just me.I’ve got a few mushrooms, and of course, onions and garlic, and there’s a sausage or two lurking in the freezer….I may have to go to the corner store for mozzarella, in which case it will probably be the pre-shredded stuff…..easy-easy

 

Pizza

Dough:
3 1/2 to 3 3/4 cup  bread flour (Of course, I do not make a trip to the store just for this. I’ve used white, wheat and a combination of all three. Bread flour with the higher gluten takes more abuse and makes a very nice crust)
1 packet yeast (I buy in bulk and I have a special yeast measuring spoon, so I have to look up how much that is every-time I write a recipe out. It’s 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup very warm water
1 tablespoon honey (this actually helps with the browning and moisture content of the finished crust – if you don’t have honey, just leave it out. Sugar will make it a weensy bit sweeter but won’t work like honey.But the little dab of honey is really a secret ingredient and makes this dough different then other doughs)
2 tablespoon olive oil (+ more for the pan)

1) In a medium bowl, combine 3 cups of flour, yeast and salt. Stir in warm water, honey and oil, stirring until mixture begins to leave the sides of the bowl.

2) Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gather into a ball. Knead for about 10 minutes or until it is soft, smooth and elastic, adding enough of the remaining flour to keep the dough from sticking.

3) Place the dough in a large greased bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel  Let the dough rise for 30 to 40 minutes, or until doubled.

5) Punch down dough. On a lightly floured surface knead to release the air bubbles. Cut the dough in half and shape each into a ball. Cover and let rest while preparing your toppings.

Toppings:

3/4 pound whole milk fresh mozzarella or 3 cups pre-shredded (if you’re not gonna get the fresh stuff – which is just about everywhere these days, unlike in 1990…just get the pre-shredded stuff. If you have fresh, cut it up and place on paper towels to drain. If you use your salad spinner as a colander, you can even give it a spin or two to shake off the excess moisture)

Any or all of the following:

2 Tbls olive oil

4 cloves (or more) of garlic, sliced or diced

2 sausages, whichever you like

2 bell peppers, any color or combination of colors, cut into strips

2 slice onions ( I’ve used red, yellow, white, Vidalia – no bad choices here) slice thin (or chopped if you’d prefer)

1 large Portabello mushroom or other ‘shrooms to equal 1 1/2 cups cut up

a little more olive oil

basil, oregano

salt and black pepper

2 cups red gravy

1/2 cup grated (freshly – use the fine side of the grater!) Parmigiano-Reggiano

  1. Is the mozzarella draining? Start draining.
  2.  Put the olive oil in a pan (big enough to hold your topping) Put in the slice sausage, then onion, then peppers, then mushrooms, then garlic…stir it all around. You want to shake all the raw out, and start the carmelization.
  3. Drain on a paper towel
  4. Preheat oven to 450°.
  5. You can make 2 -12 inch pizzas, or one big pan pizza (10 x 15) or make one pizza and freeze the other half of the dough for later.
  6. Oil you pan, roll, stretch or pat your dough into place
  7. spread dough with sauce (1 cup for each 12 inch pizza – adjust accordingly)
  8. Add toppings
  9. Put mozzarella on top and sprinkle lightly with Parmigiano-Reggiano
  10. Bake for 10-14 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese is beginning to brown.
  11. Cut into pieces and mangia tutti!

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Books, Italian, Pizza

National Apple Pie Day

was May 13th.

How did I miss this????

Who makes apple pie in MAY??????

There’s rhubarb and blueberries and strawberries…..but apples…

Not still and not yet.

Now, if were

National Mock Apple Pie Day

I could get behind that. A little pastry practice for all the lovely real fruits that are just ahead.

ritz cracker

Ritz Cracker did not invent the mock apple pie….but it certainly popularized it.

When there are no apples people still wanted apple pie. Dried apples were the thing that used to extend the season. After the fresh apples, the dried apple. After the dried apple, the crackers….and then Spring and Summer fruits until the new apples.

Here’s an earlier then Ritz version:

applepiepart1applepie part2

A CALIFORNIA PIONEER APPLEPIE-1852
Mrs. B. C. Whiting.

Break four soda crackers into an earthen bowl. Pour
over them a pint of cold water, made very tart with citric
acid. When soft, but not mashed, removed the soda crackers
to your pie plate, with the under crust already on; then sift
over two tablespoons of light brown sugar, and a little all-

spice and cinnamon to flavor. (The brown sugar and spice
give the requisite color), after which put on a prettily per-
forated top crust, and bake in a very quick oven a few
moments.
The deception was most complete and readily accepted.
Apples at this early date were a dollar a pound, and we
young people all craved a piece of mother’s applepie to
appease our homesick feelings.

applepiesource

Los Angeles, C. Simpson Methodist Episcopal Church (Ladies Social Circle).1894.How We Cook in Los Angeles. A practical cook-book containing six hundred or more recipes….including a French, German and Spanish department with menus, suggestions for artistic table decorations, and souvenirs.pp.240-1.

 

 

Here’s what used to be on the back of the Ritz box:

mockapplepieritz

I have made this pie. More than once. The first time I made it, there was a certain amount of disbelief. So, I made it a second time (in the same 24 hours) –  with witnesses.

Which also happened the second time I made it…..and I have made it since then, too. Because sometimes crackers are better then apples.

.It’s still a little hard to believe how much like apple pie it tastes. And looks. And smells.

Is it the cinnamon?

Or is it just how bland so many of our apples have gotten that they taste like crackers?

Part of the ruse is science.

pie-science2

Newsweek has an article on the appleless apple pie.

Part is that your eyes and nose believe, and then convince your brain.

mock_apple_pie_Savour2008

from Saveour, Feb 2008

And it’s really, really good – if  ironic  – with cheddar cheese

apple pie w cheddar

This is pretty orange cheddar….but for cheese and cracker pie …

Just like Real Apple Pie.

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Eating, Pantry, Perception ways, Pie, Spring, The 1980's

Transcribing Manuscripts

Opportunities abound! I was here: Fales Library and Special Collections, New York University, May 12-13, 2016 Learning about this (and lots, lots more) Click here – it’s through the Fol…

Source: Transcribing Manuscripts

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Whey cool

Little_Miss_Muffet_1_-_WW_Denslow_-_Project_Gutenberg_etext_18546

Little Miss Muffet 1901

Hey –  where are the  curds and whey?

Curds-and-Whey-Finalwiki 900

If this looks suspiciously like cottage cheese – well, that’s half the story. Cottage cheese is the curds drained of the whey, with a little milk mixed in to keep it sweet.

Once upon a time, in my ‘I’m probably gonna be a hippy when I grow up’ days, I got a hot off the presses book club edition of:

stillroom cookery

and I baked the breads, and I tried the yogurts (failures, every one – and every other ones I ever tried), I also searched up and down and all around for rennet tablets so I could make some cheeses.The only rennet tablets I could find were these:

junket.400x300

Junket Rennet Custard – so good!

But Junket Rennet Custard is not going to make cheese, although it is so, so good to eat.

If I’d only known  ….well, sooooo many things. The health food didn’t didn’t yet carry rennet, but the hardware and farm supply store probably still did, back in those days.

And then I went to work in the seventeenth century, so to speak.

We used herbs to make cheese

bedstraw-Galium_verum01

Maidshair or Ladies Bedstraw can act as a rennet

There are lots of curds and whey in the past.

curds and whey

Amid the sausages and the dead chickens and the veal head and tripe and assorted other offal – a bowl of curds! Whey is never far behind

And then I learned about Ricki Carrol, or the Cheese Queen 

and since then I’ve made ricotta (milk with buttermilk – fast and easy) :how to make ricotta

and I’ve made soft curds with lemon juice…because you don’t always have rennet in the house  : how to make soft curds with lemon juice

And I got some floursack towels to use instead of cheesecloth... because you can bleach and re-use these over and over again

canvasflour sack towels

And now a dairy meditative moment: dripping whey

Curds and Whey would be a great name for a rock band….

Curds___Whey_banner

Lots of clicking – Links galore!

2 Comments

Filed under Books, Spring, The 1970's

Coffee time

It’s official  – this has been the darkest May on record. The least sun for this much May ever recorded.To think I was reading the weather news to escape the Election news…..A little more coffee seems in order.

Van Gogh, Coffeepot, Earthenware and Fruit, May 1888. Oil on canvas, 65 x 81 cm. Private collection.

Vincent Van Gogh – 1889 Nice coffee pot.

Cezanne 1890 woman w coffeepot

Cezanne also had time for a little coffee – 1890

Chardin coffeepot

Chardin – Glass of Water and a Coffeepot. This painting is at the Carnegie Museum of Art.c. 1761

Renoir coffee-pot

Renoir also had time for coffee

Toulousse Lautrec coffee-pot

Toulouse-LauTrec also had coffee time

Matissefruit-and-coffee-pot

Matisse had fruit with his coffee.

Pablo+Picasso+-+The+Blue+Coffee+Pot+(1944)+

Even Picasso had coffee.

HopperAutomat

Automat – Edward Hopper

coffee hopper

Coffee – another Edward Hopper

And Mercury is in Transit….just a little more shade on the sun…..

Mercury-transit-disk-plot-3

Leave a comment

Filed under Spring

Horn Bread

I’ve been reading Suosso’s Lane by Robert Knox

Suosso's Lane cover

and this is Bob

Bob Knox

Bob and I were neighbors once upon a time; he also has a day job as a correspondent at the Boston Globe.

The book is about Bartolomeo Vanzetti  and some about Nicola Sacco (as in Sacco and Vanzetti – ring any bells?)

 

Sacco Vanzetti

Suosso’s Lane is a real street in North Plymouth and Bartolomeo Vanzetti lived there.

Suoso Lane street

It’s in North Plymouth, and small enough to hardly read on most maps

But all this North Plymouth talk has gotten people nostalgic for foods that they remember from North Plymouth.

Foods like Horn Bread

hornbreadNorth Plymouth

This was when the 3A Cafe was making Horn Bread. North Plymouth horn bread is a little different from other sorts of horn bread.

This is Italian Horn Bread:

horn bread600px-Coppia-ferrarese_con-pezzi

This is from the same part of north Italy that bakers of North Plymouth came from.But when you move, things change.

The only recipe I could find for this horn bread is not quite right.In one part, because it was written by someone who is not a recipe writer; but also because this was a baker’s bread and that makes it difficult to copy in a home kitchen. It’s not the talent of the baker – it’s the equipment and the scale.

Here’s a link to The Fresh Loaf discussion of Horn Bread – check out the star bread, too.

Here’s a link to a North Plymouth Horn Bread story from several years ago.

Check Robert Knox blog and read Suosso’s Lane.

And if you have a source for homemade horn bread, please share!

horn_bread

1 Comment

Filed under Bread, Italian

Down the Tubes

Tubular pastas, that is.

I went into the sandwich shop, and they had a supper special – meatball or eggplant with ziti.

Ziti_(cropped)

This is what I’m looking for.

I looked in the case and I could see the meatballs and the eggplant…

and a big tray of penne.

Penne_all'arrabbiata

This is what I see – can you see that they’re not quite the same?

And then I was confused – where’s the ziti?  It turns out it was right THERE, even though it was penne and not really ziti .

Am I getting too picky in my old age? Is there a difference between the two?

Back to the books…

.

Pastabydesign

Pasta by Design by George L. Legendre, 2011.

and

geometry of pasta

Geometry of Pasta Caz Hildebrand & Jacob Kenedy, 2010

 

   Penne:

Dimensions:

Length: 2.12 in.

Width: 0.4 in

Wall thickness: 1mm

Synonyms – mostacciolo (little mustaches); mostaccioloi rigati; penne a candela, penne di natale/natalini; penne di ziti/zitoni, pennoni

They are hollow cylinders with the ends cut at an angle (like a quill pen)…..

penne,_cooked_and_uncooked800px

“Penne should not be confused with Italian ziti, but they often are. In the States, a popular dish of baked pasta referred to as “baked ziti” is in fact made from either the much shorter penne …or American ziti – tubular pasta like smooth rigatoni.p.194 Geometry of Pasta.

According to Past By Design :“A versatile pasta, penne rigate (grooved quills) come from Campania, in southern Italy, and belong to the pasta corta (short pasta) family.” p. 124.

Penne_custom-Geometry of Pasta

Penne in Geometry of Pasta

 

 Ziti

Dimensions

Length: 2 in.

Width: 0.4 in

Wall thickness: 1.25 mm

Similar form: ziti candelati

“Intrinsically Neapolitan, ziti cannot be separated from marriages. The word in fact means “the betrothed” or “the bridegroom”, and ziti are invariably served as the first course of a wedding lunch.” p. 282 Geometry of Pasta

ziti napolean

 

“A pasta reserved for banquets and special occasions, ziti (‘grooms’ or ‘brides’ in Italian dialect) originate from Sicily. Tradition has it that they should be broken by hand before being tossed into boiling water.”)p. 196.Pasta By Design

and since we’ve going down the Tubes…..

Rigatoni

Dimensions:

Length:1.8 in.

Width: 0.6 in.

Wall thickness: 1mm

(PBD – “Members of the pasta corta (short pasta) branch, and originally from southern Italy,….p. 148.)

rigatoni_geo ofpasta

Rigatoni from the Geometry of Pasta

By the way – the PENNE was delizio!

 

1 Comment

Filed under Dinner, Italian

May Day

Lily_of_the_valley_777

Corinna’s going a Maying

Get up, get up for shame, the Blooming Morne
Upon her wings presents the god unshorne.
                     See how Aurora throwes her faire
                     Fresh-quilted colours through the aire:
                     Get up, sweet-Slug-a-bed, and see
                     The Dew-bespangling Herbe and Tree.
Each Flower has wept, and bow’d toward the East,
Above an houre since; yet you not drest,
                     Nay! not so much as out of bed?
                     When all the Birds have Mattens seyd,
                     And sung their thankful Hymnes: ’tis sin,
                     Nay, profanation to keep in,
When as a thousand Virgins on this day,
Spring, sooner than the Lark, to fetch in May.
Rise; and put on your Foliage, and be seene
To come forth, like the Spring-time, fresh and greene;
                     And sweet as Flora. Take no care
                     For Jewels for your Gowne, or Haire:
                     Feare not; the leaves will strew
                     Gemms in abundance upon you:
Besides, the childhood of the Day has kept,
Against you come, some Orient Pearls unwept:
                     Come, and receive them while the light
                     Hangs on the Dew-locks of the night:
                     And Titan on the Eastern hill
                     Retires himselfe, or else stands still
Till you come forth. Wash, dresse, be briefe in praying:
Few Beads are best, when once we goe a Maying.
Come, my Corinna, come; and comming, marke
How each field turns a street; each street a Parke
                     Made green, and trimm’d with trees: see how
                     Devotion gives each House a Bough,
                     Or Branch: Each Porch, each doore, ere this,
                     An Arke a Tabernacle is
Made up of white-thorn neatly enterwove;
As if here were those cooler shades of love.
                     Can such delights be in the street,
                     And open fields, and we not see’t?
                     Come, we’ll abroad; and let’s obay
                     The Proclamation made for May:
And sin no more, as we have done, by staying;
But my Corinna, come, let’s goe a Maying.
There’s not a budding Boy, or Girle, this day,
But is got up, and gone to bring in May.
                     A deale of Youth, ere this, is come
                     Back, and with White-thorn laden home.
                     Some have dispatcht their Cakes and Creame,
                     Before that we have left to dreame:
And some have wept, and woo’d, and plighted Troth,
And chose their Priest, ere we can cast off sloth:
                     Many a green-gown has been given;
                     Many a kisse, both odde and even:
                     Many a glance too has been sent
                     From out the eye, Loves Firmament:
Many a jest told of the Keyes betraying
This night, and Locks pickt, yet w’are not a Maying.
Come, let us goe, while we are in our prime;
And take the harmlesse follie of the time.
                     We shall grow old apace, and die
                     Before we know our liberty.
                     Our life is short; and our dayes run
                     As fast away as do’s the Sunne:
And as a vapour, or a drop of raine
Once lost, can ne’r be found againe:
                     So when or you or I are made
                     A fable, song, or fleeting shade;
                     All love, all liking, all delight
                     Lies drown’d with us in endlesse night.
Then while time serves, and we are but decaying;
Come, my Corinna, come, let’s goe a Maying.
hawthorn_flowers,common

white-thorn or hawthorne flowers

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Spring

Sea Rabbit

rabbits frolic Kano Osanobu 1796-1846

Kanu Osanobu

Coney Island seas rabbit

Coney Island Sea Rabbit – 17th century siting

Rabbit, sea

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized