Thursday, June 30, 2005

Maybe you like you say? dog?

My hot dog story from this Wednesday's Herald.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

As French as I get

Image hosted by

I'm not sure how it happened, but dinner on Friday included both of the French dishes I know how to prepare--moules mariniere and pear clafoutis (above).

I'd invited a visiting New College friend over for dinner and had decided about a week in advance to make mussels. It had been months since I'd prepared steamed mussels at all, and the last few times, I'd made this Thai version. My moules mariniere is essentially mussels steamed with white wine, chicken broth, butter, shallots and fresh thyme. I've seen other versions that add heavy cream to the broth but I don't really see that as necessary. Also, I did some homework and read Julia Child's and James Beard's versions of the recipe, both of which tell you to put everything in a heavy pot, cover it and turn on the heat. Not so for me. Hardly any more time consuming, I sweat the slivered shallots in a few tablespoons of butter, toss in the fresh thyme, stalks and all, and then add white wine and stock, probably about a cup of liquid all together. To this I add the cleaned, picked over mussels. I put on a tight fitting lid, increase the heat and give the pot a good shake. As the mussels open, I transfer them to a bowl. When all of them have opened, or in some cases proven themselves already dead by not opening, I transfer the broth to another bowl and serve both with toasted baguettes. The mussels were small, delicate and briny. The real star of this dish, however, is the broth--rich with butter and wine, but also very light and clean, tasting of thyme and the ocean.

As for the desert you see above, I had originally wanted to make the traditional clafoutis with cherries, since they are prevalent in the markets now. At least, they were prevalent. By the time I got to the supermarket on Friday afternoon, there were none left, save for the uber-expensive organic cherries. I just couldn't bring myself to buy half the produce for more than twice the price. (For more gripes of this nature, check out what Bad Things has to say lately.) Pear clafoutis is just as good, and so that's what I made.

Perhaps the simplest and most elegant-looking dessert I know how to make, clafoutis is little more than a sweet custard poured over fruit and baked. This version came from Bittman's How To Cook Everything. The cast iron pan makes for a nice presentation as well as a good brown crust on the finished custard. Usually my clafoutis sticks to the pan, but this time, by greasing the pan up with more butter than you'd like to think about and dusting it with sugar, it came clean. A final dusting of powdered sugar really ups the wow-factor.

So far I've only experimented with Bittman's recipe and one from Saveur, which I found a little too egg-y. If anyone has any other clafoutis recipes, please pass them along.


Sarasota Magazine's website now has a copy of my article that appeared in their May issue. Please let me know what you think.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

I'm not sure...

...what these people are up to, but it looks serious.

Another gem, courtesty of the livejournal image feed.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Dinner beside the sink

Image hosted by

I had Pizza Hut for dinner last night again for lunch today. Despite it being a veggie lover's pizza, something a little healthier was in order this evening.

For better or worse, most of what I ate tonight I ate in the kitchen, standing up, cooking other things.

I began with some celery and blue cheese dressing. I've been craving wings lately (more on that later, I hope) and so far, this is the closest I've come. I also had some carrots and raw broccoli with the dressing. The rest of the broccoli was steamed and eaten with a squeeze of lemon juice. All the while I had some small red potatoes cut in sixths and boiling in a pot of salted water. When they were tender I drained them and fried them with butter, olive oil, kosher salt, cracked pepper, rosemary from the garden, and a smashed garlic clove. The potatoes were brown and crisp--much more crisp than the photos I took of them. When they were done I finally sat down with a Caracole amber ale and finished my dinner.

It was a simple and very satisfying meal with an unusual arch to it. I guess what I mean is that because I cooked while I ate, by the time I sat down, I was already fairly sated. The potatoes were by far the richest of the three "courses" and did serve as a good end to the meal. Maybe I'm thinking about it to much. I tend to do that when I cook for myself and eat alone. Not that it's a bad thing. Wow, anyway.

For dessert, I took pictures of a small dish of cherries. This shot was one of the better ones of about 40. I cut down on the glare on the cherries by masking the halogen lamp in my bedroom with a few sheets of charmin. Crafty, eh?

Friday, June 17, 2005

Cheese of the Week #7: Cashel blue

Image hosted by

A creamy, veined Irish cheese, Cashel is one of the more subtle blue cheeses I've tasted. It was quite buttery at room temperature, not at all crumbly like I had expected. Also, it didn't have as much of the saltiness that I tend to associate with blue cheese. I'm not sure if salty is exactly the word I'm looking for.

Still, it had lots of the flavors I would expect from a veined cheese. Also, at roughly $5 for this wedge, it was a great deal. All respect goes to Patrick for pointing this one out to me.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Craft hour (without the hot glue)

Image hosted by

This is just a fraction of the Thai chilis that my one small plant has produced in the past few months. I can't use that much heat in the kitchen on a regular basis, so I decided to dry them. Those internets had a ton of resources about how to make ristras or strings of chilis. Most of them seemed to be geared toward larger peppers, but I think mine came out just fine. They're drying nicely in my kitchen. Once they're completely dried out I'll probably store some whole and pulse some in a food processor.

Image hosted by

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Can I just say...

...that some Jehovah's Witnesses damn-near made me burn my scrambled egg this morning. Now I'm not knocking the door-to-door religion, but, man, I only had one egg in the fridge and I really did not want to screw it up. I told them as much, and they seemed to get the picture.