August 2011


I have been married about 38 years. All good!! So the idea of eating alone on a regular basis is rather foreign to me. Since I went from my folk’s house, to a college dorm to my own home I haven’t had much chance to eat out alone. I did it once, with a book, and it was nice, but most of the time if I eat alone it is at home. And usually I do take the time to cook for myself. Usually Indian. Or maybe Asian. And usually I enjoy it. But I might not if it was on a regular basis!!

Why am I telling you all this? Because of the book. It is a collection of stories by people who do eat alone on a regular basi. But….

    …eating alone isn’t natural. Life’s greatest sensual pleasure (or at least its most consistenetly attainable) should be shared. I happen to believe that humans were born to feed one another. The meal is our celebration of nurturance, our secular communion.”
      ~Steve Almond~

And that is my feeling exactly. Eating is something that is much more enjoyable with other people. Sharing stories, sharing desserts, sharing togetherness. But maybe alone is okay, too. Quiet. Selfish eating. ME TIME!! Sometimes.

    The Year of Spaghetti by Haruki Murakami
    Eating Alone by Maracella Hazan {probably the first woman in her family to eat alone}
    The Legend of Salsa Rosa by Ben Karlin
    Asparagus Superhero by Phoebe Nobles {she really enjoys asparagus}
    Alone in the Kitchen with Eggplant by Laurie Colwin {in her closet sized apartment with Wilt Chamberlain}
    Instant Noodles by Rattawut Lapcharoensap {“It’s what you add to it that counts!”}
    How to cook in a New York Apartment by Laura Dave {don’t cook that which leaves its smell behind.}

are just a few of the essays included. Some of them funny, some of them sad. {You will have to find out which are which!!} Some of them I read more than once. All of them intriquing.


    And when I cook I refuse to use more than one pan. A great meal alone is joyous but ending it with a lot of dishwashing diminishes the effect.
      ~Amanda Hesser

My favorite was the first story,”Alone in the Kitchen with Eggplant” beacause Laurie’s essay just sort of summed everything up.


    Dinner alone is one of life’s pleasures. Certainly cooking for oneself reveals man at his weirdest. People lie when you ask them what they eat when they are alone. A salad, they tell you. But when you persist, they confess to peanut butter and bacon sandwiches deep fried and eaten with hot sauce, or spaghetti with butter and grape jam.”

Eating is a pleasure – usually – and eating alone can be if the time, place, food is right. As with this recipe from Karlin’s essay:

Salsa Rosa for One

    3 tablespoons olive oil
    5 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
    i small zucchini, sliced (optional)
    3 roma tomatoes, chopped
    1 box Pomi diced tomatoes, around 20 ounces
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1/3 cup parmigiano cheese, grated
    1 box panna (cooking cream), about 6 ounces, or half pint heavy
    cream
    1/3 pound dry pasta (spaghettini, cappellini, or any long thin noodle. Do not try with fusilli, penne, or farfalle)
    Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until it just turns brown.
Add the zucchini and cook, stirring, until it has a yellowish sheen.
Add the fresh and boxed tomatoes. (Canned whole tomatoes will work too—just make sure there are some fresh ones in there.)
Lower the heat a bit and cook until all the tomatoes start break-ing down and forming a sugo (sauce).
Now add the butter, cheese, and cream, but don’t add it in all at once.
Mix it in, so the Sauce continues to cook and reduce down. You want to do at least three or four waves.
Once it’s all in, set the heat to low and cover.
Boil your water and cook your pasta al dente. Remember, it will finish cooking once it’s out of the boiling water, so don’t leave it in too long.
After you strain the pasta, throw it back into the pot with a nice pour of extra-virgin olive oil.
Add some salt and pepper, then pour the salsa rosa over the pasta.
Mix, but not too roughly, just so it gets slithery with sauce.
Eat it.
Run a marathon the next day.

It was VERY tasty. [Sorry no pics, it was late, I was tired.] And yes, you will feel the need to run it off the next day!!!

If you get a chance, pick up this collection of short stories. Enjoyable!

To see other ‘book reports’ visit The Kitchen Reader.

This month’s selection comes from Ani of Anjeme.

Odd title you say. Yes, it is. But what it is leading to is a Two-Fer for TWD. This week’s tasty treat and one from earlier this month that just didn’t get posted, or made for that matter.

This weeks’ pick from Caitlin of Engineer Baker is…

    Cornmeal and Fruit Loaf

When one of my Twitter Buddies asked me about this loaf I described it as an apple cake, but Nancy hit it right when she called it a sweet cornbread with apples. Exactly!! So if you like cornbread and you like apples then this loaf is just right for you. It contains both fresh and dried apples spiced up with cinnamon (optional. NO!!) and nutmeg. There is just enough cornmeal included to take it out of the regular quick bread category. Great Pick, Caitlin. This is soo good. It is good toasted, too.

You can find the recipe on Caitlin’s blog and on pate 43 of Dorie’s Baking From My Home to Yours.

Now this is a Two-Fer, remember.


Back on 8/16 the pick for TWD was Tropical Crumble.

Made in a pie pan square casserole dish it is a combination of cooked mango and banana (and thus NOT very photogenic) which is mixed with fresh and ground ginger and brown sugar and then covered with a brown sugar, butter, pecan streusel.

The streusel is put on before the crumble is baked so it melts into the mangos and bananas for a rich tasty treat.

Thanks, Gaye, for a delightful dessert. You can find the recipe on her blog, Laws of the Kitchen or on page 418 of Dorie’s BFMHTY.

The more I work with puff pastry the more I like it. And the results are always so fun. Like these Elephant Ears aka Palm leaves, pig’s ears, palmiers.

We already know how easy it is to make Malgieri’s Puff Pastry. So it is super dooper (super dooper??) easy to make these little cookies. And they are very addictive.

Let the pastry dough warm up just a little and roll it into a 8″ x 12″ rectangle. This should be done while generously covering the dough top and bottom with sugar. After rolling, the long sides are folded toward the center (but not completely to the center. Then fold them in again. You will end up with a ‘log’ which you flatten slightly with your hand.

Chill a bit and then slice 1/2 inch pieces, dip in sugar and place sugar side down on a parchment paper to bake. As the pastries bake they caramelize on the bottom giving you a tasty little sugary treat.

Ideally the elephant ears should stay closed, like hearts, but mine opened up. Still tasty, though.

I used 1/8 of the puff pastry and ended it up with 12 ears. And they are now all gone!!!

Malgieri’s recipe is on page 210 of The Modern Baker. Visit the Puff Pastry Page for the Challenge and see who else has made the Ears!!

    Trust Dorie!! Trust Dorie!! Trust Dorie!!

You would think after almost 3 years of baking with Dorie Greenspan I would remember that.
But this isn’t baking – it’s cooking!! Different!! Right?? Well, maybe not when it comes to cooking…

    Trust Dorie!! Trust Dorie!!

But it was hard this time.

When I looked at the recipe originally I decided I would make it but I wouldn’t like it. Nope, just wouldn’t! Why?? Well, lets look at the ingredients.

    capers (ewwwe)
    cornichons (simply – pickles) (ewwwe)

Which would be chopped up all together (double ewwwwe!!) with sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, and tarragon and then mixed with the ground beef to make a patty.

Well, I’ll make it, I’ll eat it, but I won’t like it!!

    Trust Dorie!! Trust Dorie!!


So I made the onion marmalade with the red onion, water, butter and coriander. And it was DELICIOUS!! I could eat that by spoonfuls. By bowlfuls. Yes, it was THAT good.

So how about the burger?? I was SOOO wrong!! It. Was. DELICOUS. No kidding. The additions of the capers, cornichons and spices just gave the whole mix a wonderful flavor. I made one burger just for me and I am so glad I did. With the addition of the marmalade and the ribbons of Parmesan cheese it was probably the best burger I have ever eaten. ANYWHERE!!

Thanks, Dorie! You made my day!!

Recipe is from Dorie’s around my french table on page 240.

There is just something about Pasta. When I was low-carbing a few years back the only thing I really missed was Pasta. Bread and Rice I could do without, but not Pasta. Now that I have decided a better way to eat Pasta is back in the menu line-up. And thanks to 30 Minute Thursdays and Giuliano Hazan I am exploring Pasta.

Such as this one…

    Linguine ai Gamberi e Zucchini

Pasta and seafood. Perfect! I made the whole recipe because I was making it for a sick friend. And she loves seafood, especially shrimp, as much as I do. We both pronounced it delicious.

It is a simple mix of olive oil, garlic and fresh tomatoes with the shrimp and sliced zucchini.

The recipe is on page 108 of Giuliano’s 30 Minute Pastas

Please visit Glennis and Kayte for their weekly posts for Thirty Minute Thursdays.

    Muffins!

Cupcakes without frosting. Or maybe cupcakes are muffin ‘wanna-bes’ just waiting to be stripped of their frosting cover {Which is why, maybe, lots of people lick off the frosting before eating the cupcake.} While cupcakes are ‘fussy’, Muffins always tend to feel comforting to me.

Whatever is right muffins are tasty little handy breafasts/snacks in a paper holder crying out to be cupped in the hand warm from the oven and savored slowly.

See, they even make me wax a little poetic!

    Sweet Potato-Pecan Muffins

I ran across a Muffin Mini-cookbook while cleaning out 30 Years of Country Living Magazine. {And no, I don’t know why I kept them…and yes, I know there are others out there …you know who you are!!} By cleaning out I mean tearing out all the recipes, paper clipping them by month and throwing out the rest of the magazine. There were 12 muffin recipes to choose from. This is the first of many. The mini cookbook is still on my counter which means I will make, probabaly, 11 more from it.

And if they are all as good as this one…. There was a hint of sweetness from the grated sweet potato and a nice little crunch from the chopped {and toasted} pecans. Beware CupCakes, these don’t need no stinkin’ frosting to be very very tasty!!

Ingredients:

    6 tablespoons butter, softened
    2/3 cup sugar
    1 large egg
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 3/4 cup unsifted all-purpose flour
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2/3 cup milk
    1 sweet potato (about 1/2 pound), peeled and finely grated
    2/3 cup chopped pecans

1.Heat oven to 375’F.
2.Prepare muffin pan.
3.In large bowl, with electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla until blended.
4.In medium-size bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
5.Add flour mix¬ture to butter mixture alternately with milk, beating just until combined.
6.Fold in sweet potato and pecans.
7.Using ice-cream scoop or large spoon, divide batter among greased muffin-pan cups.
8.Bake muffins 25 to 30 minutes or until centers spring back when lightly pressed with fingertip. Cool muffins in pan on wire rack 5 minutes.
9.Remove muffins from pan and serve warm.


Country Living October 1993

Submitting to

One of the good things about being a member of Tuesdays with Dorie is being able to pick one of the recipes for all the members to make. And I was surprised when I was lucky enough to pick a second one because we ran out of members before we ran out of recipes. YAY!! But,like the first time, it was hard to pick. Not because there are so few good ones left, but because there are so many good ones left. I had finally narrowed the list down to about 10 before I chose to make this bread instead of something sweet. As it turns out Mike of Ugly Food for an Ugly Dude chose Cocoa Almond Meringues for earlier this month. And Nancy of The dogs Eat the Crumbs chose Carrot Spice Muffins both of which were on my short list.

I love making bread, so this was actually an easy choice for me. There have been so many sweets in the house I decided something unsweet was just right.

      Golden Brioche Loaves

Dorie says,”

    “ELEGANT” is the best word to describe this rich bread, with its golden color, unforgettable texture—pull on a slice and watch how it stretches luxuriously in thin, ever widening lengths (one sign of a superior brioche)—and slightly sweet, fully buttery flavor.
    This is the basic recipe for brioche dough, and here it is formed into two loaves, each loaf comprised of four easy-to-pull-apart sections, perfect for serving at breakfast—just add great jam and butter—or for turning into heavenly Sugar-Crusted French Toast (page 60) or, if it lasts long enough to go stale, Bostock (see Playing Around).
    As with many yeast doughs, this one works best in larger batches, so please don’t downsize the recipe. If you don’t need two loaves now, freeze one to enjoy later. Or shape half of the dough into a loaf and use the other half to make Pecan Honey Sticky Buns (page 51) or Brioche Raisin Snails (page 56).
    The first time I made brioche, I was taking a baking course and, so that we could get to know its properties, we made the dough by hand, beating everything into silky submission with a wooden spoon. I huffed and puffed harder and longer than 1 had when I’d run a half-marathon. Thankfully, while bakers of yore had only their energy and a spoon at their disposal, this is not the case nowadays. Today brioche is made with the flick of the switch on a heavy-duty mixer. This is one recipe that should not be made with a hand mixer—in all likelihood, the mix¬ing will wear out the motor. So, either fire up the stand mixer or pull out your sturdiest wooden spoon.”

The dough should be made 1 day ahead and then shaped and baked the next.


FOR THE BRIOCHE:

    2 packets active dry yeast
    1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch water
    1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk
    3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons salt
    3 large eggs, at room temperature
    ¾ cup sugar
    3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature but still slightly firm

FOR THE GLAZE:

    1 large egg
    1 Tbl water

TO MAKE THE BRIOCHE: Put the yeast, water and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and salt, and fit the mixer with the dough hook, if you have one. Toss a kitchen towel over the mixer, covering the bowl as completely as you can—this will help keep you, the counter and your kitchen floor from being showered in flour. Turn the mixer on and off in a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour (yes, you can peek to see how you’re doing), then remove the towel, increase the mixer speed to medium-low and mix for a minute or two, just until the flour is moistened. At this point you’ll have a fairly dry, shaggy mass.
Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, set the mixer to low and add the eggs, followed by the sugar. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes, until the dough forms a ball. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter in 2-tablespoon-size chunks, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding the next. You’ll have a dough that is very soft, almost like a batter. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a clean bowl (or wash out the mixer bowl and use it), cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes, depending upon the warmth of your room.
Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap into the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Slap the dough down in the bowl every 30 minutes until it stops rising, about 2 hours, then leave the covered dough in the refrigerator to chill overnight.
The next day, butter and flour two 81/2-x-41/2-inch loaf pans.
Pull the dough from the fridge and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cut each piece of dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each piece into a log about 3l/z inches long. Arrange 4 logs crosswise in the bottom of each pan. Put the pans on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat, cover the pans lightly with wax paper and leave the loaves at room temperature until the dough almost fills the pans, 1 to 2 hours. (Again, rising time will depend on how warm the room is.)

GETTING READY TO BAKE: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
TO MAKE THE GLAZE: Beat the egg with the water. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the loaves with the glaze.
Bake the loaves until they are well risen and deeply golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the pans to racks to cool for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pans and turn the loaves out onto the racks. Invert again and cool for at least 1 hour.


MAKES 2 LOAVES
SERVING: As soon as the loaves cool, they are ready to be sliced thickly and served, toasted or not, with butter and jam.
STORING: Well-wrapped (cooled) loaves will keep overnight at room temperature. If you’d like, you can rewarm the loaves by wrapping them in aluminum foil and heating them for about 15 minutes in a 350-degree-F oven. The loaves can also be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months; defrost in the wrapping.

Playing Around

BOSTOCK: Bostock, stale brioche spread with almond cream, sprinkled with sliced al¬monds and baked to a state of puffed and golden delicious-ness, was originally a breakfast sweet created by European bak¬ers to make use of their day-old brioche. But the sweet proved so good that bakers now make both brioche and almond cream for the sole purpose of turning these fresh delicacies into bostock. My advice to you is to start with any leftover brioche you have and then, if you love bostock as much as’so many Europeans do, consider dedicating one loaf to bostock alone.
To make a single portion of bostock, cut a slice of brioche y4 to % inch thick. Spread the bread with about 3 tablespoons Almond Cream (page 452), leaving a little bor¬der bare, and scatter over some sliced almonds, blanched or not. Put the bread on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat, and bake in a 350-degree-F oven until the almond cream is puffed and golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve the bostock warm or at room temperature.

This bread is so rich (three sticks of butter!!) it doesn’t need any accompanyment of butter or jam. Warm from the oven or toasted, it is as good as it comes. As good as it is fresh, I am going to ‘stale’ a slice or two just to try the Bostock.

Please visit the other members of TWD and check out their brioche.

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