My normal baking routine is to make dough in the evening and then let it rise overnight for baking in the morning. The wild starter likes a long ferment, and gets even better after a day or two in the fridge after the first rise (if I’ve planned ahead, which is not always the case). But sometimes one needs of the baked goods in a narrower time frame, and it is for that very reason that I always also have a bag of dried yeast on hand.
Month: June 2011
We ended up owning a vast cooler full of fruit pursuant to an under-attended neighborhood function recently, and the poor fridge was jammed to the rafters with watermelon and bowls of grapes and such. This highly non-local windfall was begging to have its volume consolidated, since the arrival of fruit fly season meant that keeping any of it outside the fridge for any length of time was a non-starter. I figured that the quickest way to compact it all would be to purée it (juicing not being an option since we haven’t replaced the broken juicer yet). And then there was all that gelatin in the cupboard.
About ten years ago, we were in France with Christine’s family staying at a place near Uzès. One evening we went to dinner at l’Amphitryon, which had been recommended by someone. A perfect evening, with excellent service by the very friendly chef-owner, left two lasting memories: a bottle of Crozes-Hermitage made by a very small producer who I don’t remember, and a small dish of baby octopus and asparagus. It was a perfect, elegant synthesis of field and sea, where neither dominated and the subtle sweetnesses of both main ingredients twined around each other seamlessly. I told him as much, and he smiled and nodded and was pleased that I understood his work. The warmth of his spirit really came out in his food.
For some reason, that dish was in my head yesterday morning, and as a result day three of the seafood extravaganza turned out to be the best. In part that was because we had some dear friends come by and share it with us. We hadn’t seen them in ages, so I took a little time to make it as well as I had imagined it over the course of the morning. Usually when I can see a dish clearly before I begin cooking, I can be pretty sure it will come out well. And this one snapped into focus quickly on the walk back up the hill in the sun, carrying a bag of unforseen inspiration: when Milo and I walked down there this morning to buy coffee beans, the local store actually had both sea beans and morels, so I got excited and bought a handful of each.
I’ve been taking the weekends off from the blog lately, and though traffic craters as a result I can’t bring myself to care. This is why I’ll never be famous. The eating continues, even though in today’s modern world of the future one could argue that a meal eaten without being photographed and written up is much akin to the tree falling in the forest with nobody around. Last night I did get out the camera, because we had a pretty good dinner inspired by some first-rate fish courtesy of Gerard, who called on Saturday to say that he had more than he could deal with. So I drove over and picked up a trove of goodies.
The boy has been clamoring for ribs lately, but we were foiled in our attempt to procure them for him last week. This week, however, found the goddess Costa smiling upon us, so today I took a mid-afternoon break to get a slab and a half cosy in the oven so they’d be falling-apart by the time the dinner bell sounded.
So that paella? Was but foreplay for this, my original idea. I’ve been basing dinner on strategically deployed leftovers for so long now, I’ve started to think backwards. See, I took a small square camembert from a recent batch and cold-smoked it back when we did the photo shoot for the DIY article. I figured that if I was going to fire up the actual cold smoker, then it would behoove me to use it to good and photogenic effect. So I popped the camembert in there to bask in the fragrant smoke of cherry chips and some grape vines I had pruned.
This month’s Charcutepalooza task was stuffing, so I made sure to get a pork shoulder and a bunch of duck legs in addition to casings, and I froze all the meat so I could grind it in a semi-thawed state, which makes for the best results. I had a couple of ideas, and both were meant for hanging rather than fresh eating since the first batch of salami came out pretty well. I got them both ground and had the mixtures ready to go. Then, lo and behold, it was made known to me that a couple of damsels were distressed about the prospect of stuffing for the first time all by themselves. So, through the magic of Twitter, soon they both had lots of lurid pictures of my sausage.
Oh, and we arranged for them to come over and learn stuffing at the side of
a master someone who has totally done it a couple of times before.
I made the big sausage stuffing dinner tonight, but I don’t quite have it in me to write about it right now. I’ll get to it on the morrow when I have a bit more energy. Meantime, here’s something we made yesterday, using entirely homemade ingredients, for a truly special and yet incredibly everyday treat.
We were away for the weekend, blowing what was shaping up to be a pretty good posting streak, but the 25th high school reunion would not be denied. It’s always fun to go back to Massachusetts, and in this case seeing a wider variety of old friends than usual was an added bonus. Bringing the family made for an even better time; everyone got to see what a fuckup I didn’t turn out to be (probably a surprise) and my lovely wife made some new friends. Having said that, though, a few days of adequate but not homemade food meant that by the time we got home, I was seriously ready for some homegrown fare.
This meal was sort of random, in that what we had hoped to eat wasn’t available, but happily it continued with the Korean-Spanish theme of the soup in the last post. I feel strongly that Korean food will be the next big culinary craze in this country, since it’s meat-centric, spicy, often grilled, and highly adaptable: perfectly suited for American eaters. It’s as accessible as Mexican and as varied as Japanese or Indian. Those trucks in LA are the leading edge of some major taste-changing.