Thursday, August 28, 2014

LET'S START WITH DESSERT

I've been saving my stories for the book that I'm writing. Most of them, at least. A few have slipped their way over to Food52 (see above).  I've posted one of my early summer favorites below.

Once my manuscript is turned in, I'll be back here with lots to say. Just keep chanting you can do it, you can do it, Phyllis, you can fucking do it.

Thanks. It helps. A lot.

xoxo
P.S. You can find me posting excessively over on Instagram. And sometimes I have a few things to rant about on Twitter or Facebook.

------------------------------------
After a weekend away and some heavy-duty denial about the fact that it’s officially June, I wake up early Monday morning to find the rest of my life sitting on my chest. This unfamiliar weight scares me. 
I make my coffee, paw around in the freezer, pray that there is something I can MacGyver into two school lunches. Frozen peas land on my jet-lagged son's head. Lamb bones fall onto my bare toes. And before I can stop it, an avalanche of unlabeled freeze-burned Ziplocked scraps slides down to the floor.  
I shove it all back into the freezer, heave my body weight against the door, and lock the chaos back in. 
And things don’t improve. 
It is the kind of morning where my son cries because his daddy will miss his Ninjago-themed sleepover birthday party. It is the kind of morning where I drop my husband off at the airport, lean in for a long deep kiss, and say goodbye for the entire summer. My heart aches so much that it is hard to turn my head over my shoulder to change lanes. I find myself driving down the freeway singing along and sobbing away to John Cougar Mellencamp. 
It’s only 11 AM. 
Bird by bird. 
I open the freezer. I face my future. 
Ten years ago, if you were scrounging around in my freezer for a stick of butter, you would have run into a placenta, a dozen bags of breast milk, some very stale pot, and lots of New York Super Fudge Chunk. Period. 
Now you’ll find enough tortillas to open a Mexican restaurant, fancy-ass square ice cubes (small, medium, large), lardo, bacon, bacon, bacon, two uncooked short ribs from this year’s Super Bowl party, fresh horseradish, a smorgasbord of pastries, pesto, egg whites, my neighbor’s homemade lemon curd, mini pissaladièresbrown butter cupcake brownieschocolate chip cookies, pulled pork, garlic confit, slow-cooked tomatoes, soup, pizza, pizza, pizza. And that, my friends, is just the beginning.  
Starting with the short ribs, I begin cooking the next six meals that will go into my kids’ bellies. I sear off the frozen meat in bacon fat, toss in some onions, garlic, and anchovies. I deglaze with wine while the meat is still in the pan. I break all of the rules. And then I add some gooey balsamic and a large frozen block of diced tomatoes. 
I throw the mess into the oven and forget about it until the smell brings me back.
I lift the lid. I shred the meat. I pick out the fatty bits. My heart rate slows down.

Friday, May 23, 2014

FROM MY COLUMN AT FOOD52

A letter to my daughter. And some recipe ideas for the long weekend. I highly recommend pouring crème fraîche all over your pasta. And butterscotch sauce all over your caramel ice cream.

…………..

Dear Bella,  
This morning, you rolled over and yelled out, I want a grilled cheese with pesto in my lunch. And then you added, please. And then you said, but only if that's okay, mom, if not, just make me whatever is easiest. That's when I felt my heart grow too damn big for my chest. It pushed up and made a little lump in my throat. It made the back of my neck tingle.
And that's when I thought, hot damn. That baby girl of mine is going to be okay. I just need to keep letting go.
You probably don't remember, but I spent the first six months of your life holding your teeny screaming body to my chest. While bouncing vigorously on a massive blue exercise ball. Because you thought this world sucked. And you wanted back into my womb. The first time I could put you down without hearing a colicky wail, I sobbed with relief and accomplishment. As if, yes, I have arrived. I am done. I did my work.
But then I had to be brave enough to walk around the corner to make myself a cup of coffee and believe that you would still be alive when I came back.
Then I learned to let go of your hand. Your baby words. Your need to always be by my side. 
More and more, lately, I've been jumping ahead to the day that you move out of our house. I have so much more to teach you. How are we going to fit it all in?
So I've decided to start writing things down. Here's my first lesson. And surprise surprise, it involves the kitchen. Start here, and many other things will fall into place:
1. Freeze little bits of everything. Bacon. Tart dough. Half a cookie. Nuts. Coffee. A chunk of parmesan. Pesto. Tomato sauce. Baguette scraps. That way you can throw a dinner together in the middle of the night. You never know. 
2. Make your own crème fraîche. Once a week. It will brighten up everything. Your windowsill. Your chocolate cake. Your pancakes. Your pasta.
3. Put lemon zest in everything.
4. Learn to make empty-out-the-fridge pesto. Kale and almonds and manchego. Or arugula and walnuts and goat cheese. Almost any combination works. It is cost effective. It is versatile.
And someday, in your own kitchen, you will find yourself eating pasta with broccolini pesto, crème fraîche, and lemon zest. For breakfast. Like I did this morning. But until then, I will rouse you out of bed, help you search for matching socks, wipe the Nutella off your chin, and tuck your hair behind your ears. Until you slip slip slip out of my fingers into someone else's arms.
Love,
Mama
https://food52.com/blog/10236-pasta-with-broccolini-pesto-and-creme-fraiche
https://food52.com/blog/10327-romaine-and-avocado-salad-with-anchovy-garlic-vinaigrette
CITRUS SALAD WITH GOAT CHEESE-STUFFED DATES
https://food52.com/blog/10050-citrus-salad-with-goat-cheese-stuffed-dates
https://food52.com/blog/9863-romaine-salad-with-bacon-5-minute-eggs-and-pesto-dressing
https://food52.com/blog/10136-butterscotch-sauce
https://food52.com/blog/10432-caramel-ice-cream

Thursday, April 3, 2014

BEDTIME STORIES

Monday
Dash, what did you do today at school?

Chased girls.

Which ones?

Ella. And Chloe. Oh my god they have a lot of girls protecting them.

What do you do when you catch one?

That doesn't happen much.

But if you do?

We throw them in the dungeon. But they always escape. They put their heads down and bust out like bulls.

Strong girls. I like that.

I slowly back out of his room.

Mom. Stay. I need you.

Good night, beautiful.

You suck, mom. I always ask you to stay and you never do.

Tuesday
How did it go today with the girl chasing?

Sadly, mom, we didn't get any.

Girls are hard to catch. 

He grabs me by the shoulders.

Mom. Stay. I need you.

I slip out of his arms like I'm removing armor.

Wednesday
Dash. I've been thinking. If you want to catch them, you've got to be smarter.

You mean like steal their detailed dungeon maps?

Smarter than that.

Like what?

Maybe offer them some dessert.

Interesting idea, mom.

He rolls away and faces the wall. I can feel his brain churning.

Thursday
Thanks so much for giving me two Rice Krispie treats in my lunch.

You're so welcome. I thought they would make you smile.

And guess what? Chloe saw them and freaked out because she wanted one so bad. She was all blooblablooblablooblablaaaaaaaaaaa. Shaking her arms. Like a monster. I was super scared. So I gave her half a Rice Krispie treat.

Friday
Chase any girls today?

No, we're done with that.

Why?

I don't know. Maybe we should just ignore girls for a little while. I don't understand them.

Well, I'm a girl. Don't ignore me. 

You're not a girl. You're a woman. And you're old.

Saturday
Mom, will you please google something for me? Type in what's the difference between boys and girls?

Dashi, I know the answer to that. Girls have vaginas. Boys have penises.

I heard something else. I heard that girls have more taste buds.

Well, that explains a lot of things.

Like what? Mom. What does it explain? Google it.

Scoot over. I'm lying down.

Awesome!

You want to hear what daddy cooked for me on the night we met?

Yes!

It was the middle of the night. It was snowing...
BROWN BUTTER RICE CRISPY TREATS WITH BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE
printable recipe
Adapted from the classic recipe for Kellogg's Rice Krispie Treats. Use really dark and bitter chocolate to balance out the sweetness of the marshmallows.
serve 2-8

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound bag of trashy marshmallows (don't waste the fancy organic kind on this recipe)
6 cups Rice Krispies (I use Kellogg's)
1/3 teaspoon kosher salt
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate

With butter or nonstick baking spray, grease  a baking dish (about 8"x10"). Lightly grease a piece of parchment that's about the size of your hand. Set both aside.

In a medium-sized pot, melt the butter over medium heat. It will take a few minutes to brown. But stick around. It will sizzle for a bit. Once a wonderful nutty smell hits your nostrils, watch carefully. The foaming and sizzling will slow down and brown bits will drop to the bottom of the pan. At this point, turn the heat down to low. Add the marshmallows. Stir until they're all melted. Turn off heat and stir in Rice Krispies and salt.

Quickly pour mixture into the greased baking dish. Move fast. With the piece of greased parchment, press it down until firmly until it's flat and even. Allow it to cool for about 15 minutes. Loosen by working your way around with a spatula. Slowly pry the firmed up block out of the dish. Be patient. This can take a few minutes. If it falls apart, you can always press it back together. Place on a cutting board.

 In a double boiler or over low heat, melt the chocolate. Drizzle melted chocolate all over the firmed up Rice Krispie mixture. Place in the fridge to set up for about 20 minutes. Cut into squares. Eat.

Store squares at room temperature for a day or two. Or freeze for a few months. But believe me, they taste best right away. Slightly warm. Fresh. With a bit of extra chocolate.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

CATCHING UP

This post will be old news for those of you who follow me on  Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. So if you think of it, please check back next week for some newness involving Dash, chasing girls, and caramel apples.

But for those of you who aren't following me on social media and maybe thought I had fallen off a cliff, I've been busy with the following:

Working on my book (due in six months). 

Killing rats (I take no prisoners). 

Trying to drink fewer martinis (no comment).

Tending to sick kids (but not too sick to be dragged out of bed and enlisted as photographers).
photo credit: Isabel Ross (my daughter)

Making Baked Alaskas (Dash + blow torch = all kinds of excitement).

Celebrating 25 years with my husband (yes, we met when I was a child of 19).

Cleaning out my closet (exciting finds: a 10-year-old bong made from a Miracle Whip jar and a pair of over-the-knee UGG clog boots). 

Shaving my legs (once, on February 3rd). 

Talking Dutch Baby Pancakes on Yahoo Food.

Doing an interview with Saveur Magazine in which I ramble on about the birth of my blog, how I develop a post, and what I've learned over these past four years of blogging. Here's the pinch-me-is-this-for-real intro: With a deeply personal emphasis, and style ranging from confessional to light and jocular, Phyllis Grant's blog Dash and Bella is a prolific and poetic log of daily life that focuses on food and cooking... (continue reading on Saveur)

And I've been writing every few weeks for Food52. I'm loving working with my editor, Kenzi Wilbur. Nice to get out of my crazy head. Very freeing to have someone guide me. Here are the last five pieces from my "Cooking What I Want" column. There is a link to each story if you want to continue reading or check out a recipe. 

POMEGRANATE-ROASTED CARROTS
In a fit of hunger, I have never opened the fridge and exclaimed, “Damn, I need to eat some carrots. NOW.” 
To be honest, carrots in both their raw and cooked iterations have always made me feel depressed...(continue reading)
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Year round, my freezer is a treasure trove of sweet treats. Often, when friends come over, they walk right past me, head into the kitchen, and start foraging around until ahhhh yes they find what they’re looking for: chocolate chip cookies. They take a huge bite and sigh out a thing or two from this list:
They’re intoxicating.
Can I live at your house? In your freezer? With those cookies?
They’re perfect.
They need ice cream.
They’re so you.
They make me happy.
OMFG.
They are the reason I come over to your house.
I’ll trade you some for a bottle of gin.
Can I have another?
(continue reading)
HAZELNUT BRITTLE WITH CHOCOLATE
I’ve always baked during my daughter’s birthday week. Obsessively. Epically. You name it, I’ve whipped it up. Vanilla bean cupcakes covered in marzipan bumble bees. Three-tiered pink princess cakes peppered with Playmobile figures. Crushed candy cane fillings. Ganache waterfalls. Towers of donuts. Her yearly birthday dessert vision appeared weeks ahead of time via a sit-down meeting and an intricate drawing. I welcomed the challenge. The more advanced the pastry adventure, the less time I had to trip out on the passing of time and the fact that this phenomenal girl was going to be heading out of the house before we knew it. But this year was different...(continue reading)

MINI PISSALADIÈRES
Peel and thinly slice an onion. Throw it in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add a knob of butter, a generous splash of olive oil, and a pinch of kosher salt. Stir until the onion softens a bit over medium heat. Don’t listen to that voice telling you you shouldn’t caramelize one onion because if you’re doing one you might as well do eight. Drop in a sprig of thyme, cover. Feel extravagant. Turn the heat down as low as it will go.
Water your plants. Scrub some paint off of the kitchen wall that you’ve been staring at since your son was three years old. Sort the socks. Start re-reading the Molly Bloom chapter from “Ulysses.” Smell something sweet and beautiful. Remember the onion. Run for the onion...(continue reading)
BROWN BUTTER CUPCAKE BROWNIES
Friday morning. I stare at twelve duck legs, two frozen lamb shanks, and twenty sausages. I don’t quite believe it, but by Sunday night, in order to celebrate multiple family birthdays, this pile of meat will morph into an enormous pot of French stew. I open my recipe journal from this time last year to find notes on how to make a cassoulet. It was so delicious that I want to replicate every last detail. I search and search. I finally concede that I didn’t write anything down. I burst into tears. I’m on my own.
Saturday morning. The beans are simmering with salt pork. The duck legs are smothered in salt and garlic and bay leaves. The lamb is seared off. I am making shit up as I go along, but I am optimistic. While bashing garlic, anchovy, and tomato paste into a purée, I start thinking about the post-cassoulet dessert. It must be chocolate. It must be elegant...(continue reading)

Monday, December 23, 2013

SOMETIME IN DECEMBER

Back out of the driveway. In the rear-view mirror, spy your son eating frozen cinnamon bread, cookie-monster style. Listen to your daughter practicing the intro to "The Raven." Smile big as you drive off because, miracle of fucking Christmas miracles, you are going to be on time for school.

MOM!!!!

What, Dash?

I'm not buckled.

Slam on the brakes.

Okay. I'm buckled now. But, mom?

What?

I forgot my lunch. And my sweatshirt. And my fencing mask. I'm sorry.

Back up, double park, and race up the stairs like a madwoman. Find all of the critical items. Race back down the stairs like a madwoman. Re-enter the vehicle.

Mom?

Yes, Bella?

Please turn on the holiday music.

Crank Lite FM's all-Christmas-music-all-the-time station.

Groove.

Feel something involuntary and preachy bubbling up. Let go into a holiday-themed platitudinous rant about the importance of process and empathy and how anything worth doing takes time and effort and patience and how we need to be content with what we have and how very lucky we are to have food on our table and presents under the tree and heat and Wi-Fi and gin and chocolate chip cookies and parkour classes and a Democrat in the White House and—

Mom, did that guy really just sing that his mama kissed Santa Claus?

It's possible. I wasn't listening. 

What are you going to do today, mom?

I'm NOT going to kiss Santa. 

Good. He's kind of old anyway.

He's not my type.

Right. Daddy's your type! 

Swerve the car into the school's carpool drop-off line.

Dashi. Bella. Can I tell you something funny?

Yes!

I'm wearing my nightgown underneath my parka.

Silence.

Mom, that is not funny at all.

Bella, no one can tell.

Listen to your son laugh so hard you worry he might hurt himself.

Mom?

Yes, Bella?

Please open the doors. We're going to be late.

Wish they would stay with you forever in this warm car bubble.

I love you guys. Have a beautiful day. 

Mom?

Yes, Dash?

You have a beautiful day too. Making stew. Or whatever you do.

Press the unlock button and set them free.

Watch them fade into the colorful lunchbox crowd. Your daughter all perfectly tweened out in skinny jeans and side pony tail and lip gloss. Your son, trailing and flailing behind, all 6-year-old Pig-Pen scrappy with his sweatpants covered in dog hair, cowlicky hair sticking out all over, parka dragging along the ground.

Lean back in your seat and feel your morning adrenaline flatline.

Say your daily mantra. Just start with the bed. Just start with the bed. Just start with the bed. Just start with the bed. Just start with the bed.

Drive home. Enter the house. Make the bed.

Cook stew in your nightgown.

(for margi young: keep breathing.)
(for chris eigeman: hey look, it's not dessert!)

Nightgown Stew Ramblings

Old news: Beef + wine + hours of slow cooking = sweet meaty goodness.

New news: Some beauty happens when you halve carrots, coat them with salt and pomegranate molasses, place them on top of wine-drenched stew meat, and leave them to simmer away all day in the oven. When you open the pot many hours later, you will found the carrots resting just where you left them, still intact, their sweetness exponentially increased. Carefully remove the carrots and heat them up in a separate pan before serving. 

The stew can be served over couscous, polenta, pasta, or brown rice. And, for things to be exciting, you must have toppings on the table, My favorites are crème fraiche or yogurt, toasted pine nuts, pomegranate arils, chopped parsley, herbaceous olive oil, and coarse salt.

You can make this several days ahead of time. You can freeze it. You can expand the leftovers with cooked potatoes, turnips, and more canned tomatoes. You can even make this exact same recipe with lamb shoulder (just add some aromatics like cinnamon and paprika when you're cooking the garlic/anchovy paste). 


BEEF STEW WITH  POMEGRANATE-ROASTED CARROTS
printable recipe
serve 6-8

ingredients:
6 cloves garlic
4 oil-packed anchovy fillets
1 tablespoon tomato paste
vegetable oil for searing off meat
4 pounds  beef stew meat, cut into approximately 2" x 2" cubes (I use chuck)
kosher salt and pepper for seasoning the meat
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
10 shallots, peeled and quartered lengthwise*
1 28-ounce can peeled whole tomatoes
2-3 cups red wine (use something big and yummy but not special)
2-3 cups beef stock
15 large carrots
2 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
optional toppings:
herbaceous olive oil
coarse salt
pomegranate arils
crème fraîche or yogurt
chopped parsley
toasted pine nuts

directions:
Preheat oven to 275°F.

With a mortar and pestle, make a paste out of the garlic, anchovy, and tomato paste. Set aside.

Generously season the meat with salt and pepper. You need to sear it off in batches because the pieces will steam if crammed together. Place large ovenproof pot on high heat. Add a splash of oil to the hot pan. When the oil is glistening and hot, carefully place a third of the meat into the pan. No need to fiddle with the pieces. Just let them do their thing. Once they're seared to a nice dark brown, flip them. They don't have to be seared all over. Just make sure at least half of each piece has some color. Reserve on a plate. Continue with the remaining two batches.

Turn off the heat under the pot and let it cool for a few minutes. You want the goodies that are left behind in the pan, but your vinegar will burn if you add it too soon.

While the pot is cooling, peel your carrots. If you like, you can leave a bit of stem on each top. Halve the carrots lengthwise.

Turn the pot to medium heat. Add the balsamic vinegar. Add the shallots. Brown the shallots for a few minute on each side. Make sure to coat them well with the vinegar and the remainders from the seared meat. Add your garlic/anchovy/tomato paste mixture and stir one minute. Add back all of the seared meat and juices. Add the tomatoes. Cover the meat with a combination of red wine and beef stock.

Bring to the boil. Stir.

On a plate, toss carrots halves with pomegranate molasses and salt. Scatter the carrots gently across the top of the uncooked stew. Cover with a lid. Place in the oven for many hours. Don't stir or the carrots will fall apart. Just leave it all alone. It's done when the meat is stringy and falls apart easily. This takes anywhere from 3 to 5 hours.

When the stew is done,  carefully remove carrots with a large spatula and place them in a separate pan to keep warm. Stir stew. Taste. Adjust. I often need to add salt and some kind of acid (lemon or sherry wine vinegar). Keep tasting. Keep adjusting. If it's not as thick as you'd like, reduce it down on medium heat, stirring often so it doesn't burn.

Serve over polenta, couscous, brown rice, or pasta. Top each serving with a few cooked carrots. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Or go crazy like I do and add pomegranate arils, crème fraîche, toasted pine nuts, olive oil, and coarse salt.

Freezes beautifully though the carrots might fall apart a bit. No big deal.

*Shallots peel really easily if you pop them in boiling water for 15 seconds and then shock them in cold water.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

YOU ONLY HAVE TWO HOURS TO WRITE

Pretend your ass is glued to the desk chair. Decide you need some coffee. Talk yourself out of coffee.

Find a Post-It you wrote a few weeks back that says "I am my varicose veins. I am my thrashed breasts." Crumple it up. Throw it across the room.

Question your writing. Question your outfit. Question your parenting.

Talk yourself back into coffee. And back out. And back in.

Walk towards the kitchen. Glance at the unfolded pile of clean laundry on your bed. Yell out, fuck off.

Stop in front of your bookshelf. Grab a pile of books you haven't read since before you got married, before you had babies.

Enter the kitchen. Put the kettle on for coffee. Fly up into a handstand.

Breathe so deeply that your bones quiver. Breathe so deeply that you cry.

Sing that song from "Rent" about measuring a year in daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee.

Float down. Float up. Float down. Do 20 pushups. Wipe drips of sweat into your hairline.

Walk over to the russet potatoes that you need to bake for dinner. Wonder how it is that you're 43 years old and you still don't know how to bake a potato. Stab the potatoes all over with a paring knife because that just seems like the right thing to do. Throw them into a hot oven. Wish them luck.

Try to remember why you left your desk in the first place. Pull down a box of See's Nuts and Chews. Eat a dark chocolate almond caramel beauty. Crave coffee.

Right. Coffee. That's why you're here.

Refill the kettle because the water has boiled away.

Hunch over the kitchen counter and read an entire book of Sharon Olds's poetry.

Refill the kettle because the water has boiled away.

Hoist groan your body up onto the kitchen counter. Re-read the poems about first sex, first love.

Exhale your head down into your hands. Feel a first-sex first-love revisionist tidal wave flood your atmosphere. Ask yourself if it really was that dreamy that beautiful that drenched in shakiness that perfect.

Eat more chocolate.

Refill the kettle because all of the water has boiled away.

Take the potatoes out of the oven. Cut one open. Compliment yourself on accidentally cooking them perfectly. Scoop out their interiors. Whip the steamy mash with butter, creme fraiche, salt, and chives. Fill the emptied skins back up with the herby mixture. Top with white and orange cheddar. Drape with prosciutto. Bake.

Look at your reflection in the kitchen window. Trace a prominent vein from clavicle to pec to bicep to tricep, bumpity bump bumping your way down through moles, wrinkles, sun spots.

Say out loud what you never allow yourself to say in front of your children. I am so fucking old. I am so fucking old. I am so fucking old. I am so fucking old.

Hear your son and daughter arrive home from school as they slam the front door and stomp clomp crash bang up the stairs.

Give up on your cup of coffee and start making a gin and tonic.

Eat the crispy prosciutto off of a potato.

Smile.

Yell out, dinner!
DOUBLE-BAKED POTATOES WITH HERBS, CRÈME FRAÎCHE, CHEDDAR, AND PROSCIUTTO
printable recipe
makes 6

ingredients:
4 russet potatoes
1/3 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
3 tablespoons salted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped herbs (any combination of parsley, chives, scallions; make sure to save a bit for the garnish)
2 cups grated cheddar (I used a combination of orange and white)
10 paper-thin slices of prosciutto

directions:
Preheat over to 375°F.

Scrub potatoes clean. Dry. Poke them a few times with a paring knife or fork. Place in oven. Bake until cooked through (about an hour). Test doneness by making sure a paring knife slides in easily. Remove from the oven. Cool for a few minutes before handling. Halve lengthwise. Scoop cooked potato into a mixing bowl, being careful not to break the skins. Add crème fraîche, butter, salt and herbs. Either mix by hand or in a standing mixer. Don't mix for more than few seconds because potatoes do funny scary wacko things when whipped too vigorously. Taste. Add more salt if necessary.

Turn oven up to 400°F.

Examine your emptied potato skin bowls. Discard the scrappiest two. Fill the remaining 6 potato skin bowls back up with the creamy buttery herby potato mixture. Top with grated cheddar. Tear the prosciutto slices apart into thin strips and drape several pieces over each potato. The heat makes them shrink up quite a bit so put on more than you think you need.

Bake until they're piping hot, the cheese is melted/browning and the prosciutto is crispy. This only takes about 15 minutes. If you want a bit more color, broil briefly. Garnish with chopped herbs. Eat as soon as possible. Don't eat the skin. Unless you're my daughter. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

FOR A HOT SEPTEMBER NIGHT

A DRINK
Blackberry Martini
You can find this recipe over at Food52 in my Cooking What I Want column.


A DINNER
Heirloom Tomato and Nectarine Salad
Don't toss the ingredients in a bowl. Instead, layer on a large plate or platter. Assemble this salad right before you serve it because once the salt hits the tomatoes and stone fruit, you will have the beginnings of an herbacious summer soup.

Core and slice 4 large heirloom tomatoes. Spread slices out on a platter. Halve and remove pits from 4 ripe nectarines. Thinly slice the fruit and fan out around the tomato slices. Throw down a few handfuls of green leaves (basil, parsley, mint, arugula). 

Use your vegetable peeler to shower down paper-thin sheets of firm cheese (parmesan, piave, asiago, manchego). Sprinkle and splash with coarse salt, olive oil, and gooey balsamic*. 

Some possible additions: Marcona almonds or pine nuts, prosciutto, thinly sliced red onion, grilled peaches, blops of crème fraîche. Just keep on layering until it looks like dinner.

Keep any leftovers and serve over pasta the next day (after removing any brown slices of nectarine).

*Make your own gooey balsamic by reducing down (by half) an inexpensive bottle of balsamic vinegar. Cool. Store as you would any vinegar.


A DESSERT
Nutella Chocolate Pots with Crème Fraîche and Sea Salt
Printable Recipe
Yesterday, I was making chocolate pots, drinking coffee, and engaging in my monthly hormonal horror show: the inhalation of an entire jar of Nutella. But this time I shared. One spoonful for me. One for the chocolate pots. On and on until Bella stopped me with: "Mom. Chill."  You can skip this adulterant and keep things all pure and dark chocolaty. Or play on by adding rum, almond paste, orange zest, or any other favorite flavor. This recipe is very forgiving.
Adapted from Nigella Lawson's recipe for Chocolate Pots.

Makes 10 "pots" (use ramekins or small drinking glasses) that are about 3/8 cup each.

1 pound bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3/8 cup Nutella (or Nocciolata spread)
1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract
2 eggs
Maldon sea salt

Place chocolate and salt in bowl of a food processor. Pulverize until it's almost as fine as powder.

Pour cream and milk into a medium-sized pot. Heat until it's just under the boil. Turn off the heat. Pour into a pitcher. Carefully pour hot cream/milk down the food processor tube onto the pulverized chocolate. Add Nutella. Let sit for 1 minute. Process for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides. Add vanilla extract and eggs. Process for another 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides. Pulse a few times. Make sure it's smooth. Pour mixture into a pitcher. Pour into 10 small pots (ramekins or small drinking glasses). Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 

Take out of the fridge about 30 minutes before serving. Top with a teaspoon of crème fraîche and a pinch of Maldon sea salt.


A SONG
"I Don't Recall" by Lavender Diamond
Listen over and over again while doing the dishes.