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Monday, November 12, 2007

Regular Food

Hi! The recipe-testing job is over, and of fifty-four dishes I managed to take pictures of about six. Sometimes I'd make a dish, put it on the table, then start the next one without stopping. And sometimes they just weren't gorgeous, or it was still dark and the pictures would've been bad anyway. Here are a couple, though:

Crunchy fried smelts with a chickpea and beet salad—the dressing was simple and tangy (lemon, Champagne vinegar, olive oil, Dijon), which offset the richness of the smelts nicely. The fish were fried in a very light tempura-style batter. They could be eaten bones and all.

This is one of I think four racks of lamb I grilled in the last month. This one was sprinkled with coarse sea salt, then basted as it grilled, first with soy sauce, then miso paste, then mirin to glaze it a bit. I had to test it twice (poor me).

Here is the bug digging into one of the less successful dishes. The recipe was fine; it just wasn't a good concept for a dish: morcilla (Spanish blood sausage), onions, smoked paprika, and squid, wrapped in a banana leaf and grilled. The squid didn't go so well with the sausage. I gather it was supposed to be a riff on a Hawaiian lau-lau.

I made a lot of crêpes in the month of October (by which I mean I made a lot of batter, and my mom made a lot of crêpes). The last one of the batch is always the funniest. Halloween crêpe!

Braised oxtail on puff pastry, with sweetbreads sautéed in browned butter, with shallot and olives and white wine. This was the second of two sweetbreads dishes. (Note to Athenians: Because of me, Justin at the East Side Publix has about a case of sweetbreads he'd love to sell you. Enough sweetbreads for anything you'd like to make will set you back about $1.29. Email me and I'll send you some recipes.)

One of the last recipes was a pan-roasted quail with a cherry-Port jus, fresh herb spaetzle, and seared foie gras. Mr. Chalmers was out of town and the bug was asleep when I made this lovely, rich dish. At the very end, I seared the foie gras, set it on the counter, then made myself a quesadilla for supper. I was so sick of foie gras.

It was the best quesadilla ever, incidentally, with Monterey Jack and some quick-pickled vegetables left over from an earlier recipe.

I'm happy to be back to making normal food, although so far I think I've been overcompensating: generic Cheerios, grilled cheese, cinnamon toast, hamburgers.

Here the bug is eating dry cereal with diced pears, but she won't let go of the half pear long enough even for me to cut the core out. I love her fall work shirt and her very serious expression.

Here's a corrective to the preceding picture.

I was unsuccessful in my attempts to explain to her why it wasn't a good idea to play in the pile of ashes in the backyard.

Yesterday I finished up some copyediting work, then the bug and I went into town and bought something I've wanted for a long time:

A heavy bag! And heavy-bag gloves and hand wraps (which, I learned the hard way yesterday, are necessary).

I wanted one with a Puerto Rican flag on it, but all they had in my size was plain black. Perhaps that's a good thing. Back when I was working as a cook, I used to hit a funny homemade bag in the garage every night after work, and it really helped me sleep (the sous chef, if I remember right, recommended it as a way to wind down after doing three hundred covers in three hours). I'm not having trouble sleeping now (last night is an exception—the bug and her crazed shouting might've had something to do with it), but it sure is fun. The whole lean-to feels like it's going to come down with just the slightest tap (from, say, the bug).

Also, it's fall:

1 comment:

heidi said...

A great post! Some comments:

1. Didn't you ask me a while ago about foods that represent Michigan? Mess-o-smelt is one of them, especially in the "thumb" area of the lower peninsula. I can't believe I forgot that. Of course, the fancy sauce and tempura-style batter are not involved, probably just some of that Drake's crispy fry mix. (Another Michigan food is Morel mushrooms. Do you still want this info? Did you ever?)

2. Miss T. has such a wonderful mop of hair these days! How tall is she now?

3. Get the lean-to fixed up so you can use that punching bag correctly! What a great idea.