Sunday, May 22, 2011

Still Haven't Been Devoured by Raptors

I'm still behind on my blogging.  Oh well, I am at least sort of caught up on my school work.  Somehow these two states go hand in hand.  I consider this regrettable.  I'm beginning to feel like I might have enough stuff for an online design portfolio, so I'll be working that out soonish.  Heavy on the -ish. 

Meanwhile I have been eating and sometimes cooking.  I bring these insights therefore to the table.

1. The Culinary Arts program at Seattle Central is run by a bunch of maniacs out to convert the world to a bizarre cult of deliciousness and pastry cream and really cheap slices of amazing cake.  On Friday my friend A and I stopped in at the coffee stand and satellite chapel of the CA and came away with one goat cheese, onion, and proscuitto pizza-ish baked good, two shrimp and rice salads, and two cream puffs, an almond croissant, and a slice of Seville cake*.  All of it verged on the transcendantly good, and the Seville cake achieved apotheosis, despite getting melty in the sun. 

2. I am baking brioche this afternoon.  I have always wanted to try my hand at it, but have not always had a stand mixer at my disposal.  Today it occurred to me that I have a stand mixer, all the ingredients, and TIME, which as my posting rate will show, has been at a premium lately. 

Or rather I claim to be making brioche, because I did not actually read the recipe all the way through before embarking.  As everyone knows, this is one of the classic blunders:  land wars in Asia.  Going up against a Sicillian when DEATH is on the line.  Frying bacon shirtless.  And not reading the recipe all the way through.  Turns out I will not be baking brioche today, because it needs a minimum of 12 hours to rise slowly and elegantly in the fridge.  I am however eagerly anticipating the results of all of my patience. 

Brioche dough is extraordinarily elastic and tastes sort of like slightly yeasty cake batter, probably because of all the butter and eggs.  As I was scraping the brioche dough into the bowl it will rise in, I couldn't help that think that a) it moved like an alien life form, and b) there ought to be a use for something this strange in the aerospace industry. 

3. Kale continues to be my favorite leafy green,  Closely followed by butter crunch lettuce.  I really like lettuce.  This goes back to a trip to Ireland as a teenager.  During the three weeks I was there, almost the only vegetables that appeared edible were the lettuce and the chips.  So lettuce not only tastes good, but also carries this nostalgic thrill harkening back to the first time I left the country by myself.

I should say that I have since returned to Ireland and eaten some truly excellent meals.  I remember with particular fondness the vegetarian buffet at Govinda's.  I had no idea what I was eating, but I knew it was delicious. 

4. I have currently decided that the best way to cook a game hen is to rub a mixture of butter, herbs, and a pinch dried mustard under its skin, stuff it with a few apple slices, and cook it in a casserole with more apples, kale, and garlic.  350 for an hour and a half, serve it with rice and make your friends, even the gluten intolerant friends happy. 

5. Snoqualmie Ice Cream is the best ice cream for sale at QFC.  Especially the coconut.  Especially the honey cinnamon custard.  No, I can't decide which is better. Molly Moon's may be better (and I'm not even sure about that), but Snoqualmie is cheaper.

*What the heck is Seville Cake, you ask?  In this case it was a cake largely composed of dark chocolate mousse,  on a substrate of chocolate sponge cake, with an intervening layer of custard flavored with marmalade.  Just the description makes me want to drool on the keyboard.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Rumors to the contrary, I am still alive

April may not be the cruelest month, but it certainly was a busy one.  I spent a lot of it eating beans and rice and things out of boxes.  So nothing exciting to talk about food wise.  Except to say that my second favorite breakfast after eggs and sausage is a big slice of Yorkshire pudding with jam.  But most of this month my breakfasts have mostly been a gigantic cup of coffee or two, and a peanut butter and honey sandwich if I remember to pack a spare.

So, I've been keeping myself busy with school and friends and family, and there was a holiday in there, and then my brother graduated from college, and I went home to Alaska for the big event, and suddenly it's May and I haven't posted to my blog in a month, and people are starting to send me emails wanting to know the reason why.  AND I still have not made the definitive rhubarb custard.  Oh well.

Well, actually there is one recent recipe worth sharing, and it's a good one.

Last week, one of my college friends turned thirty.  To assist her in dealing with the shock of it all, I took a small vat of eggplant dip to her birthday party.  She is sensitive to wheat and deals poorly with members of the chili family.  So most recipes for eggplant dip were unsuitable in that they called for bread as an ingredient and/or chilis or bell peppers.

But I wanted eggplant dip.  So I improvised.

Eggplant Olive Dip

1 1lb eggplant, halved lengthwise and the flesh scored in a crosshatch pattern.
2 medium tomatoes halved
Olive oil
1 or 2 or several cloves of garlic minced, smashed, or otherwise rendered blender friendly
1/4 cup or so kalamata olives or other brine cured olives
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375.

Rub the cut sides of the eggplant with olive oil.  Rub the tomatoes with olive oil. Rub a shallow baking pan with olive oil.  Place the eggplant and tomatoes cut sides down in the pan and slide it into the oven.  Leave it alone for fifty minutes or an hour, until everything is roasted and delicious smelling.

When time is up, allow the veggies (fruit actually, but never mind) to cool, so that you don't burn yourself when you strip the flesh from the eggplant peel and dump everything including the garlic and olives in a food processor or blender or food mill or whatever.

Add a healthy dribble of olive oil.  I think I used a tablespoon, and puree by your favorite method. 

Transer to a suitable container and stick in the fridge over night to allow the flavors to develop.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with pita wedges or toast or use as a sandwich spread.  It's marvelous with cheese, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches.