Saturday, June 30, 2007

"D'Or et Noir"

Àdieu, Jess!

Jessica Doerr, honoree

A surprise party to say good-bye requires cake, doesn't it? The request was for a dairy-free chocolate cake for a dear francophile. Here's the result, which served thirty celebrants generously (some more than once, but who cares?).

A cake called D'Or et Noir

Noir expresses the chocolate cake's dark flavor and its bittersweet chocolate glaze. Or expresses the complimentary flavor of apricot and was reflected in a decoration of the flower hemerocallis "Stella d'Oro." The value of Jess' work was golden, her effect on others was brightening. Sad feelings exist in the dark of her departure. Thus, the dark and light of a cake in her honor.

Gold? The closest I could come was apricot. Dried whole fruit was reconstituted in warm vanilla syrup, then pureed to an intensely-flavored paste.

Folding apricot puree into buttercream

Taking non-dairy to a fortuitous extreme, milk solids and water were removed from the cake's four pounds of butter. By browning the milk solids before straining them out of the butter, the result was a clarified butter with the heady scent of hot, buttered toast.

The cake itself was a double-layer butter cake made with cocoa, cut into 4.5-inch strips, then placed end-to-end on an oak plank. Both layers were generously imbibed with a syrup of vanilla and orange flower water.

Applying apricot buttercream to imbibed first layer of cake

To intensify flavor, apricot preserves were boiled, pureed, strained, and cooled. This sauce then topped the buttercream.

Applying apricot sauce to buttercream

Stirring softened butter into melted chocolate permitted an addition of vanilla (depth and aroma), orange flower water (brightness, aroma), and corn syrup (mouthfeel, stability). This chocolate glaze was strained for additional smoothness as it was being applied to the constructed cake.

Setting the chocolate glaze

Fortunately, the serving plank with finished cake fit between the back doors of the car, an inch to spare on either end.

Transporting the cake

The party was almost over when guests began requesting "some to take home."

Nearing the end of the party

Thus it was: a lactose-free gâteau made with toast-scented, clarified butter.
  • cocoa-based butter cake
  • imbibing syrup of vanilla and orange flower water
  • apricot mousseline buttercream (no egg yolks)
  • apricot sauce
  • chocolate butter glaze
  • presented on a plank

Monday, June 25, 2007

Final Fiddleheads

Don't be sad. The last fiddleheads of the season have been cooked and eaten. No more for another 48 weeks (until Chile figures out how to ship theirs north). Instead, remember that the end of fiddleheads is the beginning of strawberries. Go wild.

In anticipation of that magical day in May 2008 when the first fiddleheads are harvested, here is one way I like them.

Serves 4.

16 oz fresh fiddleheads, trimmed and washed
2 Tablespoons salt
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
brown sugar to taste

1. Bring 4 quarts of water to boil. Carefully add salt. Add fiddleheads all at once. Cover and cook for 6 minutes.

2. When fiddleheads are tender but still bright green and with some tooth resistance ("al dente") -- the water will look like strong, black tea -- drain them. Plunge them into a bowl of ice water. When they are thoroughly chilled after about 10 minutes, drain fiddleheads and spread on towel to dry. Use paper towel to blot excess moisture.

3. Heat olive oil in saute pan or skillet. When shimmering and fragrant, add fiddleheads and toss gently. Cover for one minute until they are hot. Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and sugar to taste. Serve immediately.

Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container. They're good chilled, too.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Friday, June 22, 2007
47 Main Street, Walpole, New Hampshire

Bellini cocktail
Arugula salad
Charcuterie plate
Bread and butter
Hanger steak
French fries
Rabbit breast & prosciutto with mustard sauce
Broccoli rabe
Fingerling potatoes
Pinot noir
Gateau St. Honoré
Lemon cake
White mice

This joint was jumping! From first to last, an elevating evening celebrated the beginning of a week's vacation. Besides, the sink was still backed up at home.

This favorite of ours was jammed last night, a surprise only because we have tended to go at quieter times. Shall I speak of the din of diners at dinner? The sound of happiness is a pleasant thing, but I much prefer to hear what my own companion says and not what's going on two tables away. (I heard about, but did not see, the pictures of Bobby's graduation in Flah-rida.)

A word about Burdick's service. I am astonished that a server can answer questions about the menu, describing nuances of preparation and presentation for several items, and still remember the details of what is actually ordered. For the whole table. Correctly. Applause, please.

I now know I prefer my Bellini to be made with freshly crushed white peaches rather than just the peach liqueur. Asked if I wanted mine made with champagne or prosecco, I chose the less familiar prosecco and was only mildly satisfied. My quibble is not about which sparkling wine is used, but the effect of the whole. Hey, I'm in this for the sparkling taste of peaches complimented by the sparkle of the wine. Last night's offering was a bit boozy for my taste and missing the bright, sweet slap of peaches. I suppose a side-by-side comparison of wines is what is called for. Perhaps more on this another day.

The strongly tasting sparkle of the cocktail was a good balance for the arugula salad. The youngest, most tender leaves were used, so its usual bite was quite gentle and immature. The sensation was heightened by small sections of orange without the membrane and shards of a pleasantly dry, vaguely salty, cheese. Parmigiano-Reggiano? Pecorino Romano? The salad, barely clothed by the lightest of dressings, was pretty, sweet-tart in the mouth, and daintily fun to eat. Negotiating legless baby plants from plate to palate was a silly experience with a fork. Reminiscent of pitching hay, it is not something to be attempted by the palsied, impression-conscious, or silk-clad.

The charcuterie plate is an instructive, happy trip to peasant Italy of yore. Last night's offerings included four samples. A dark and well-aged cured pork, shaved thinly enough to read a newspaper through. A pork sausage featured fennel and was adjacent to slices of a huge, well freckled salami. Another strongly flavored but younger, pink, and thinly shaved part of the pig, the fourth selection was well marbled and pleasantly chewy. Presented with strips of lightly pickled eggplant and red pepper that still had some tooth to them, the meats were garnished with assorted olives and giant capers. Can't you just picture farmers in their barns honoring the butchered animal by using every bit? I imagine ropes of curing sausage, dark red haunches hanging above cool blue smoke, and the scent of hay, old wood, and ashes. I do have a question, though. Why call an appetizer of cured meat in the Italian style by a French name?

But the rabbit. A seasoned breast rolled up in prosciutto, then roasted unto a crisp crust with a juicy, tender, delicately pink interior is true kitchen art. The sauce featured whole grain mustard. While the rabbit was fine alone, the pairing with this sauce made me happy to be alive. The fingerling potatoes were halved and quickly roasted. They, too, benefited from the mustard sauce, but were toothsome and potato-y on their own.

I don't get broccoli rabe. It seems to be on every menu of any pretension. Is it faster to grow or easier to ship than other green vegetables? Does it keep better in the kitchen? Last night's was softly wilted and dressed with a light shallot vinaigrette. Perfectly nice, but, well, who cares?

The hanger steak, on the other hand, was huge, boldly grilled, and sliced to show contrast between dark, crisp exterior and bright pink interior. Tender, hot, and happy. Just what you want for your dinner and your fellow diner.

Frying potatoes properly elevates the 'umble vegetable to star status, doesn't it? Crisp and plentiful, last night's cook understood the place of French fries in the pantheon of comfort food. These were pleasantly, if unusually, parslied with just the right about of salt and they didn't go soft in the meat juices. A treat of the first order, these, in particular, were remarkable.

Another first order treat, but more secret until now, is this. I'm having an affair with pinot noir. Each time we meet, I crash, head over heels. The Napa Valley vintners at Trinchero honored the finicky plant, its ancient heritage, and its oenophilic potential. A thick, clear, promising red swirled in the candlelight. Layers of cherry, tobacco, dried hay, and black pepper preceded delicate earth on the tongue. Not as silky this time around, it was beautiful to look at and met the mustard and roasted prosciutto with gladness.

I want to talk about my gateau St. Honoré. Imagine tiny cream puffs, all baked together to make a tart: circular floor with low walls. Add chocolate-filled, crenellating spheres along the palisade. The enceinte included enormous stripes of chocolate and vanilla pastry cream. Gaily harlequin and un-shy on the plate, it startled the inattentive gourmand expecting a piece of cake. Completely fun to look at, the flavors were disappointingly muted. The pastry creams tasted quiet, unsuitable for the clarion way in which they were used. The pâte à choux finished crisp and flaky, tanned beautifully, but was lackluster in flavor. In the end -- the proof is in the tasting -- my lovely gateau was an appealing but unsuccessful attempt to honor the Roman Catholic patron of bakers and confectioners, a sixth century bishop of Amiens who was, apparently, inflamed with charity.

Dinner with John Calvi.

$50 per person with wines.

The Restaurant at L.A. Burdick Chocolate

Sunday, June 17, 2007


Sunday, June 17
101 St. Marks Place between First Ave and Avenue A, New York City.

Poached eggs with Moroccan seasonings (cumin, sesame)
Chopped salad (tomato, parsley, cucumber, onion, lemon, pepper)
Orange juice
variations on a theme of eggs benedict
home fries

Not far from First Avenue in a residential neighborhood, this small place has sidewalk dining. Stepping down into the ground floor rooms of a Grammercy brownstone, the building felt solid and old. There are several aspects of the place that are attractive. Small, uneven bricks painted many times over, currently a soft, butter yellow. Huge, old posts. Low ceiling. Plenty of tables, happily crowded.

The Moroccan lunch menu wasn't to be on for another hour. Sadly, I was not able to try bastello with chicken, almond, and lemon. The lamb tagine with apricots and prunes would have to wait for another day. What is charmoulla? Will I ever taste merguez? What is Mogador's cous cous like? Would the preserved lemons be worth the trip?

Instead, the brunch menu offered six or seven variations on a theme of eggs benedict. Veering toward the Moroccan, I opted for a nice couple of poached eggs with dry-seasoned pita, hummus presented in a well for very nice olive oil and dressed with smoked paprika, weakly flavored tabouli (a bit soggy), and a fresh, but lackluster chopped salad. The orange juice was tiny -- 2 oz? -- and only adequate, not better. Other diners were satisfied with their benedicts and home fries, but raved about the coffees. Service was informed, attentive, and unobtrusive.

$14 per person.

Brunch with John Calvi, Rich Stout, Audrey, Laura.

Cafe Mogador

Kum Gang San

Saturday, June 16
49 West 32nd Street between Broadway and Fifth Avenue, New York City.

Red lettuce, sliced raw garlic, thick barbecue sauce
Jap chae
--Napa cabbage (3)
Pickled daikon
Pears in mayonnaise
Sweet potato cake with chili and garlic
Steamed white rice

Kalbi, sometimes transliterated as galbi, are pieces of boneless beef ribs marinated in soy, sugar, other seasonings, then grilled by diners at table. Bulgogi are boneless strips of steak cooked as above with strips of onion.

Cooked meat is rolled in lettuce with slices of fresh garlic and a thick, spicy barbecue sauce, and eaten by hand.

Tiny dishes of kimchi and pickled vegetables are crammed onto the table.

The two-story waterfall and white baby grand piano perched above are notable decorating touches. Kind of noisy, but busy and filled with a great mix of people, all having a good time.

Open 24 hours. $25 - 28 per person.

Dinner with John Calvi and John Tweddle

(no website)


Saturday, June 16
1064 Madison Avenue between 80th and 81st streets, New York City.

Ham quiche
Field greens
Matzoh ball soup
Crisp, fried goat cheese patties
Cold borscht
Fried baby artichokes
Duck salad with sweet peppers and snow peas
Flourless chocolate torte
Unsweetened lemonade

Dozens of salads in the glass case. Shelves of fresh yeasted breads. Servers who are quick, pleasant, and efficient. Floor plan and traffic flow are pleasantly quirky. Run by a scion of the Zabar family.

Highlights were the borscht -- thick, brilliantly pink, scented with dill, delightful; the fried baby artichokes -- beautiful fried flowers, learned to eat just the inside; cheesecake -- tall, fluffy, light, rich with a hint of lemon that honors the cheese.

$15 - 25 per person.

Lunch with John Calvi and Robbin Marie Farrell

E A T Cafe

Pershing Square

Saturday, June 16
90 East 42nd Street, under Park Avenue, New York City.
Omelet with spinach, tomato, and smoked salmon
Home fries
Toast, raspberry jam & butter
Poached eggs
Orange juice

Phenomenal orange juice with scent of oil and flowers, thick and chewy mouthfeel, multiple layers of flavor. Exquisite and delightful. Exceptionally large eggs, perfectly cooked, arriving hot and quickly. Small breakfast menu. Lovely dining room under Park Avenue at Grand Central Station.

$10 - 13 per person.

Breakfast with John Calvi.

Pershing Square

Friday, June 15, 2007

Romanian Gazpacho

From Andy comes this tantalizing summer twist on the cold tomato soup attributed usually to Spain, but which is popular everywhere. Vermont and Romania, included. Tomatoes with nipples, not required, but as he notes, the fresher, the better. Thanks for the shout-out, Andy.


Stick the following in a blender:
¾ kg tomatoes (preferably be-nippled ones, but if they are not available, any ones that weren't bought from a supermarket will probably do)
1 large cucumber (or 3 -4 small ones if those are the type you get round your way)
1 green pepper
1 small onion
2 cloves of garlic
75 ml olive oil
75 mil wine vinegar
juice of one lemon

Put lid on, blend until liquid. (You can also keep aside one tomato a bit of cucumber and a bit of pepper and chop them up small by hand and then mix them in after to give the resultant soup a bit of bite). Chill for two hours - and while you're doing that, put the gazpacho in the fridge. (Oh ho ho. I should be on telly, I really should). That's it basically. Simple as anything. You can add a little salt and pepper if you think it needs it, but it might not so taste it first.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Pork Ribs, Memphis Style

In Vermont?

Well, no. In Hadley, Massachusetts, at Cook Farm. On summer Tuesdays from 5:00PM until sell-out, a portable grill is set up on the porch of the dairy stand and dry-rub ribs in the style of Memphis, Tennessee, are cooked to spicy tenderness by Kevin Brown.

Marinated with three sets of spices, the ribs are not parboiled before grilling. The result is a moist, smoky integrity. They are large, tender, filled with flavor, and not in dire need of sauce. Available with the usual sides of cornbread, coleslaw, beans, and macaroni and cheese, it is the ribs that are worth the trip. From Vermont.

Eating outside is great. Eating twenty feet from a feed lot is a another experience altogether. Surprisingly unfragrant and bug-free, dinnertime was beautiful and interesting simultaneously. We sat down at the picnic tables behind the kitchen and watched the sun set behind vivid pink clouds. It was the foreground that proved to be more immediately interesting. Watching the cows chew cud as we ate pig was not as disconcerting as I first thought it might be. Dinnertime at the Holstein place.

When you go, call ahead to be sure there are some ribs for you. Reservations at a dairy stand? Yes, if you want the ribs. That's why you're there.

Go for "Tennessee Tuesdays" at Cook Farm.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Devilled Eggs

Yields 12 halves

6 eggs
1 teaspoon mustard (English or Dijon)
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon hot sauce (Frank's or Tabasco)
1/8 teaspoon sugar
salt to taste
3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
finely chopped parsely

To hard cook eggs
1. With push-pin or similar tool, prick blunt ends of eggs and place in pan, one layer deep. Add salt and cold water to reach 1/2 inch above eggs. Cover, bring to boil.

2. Immediately turn off heat and set timer for 10 minutes. Fill a bowl with very cold tap water (or add ice). At timer's signal, drain boiling water from pan. Shake the pan vigorously to crackle shells all over. Dump into cold water for 10 minutes. Beginning at blunt end of the egg, peel eggs.

For the filling
1. Halve the eggs and, inverting, push yolks onto rimmed plate or shallow, open bowl. Place empty whites onto serving platter lined with parchment paper.

2. Except for mayonnaise, mix remaining ingredients and yolks with fork until desired smoothness (a few small lumps adds texture). Taste and correct seasoning. Consider adding conservative amounts of celery seed, finely chopped chives or scallions, drops of lemon juice, finely chopped shrimp, celery, chipotle chiles (if using, omit hot sauce and use adobo sauce instead). When taste is as you like it, add mayonnaise and mix thoroughly but gently.

3. Fill egg whites with equal portions of filling. Do so using a spoon or the Baggie method. Scrape prepared filling into plastic sandwich bag and press it all into a corner. Twist open side of bag closed. Using scissors, cut 1/2-inch hole in corner next to filling. Squeeze filling into eggs. Garnish with paprika, parsley, or both.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Rhubarb Tart

Rhubarb Filling
3 eggs plus one egg yolk
1/4 cup sour cream
2 Tablespoons sugar
pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups cooked rhubarb

Flaky Pastry (yields 2 tart shells)
12 oz all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 pound unsweetened butter
3 Tablespoons sour cream
1/4 cup ice water, plus additional as needed

For the tart shell
1. Cut butter into 1/2-inch dice and freeze for 10 minutes. Whisk sour cream into ice water and chill. Measure flour, salt, and sugar into food processor. Pulse until blended. Add cold butter to flour mixture and pulse until pea-sized bits of butter remain. Add half the sour cream mixture and blend. Add more sour cream mixture until dough forms a ball. Additional water may be necessary. Do not mix beyond the ball stage.

2. Divide dough into two equal halves. Press into 4-inch circles, lightly flour, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least an hour, but not more than 2 days or freeze.

3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out dough to 15-inch circle. Tuck into removable bottom tart pan. Prick bottom and sides with fork. Line with foil and pie weights and bake 12 - 15 minutes or until floor of tart has begun to color. Remove from oven. Carefully peel off foil and weights and cool tart shell on rack.

For the filling
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. If chilled, bring rhubarb to room temperature. Add eggs, yolk, sour cream, sugar, salt, and vanilla into food processor and pulse until well blended.

2. Place warm tart shell on rimmed baking sheet. Spread rhubarb into tart shell. Add egg mixture to brim of crust. Place on lowest rack in oven and bake until filling has set and begun to brown in places. Serve warm or room temperature. Do not refrigerate (crust will become soggy).

Just Because It's Sunday

deviled eggs
lemon tabouli
chopped salad of tomato and peppers
Delmonico steak
olive oil-poached king salmon with raw rhubarb garnish
cucumber strips with baby carrots
romaine spears with roasted red pepper and olive oil
sparkling pear juice

rhubarb tart with pineapple-passion fruit sherbet

Suzanne Kingsbury
Peter Towle
Marshall Brewer
John Calvi

Rhubarb Punch

With thanks to Linda King.

3 or 4 rhubarb stalks, cut into half-inch chunks, strings removed
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 water
2 teaspoons honey or pomegranate molasses
carbonated water

1. Place all ingredients in large saucepan or stockpot. Cover and cook over lowest heat, stirring occasionally. As mixture reaches the boil, monitor carefully. Remove cover and stir frequently. When chunks disappear into mush, remove heat.

2. When rhubarb is cool enough to handle, pour into sieve set over non-reactive bowl. Press to extract as much liquid as possible. When rhubarb fibers have cooled, cover and refrigerate. Reserve for another use. When liquid has cooled, refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

3. Mix rhubarb juice with sweetener to taste. Add carbonated water. Serve with ice.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

2007 Photo Contest Winner Dinner

Saturday, June 9, 2007

mixed olives

olive oil-poached fillet of king salmon, scented with garlic, on bed of arugula
raw rhubarb & cucumber garnish
asparagus roasted with pine nuts
chopped salad of tomato, sweet pepper, scallion with spicy pomegranate-garlic dressing
lemon tabouli

rhubarb punch

green grape & rhubarb tart

Sehoon Ahn
Marshall Brewer
John Calvi
Peter Fallion
Minhee Kang
Ellie Klein
Suzanne Klein, subject
Elizabeth Tannenbaum, photographer

Friday, June 8, 2007

Cream Puffs in April

Spicy beef salad
Fettucini with lemon and wine
Roasted cauliflower
Tuscan chard and spinach pie

Tukta Long
Sharon Myers
Deborah Krasner
Marshall Brewer
Michael Krasner
John Calvi

Chicken Breast Pate

Chicken Breast Pate
John Calvi’s recipe from Christopher Peters.

This hors d’oeuvre is fragrant, tender, and keeps well for three days in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.

1/2 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
12 oz bacon
16 oz uncooked chicken breast
1 egg
pinch cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoons dry sherry

1. Preheat oven to 400F. In food processor, finely chop garlic and onion. Processing thoroughly after each addition, add bacon in two parts, chicken, egg, cinnamon, sherry.

2. Pour into ungreased glass or enamel baking dish. Bake uncovered for 30 - 40 minutes (160F). Tent with foil to prevent browning.

3. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Can be served warm or at room temperature. Cooled pate can be tightly wrapped in double layer of plastic wrap before refrigerating.

4. Serve on thinly sliced baguettes with chutney, roasted red pepper, and parsley.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Cream Puffs in May

Tuscan white bean soup
Kimchee (Napa cabbage)
Ossobucco, Milanese style (tomato, onion, carrot, garlic)
Gremolata (garlic, parsley, lemon zest)
Risotto, Milanese style (onion, saffron, chicken stock)
Chocolate souffle
Orange souffle

Deborah Krasner
Sharon Myers
Marshall Brewer
Lynggaard Hansen
Michael Krasner
John Calvi

Cartelli Cake Production

Production notes from July 2005.

Applying filling to imbibed first layer.

Imbibing second layer. Note double width.

Leveled, trimmed cake. Imbibing and filling complete.

Applying the frosting.

The frosted cake.

Primitive (but effective) border piping.

Applying decorations.

Half of the cut cake.

A closer look at decorating a cake with fruits and vegetables.

Creavity, Talent, Experience, Practice

Proficiency and skill lead to talent, the combination of innate abilities that are nurtured, trained, and practiced. And what of creativity? Where do ideas come from? Intellectual property, to own an idea, can only grow in a culture in which the individual takes precedence over the group.

Sharon’s creation of the hors d’oeuvre was an idea in her head – creativity – something she wanted to try. Her consideration of the chocolate sauce, on the other hand, was personal preference for strong flavors combined with experience and talent. When I suggested adding lemon to the Gorgonzola sauce, Sharon immediately went for the zest.

Tuk seemed a natural with gnocchi dough and a fork. Deborah exclaimed how perfect they looked. She understands production concepts immediately and is extremely skilled with her hands.

Deborah commands the kitchen. Her awareness, knowledge, skills, and attitude permit her experience, passions, and preferences to emerge. It’s no wonder she succeeds at what she loves. Because she isn’t shy in that setting, all these attributes can come forward. In a setting in which she trusts, her abilities emerge.

My ambiguity with Cook’s Illustrated continues to deepen. Creativity and culture expression is not what they do, although that is among the most basic uses of food. Investigation, research, and reporting are what they do. They know what they can do better than anyone else and they know for whom they are writing. To identify this and to be bold is where innovation and change comes from. Elvis Presley and the Beatles were examples. Julia Child and John Calvi are, too.

Success, on the other hand, has different parents. Access to money, zeitgeist timing, vision, management skill, are critical. Frank Sinatra and George W. Bush are examples.

What are the implications for my SIT work? Name the distinction and boldly put it in front of the people who want to know.

Suzanne & Peter Cut the Cake

Three tiers of double-layered dark chocolate genoise imbibed with raspberry syrup, filled with raspberry mousse, frosted with raspberry lemon buttercream mousseline. Served with raspberry coulis. Decorations include raspberry coulis, organic fairy roses, and climbing hydrangea leaves.

Wedding couple: Peter Towle (left) and Suzanne Kingsbury, September 2006.

Minhee & Sehoon Cut the Cake

Four tiers of double-layered genoise imbibed with citrus syrup (orange, lemon), filled with lime rose mousse, frosted with rose buttercream mousseline. Decorations of organic fairy roses and rose geranium leaves.

Wedding couple: Sehoon Ahn (left) and Minhee Kang, September 2005. (Instruction by the baker.)

Eleanor & Carmen Cut the Cake

Triple-layered genoise imbibed with lime syrup, filled with lemon curd, and frosted with lime buttercream mousseline. Served with raspberry coulis. Carved decorations by Tukta Long include roses of sweet potato, beet, and carrot in the Thai style, boiled in syrup for translucence and stability. Other decorations include red currants, blackberries, limes.

Wedding couple: Carmen ___ (left) and Eleanor Cartelli, July 2005.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Will I Compromise?

So, I come back to my Google and look up Furi Magic Fingers and who's name should be everywhere in their website? Miss Move-It-Till-You-Loose-It, Rachel Ray.

I'm happily ignorant of her output, but my opinion is adopted from a couple Cream Puff Sundays ago. The consensus was withering, so I just assumed she was -- like Christopher Kimball and Martha Herself -- an ambitious opportunist with money and connections. I resented her name on the thing I wanted to buy.

I disdain an opportunist's success. For instance, that's why I cannot use McDonald's for anything but the flush toilets on the interstate. And thanks to Cream Puffs, now that I know better, the ambiguous pleasure I've taken from Cook's Illustrated is waning.

Dilemma: support the opportunist's success by purchasing something I want or look elsewhere? This is what the opportunist banks on. Maybe I can learn something from my relationship with His Eminence, Bill Gates. I use Microsoft products when there is little or no other choice, despite Mr Job's insistence. No, they actually work at something. They've created, invested, taken risks. Miss Ray, Mr Kimball, and Ms Stewart are in another category altogether.

Cream Puffs in June

“Bond” martinis (red & white vermouths, gin, vodka)
Frozen limoncello

Hors d’oeuvre
Goat cheese and jalapeno tomato marmalade in puff pastry
Goat cheese and apple chutney in puff pastry

Chilled pea (Craig Claiborne)

Gnocchi with Gorgonzola sauce (Deborah Krasner)


Whole salmon baked in salt (Deborah Krasner)
Chopped salad of tomato and sweet peppers (Paula Wolfert)

Cream puffs filled with vanilla pastry cream, chocolate drizzle (Craig Claiborne)

Deborah Krasner
Sharon Myers
Tukta Long
Marshall Brewer
Cecille Shapiro
Michael Krasner
Lynggaard Hansen
Suzanne Kingsbury

The salmon in salt was a revelation. The salt, blended with egg white, felt sandy and fluffy. Baked ten minutes per inch of fish measured at its thickest. The cooked salt is beige and requires a hammer to get at the fish. Rinsed of salt before serving, and deboned using a flat, whole hand, the opened fish is cooked medium rare. Softly textured, and flaky, it didn’t have the sticky teeth sensation a lot of salmon does.

Like several other things, the chocolate sauce was collaborative. Deborah’s whole stick of butter, my prodigious addition of dark chocolate (probably 5 ounces), and salt were melted together and stirred over low heat until smooth. After Deborah’s addition of corn syrup and cream, the tasting and flavoring considerations began. Sharon wondered about amaretto. Deborah said, “Keep it simple.” I preferred texture and behavior to flavor. In the end, vanilla was the only addition. I’d have added cooked cocoa paste for stronger chocolate flavor, but texture and behavior were perfect.

  • Furo Magic Fingers with diamond dust for un-serrated knife sharpening.
  • All-Clad saucepan with curved sides, no corners, wide mouth.
  • Commercial puff pastry
  • Importance of strong, homemade chicken stock