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Showing posts from December, 2010

Cookbook #53: Baking In America

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Adapted from Cookbook #53: Baking In America  (2002)

Recipe:  Irish Whiskey Fruitcake with Spiced Walnuts and Pecans

"It's always the same: a morning arrives in November, and my friend, as though officially inaugurating the Christmas time of year that exhilarates her imagination and fuels the blaze of her heart, announces: 'It's fruitcake weather! Fetch our buggy. Help me find my hat.'"--Truman Capote, A Christmas Memory

While this is my last entry for 2010, I will hold off on the musings and reflections until the first week of 2011.  In the mean time, it's fruitcake weather, no matter where you are.

Fruitcake is one of those recipes that gets a bad rap.  Yes, it's heavy.  Yes, it is chock-full of nuts and fruit.  Yes, it has a shelf life longer than some small electronics.  But people, it's made with whiskey.

It is traditional to serve this loaf around the holidays, and I thought it a perfect way to end the year.

Known for its longevity, fruitca…

Cookbook #52: Simply Tuscan

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Adapted from Cookbook #52:  Simply Tuscan  (2000)

Recipe: Sweet and Sour Wild Boar with Chestnut Gnocchi


I made roast beast.


Normally on Christmas Eve, we have "morsels and sauces"--my favorite way to eat (little bits of this, little bits of that, usually pâté, grapes, cornichons, salami, cheese, crackers).  But we're saving that for Christmas Day dinner.   Instead, last night we had boar.

We're coming to the close of the year, and I have saved two very wintery foods for the end.  Page 210 of this Tuscan regional cookbook by Pino Luongo  is entitled "A Quintessential Winter Menu," calling for a buffet that serves 12 (!) of Braised Quail with Caramelized Shallots with Soft Polenta, Garganelli with Truffle-Scented Fondue, Sweet and Sour Wild Boar with Chestnut Gnocchi, and Marta's Grandmother's Apple Roll.  Well, well, well.  All of that sounds transcendent, but I didn't need to feed 12.  I needed to feed four--so I chose just one reci…

Cookbook #51: Chez Panisse Vegetables

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Adapted from Cookbook #51:  Chez Panisse Vegetables(1996)

Recipe: Grilled Cèpes

This cookbook is another Alice Waters must have.  It will come in especially handy next year, I imagine, as I prepare to shift this website over to my new project.  New project, you wonder.  In an effort to expand my culinary horizons, each week in 2011, I will cook whatever arrives in our CSA box.  I have loved cooking page 210 from every cookbook I own.  I admit it, I like the surprise each week, but I don’t want to just go to page 211 in 2011.  In part because many of the recipes I cooked on page 210 extend onto page 211.  Instead, come January, I am going to cook whatever shows up on my doorstep in our weekly CSA box.  Even if it's eight pounds of Napa Cabbage.  That has happened.  More about this project at the end of this year.  I am not quite done with the Page 210 project, and I don't want to get too far ahead of myself here.  I still have two more cookbooks (I realize thi…

Cookbook #50: Local Flavors

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Adapted from Cookbook #50: Local Flavors  (2002)


Recipe:  Parsnip Galette with Greens

Prior to this evening, my only experience with parsnips was Christmas Eve in Wales in 1994.   I had saved six months of paychecks from the pizza joint where I was flipping pies, and I purchased my first trans-Atlantic flight to visit my then boyfriend who was studying at the University of Swansea.  On Day One of a three-week trip, he broke up with me.  I told him that this was a poor decision on his part, as I planned to spend the next twenty days in Wales and he was going to show me around.

That winter of 1994, I was a vegetarian (as I have mentioned ad nauseam in this blog).  The now ex-boyfriend's family was Welsh, and that Christmas Eve, we spent the day with his cousins in Swansea and then, I think, with an aunt and uncle in the remote town of Llanelli.  The aunt didn't know what to do with the vegetarian, so she made me a pile of mashed root vegetables.   Seriously, the mound of mashed par…

Cookbook #49: Thai Food

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Adapted from Cookbook #49:  Thai Food  (2002)

Recipe: Lon Pla Raa (Fermented Fish Relish)

I am a little in awe of this cookbook.  David Thompson, an Australian chef and restaurateur, lived for several years in Bangkok, and his expertise in the food, city, and culture is abundantly clear in this tome.  There has been some bruhaha about Thompson, a foreigner, suggesting that he was reviving Thai cuisine; such a statement perhaps needs context.  He's certainly bringing it to Western kitchens, and well, Westerners for the most part like their ethnic cuisines digested by someone else--the French got Julia, the Moroccans got Claudia, the Mexicans got Diana.  Thompson is merely in a long line of chefs who are passionate about a cuisine that is not from their native homes.  And I cannot fault him for that.

Instead, I will take advantage of it, and for a hefty 688 pages Thompson wants to ensure you learn a thing or two about the origins of the food.  In fact, the opening chapters are…