After enthusiastically wolfing down a couple cups of this earlier today, a friend asked for the recipe, so after writing down what I do, I figured I might as well paste the body of that email right here:
This will stop the salsa from almost immediately turning into soup: To remove excess water from the seeded and diced tomatoes – see photo below – salt them with a teaspoon of kosher salt, mix it in, and then put them in a mesh strainer, pushed up on the sides of the strainer to make an even layer, over a bowl for 45 minutes to an hour. This will extract a cup or more of liquid from four fresh-off-the-vine tomatoes. If you use roma tomatoes, which are drier and more dense, you generally don’t have to do this.
The tomatoes and bi-color corn I used this morning were still warm from the field at Willard Farm.
Tomato and Corn Salsa
Yield: 5 or 6 cups
4 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced, excess water removed
3 ears corn – shuck, then over a sheet pan (less cleanup), hold by the pointy end and slice off the kernels, rotating the cob as you go
1 medium red onion, diced
1 jalapeño pepper, some but not all of its rib removed, finely diced (the rib, not the seeds, is where most of the heat is)
1 clove garlic, finely minced, then mix in a pinch of kosher salt and smush with the back of a knife to make a paste
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro/coriander
Juice of one lime
Additional kosher salt if needed (it usually needs a bit more) and freshly ground pepper to taste
Let this sit for an hour or so and the salt and lime juice will mellow the harshness of the onion and garlic.
Those chips were On the Border Café Style Tortilla Chips, which I prefer over Xochitl because they hold up much better in the oven when making chicken nachos, &c. The thinner Xochitl sort of wilt under high heat. I wasn’t surprised a few months ago when the On the Border chips were the America’s Test Kitchen taste test winner.
Pork shoulder ends up fantastically moist when slow-cooked inside an oven bag – in the case of this half-shoulder, about five hours at 275F/135C. This cut is commonly known as “Boston butt” because 1) in the 1700s, pork shoulder was widely known as a Boston specialty and 2) a butt is a volume measurement equal to two hogsheads and was also the name of the casks butchers packed shoulders into for transport. So the odd name was not so much for the product as its origin and the container it arrived in.
The QA department, ever thorough, is responsible for the large missing chunk. Click for a larger version.
Pulled pork demands hamburger buns, and around here that means King Arthur Flour’s recipe for Beautiful Burger Buns:
They really are things of beauty. My friend appropriately said, “Oooo!” when she walked into the kitchen to see. Click for a larger version.
The corn below comes from Willard Farm in Harvard, Massachusetts, where the Willard family has been farming since the 1600s. A dozen or so generations directly back from the current owner is Simon Willard, who moved here from England in 1634 and founded the town of Concord, Massachusetts, serving as its clerk and counsel for a couple of decades. Their corn, quite sweet early this year due to lots of rain, cannot be beat. It’s in the form of Better Than Granny’s Creamed Corn here, made about two hours after the corn was picked.
Yes to all of those, and probably in that order. First up, the sandwiches: turkey, cranberry sauce, and soft Gournay cheese with garlic and herbs on hunks of split and lightly-toasted baguette from Iggy’s.
Possibly the best-looking turkey ever to come out of my oven; click for a larger version
Nice and juicy, too. I always scratch my head when I hear some sleb chef say turkeys are dry and awful. One little click below will present to you the evidence of how wrong they are.
The roasting pan has the requisite amount of liquid gold, of course, to be strained right after I post this.
Discovered among the last few shelves of videotapes going to digital: A 12-hour French Chef marathon I taped when WGBH Boston aired it on Christmas 2004, four months after Julia Child left us. The tapes, with no labels on the spine but Post-its indicating the contents, included seventeen half-hour episodes I didn’t have in digital form before, including S07E20 More About French Bread. I just uploaded that one to YouTube – see below – to go along with the S07E19 French Bread episode someone else previously uploaded that I featured in an article here a couple years ago.
My two favourite series from the lists below are probably Baking with Julia, a thirty-nine episode, nineteen-hour series, and Julia & Jacques: Cooking at Home. The former is mouth-watering throughout – just this week, I watched three episodes on my tablet while waiting for my car window master switch to be replaced and was then compelled to stop at a good bakery – exceedingly rare around here, but one happens to be just half a mile from the Hyundai dealer. In the latter eleven-hour series, filmed in Julia’s Cambridge home when she was 88, Julia and longtime friend Jacques Pépin frequently compare and contrast home and professional cooking techniques and sometimes disagree about various methods – or whether something’s done. She gives him plenty of good-natured sass, but he returns the volley more often than not. Lots of fun.
Windows Explorer tells me I now have 208 files with 105 hours of Julia Child shows in 40 gigs. Absolutely delightful.
Speaking of delightful, the image I grabbed for the video’s thumbnail is when Julia politely shushes Professor Calvel to allow us, too, to hear “la musique du pain”.
[1963-1973] The French Chef episodes [201×28].txt
 White House Red Carpet with Julia Child [1×58].txt [1978-1979] Julia Child and Company episodes [13×28].txt
[1979-1980] Julia Child and More Company episodes [13×28].txt [1983-1984] Dinner at Julia’s episodes [13×28].txt
 The Way to Cook episodes [6×58].txt  A Birthday Party for Julia Child – Compliments to the Chef [1×58].txt [2021 edit: It appears the official title of the above is “Birthday Tribute to Julia Child: Compliments to the Chef”. It aired on 11 September 1992.
[1993-1994] Cooking with Master Chefs episodes [16×28].txt
[1993-1995] Cooking in Concert episodes [3×85].txt
[1994-1996] In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs [39×28].txt
[1996-1998] Baking with Julia episodes [39×28].txt
[1999-2000] Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home [22×28].txt
 Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom [1×58].txt
[I’ve none of the three in italics]
[1963-1973] The French Chef [51 of 201 eps, the rest on 3 French Chef DVD sets and Amazon Video]
S01E01 Boeuf Bourguignon.avi
S01E02 French Onion Soup.avi
S01E09 Vegetables The French Way.mp4
S01E19 French Crêpes.mp4
S01E20 French Crêpes II.mp4
S01E22 The Potato Show.mp4
S02E02 Cooking Your Goose.mp4
S02E07 Vegetable Adventures.mp4
S02E13 Elegance with Eggs.mp4
S03E17 Bûche de Noël.mp4
S05E03 Queen of Sheba Cake.avi
S05E09 Roast Suckling Pig.mp4
S05E10 More About Potatoes.mp4
S06E07 Asparagus from Tip to Butt.mp4
S06E18 Bouillabaisse à la Marseillaise.avi
S06E20 The Spinach Twins.avi
S07E01 Cake with a Halo.mp4
S07E02 Hamburger Dinner.mp4
S07E03 Salade Niçoise.avi
S07E05 Lasagne à la Française.mp4
S07E06 Waiting for Gigot.mp4
S07E07 How About Lentils.mp4
S07E08 Fish in Monk’s Clothing.mp4
S07E09 Gâteau in a Cage.mp4
S07E10 Cheese and Wine Party.avi
S07E11 Curry Dinner.mp4
S07E12 Apple Desserts.avi
S07E12 Apple Desserts.mp4
S07E13 Meat Loaf Masquerade.MP4
S07E14 To Roast a Chicken.mp4
S07E15 Hard Boiled Eggs.mp4
S07E16 Boeuf Bourguignon.mp4
S07E17 Strawberry Soufflé.mp4
S07E18 Spaghetti Flambé.mp4
S07E19 French Bread.mp4
S07E20 More About French Bread.mp4
S08E01 A Vegetable for all Occasions.mp4
S08E02 Pot au Feu.mp4
S08E10 The Whole Fish Story.avi
S08E16 The Lobster Show.avi
S08E18 Mousse au Chocolat.avi
S08E20 To Stuff a Sausage.avi
S09E06 Terrines and Pâtés.mp4
S09E11 Cheese Soufflé.mp4
S09E12 The Good Loaf.avi
S09E13 The Hollandaise Family.mp4
S09E14 Tripes à la Mode.avi
S09E15 Sole Bon Femme.mp4
S09E18 The Omelette Show.avi
S09E20 French Fries.avi
S10E07 VIP Cake.mp4
[1979-1980] Julia Child and More Company [1 of 13 eps]
Julia Child & More Company Summer Dinner.mp4
 Julia Child – The Way to Cook [6 of 6 eps]
04 Soups, Salads, and Bread.mp4
05 Fish and Eggs.mp4
06 First Courses and Desserts.mp4
[1993-1994] Cooking with Master Chefs [16 of 16 eps]
101 Emeril Lagasse.mp4
102 Michel Richard.mp4
103 Patrick Clark.mp4
104 Lidia Bastianich.mp4
105 Charles Palmer.mp4
106 Amy Ferguson-Ota.mp4
107 Robert Del Grande.mp4
108 Jean-Louis Palladin.mp4
109 Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken.mp4
110 Jacques Pépin.mp4
111 Jeremiah Tower.mp4
112 Jan Birnbaum and Lidia Bastianich.mp4
113 Andre Saltner.mp4
114 Nancy Silverton.mp4
115 Jacques Pépin.mp4
116 Alice Waters.mp4
[1993-1995] Cooking in Concert [3 of 3 eps]
Jacques Pépin Holiday Meal.mp4
Jacques Pépin Stuffed Turkey Roulade.mp4
[1996-1998] Baking With Julia [39 of 39 eps]
101 Craig Kominiak.mp4
102 Alice Medrich.mp4
103 Michel Richard.mp4
104 Lora Brody.mp4
105 Marcel Desaulniers.mp4
106 Gale Gand.mp4
107 Norman Love.mp4
108 Lauren Groveman.mp4
109 Mary Bergin.mp4
110 Steve Sullivan.mp4
111 Nancy Silverton.mp4
112 Nick Malgieri.mp4
113 Flo Braker.mp4
201 Esther McManus.mp4
202 Beatrice Ojakangas.mp4
203 Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid.mp4
204 Danielle Forestier.mp4
205 Markus Farbinger.mp4
206 Charlotte Akoto.mp4
207 Marion Cunningham.mp4
208 Johanna Killeen.mp4
209 Leslie Mackie.mp4
210 David Ogonowsk.mp4
211 Joe Ortiz.mp4
212 David Blom.mp4
213 Norman Love.mp4
301 Martha Stewart 1.mp4
302 Martha Stewart 2.mp4
303 Nancy Silverton.mp4
304 Michel Richard.mp4
304a Michel Richard.mp4
304b Michel Richard.mp4
304c Alice Medrich.mp4
305 Lauren Groveman.mp4
306 Johanne Killeen.mp4
307 Marcel Desaulniers.mp4
308 Nick Malgieri.mp4
309 Mary Bergin.mp4
310 Markus Farbinger.mp4
311 Jeffrey Alfor, Naomi Duguid, and Beatrice Ojakangas.mp4
312 Gail Gand and David Blom.mp4
313 Flo Braker and Leslie Mackie.mp4
[1996-1998] In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs [37 of 39 eps]
101 Roberto Donna.mp4
102 Jasper White.mp4
103 Lynne Rossetto Kasper.mp4
104 Jimmy Sneed.mp4
105 Madhur Jaffrey.mp4
106 Daniel Boulud.mp4
107 Jim Dodge.mp4
108 Charlie Trotter.mp4
109 Leah Chase.mp4
110 Christopher Gross.mp4
111 Jody Adams.mp4
112 Zarela Martinez.mp4
113 Jean-Georges Vongerichten.mp4
114 Rick Bayless.mp4
115 Gordon Hamersley.mp4
116 Dean Fearing.mp4
117 Reed Hearon.mp4
118 Johanne Killeen and George Germon.mp4
119 Carol Field.mp4
120 Michael Lomonaco.mp4
121 Monique Barbeau.mp4
122a Jacques Torres.mp4
122b Jacques Torres.mp4
122c Jacques Torres.mp4
123 Alfred Portale.mp4
124 Mark Militello.mp4
125 Julian Serrano.mp4
126 Joachim Splichal.mp4
127 Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Roberto Donna.mp4
128 Jimmy Sneed.mp4
130 Killeen, Germon, and Gross.mp4
131 Daniel Boulud and Gordon Hamersley.mp4
132 Madhur Jaffrey and Reed Hearon.mp4
133 Dean Fearing.mp4
134 Jim Dodge.mp4
135 Jody Adams and Jaochim Splichal.mp4
136 Mark Militello.mp4
137 Jasper White and Zarela Martinez.mp4
138 Alfred Portale.mp4
139 Monique Barbeau and Jaques Torres.mp4
[1999-2000] Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home [22 of 22 eps]
S01E02 Fruit Desserts.mp4
S01E03 Salad Days.mp4
S01E04 Our Favorite Sandwiches.mp4
S01E06 Beef Stews.mp4
S01E08 Roast Turkey Dinner.mp4
S01E12 Creamy Desserts.mp4
S01E14 Roast Chickens.mp4
S01E16 Winter Vegetables.mp4
S01E18 Comfort Food.mp4
S01E20 Roasts of Veal and Lamb.mp4
 Food Network Tributes August 2004
Emeril Live Tribute to Julia Child 2001.mp4
From Martha’s Kitchen with Julia and Jacques 2000.mp4
Julia Child – A Tribute – Food Network 2004.mp4
Sara Moulton – Cooking Live with Julia 1997.mp4
TV’s Greatest Food Moments 2003.mp4
Wolfgang Puck and Julia Child In the Kitchen 2002.mp4
Other  Chicago Tonight interview.mp4
Other  Julia Child – A&E Biography.avi
Other  Julia Child – An Appetite for Life 1997.mp4
Other  Out of the Box with Jack Nadel interview with Julia Child.mp4
Other  Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom.mp4
Other  Chicago Tonight interview.mp4
Other  American Masters – Julia Child.mp4
Other  Julia Child – Culinary Revolutionary – The New School.mp4
Other  Siting Julia – Radcliffe Institute Conference Panels.mp4
Other  Dearie The Remarkable Life of Julia Child.mp4
Other  Sharing Julia Child’s Appetite for Life with Noël Riley Fitch — Dinner in the Library.mp4
Other  American History (After Hours) The French Chef, American-Style.mp4
Other  Alex Prud’homme – The French Chef in America Julia Child’s Second Act (Full Lecture).mp4
A coworker shared some yellow squash the other day, so I’m pickling it, some red onion, and zucchini – courgette if you prefer – using this recipe. Three days to cure, so I have some time to ponder which sort of sausage.
So far, I’ve used my 8″ cake lifter for things like this more than actual cake lifting. You can’t find a nice big bench scraper under that name, but it turns out this is one anyway. Very handy.
I used it in the production of glazed carrots after I unexpectedly found the other day a half-meatloaf still in the freezer. After finishing it, I want more, so I’ll probably make another couple of loaves soon.
We moved our offices into a new building a couple towns away this week, and I ended up with a substantially larger office – “All the more to decorate” thought I, rubbing my hands. A gallery of my new digs is below. I haven’t decided yet how to fill out one wall, but the other walls are pretty much as I want them. I still see trees and greenery out my window (two windows, actually), thank goodness, and there are wild turkeys at the new place, too.
In the process, I finally got around to having my William Phillips “Clipper at the Gate” limited print framed at this little shop, and it came out pretty spiffy, with the frame and matting matched to the bluish silver of the aircraft, the deep blue of the water, and the red of the Golden Gate Bridge (actually called International orange) and the wing stripes. The aircraft is the Boeing B-314 flying boat, in this case the Pan American Airways California Clipper, NC-18602, which made regular runs between San Francisco and Hawaii – a nineteen-hour leg – before continuing to farther destinations.
Only twelve B-314s were produced by Boeing, all for Pan Am, but it was – and still is – considered the acme of flying boat technology. The initial six had a range of 3,500 miles with fuel capacity of 4,200 gallons and the second group of six could travel 5,200 miles with 5,400 gallons, both variants far exceeding the range of other aircraft of the day. Travel on the clippers was strictly deluxe, with ticket prices comparable to Concorde’s and meals catered by top-notch hotels.
The B-314 model on my desk, in the same 1:200 scale as the B-17 and B-747, is also of NC-18602. The “Fly to South Sea Isles” poster is a high quality limited edition reproduction of a 1930s Pan Am poster that was made about twenty years ago [some weeks after writing this, I found my Hansa Editions print was actually produced thirty years ago]. An original copy of the 1938 George Lawler poster – not the original painting, just a poster – recently sold for US$20,000 at auction, where the listing read:
One of the most iconic and desirable of all the early Pan Am flying boat posters, this image of the Boeing 314 Flying Clipper landing in a tropical lagoon captured, and continues to capture, the imagination of travelers. The location shown on the poster is an imaginary composite of several renowned bays throughout the South Pacific. It has been speculated that the view is Tahiti, Pago Pago and/or Diamond Head, however, the physical characteristics depicted do not coincide with the actual geography of any of these islands. Lawler most likely worked from photographs to derive a fantasy collage of a location infused with realistic details from various islands. It is rare to find this poster with text. We have found only two other examples at auction.
The tail end of the gallery shows in detail some of the photos and items on display. I had 16×20 prints made of the three high resolution Apollo photographs – done beautifully by Shutterfly and Snapfish, I’ll add. Of the three drawings of mine on the wall, just one, the woman holding a newborn Bengal kitten, is my original pencil drawing – the other two are from high resolution scans I made before presenting the original drawings to their subjects.
Click on any image to enter the gallery, and from there you can view a 1920-wide version of any photo by clicking this at the lower right (you may need to scroll down to see it):
Pan Am/Boeing/San Francisco corner
Food photos and pencil sketches
16×20 photos of some of my flight jacket paintings may go here
1:200 scale models of my favourite Boeing aircraft
All Nippon Airways Boeing 747SR-81 JA8139 in “Snoopy Go!” livery, used to promote family ski vacations in Sapporo from 1996-1998
Sourdough boule in my kitchen
Jasper White’s Lobster & Corn Chowder
My best mate
Woman with newborn Bengal kitten
Tracy Griffith; she asked me to create her first web site many years ago
Apollo 15 launch
Dave Scott during Apollo 9
Apollo 16 – John Young with the LRV
Apollo 17 Commander Capt. Gene Cernan, the last man on the moon, in 1/6th scale
Moon globe made using 15,000 Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter photos; shows all unmanned and manned landing sites
Lunar Roving Vehicle
This photo is from the old office, but the Apollo 11 model’s still on my desk
What was inside the B-314; this was the centerfold of the 23 August 1937 issue of Life magazine
All Nippon Airways B-747 in “Snoopy Go!” livery
On the unfilled wall, I may put up 16×20 photos – approximately actual size – of two of the flight jackets I painted. This one is Rita Hayworth.
I was thinking this morning of stepping out to try a diner that’s down the road and quickly questioned that idea as possibly a bit rash: “But why?” They seem to have mixed reviews, so there’s a good possibility that I make better versions of their breakfast fare, and I’ll wager their eggs weren’t laid approximately Wednesday like mine. Plus, a month ago, I finally got around to buying a few of the true diner plates I was eyeing some years back – and I’m talking about real diner plates, 13″ ovals weighing 2½ pounds each – so now I even have the proper ambience. To wit:
Click for a larger version – but maybe you should eat something first
The title – or something like that, anyway – is diner lingo for corned beef hash (sweep the kitchen) with poached eggs (Adam and Eve) on the hash, not the toast (raft).
Jasper White, in his introduction to Cooking from New England (1989):
“I typed this book, but I did not write it. I doubt if anyone has ever really written a cookbook. I believe that the creative process in cooking is a matter of transforming small parts of a much greater body of folk knowledge into new variations, however slight the differences.”
With some hesitation, I am revealing our greatest secret: the biscuit recipe. The hesitation comes from the fact that people will realize when they read this recipe that there really is no great secret — just a lot of patience and technique. [Well, not really…the recipe takes just six or eight minutes to prepare and twenty minutes to bake.] We make an average of 700 of these fluffy pups on a weekday at the Biscuit and 1,200 on a weekend day. Many different people have made the biscuits since the restaurant has been open. Our biscuiteers arrive before the break of dawn to produce these tender little morsels. If by chance you happen to drive by early some morning, you may catch a glimpse of them through the window, hunched over a table, flour everywhere. If you look even closer you might see the sparkle of the biscuit cutter and a little white ball of dough flying through the air and landing on a sheet pan, ready to be baked for our loving patrons.
3 cups all-purpose flour (a soft winter wheat flour, such as White Lily, works best) [White Lily is found mainly in the Southern U.S.; an all-purpose flour with a decent protein percentage is fine to use]
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar [UK caster sugar] [I usually cut this back to 1 1/2 tablespoons]
6 tablespoons [3 oz.] unsalted butter, at room temperature (it should be the consistency of shortening)
2/3 cup heavy cream [UK double cream]
2/3 cup half-and-half [aka light single cream in the UK, or just go wild and use single cream, which is about 18% butterfat compared to about 12% for U.S. half-and-half. For a triple recipe, one pint each of double cream and light single cream. And one big-ass bowl, of course.]
2 tablespoons half-and-half for brushing on top of biscuits
1 tablespoon sugar for sprinkling on top of biscuits
Preheat oven to 375 F [190 C]. Line a sheet pan [or insulated baking sheet] with parchment paper.
Place flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Cut softened butter into 1/2 tablespoon-sized bits and add to the flour. Using your fingertips or a pastry cutter, work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. [I use fingers. This takes just two or three minutes.]
Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in all of the heavy cream and the half and half. Stir the dry ingredients into the cream and mix with a wooden spoon until dough just begins to come together into a ball.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 2 or 3 times to form a cohesive mass. Do not overwork the dough [always important to prevent things like biscuits, pancakes, brownies, &c. from having a specific density higher than lead’s]. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to a 1-inch thickness. The correct thickness is the key to obtaining a stately biscuit. Dip a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter in flour, then cut the dough. [I use a 3″ cutter and get 7 or 8 biscuits.] Repeat until all the dough has been cut. Scraps can be gathered together and rerolled one more time. [She says this because two or more regatherings and rerollings can result in overworked dough, but I find that as long as you do it gently enough, you can do two rounds after the first cutting instead of just one. The last round will get you one or two more biscuits from the scraps. They might turn out a bit misshapen, but they still taste good.]
Place the biscuits on the prepared sheet pan, leaving about 1/4 inch between them. [Why so close? Well, first, these biscuits expand almost exclusively vertically. Second, they retain more moisture when they’re baked closer together, so this measure helps keep the biscuits fluffy instead of crumbly.] Brush the tops of the biscuits with 1 tablespoon of half and half and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sugar. [That’s 1 tablespoon distributed between all the biscuits, by the way. The half-and-half here is to make the tops a little browner than they might otherwise turn out and to make the sugar stick. I usually don’t bother with the extra sugar on top, though. It really isn’t necessary because they’ve already got sugar inside.]
Bake for 20 minutes at 375 F [190 C]. Biscuits will be lightly browned on the top and flaky in the center when done. [And still almost the original colour on the sides.]
Makes 8 to 12 biscuits, depending on the size of the cutter.
By Alton Brown
1 pound bulk breakfast sausage
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
Salt and pepper
Cook sausage in a cast iron skillet. When done, remove sausage from pan and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat [sometimes you’ll have very little fat, in which case add some butter to make up two tablespoons]. Whisk flour into the fat and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in milk a little at a time. Return to medium-high heat and stir occasionally while the gravy comes to a simmer and thickens. (Be sure to scrape up any brown bits that might be stuck to the bottom of the pan, that’s where the flavor is.) Check seasoning [I use lots of freshly ground pepper], add crumbled sausage and serve over toast or biscuits.
I’m having arthroscopic knee surgery on Tuesday to clean up a large lateral meniscus tear – I tripped over a power cord sixteen months ago and landed hard on my right knee – and don’t much fancy microwaved and canned stuff during recovery. It sounds like I’ll have limited mobility, likely unable for a while to stand in the kitchen for hours, so I was busy yesterday and today, making:
Four quarts of French onion pot roast beef stew with a chuck eye roast
Of course, I’m already unable to stand for extended periods without pain, so I kind of screwed up the knee in the last 48 hours, but the above will be worth all the wincing and shouts of “Ow!” to no one in particular today. Those plus my best friend keeping me company through Thursday plus the Percocet ought to see me through just fine.
I’m making lasagne tonight and of course need garlic bread, so I decided to do it in a different way this time, featuring a version of the butter-braised and supremely mellow garlic that starts out Julia Child’s recipe for purée de pommes de terre à l’ail (garlic mashed potatoes). I don’t much like the taste of raw garlic that too often comes through in others’ garlic bread, and this is a fine way to tone down that harshness.
Braise the peeled cloves of two whole heads of garlic (yes!) in a small pan with a stick (8 tablespoons, 110g) of unsalted butter. Keep it on lowest heat so it’s barely bubbling – you don’t want to color either the butter or the garlic, so keep an eye on it. Braise until the garlic is quite soft and squishable, 20-30 minutes. I squished some of these with the back of a spoon to check them after half an hour.
Note: After baking and tasting the bread, I determined that you could get away with one head of garlic just fine, using the same amount of butter. The bread was good, but the garlic could be taken down a notch or three with no ill effect.
Pass through a fine sieve – I found I had missed four bits of skin – and mix in some fresh unsalted butter while it’s still warm. I eyeballed it and decided that about a half-stick more would be enough for the entire Italian loaf I had.
Mix in a handful of fresh chopped parsley and a pinch of salt, then allow to cool for a little while for easier spreading:
Slice an Italian loaf 3/4 of the way through so the loaf stays together, then spread the garlic mixture between the slices, being more generous than a cardiologist would because you’re not making this every day. Wrap tightly in foil and store in the fridge until ready to bake.
I’ll post the results later, but the next step is to bake, still wrapped in the foil, at 400F (200C) for 15-20 minutes until the bread inside is hot and beginning to crisp. Open the foil up and bake an additional few minutes uncovered to brown the edges nicely.
On Sunday, I made a double recipe, five quarts, of Julia Child’s French onion soup – The Way to Cook variation – in preparation for my hybrid French onion pot roast beef stew on Christmas. This variation of hers is my favourite. The cognac and vermouth insinuate themselves delightfully into the soup during the three-hour slow simmer, producing intricately complex flavours in the result.
Unfortunately, last week, this news arrived regarding my food processor’s blade assembly:
Conair has received 69 reports of consumers finding broken pieces of the blade in processed food, including 30 reports of mouth lacerations or tooth injuries.
So, I signed up for a new blade and proceeded to thinly slice nineteen onions without mechanical aid. I briefly considered using the mandoline, but using that thing for the better part of an hour seemed like it might well be the start of an eventually disappointing recipe for a trip to A&E, never convenient when you’re about to caramelise twenty cups of onions for an hour or so. ’Round about onion seventeen, I did poke my thumb with the tip of the knife, the first time in some years I’ve cut myself (“Say…why is this onion running red?” I idly wondered), but the Victorinox is nice and sharp, so it was at least a clean cut.
Of course, the soup cannot just lazily sit in the fridge waiting for Saturday night. Quality testing protocols must be followed here at the Finley Quality Network, and that’s where I come in. I also happen to be the sole employee, but that’s neither here nor there – we (I) have standards to maintain regardless of piffling staffing levels. Plus I needed dinner.
Click for a mouth-wateringly HD version
As may be obvious from the photograph, yes, it passed with flying colours. If this has piqued your interest, here’s a printable image I put together of the three related recipes from The Way to Cook: the soup, the French bread croûtes, and the gratinée variant.
On Amazon, I found the defective processor blade, used on about twenty models over a nineteen-year period, is still being offered for sale. As if that wasn’t bad enough, my eyebrows like to shoot off the top of my head when I then, out of curiosity, looked at the oldest reviews and found one in 2012 clearly describing a metal fatigue problem in the blade. I don’t wish to cast aspersions or, more specifically, get sued, but I certainly hope Conair hasn’t been sitting on any similar information they might have been privy to.