April 2012 COTM: Melissa Clark Month, In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite: Chapters 9, 10. 11. and 12
Please use this thread to discuss Chapters 9, 10, 11, and 12 from In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite: Holiday Food; My Sweet Tooth and Me; There's Always Room for Pie; Lessons in Imbibing, pages 297 - 430.
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Moist and Boozy fruitcake (page 341)
I had attempted (and failed) to follow the inspiration for this recipe (Colwin's Black Cake recipe) years ago. After seeing that it can be done, I'm going to give this a final, expensive 'try'. I'm off to buy all the dried fruit and other ingredients - and wondering if anyone else has attempted either recipe? If so, I'd appreciate any words of advice. It takes at least two weeks to macerate the fruit, so I'll follow up then.
re: Blythe spirit
Blythe spirit -- what happened with the Laurie Colwin cake? Her recipe (in "Home Cooking") for Black Cake has always interested me, a fruitcake fan.
The only fruitcake I've made is Alton Brown's, his "Free Range Fruitcake". It came out nicely, but the Colwin cake sounds *so* crazy good.
re: blue room
Blue Room ,
I was about 20 and living in my first apartment when I got Colwin's book as a gift. I bought all the ingredients and began macerating the fruit in a gigantic salad bowl. It began to take on an ominous look and smell; I lost faith and threw the whole thing out - fearing I had done something wrong. Her directions did not specify whether this brew needed to be refrigerated or not and I was an inexperienced and unconfident cook. Since then I've seen a couple reports of others having great success with her Black cake recipe - I think here on Chowhound.
Honey-Glazed Pear Upside-Down Cake p. 368
I've made the Dorie Greenspan Swedish Visiting Cake a couple times and it's very nice. Simple, tasty, good with whatever you feel like serving it with. I diced the pears and they took a long time to caramelize, but once I thought they were ready I poured the batter over and put it in the oven. I really like almond extract, so I used the amounts the original recipe called for. In the end, this was a bit disappointing. It might be partly because when I brought it out everyone thought it was pineapple upside down cake. Even when you keep reminding yourself it's not pineapple, there was still a disconnect with every bite. There may have been tears from my 4 year old who doesn't like pears :) I did use Bartlett pears, so maybe that was a problem, and I used regular honey, which could also have left the flavor less intense than I was looking for. I just know I will continue making the Dorie original, which is especially good with the frozen strawberries we pick ourselves that I always have in the freezer.
Individual French Honey-Apple Tarts, page 401.
Like many dishes that utilize ready-made puff pastry, this one is easy, and presents impressively. I had one leftover sheet of puff pastry in the freezer, so a half recipe was perfect to use it up. The pastry is cut into rectangles (mine are not in the prescribed shape, I just cut the sheet into four pieces), and brushed with warmed honey. Peeled apples (I used granny smith, honeycrisp, and braeburn) are thinly sliced and placed atop the pastry. Each tart is brushed with a melted blend of butter, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla bean. They are brushed again every 20 minutes while baking. Brushed isn't exactly the right word, as the mixture is thick, I would say dabbed is more accurate. The recipe calls for cooking them about 60 minutes; mine were clearly done, and surrounded by burnt sugar, at 40 minutes. Very, very good. I heard mmmms at the table. We had company for dinner, so I served them with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Just in case anyone didn't have enough sweet richness on their plate.
Individual French Honey-Apple Tarts (p. 401)
Just made these for a simple Easter dessert for just 3 of us. They were wonderful – delicious, great texture, and nice and light.
I brushed the pastry with maple syrup instead of honey – went very nicely with the apples. And vanilla extract worked fine in the glaze instead of the bean. Like L.Nightshade, we had some vanilla ice cream on top, and it was a wonderful combo!
One note: I didn't bother peeling the apples (I hate peeling), but even though the slices were very thin the peels were still noticeable in not a nice way. Next time I make these (which I certainly will), I will definitely peel the apples.
My Mother’s Lemon Pot Roast – p. 317 (also a bonus recipe in CTN – p. 380)
Odd as this may seem, I’ve never cooked a brisket so when I saw that MC suggests the use of a brisket for this dish, I couldn’t resist the urge to jump in and give it a try. My butcher cut my meat to order yesterday and prep is very simple. Last night I rubbed the (salt & peppered) brisket w a paste of garlic, lemon zest and salt. The zest was my own addition since MC has you incorporate 3 lemons in this dish but only the zest of 2 lemons is required in the braise so, hating to waste perfectly good zest, I threw caution to the wind and added some to my paste. I marinated the brisket overnight, covered tightly in plastic wrap.
Today I seared it off, browning on all sides in some hot olive oil and let me say, even at this early stage, the brisket smelled incredible! Lemon juice and water are added to the pan and once the liquid comes to a boil, the pot is covered and placed in a 325° oven for 75 mins at which point MC has you turn the meat, add in 5 crushed cloves of garlic and cook for an additional 60 – 75 mins or, until the meat shreds easily.
Instead of simmering in the oven, I opted to braise mine in the slow cooker. Since we were in no hurry to eat, mine simmered for about 3 hours in total. MC suggests that you slice and serve the meat w pan juices.
Such a lovely aroma wafts through the house as this dish simmers away. mr bc could barely contain his excitement to sink his teeth into this dish. Though I’m not near the meat-lover he is, I had to admit that the dish did smell pretty enticing.
I really didn’t know what to expect from this dish but it really was special. Though the meat was tender and super-flavourful, for me it was the broth that was the star of the show. Seriously, I could bathe in that broth. I’m salivating just thinking about the super-lemony yet somehow rich tasting broth that stole my heart. mr bc loved everything about the dish and must have eaten half the roast himself. (I’ll be sure to send the photos to his GP!!).
Atop the beef, I served some fingerling potatoes that I’d roasted off after a good toss in some evoo, lemon zest, chopped garlic, S&P.
My Mother's Lemon Pot Roast
I've never made brisket before, but I'm a big pot roast fan, so I decided I try this. I also marinated overnight and cooked it in the slow cooker, though in my case I left it in there all day. I was afraid of adding as much water as she says because so often the meat puts off so much liquid in the slow cooker, but in this case it needed it and I added some extra halfway through. It really was delicious, though the flavor combination was really unusual, or at least it was to me. At first I wasn't sure if I would make this again, because I do love my usual pot roast, but I could see craving the brightness of the lemon in the spring or summer. I would consider making it ahead of time and refrigerating it to take off the fat, in order to enjoy the delicious broth with total abandon!
Whole Wheat Demerara Shortbread p.331
This could not have been easier - whizz a-p flour, whole wheat flour, butter and small amount of sugar in processor. Press into pan, sprinkle some more demerara on top and bake. Although I didn't love this as much as my Grandmother's Scottish shortbread, this is healthier (less sugar and more fiber in ww flour) and for a very fast and easy cookie it was pretty good.