Green tomato tarte tatin revisited

Green tomato tarte tatin

Well! October 11th will mark the one year anniversary of this blog! How time flies. We’ll be celebrating with a spectacular fireworks display and a regatta along the delaware. It’s silly how addicted to it I’ve become! It’s silly how I’ve almost come to think of it as work – as my work. I actually work very hard at it, which is also foolish. Anyway, in looking back at some of my earliest posts, I’m embarrassed by the poor quality of the pictures and the slight and meandering writing. But I’m hoping that the recipes are still sound. I’ve decided to go back and remake a few, following my own directions as exactly as possible. I guess I’m testing them! And I’m taking better photos. In most cases I won’t do a whole new post, I’ll just sub in the better photo. If I make some big changes, I might do a whole new post, as I’m doing now. Although I didn’t really make a big change!

Anyway, I’ll try to keep it brief, since this is a do-over. I’d just like to say that I felt very happy, picking these tomatoes. It was at the CSA. I was hot as hell, sweating like a madman, face burning to a crisp. But there was something so hopeful about the rows and rows of tomato plants laden with heavy pale green-just-turning-rosy tomatoes. And then I heard some high-pitched peep-peeping. Goldfinches! Brighter than day, and closer than I’d ever seen them, on top of the tomato stakes, talking to one another. Beautiful!

Green tomato tarte tatin

So – this tarte tatin was as good as I’d remembered it! I decide to redo the whole post, because the last time I posted I was very strange and luke-warm about the whole thing, and I didn’t write up the recipe like a recipe. Claire, what were you thinking? Let me assure you the tart is lovely – sweet, savory, vegetal, with a very satisfying crust. Last time I cooked the tomatoes in a frying pan, and transferred them to a cake pan. This time, I cooked them in the frying pan, without moving them much at all, and then I put the crust on top and put the whole thing into the oven. Which worked very well, and is my recommended method, if you have a frying pan with a metal handle!

Here’s The Roots with Popcorn Revisited.
Continue reading

Roasted mushrooms & potatoes with sage & white pepper

Roasted potatoes and mushrooms

This year Malcolm and I read The Trumpet of the Swan. I hadn’t read it since I was little, and I didn’t remember it in great detail, but I knew I’d liked it. It’s such an odd little story. Nature-guide-worthy details of flora and fauna mix with flights of fancy in a lovely, matter-of-fact style, as if a swan’s ability to read, and play a trumpet, and be a good friend, are exactly the qualities we would expect him to have. As we got towards the end, there was a passage that was so surprising, and beautiful and unlikely, that it made me ridiculously happy. We’re given a glimpse into the thoughts of a minor character – a zoo “head man” who who only speaks a handful of times in the entire book. Nobody else gets this treatment! Sam, the young human hero of the story is describing how his friend, Louis the swan, would die if he were kept in captivity.

“The head man closed his eyes. He was thinking of little lakes deep in the woods, of the color of bulrushes of the sounds of night and the chorus of frogs. He was thinking of swans’ nests, and eggs, and the hatching of eggs, and the cygnets following their father in single file. He was thinking of dreams he had had as a young man.”

And later, when Sam tells him about money Louis is saving to pay for his trumpet, we see inside the Head Man’s mind again.

“The subject of money seemed to interest the Head Man greatly. He thought how pleasant it would be not to have any more use for money. He leaned back in his chair. … ‘When it comes to money,’ he said, ‘birds have it easier than men do…A bird doesn’t have to go to a supermarket and buy a dozen eggs and a pound of butter and two rolls of paper towels and a TV dinner and a can of Ajax and a can of tomato juice and a pound and a half of ground round steak and a can of sliced peaches and two quarts of fat-free milk and a bottle of stuffed olives. A bird doesn’t have to pay rent on a house, or interest on a mortgage. A bird doesn’t insure its life with an insurance company and then have to pay premiums on the policy. A bird doesn’t own a car and buy gas and oil and pay for repairs on the car and take the car to a car wash and pay to get it washed. Animals and birds are lucky. They don’t keep acquiring things, the way men do. You can teach a monkey to drive a motorcycle, but I have never known a monkey to go out and buy a motorcycle.'”

It just kills me!! The details of shopping list, and the way it all comes out in a mad, comma-less rush. I’ve only known the head man for about a paragraph, and he disappears from the story soon after, but I feel like I know him, and I’d feel like I’d like him.

I had such a rotten weekend of work. Discouraging, depressing, not-at-all financially rewarding. I wish money didn’t matter. I wish I could work hard on all of the things I love, and the deeply important projects we’re developing here at The Ordinary, and get by like that. Sigh.

Anyway! When I came home from work one night, I felt like making this fast, delicious, comforting, flavorful dish. We had it as a side dish with our summer tart. I love the idea of potatoes and shallots together – they seem like such earthy, pan-seasonal friends. And of course roasted mushrooms are one of my favorite things in the world. The combination has a lovely, savory meat-and-potatoes feel about it. I cut the potatoes quite small, and left the mushrooms quite big, so they’d cook at the same rate, and because I liked the crispy potatoes with the juicy mushrooms.

Here’s Blackalicious with Swan Lake. I love this song! It has samples of about 500 different versions of People Make the World Go Round.

Continue reading

White beans with figs, potatoes, and shallots

White beans with figs and potatoes

David and I had a lovely friend named Madeleine. She was Belgian, and her husband had been Greek. We used to spend afternoons in her teeming garden, drinking Belgian beer and eating Greek rusks and delicious cheese. She had wonderful stories to tell. She’d met Hergé! Hergé!! Madeleine’s daughter, Sandy, lives in Greece, so I don’t see her very often, but since I’ve started this blog, she’s been sending me Greek recipes. They’re wonderful – eggplant, spinach, savory pastries, lemony potatoes! I can’t wait to try them. Recently, she spent some time in Paris, and she sent me a description of her meal, which she called “two non-recipes from Paris.” I love the idea of making a meal based on a description of a special lunch somebody had somewhere. Wouldn’t it be fun to find old letters (even very old letters) from all sorts of people all over the world, and make a cookbook based on meals that they describe? Yes! It would! Anyway, the meal Sandy wrote about sounded like exactly my kind of thing. She’d eaten a dish with meat, figs, potatoes, and little onions, probably shallots. Doesn’t that sound perfect? Of course, I left the meat out, and I decided to replace it with white beans, and cook it into a nice brothy, stewy type of meal. I’m sure the original was far more elegant, and I’ve peasant-ized it, but it just seemed perfect that way to me, yesterday. I bought three plump, ripe little figs, but if these are hard for you to find, you can replace them with dry or even a few tablespoons of fig preserves. I used red-skinned potatoes, and the whole dish had a lovely rosy hue. We ate this with goat cheese toasts plus extra crusty bread for soaking up the broth.

Here’s a Greek song about a fig tree! Nikos Skalkottas, from 16 Songs, AK 80, VIII. Fig Tree. Strange and beautiful!
Continue reading

Tapioca-choux dumplings with turnips and cheddar

Turnip & cheddar choux dumplings

As I was making these, I thought to myself, “I really can’t imagine anyone else in the world cooking these.” Not that they were hard to make, or that they didn’t taste good (they did!). It was just such a strange and winding path that led me to them. First of all, I bought some tapioca flour at the Super Tropical Food Mart. This reminded me of an intriguing recipe I’d seen in the New York Times for Brazilian cheese puffs. And my tapioca flour is called “Yuca flour.” For some reason this made me think of Japanese Takoyaki. I thought maybe they add yucca root to that. Which is an entirely different thing, of course, but the connection had been made! I like watching how-to videos about takoyaki on youTube. (In fact I like watching any short cooking videos with non-English narration. I really do.) Anyway – takoyaki always seemed like a messy-fun thing to make and eat (and say!), and I had dreamed of trying a version of my own, with a muffin tin instead of a real takoyaki pan. And I’ve always wanted to try making something with a choux batter … but with something tasty stuffed inside!! Why roasted turnips, sharp cheddar and thyme? Why? Why not, I say! I wasn’t sure what to expect when I pulled these out of the oven, but I liked them a lot. They were soft and dense and cheesy on the inside, and nicely crispy on the outside. We ate them with leftover vegetarian haggis, cause everyone knows you’re supposed to eat turnips with haggis!

I should mention that if you don’t have tapioca flour on hand, these will work fine with regular flour – just use 1 1/2 cups. And if you’re not a turnip fan, you could substitute roasted parsnips or butternut squash, or just use cheese – any cheese you like!

Here’s Duke Ellington with Tapioca
Continue reading