26 January 2009

Tartine's Cherry Clafoutis

Clafoutis aux Cerises
Cherry Clafoutis (with title)
AGAIN with the long delays! I'm nearing the end of my interview tour-- just one more to go in Pennsylvania-- then I'm off to read the posts I so sorely miss. Just wanted to get this one out.
Books, and cookbooks in particular, can get incredibly expensive. Unless you're the type who has patience for the $5 bin where books the likes of "50 Low-Fat Desserts" written by Anonymous languish, you probably suffer through rows and rows of books that cost anywhere between $25 and $50. I suppose the higher cost is justified by the beautiful color plates (an antiquated term, heh) that pictures of food require, hardbound construction, and sturdy pages. Factor in the losses you get from the cookbook fanatic with grubby hands who rips the plastic carelessly (ha ha), and a smaller audience compared to Oprah's book club, and you have even higher costs. (Though in fairness, there are VERY good books in the $25 or less range, you just have to look hard.)

With prices like these, it would be a shame to not use the books, as that is of course where you get the value of your money. And it is finally decided if the book is ultimately worth it and has paid for itself, or if you might as well have burned your fresh $50. Which is why I'm proud of my project with Duncan-- The Gastronomer's Bookshelf-- because various people are able to share their experiences with cookbooks, and not only do readers get to determine what is gold and what is crap before spending the dough, but also, hopefully in the long term, writers and publishers will churn out better and better product.

15 January 2009

Pineapple Lime Mascarpone Tart

Pineapple Lime Mascarpone Tart

"My life is very monotonous," the fox said. "I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And, in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the colour of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat..."

The next day the little prince came back.
"It would have been better to come back at the same hour," said the fox. "If, for example, you come at four o'clock in the afternoon, then at three o'clock I shall begin to be happy. I shall feel happier and happier as the hour advances. At four o'clock, I shall already be worrying and jumping about. I shall show you how happy I am! But if you come at just any time, I shall never know at what hour my heart is to be ready to greet you... One must observe the proper rites..."
"What is a rite?" asked the little prince.
"Those also are actions too often neglected," said the fox. "They are what make one day different from other days, one hour from other hours. There is a rite, for example, among my hunters. Every Thursday they dance with the village girls. So Thursday is a wonderful day for me! I can take a walk as far as the vineyards. But if the hunters danced at just any time, every day would be like every other day, and I should never have any vacation at all."

Those are my favorite parts of the book The Little Prince, which I realize is predictably schmaltzy on my part but you can also predict that I don't care. There are some good parts after those passages but I kept it essential-- if you haven't read the book yet, I highly recommend it. Far too many people have bought into the whole reality television illusion (The Bachelor and its kin, Rock of Love, and worst of all, Paris Hilton's My New BFF) and foolishly believe that friends and relationships can be formed instantly. You put on your best Sunday frock, make a great first impression, and bam-- you're in love. What Saint-Exupery has shown in this lovely parable is that it takes commitment for trust to form. If you suddenly dropped out-- like, say, NOT POSTING IN YOUR BLOG FOR TWO WEEKS, people will get confused, some will forget who you are, and think that you can't be relied upon. Not what I wanted to happen at all. I hope you'll understand that it's been a little difficult to write (civilization will not advance one iota until blogging is possible on airplanes). I just arrived from Akron, my first interview-- and I'll be telling you about that experience soon.

03 January 2009

Apple, Cinnamon, and Sultana Strudel

Apfelstrudel mit zimt und sultaninen
Apple, Cinnamon, and Sultana Strudel (with title)
Happy new year to everyone! I realize that it appears I dropped off the face of the Earth, and in some respects, that's true. I tunneled through the core and ended up on the opposite side, in sunny, beachy New Joisey, and man is it hot! (Mind over matter.) One of my first thoughts as I was walking away from Newark International Airport was, "OH, MY FUCKING FREEZING FACE!!" (Little do you know that the original thought was, "... my beautiful fucking freezing face.") Pardon the profanity so early on in the year but that was me, and at the time I thought that the nerve endings in my lips had all died. They sorely needed another pair to warm them, hee hee.

But to those who thought I hadn't posted-- au contraire! I have a short essay on my other blog (opens in new window) about Christmas, which you might like to read. But the other reason I've neglected my life in the internets is because I've been working on a print project, which I had to finish before my flight, which was January 1, 7:45AM. I was working with it till almost midnight, with the fireworks polluting my sky. Of course, I was also stocking up on posts for the rest of the year, or at least the next few months. Cooking might become scarce, which makes me a little sad thinking about it, but it might be a necessity in the future-- time will tell.