Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sharp and Alive

Nothing brightens up a crummy winter’s day like this lemon and celery salad.

Way back in December, I got the new Canal House cookbook, Canal House Cooks Every Day, by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton (sister of Gabrielle Hamilton). The first thing I made was this meal: grilled beef with parsley-tarragon butter and a chopped celery salad. Preserved lemons in the celery really shines, especially when it’s grey and wet out there.

The celery I used was the very most tender—the pale ribs in the centre—along with all of their leaves. Finely chopped anchovies and preserved lemon were tossed along with a lemon and olive oil dressing. The result is spectacularly sharp and alive. It’s best served cold.

As for the steak and butter, I never bothered with the tarragon. Just plain parsley was beautiful on its own. I like my meat grilled rare; in my inaccurate and kind of cartoony understanding of how biology works, my body yells “hurray!” as soon as the bloody steak hits my stomach and those proteins get cracking.  Please don’t quote me on this.

For no reason at all, here is Olive the cat. I’m not sure what she was doing on the table (not allowed!). She doesn’t care for lemons. Actually, she doesn't even know what they are.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Accomplishments measured in bread

First, I should confess this is post is only a partial effort. I’ve got the flu, which means that I’ve been productive in a very limited sense over the last few days: I’m eating an awful lot of this soup; I watched all of Freaks and Geeks; and I even dragged my sorry ass across the street for some lemons at noon today. And, naturally, these activities were separated by naps. Those are my accomplishments.

I thought, however, that I should tell you about something I achieved before I got the flu. As of late December, I’ve been making sourdough bread.

I’ve been using the Tartine Bread book as a guide. At first, I kept the starter in a drawer in our bedroom. It smells sweet and tangy.  The loaves it produces are moist, bubbly, and the crust is chewy.

I’m now experimenting with storing the starter in the refrigerator, seeing as I only have time to make loaves every two weeks or so.  This bread takes time; just the first rise is a four hour commitment. But the result is worth it, and the recipe makes two large loaves—enough to share.  I’ll be making this bread for a while, so I’m sure I’ll tell you more about my sourdough adventures on a day where the flu hasn’t muffled my brain functions.  

Most of these pictures--except this last one--were taken by my father, who visited a couple of weeks ago. He brought a jar of starter back to the farm, where I’m told my mother has been putting the sourdough to use as well.