Sometimes all you need for a pick-me-up is lunch with an old friend, with a bunch of doughnuts on the side… J (who writes about food for The Boston Globe and The New York Times) and I met up at The Doughnut Plant near Chinatown. The yeasty rounds here are unusual flavors like fresh strawberry and coconut, the two I picked up on Saturday. They also have the elusive rose petal doughnut which is rumored to be on the menu on Mothers’ Day. If I keep going back every time I’m in the city, one day I’ll get my hands on those. Since little sister L just decided to go to NYU next year, this may be more often!
Note to L: this is all you have to do to get there from your new neighborhood… now go ahead and buy a box for yourself and send one back to Boston for me. I’ll be checking my mailbox. (thanks)
Take a cartoon rat who likes to cook and a cartoon chef who can’t cook and you get Ratatouille a new film from Pixar. Definitely going to see this one.
Last weekend R hosted a late Sunday brunch. All the more impressive since she and the other guest, C, were up late drinking too much wine the night before. Yet, R who is (off-topic) the biggest cheese fan I know, managed to have baked French toast — with a zip of orange zest! — and yogurt with berries and granola on hand. A simple meal, with a pot of jasmine tea on the side, but one that definitely hit the spot. The occasion was our monthly book group (yes, it’s a group with only three of us) get-together. This time we read Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky, not that we ever really discuss the books, it’s really more about the food. So, what’s on the menu next month?
This afternoon the girls came over for a cheesecake lesson and some good Chinese takeout. L, N, and V arrived with food from the Chilli Garden in Medford Square. I always get the cold noodles– they are topped with garlic and enough spicy things to make your mouth (and lips) burn long after the fact. But, delicious.
Then, the cheesecake lesson! In months past I have taught these three how to make vegetable soup, spinach quiche, and, most recently, a quinoa dish with Rice Krispie treats for dessert. All but the last were sadly undocumented events and will never be shown publicly (perhaps the quinoa will show its face, though!). Due to time constraints and my perpetual difficulty in getting a large-sized cheesecake sealed entirely against the water that surrounds its baking tin, we tried making mini cakes in muffin tins. And you know, it worked! While L greased up the tins (without this, the little cakes would never have slipped out so easily!), N and V ganged up on the crust. All patted crust into the tins and baked for less than ten minutes… then the filling was paddled into creaminess in the stand mixer: cream cheese, egg, sugar, vanilla, and zest from one blood orange. V seems to have a weakness for kitchen power tools (while L enjoys a good hollow-ground, Asian-style knife) so she primarily handled both the pulverizing of the crust and the beating of the filling. Everyone pitched in to fill the tins with batter and we baked the little tasties for 27 minutes at 325-degrees. They cooled down quickly in the refrigerator and were eaten– topped with fresh berries– within an hour of emerging from the oven. Experiment worked! What should we cook next month, ladies?
We get so much fruit from Boston Organic’s big green box on Wednesdays that there is still plenty to go around on a Saturday– even after we decimated the citrus population over breakfast (grapefruit and tangelos). On top there are mostly pears, holdouts from last week, still ripening… There’s also a mango up there, ready to eat. Below, lots of apples (had one for lunch on Friday, quite good!), more pears, some little orangey things and a big pineapple in back– that’s definitely ripe too, you can see the yellow peeking through at the bottom already. The bananas are the first to go since they are usually the ripest arrivals so they are long gone along with the strawberries which were enjoyed this morning when little sister L was in town. I think that mango will be next in line, but I’ll leave the carving (and the tender fruit around the pit) to Mr. Food.
At last, something about what they eat on The Office set! Even though it is Rachael Ray-related, this is worth a look.
(Question: Why is English food not a joke?)
Fellow British blogger at “Becks & Posh” has put out a challenge: to show that English food is not a laughing matter and I intend to do my bit. Granted, I’m only half British– the half that enjoys Marmite (on white bread with butter), scones (one of the few words, another being basil, that I pronounce with a British accent), a good cuppa tea, Jelly Babies, Refreshers, Ribena, and Turkish delights (the rose kind, I’ve even made an approximation at home). Oh, and this is also the half of me that giggles at food names such as “bangers and mash” and (ha-ha) “bubble and squeak.” I hardly even know what the latter is but it still makes me laugh. The non-Brit in me thinks that split pea soup might as well be lumpy, green, celing plaster.
That said, one of the most foolproof, guaranteed dishes anywhere has got to be the English-at-Wimbledon favorite, strawberries and cream. Have you ever noticed that even if you mess up the biscuits (which is something I did twice this week– third time’s the charm) in the American favorite strawberry shortcake, the filling is still wonderful? That’s the strawberries and cream! All you need is strawberries tossed in a little sugar– I add some orange zest too– and sweetened whipped cream. Granted, usually strawberries and cream in its homeland means clotted cream instead…
The combination of strawberries and cream has been around the British Isles since at least the 1200s, and at Wimbledon tennis matches from the late 1800s. While I was taking classes for my Masters in Gastronomy I even wrote a whole paper on this very topic. One of my favorite parts is something the author John McPhee (in his book Wimbledon: A Celebration) wrote on the link between this dish and those foods eaten at American baseball parks: “in just the way that hot dogs are sold at American sporting events—strawberries and thick Devonshire cream are sold for five shillings the dish from stalls on the Tea Lawn and in the Court Buffet.” How terribly classy! It’s the British equivalent of ballpark food and there’s nothing I don’t like about that. Let’s raise a cuppa (and keep those pinkies up) to strawberries-and-cream!