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Posts Tagged ‘capers’

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Baking is not the terrifying thing people make it out to be. Truly, this week you dealt with health insurance, nursed a cold, got rear-ended on a major highway, and had your umbrella blow inside out twice.* After that, putting one’s hands in flour and chopping chocolate is a proven way to set everything to rights, to regain control and start over. And it soothes like nothing else right now, during what can be the coldest month of the year.**

I actually made two soda breads this month. Every March I dream of what soda bread riff I want to do. This year I added blood orange juice and zest, cloves, cinnamon, 65% cacao chocolate chunks, a dose of Grand Marnier, and instead of cow’s milk yogurt I think I used goat’s. The juice added to the yogurt made the dough faintly pink, which I thought was hilarious, and was sorry to see the color kind of fade in the oven. But it was a winner. That’s it above. I pulled pieces off and munched on them warm.

Then for my sister’s birthday I made another soda bread and added unsweetened coconut flakes, 72% cacao chocolate, and a few glugs of Malibu. It was basically a boozy Mounds bar tucked inside some bread. An unorthodox birthday cake. She was a fan.

Today I made a pizza I’ve been wanting to recreate since 2008, when I visited Mo’orea, an island off Tahiti. The shack on the side of the road is called Allo Pizza. Mo’orean locals are generally French speakers and French food eaters with a healthy hunger for fish and their lovely tropical produce. It’s not a combination that calls to mind pizza, but there it was. I wasn’t a food writer then, not officially, but I kept a journal that documented what we did and what we ate; and praise Jesus, or I wouldn’t remember the toppings on this pie: fresh tuna (they call it ‘lagoon fish,’ caught across the street), capers, anchovies, Parmesan, garlic, and herbes de Provence. It’s an unlikely combination, but so was being halfway around the world and eating on the street while dodging guys doing wheelies on mopeds. We did notice that no one wore gloves while handling the toppings, and that there was no refrigeration for the fish. So only we ate there for lunch, as soon as it opened. And just the same, we waited to get sick, but it never happened.

The tuna below was not caught across the street but caught from behind the counter at Whole Foods, a reasonable substitute. It was great fun to make, warming and delicious, wheelies or no wheelies.

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*Yep , right here.
**Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Pa used to say, ‘When the days begin to lengthen, the cold begins to strengthen.’ I can never remember when I parked at Target, but this I remember.

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November sky. With all due respect to Guns N’ Roses, it ain’t always raining.

Fall in New Jersey means bright leaves, a chill in the air, and the heat going on for the first time in months. In particular houses, say, just over the border into Deal, it means the snarfing of certain foods. Here, an assortment, with a couple of extra pictures just for pretty pretty.

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Homemade marzipan ghosties and minions.

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Bosc pear in repose.

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Polenta with my homemade organic tomato sauce full of rosemary, capers, onions and hot Italian sausage. I ate this instead of birthday cake last month.

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Someone’s—not sure if human or beast—orchard snack.

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Homemade walnut butter plus fresh figs caramelized in honey, squooshed between a whole wheat wrap from Trader Joe’s. Kind of a luxurious breakfast…

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.. perhaps topped only by this breakfast, a deep-dish, black-bottom pumpkin pie. I polished this puppy off in the space of three days.

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….or this one, a rum raisin apple pie. My sister found the recipe someplace. Killer.

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And a remnant of last fall, the candle I lit when my power was out during Superstorm Sandy. I was freezing and spooked, but somehow still saw the beauty in this. I’m grateful.

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the italians have come up with some of the most scrumptious stuff the world has ever known. the 599 GTO, the world’s fastest road-going ferrari. rudy valentino and his smolder. patent leather gabriella rocha pumps. this sandwich.

it’s called mozzarella in carrozza, which means mozzarella in a carriage. it’s fried grilled cheese, which, to my mind, is enough to want to eat it without the extra hyperbole. and it’s ten minutes in the kitchen, tops.

dig out two slices of ordinary white bread or slices of a pullman loaf. you want the pieces to fit well together to prevent oozage. add a slice of firm mozzarella (not fresh). for this, I like mozzarella with a little bit of salt added to it. otherwise the sandwich is too bland. buy a square block of it. don’t try to cut up narrow slices of string cheese for your sandwich unless you are exceptionally patient or have a degree in acrobatics.

take out a wide shallow bowl. put in 1/2 cup milk (any kind), 1 egg, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. mix it up with a fork. scatter 1 cup all-purpose flour in another wide shallow bowl. a pie pan works great here.

put a couple of tablespoons of butter into a pan on the stove top, set the heat to medium high, and spread the butter well across the bottom of the pan.

place your sandwich in the milk/egg mixture and then flip it over to soak both sides. then plop it onto the flour plate and flip. knock off any excess flour.

by now your butter should be sizzling cheerfully. put your sandwich into the pan and don’t mess with it for at least a minute. flip when it’s your favorite shade of brown. I like it hard-core mahogany.

grilled cheese of any ilk is no fun unless hot, so waste no time dishing it up and tucking in. the bread should have crackled up nicely and give at the slightest nudge to cheese that should be warm and deliriously gooey. a fragile crunch giving way to the salty unctuousness of the cheese. it’s comforting, indulgent—simplicity at its most delicious.

if you are ambitious, you can add rinsed capers, or use sliced semolina bread, or prep yourself a tomato sauce for dipping.

if you are not, then we’re done here.

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