Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Morning to each of you!
I have pulled up next to a cup of Starbuck's Casi Cielo coffee which is shamefully only seasonal and I have stopped, momentarily, contemplating what on earth is going on with Stefan Marbury of the NY Knicks. What's with that guy, anyway?
We had a huge day here yesterday, it was Lois' birthday out there in Yam Hill, Oregon. I meant to mention to her (handsome, elegant) husband, Dan, that I was interested that he gather up Lois and tote her over to Toro Bravo in Portland, which multiple magazines contend is fabulous but seemingly not for a birthday celebration. I digress.
On the restaurant front, Dori and I have been digging around like truffle pigs trying to unearth the goods on the bar nosh at Mesa. Turns out, they are pretzels, not breadsticks, or so they contend: The recipe has been published in Mesa's new book, which has been ordered. I feel bushy-tailed and refreshed knowing the mystery is at least partially solved: cornmeal, poblanos, and "jalapeno chili powder". This knowledge made me joyous and then I was forced to ask myself from where that last precious item would come. I had visions of myself, eyes burning and face swollen, showing up on Margaret's doorstep and explaining that we needed to dehydrate some peppers, fast. Oh, if only it were possible, but that is truly an oxymoron. So, now we've a new errand, just when I thought all our problems would be solved with the formula to one modest yet fiery wand of bread.
Finally, it was a soggy, messy, depleting day here in North Salem yesterday. I made my way over to Organic Connection. And I just didn't have it in me: The pluck I normally have when you catch me around. The zip and sparkle to which you've become accustomed. First, I was still edgy from once again wrestling with The Brisket, a piece of meat so monumental in proportion and everlasting in brine-time that I may never again open the fridge without feeling trepidation.
Its contribution to my circumstances yesterday was to prevent my getting to anything I really, really needed: The Danish Blue. The Forelle pear (hello, good-lookin'). Sure, I could reach the eggs and milk but this was no time for an omelet. In fact, it is never time for an omelet, and I decided as much many moons ago when reading and rereading Julia Child's technique: After years of disappointing pan-tilts, I walked away. So, don't ask me, because I am not doing it for you. Not for you, not for God, I would hate to underflip in either case. Second, the weather was just intolerable: Rain, a lot of wind. All of this left me feeling uninspired.
At the organic store, they were willing to jump in and be excited about something, pulling yours truly from a less than blushy or hostess-y state of mind. And they have things to be excited about: Ingredients. Unusual ones (You will remember them from the red lentil escapade). Beautiful, quality things. Especially the produce, so lovingly considered and preened, one wonders when the state fair judges will appear. These guys are the kind of people who truly observe a thing and put it before you in such a way that tells you they both respect it and understand it. They are excited about good food. And those are my kind of people.
(Now, right off the bat let's understand two things: We are organic around here in the sense that I think more organic food just tastes better, feels better, and looks better. But I neither own a soap box nor take myself seriously enough to lecture on this, or any topic. I am just saying: I eat good food, call it whatever you want.)
So, David glided in and assisted me out of my muddy, rainy rut. We looked at curious things: Granola, cacao beans, dried watermelon, and purple cauliflower. I went with the last and that is where I took that hard left, which I do in everything I recount for you. But I am here to tell you, I have learned something: Don't, in the interest of celebrating the birthday of someone far away, try to make her a purple cauliflower puree. Okay? Don't. It tasted marvelous, it looked, pretty, almost, until you looked hard at the color. Do what David tells you to and just eat it, the way it was made.
On the upside, there was a super individual turkey and portobello meatloaf crusted with a grainy, punchy mustard and panko. And there was a that salad of red and green endive and tart apples with orange vinaigrette. All those gorgeous foods. And then, blue soupy puree on the plate. I confounded myself with this plate. I wanted to slap myself. Sometimes, I just don't understand me. Because I was duly warned.
Blue soup, as you may remember was made famous by Bridget Jones in the movie by the same name. Hugh Grant's character is in the middle of a life-changing moment of admission when he turns to the food in front of the people upon whom he has intruded and exclaims, with both confusion and disgust, "Christ! Is that blue soup?"
Yes, indeed it was. Happy Birthday, Lois.
Individual Turkey and Portobello Meatloaf
North Salem, 2008
This makes a crusty, tasty little devil...
Nonfat cooking spray
2 lbs ground turkey
3 large portobello mushroom caps, minced
1 celery stalk, finely minced
1 carrot, finely minced
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tbls heavy cream (can be omitted)
3/4 cup panko (breadcrumbs, if they are more handy) + 1/3 cup for crust
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper (black, if you must)
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. hot sauce
1/4 cup country dijon or otherwise grainy mustard
Preheat over to 400 degrees. Line a 9X13 pan with tin foil, spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine turkey, chopped portobello, celery, carrot, garlic, egg, heavy cream, panko, kosher salt, pepper, herbs, dry mustard, hot sauce and combine using your hands, until all ingredients are evenly incorporated throughout. Shape into 6 even small rectangles and place on the foil lined and sprayed pan.
With a butter knife, coat the top and sides of each loaf generously with the country mustard. Gently sprinkle the remaining panko evenly over the mustard coating on each loaf.
Bake at 400 degrees or until a thermometer inserted into the meat registers 165 degrees. Remember, this is poultry, cook it completely.