Monday, February 22, 2010
I'm in a cozy Boston hotel room with the remnants of room service scattered around me. It's the first night of a two week east coast adventure. I'm doing my final M.F.K. Fisher book research at the Schlesinger Library and working like mad.
Updates soon. For now, all I can report is dinner in bed is a delight.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Valentine's Day cookies for your sweet (and sometimes salty?) ones. These crispy cookies, adapted from a Smitten Kitchen recipe, are crispy, salty, and studded with teeny tiny chocolate chips. I can't wait to dip a one in a cup of strong hot coffee or tea after a day on the ski slopes.
Salty Oat and Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon good quality salt
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
6 ounces dark mini-chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and table salt in a medium bowl.
2. Beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula, then add egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down bowl again. Add flour mixture gradually and mix until just incorporated and smooth. Gradually add oats and mini chocolate chips and mix until well incorporated.
3. Divide dough into about 24 equal portions, each about 2 tablespoons. Bake until cookies are deep golden brown, about 13 to 16 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack to cool.
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
It has been a big few days in book writing land: I finished the first draft of the book and started working on plans for a big research trip to the East Coast at the end of the month.
All this excitement has been fueled by a steady diet of congratulatory food and drink: cocktails and champagne coupes, pizza with bacon and blue cheese and a tumbler of beer, cashew spiked Chinese chicken, and coconut cake. I feel very good, indeed.
In this midst of all this, someone asked me about a good, introductory book of M.F.K. Fisher's writings. My top pick is The Gastronomical Me. It is a memoir, with short tales of strawberry jam, peach pie, hoarded chocolate bars, and never ending French feasts.
For something more comprehensive, might I suggest The Art of Eating? This is a large tome, five of M.F.K. Fisher's books bound together into one, and perfect for dipping in and out of at whim.
If you were the sort of person who liked reading food writing after dinner with a glass of wine and a nice fire going, this could make a perfect and romantic Valentine's Day gift.
And if after reading, you find yourself taken with the work of M.F.K. Fisher (as I did), please write and tell me what you loved.
Happy reading, happy eating.
Friday, February 05, 2010
I have been in a book writing frenzy for the past couple of weeks. This means I have been eating breakfast and lunch at my desk. By mid to late afternoon it is not only time for a break but time to clean up the meal remnants that surround me: empty bowls that were once filled with oatmeal or yogurt and granola, coffee and tea mugs, plates with toast crumbs and orange peels.
When evening arrives, I am often too tired to think about dinner. But if I don't feed myself, no one will. This is why I pounced on a recipe for baked polenta in the book Jam Today by Tod Davies.
In case you're curious, I read Jam Today on my way to Chicago. It was a library book and I still couldn't help myself from dog-earing a recipe or two. If you are a fan of M.F.K. Fisher and truly great food writing, you must buy this book. It is exquisite -- I can't wait to have a copy of my very own. It will be the kind of book that ends up with water marks, little stains on the pages, maybe even a broken spine.
But I digress. In the book there is a simple, free form recipe for polenta layered with cheese and vegetable goodness. It goes sort of like this:
Make the polenta by combining 1 cup polenta, a quart of water, and a teaspoon of salt in an oven proof baking dish. Put in a 350 oven for 50 minutes. Remove from oven and stir in one tablespoon butter.
Next remove about one half of the polenta. Level the polenta left in the baking dish and layer away -- I added sauteed mushrooms, garlic, zucchini, spinach, and cheese. Carefully spread the remainder of the polenta back over the middle layer and return to the oven for 10 to 15 minutes till it is warm and bubbling and cooked through.
I had great intentions of serving this with some hearty tomato sauce spooned over it. But as I said, it was a big writing week. After many hours in front of the computer my visions of tomato sauce left me and were replaced with a big spoonful of sour cream and a smattering of crunchy salt and pepper.
And you know what? It was still good.
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
One of my favorite things to do in San Francisco is to get to the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market very early on a Saturday morning. I like it best when the stalls are still being set up, the produce being moved in, and the vendors chatting and warming their cold hands with hot cups of coffee.
I don't get to do this very often -- the lure of a warm bed is often too much to ignore -- but last Saturday I was there, bright and early. There was no line at Blue Bottle Coffee and the aisles were clear enough to really wander.
I love California because the temperate weather makes for a colorful market. Buckets of tulips signaled spring was on the way, and the piles of persimmons and citrus glowing in the early morning sun? Beautiful.
I should have bought more produce -- I regretted it this afternoon as I dashed into the grocery store. But sometimes the market is so pretty I just like to look. I left with a small bag of the most delicious, candy sweet mandarins, and a belly stuffed with a huge blueberry scone. This was enough.