September 26, 2012
This is spanakopita. (These are spanakopitas?)
It’s spinach and feta wrapped up into little phyllo triangles and doused with butter. The phyllo gets golden brown and butter-crispy and shatters into little shards that get all over your clothes that will make people on the street look at you funny if you forget to lint-roll yourself before leaving home.
September 25, 2012
My house smells amazing right now. It’s because I’ve been experimenting with the fall spices all week: cinnamon, nutmeg, gloves, and ginger.
Smell is the sense most strongly associated with memory. When I smell ginger, I don’t think of gingerbread cookies or holiday mulled cider, but the spicy Korean dishes my mother and aunts and grandmother would cook every week. Or the ginger candies they would eat in the car on long road trips. My family loved its ginger.
Not me, though. I always resisted its spicy, medicinal taste. I was a picky eater, a willful only child, and there was no way I was going to eat something that came out of the ground looking like that, all knobbly and warty.
After several years on my own, carefully refining my taste and tasting everything I had resisted in my childhood, I found that I still didn’t like the taste of raw ginger. Still too spicy for my palate, and still strangely bitter. It reminded me of the medicinal Asian soups that my grandmother would force me to drink when I was sick, full of dried dates and spices and, if you will believe it, slivers of antlers. It reminded me of being miserable and feverish in bed.
Then I tried crystallized ginger and things changed. Boiled for nearly an hour before being saturated with sugar, nearly all of the bitterness of the ginger was gone, but a zingy spiciness remained, tamed by the sweetness of the sugar syrup. For several months, I would buy up bags of the stuff at Whole Foods before figuring out that it was so much cheaper to make it at home, and about as easy as boiling pasta.
September 24, 2012
I know, I know. I’m late with these. I always do this: when it’s the end of the season for something, I must scramble to eat and cook as many of them as possible. So, as nectarines are waving goodbye, I must seize their waving hands and pull them back in the house for one more pastry.
That was a weird metaphor.
Don’t you love it when things accidentally turn out pretty? I didn’t mean for these to end up looking like antique roses. I just left the skins on the nectarines because I was feeling lazy, and I sliced them thinly because this phyllo crust bakes quickly and I wanted the fruit to cook equally quickly. Then I arranged the slices in circles because it was the first arrangement I thought of, and dang if they didn’t come out gorgeous. Thank you kitchen gods for serendipitous loveliness.
September 23, 2012
It’s been a week full of friends and lots of good food and wine and beer. First, Au Passage with Ariane and Antoine. The menu was varied and everything we got was superbly fresh and well-sourced. Just look at that tartare de boeuf! We’ll definitely be going back.
The arancini and the salad (which I failed to get a photo of) were to die for. Thanks for the invite, Kristen, and thanks for the excellent wine and service, Laura!