I have found that my posts about food — allegedly the, ahem, bread and butter of this dog and pony show — don’t receive quite the same attention as those about my life. Perhaps I have inadvertently found my calling.
Nevertheless…I feel it would be remiss to not talk about 1) the bruschetta; and 2) the apple tart.
1. I’ve wanted to make bruschetta ever since I saw that food porn scene — you know which one I’m talking about — in Julie & Julia. I should have just Googled those precise terms, I guess…as I would have come up with this: Bruschetta alla Julie and Julia. As you know, Epicurious is my go-to site…but they really didn’t seem to have any basic bruschetta recipes — everything had lots of stuff and I was really looking for something simple. So…FoodNetwork.com is always Choice #2…but, same deal. (Alton Brown’s is simple, yes, but it lacks tomatoes…) Finally, I looked in my cookbooks, et voila: The Joy of Cooking had the very simple recipe I was looking for. I kind of monkeyed around with it a bit and added the garlic to the tomato/basil mix instead of rubbing it on the bread (which perhaps means I did not make proper bruschetta at all, but I can live with that…) and I decided to go with a little onion, too. In the end, it was really amazingly delicious…but very heavy. I wanted to be able to eat, like, an entire loaf of the stuff, but just couldn’t stomach it. And when I woke up the next morning, I could still sort of taste the garlic…which I know is totally gross to admit…but, it’s true. (And thanks to some little writer figurines that my friend Frani gave me yesterday, I know that Virginia Woolf said, “If you do not tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people.”) It was really good stuff though…and I still have enough tomato goods to make it three or four more times, I’d say.
2. And…apparently I don’t like using apples as much as I thought. The same thing happened last year. I went on that standard fall-time I’m-in-a-couple ritual — apple-picking — and in theory, I should have been on cloud nine afterward, baking up a storm…and churning out pies and tarts and sauces faster than you can say, “The leaves are changing color!” But I never really used them all. And it’s not like I had many apples this year…I had plans to emulate my New Jersey friend and make an apple tart — as in singular! — but the recipe I wanted to use required cardamom and I couldn’t find any at my grocery store…and my mother actually ended up sending me some in the mail…and I checked on the apples yesterday and they’re kind of mushy now. So, I mean, I can still totally *make* the tart…it will just be with less interesting apples.
‘Tis the 104th anniversary of the day Leopold Bloom wanders around Dublin. (It is *also* one of my oldest friend’s favorite days…other than Valentine’s Day…so this one goes out to you, Big J.)
I took a class in college on *just* Ulysses…and even though Professor North said part of the experience of reading Ulysses is reading it again…I never actually did. (I’m sure BJ did though.)
It’s sort of hard to put a food spin on this, although I recall there was some good Irish grub in there somewhere. Sausages? Cheese? Port? All Wikipedia mentions is a “full Irish breakfast…” and that isn’t even about the book.
Port sounds right though. There was definitely port.
Also interesting: Separate Bloomsdays for Theater and Radio.
At one point, I promised a Valentine’s feature on Modernists as baked goods. My intention was to canvass the entire baking universe to come up with THE baked good for each writer. But, alas, I ran short of time and here we are on February 14. So…I limited my search to suggested Valentine’s desserts on epicurious.com…and here’s what I came up with:
Virginia Woolf is pears in honey and pine nut caramel with artisanal cheese. Can’t you just see her traipsing around a market in London and sampling cheeses? (Perhaps ththat movie from several years ago is to blame…) And check out the reviews – not everyone gets this dish. It’s kind of a wacky combination…perhaps on par with the results of Woolf’s own stream-o’-consciousness style. It’s sophisticated…much like a woman ahead of her time proposing a room of one’s own…and enabling Vita Sackville-West to inherit property by turning her into the shape-shifting Orlando.
He said they would have to come up with a new literary form because when he wrote Ulysses, he wrote THE novel. So, Joyce, that justifiably arrogant son of a gun, would be orange coeurs a la creme with strawberry raspberry sauce. Look at how much time it takes to come together! And you need cheese cloth! And Neufchatel (which I always thought was pretty much the same thing as cream cheese…but apparently that’s the American version. Oh, Joyce, there you go imparting wisdom once again…). He writes very sweet moments about Bloom’s son, Rudy…so I think something soft and delicate is a good reflection.
Eliot would be dark chocolate souffles with cardaomom creme anglaise. Even though we are both Irish and have the same birthday, I arguably know the least about Eliot. (That isn’t to say that I don’t adore The Wasteland…but it’s really the only Eliot I’ve ever read. Blush.)
However, cardamom comes from Asia…and Eastern mysticism totally peppers The Wasteland. Also? Crème Anglaise? So much more of a U.K. thing than an American construct. And dare I say that even the gruffest (I had to listen to a recording of Eliot in a modernism class once upon a time…and this is what I recall of his voice) of writers would warm to a delicate dark chocolate soufflé…
Feed Your Mind: A Baker’s Odyssey
I’m not quite as quick to spurn traditional baking books as my buddies at Gothamist (I — heart — Ken Haedrich!), but I admit this book *could* broaden some baking horizons. (Except — with all due respect to the Pennsylvania Dutch — I don’t think it deserves bragging rights for including shoofly pie…)
This may *also* be an appropriate time to express my undying love for Joyce…and really all the Modernists, really. (Swoon.) And it’s almost Valentine’s Day. Perhaps for the occasion I should do a special entry here combining two things I love — if James Joyce was a baked good, what would he be? Perhaps I will also throw in Woolf and Eliot…because, well, I love them, too. (And, as I *may* have already mentioned, Eliot and I have the same birthday.)