Saturday, January 10, 2009

Recollection of Tranquility

The first time we ever quarreled
you were cutting an onion
in the kitchen of our rented cottage.
I remember vividly. We were making creole
for a late night supper with champagne,
and you were taking it seemed forever
to cut the onion.
Each time your dull paring knife
chopped on the counter, I shifted my feet,
and I saw once in a glimpse over my shoulder
a white wedge of onion wobbling loose.
I sighed inaudibly. The butter I stirred
had already bubbled and browned.
I was starting over with a new yellow lump
that was slipping on the silver aluminum
when you brought, cupped in your hands,
the broken pieces, the edges all ragged,
the layers separated, bruised and oozing
cloudy white onion juice.
I complained:
the family recipe stated specifically,
the onion must be "finely chopped,"
for what I explained were very good reasons.
Otherwise, the pungent flavors would be trapped
irrevocably in the collapsed cellular structure
of the delicate root.

You sighed, I guess, inaudibly
and adjusted your glasses carefully
with two fingers (a fidget
I have since come to know
as a sign of mild perturbation)
and explained:
the pungence of onions too finely chopped
would be simmered away. The original sharp
burning crispness could be retained
only in fairly large, bite-sized chunks.
But you wouldn't fight tradition.
I chopped onion on the counter
with the dull knife, while you set the table
and figured the best way of popping the cork.

by Idris Anderson from Mrs. Ramsay's Knee

White Chocolate Butterscotch Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ cup chopped (¼- inch pieces) good quality white chocolate

1. Adjust oven racks to upper middle and lower middle positions. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, shortening, and brown sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl when necessary. Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until just combined.
4. With mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in two batches, beating until just combined. Stir in the white chocolate by hand.
5. Each cookie should be 2 tablespoons of dough. Place them 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake, rotating the sheets halfway through, until slightly golden brown around the edges, about 14 minutes. Cool the cookies for 2 minutes on the sheets and then transfer to wire racks. Cookies will keep for up to 4 days in an airtight container.

***Tear up a piece of sliced bread and place in the cookie jar or container that you are keeping these cookies. The bread will help the cookies maintain a just-baked chewiness.
**White chocolate is not truly chocolate because it does not contain chocolate liquor. *White chocolate was first introduced in 1956 and, since then, the U.S. has regulated what can be marketed as “white chocolate”. White chocolate in the U.S. must contain at least 20% cocoa butter by weight. Other ingredients in this confection include sugar and milk solids – don’t ask me what those milk solids are.

Recipe by Cristina Paul

Friday, January 9, 2009

Blah-Blah-Blahg: Food For Nought


Talk of victory lawns is springing up everywhere, from the LA Times to... Pennsylvania Avenue? Watch this neat video.