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When failure can be sweet.

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

JOB SEARCH. These are two of the most miserable words in the English language. They make your stomach ooky and keep you from posting to your food blog as much as you used to. Before I started my job search, life was more idyllic, and the two most miserable words in the English language were FALLEN CAKE. Actually, for this particular post, the seven words CAKE THAT NEVER HAD A FREAKIN’ CHANCE are probably more apt.

Chiffon cake, sortaMy chiffon cake recipe warned that it’s far better to overbeat the egg whites than underbeat them, lest you end up with a doughy chiffon cake bottom. What the recipe didn’t tell me is that over-overbeating is the worst of all because not only do you end up with a doughy cake bottom, you don’t technically end up with a chiffon cake at all. You end up with an over-sized doughnut.

I should have known something was wrong when the stiff wad of egg white I attempted to fold into the batter wouldn’t break up without heavy stirring, which if you know anything about folding, is the opposite. Unlike folding, stirring is essentially unfolding, and unfold it did. Helpful tip: When you can’t spoon batter into a two-piece angel food cake pan but instead have to hastily wrap the bottom of the pan in foil then pour in the batter, things have already gone very very wrong, so you might as well let the dreading begin.

But you know what? It wasn’t bad. Sort of like a poundcake. I hope the job search goes better.


Not-The-One-But-Nice-For-Fling mulberry sorbet.

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Mulberry SorbetMy very first post two years ago featured mulberries. I had hoped to make Jeffrey Steingarten’s mulberry granita recipe last year to celebrate my first blogiversary, but a freak late spring frost scared all the budding mulberries off. This year the berries were a good two weeks late for my second blogiversary. Not very reliable, these mulberries. They would make terrible boyfriends and are bland besides—I prefer a little tartness to my berries and men. The lemon juice in this sorbet adds that missing acidity and enlivens the wonderful subtle flavor. It’s like giving that bland boyfriend a motorcycle, although he’d promptly crash that motorcycle because he’s not reliable, not to mention highly perishable and always staining your shirts.

One advantage of mulberries (not a true berry) over other berries is the soft seeds. They’re barely noticeable, although you can strain them out if you’d like. Personally, I like the soft crunch and the attractive way they speckle the dark purple sorbet. Unfortunately, the mulberry season is very short, so this recipe may come too late for many of you. You’ll just have to try again next year. Or the year after that. Or you can start a relationship with the strawberry, who always wears a helmet and promptly returns phone calls.

Mulberry Sorbet

MULBERRY SORBET

Makes about 1 quart

Ingredients:
· 1 pound mulberries, about 4 cups
· 1/2 cup sugar
· 2/3 cup water
· 2 Tablespoons Chambord (optional)
· 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
· Pinch salt

1) Puree the cleaned mulberries in a blender until smooth (I leave the green stems on). Add the sugar, water, Chambord, and lemon juice and blend until the sugar dissolves. (Blending the berries by themselves ensures that the stems and pulp break down completely.)

2) Chill the mixture overnight or place in freezer and stir every 15 minutes until very cold.

3) Freeze in ice cream maker. Depending on the model, sorbet may ride up the sides of your ice cream maker more than ice cream, so keep an eye on it and push the mixture down with a spoon if it tries to crawl out.

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bullet More mulberry links
· More information on mulberries, from The Old Foodie.
· A honey-sweetened mulberry sorbet at Garlic Breath.
· Mulberry cobbler at Columbus Foodie.
· Mulberry & cinnamon cake at Morsels & Musings.


In search of lost lime.

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

Today is Bon Appegeek’s second anniversary. I’m marking the day with a long post that has taken more than two years to write. There’s a recipe at the end. I promise.

In search of lost seedsAfter several years of on-again off-again reading, I finally started volume 4 of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time (À la recherche du temps perdu), entitled Sodom and Gomorrah. After you spend your life reading mostly English and American literature, French literature is a shock to the system. I should have suspected something back in junior high when every single one of Guy de Maupassant’s characters engaged in rampant adultery or random copulation, in light of which I wonder why I didn’t read more French literature. Have I mentioned the whores? It should not surprise me that Proust covers these scandalous topics and augments them with the gomorrahesque twist, a popular American dance in the fifties (I might be wrong about that).

My complaint about Proust, wonderful writer though he is, is that he often writes about fine dining but rarely describes the food. He doesn’t even include photos. Recipes? Forget it. Oh sure, he can write ten pages about his love of hawthorn flowers and twenty pages about the beauty of a church facade, but an author who has nothing to write about, say, the delectable sauce atop a succulent pheasant, won’t get read as quickly as he might. Yet many readers, botanists and architects probably, claim he was brilliant.

In search of lost leavesProust’s greatest contribution to food writing was to glorify the madeline. I read the famous passage with all due attention and was riveted by it—not because of the madeline, which I’d already baked and read about a great deal by then (food bloggers adore madelines)—but because of the unusual tea he drank with it. Nobody discusses this magical elixir. True, the tea alone didn’t trigger Proust’s epiphany, but it did dissolve the madeline and release the flavor that would catapult the shell-shaped cake into food blog stardom and forever alter literary history. You’d think the tea would get at least as much attention as Robin gets in the shadow of Batman. (Nothing about Sodom or Gomorrah implied by that Batman and Robin reference. Until this parenthetical.)

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