Thursday, December 27, 2007

christmas eve dessert or things that make you go Hmmm

Maybe I wasn't supposed to make dessert for Christmas eve. What with the ossu bucco and not eating til 9:30, probably a clementine and a glass of water would have sufficed. But there is Christmas day and Boxing day to think about and so dessert has to perform triple duty. I was going to make steamed persimmon pudding, but the persimmons didn't ripen and the recipe takes pains to insist that they Must Be Nearly Over-Ripe. So I decided to copy my sister and make a cranberry upside down cake, but by the 24th all the stores are sold out of all cranberries, fresh and frozen. At this point I am in the jostling, delirious and slightly nerved up crowds of shoppers in the local supermarket and wondering if this is a sign, and I should just not have dessert. How much more clear can the higher power be? Go home, ice your knee, see what Jack Bauer is up to. I think actually that was the voice of id, so I pressed on, pressed past the people wearing antlers and santa hats, even though they are shoppers and don't have to be wearing silly hats. And I decided to make apple walnut cake from Silver Pallet. My sister had written "maje fave" next the recipe so I knew it would be good. I got apples and, light headed and trying to stave off incurable crankiness, assumed I would have everything else. I couldn't have been more wrong. The recipe calls for vegetable oil and I only have olive oil. It calls for whole wheat flour which I threw out in the move. (it had sat untouched in my freezer for several years and thru one previous move.) I called my sister who transferred me to her friend Matthew who happened to be in her kitchen preparing a Beef Wellington. I felt I was in good hands. Apparently you lose some acidity if you substitute butter for oil and you also lose some liquid. We decided I could use a cup and half of butter and a third of a cup of butter milk. Matthew called back to tell me to melt the butter but be sure it was not so hot that it would cook the eggs. I decided that since I was melting the butter I might as well go on and brown it. Then I added half a cup of white flour and half a cup of wheat germ in place of the cup of ww flour.
Other than sticking to the pan and coming out in pieces, it was perfect and perfectly delicious. The cracks didn't matter, better to absorb the apple cider glaze. We had it for Christmas breakfast.

because there is more to do in a kitchen than bake

For Christmas eve dinner I made osso buccu, (it's important to pronounce this in your best Spicolli from Ridgemont High accent) Awesso Bewcco, Dude. I followed Marcella most of the way, supplemented w/ a Gourmet recipe. White wine and chicken broth, and no cheese cloth for the bouquet garni so just put herbs in loose, made the gremolata bc the woman who sold me the veal shanks said it is the best part and adds freshness etc. Marcella doesn't bother w the gremolata but she puts lemon zest in the bouqet garni. I agree w the woman who sold the veal shanks. Everyone seems to agree that the veal has to be in a single layer with the liquid only half way up the sides of the shanks. I did that and I only had a cheap pot that would accommodate all those shanks, but cheap seemed to work fine for this. Marcella says shanks should be cut no more than 1 1/2 inches thick. I went with 2 inches and they were perfectly well cooked. Served it w risotto Milanese. I am not a saffron fan, but used slightly less than called for and it was delicious and all that stirring is a good activity for company.
Now between the osso bucco and the risotto there is lots of home made chicken stock and then the veal which is rich rich rich, so the whole thing was delicious but not something you necessarily want to eat very often. I make a similar dish with turkey thighs and prefer it. Use the veal if you want to show off.