Friday, November 29, 2013

That bitch, Nigella

                We were having a few friends over for dinner and I had been menu planning, the highlight of any dinner party. Since I’ve emerged from my paleo fugue state, I do nothing but look at dessert recipes on line. I haven’t read a paper or checked the weather or perused my email in weeks. It is all Yumprint and Dessert Stalking all the time. BTW, if you don’t have these sites bookmarked, you don’t know what you are missing. As riveting as Petfinder but without the consequences.
                Dessert had to be gluten free. Just as well because something had to narrow down the field of contenders. I finally winnowed the options to Individual Cheesecake Pots with Salted Caramel Sauce and Nigella’s Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova. His Lordship wanted the cheesecake, but after further reflection, we both decided to go with the Pavlova.
                Most of the dinner guests are cyclists, and cyclists (present company excluded, bien sur) are food weird. The Pavlova has fruit and that’s healthy and the meringue is fat free and mostly egg whites and we eat egg white omelets. So far, so salubrious. Then there is the cocoa powder, all theobromine and flavenols. The Pavlova is essentially fruit with some protein and antioxidents and just enough whipped cream to bind it all together. Health food, really. Throw in a few chia seeds and it could be your refuel snack after hot yoga. 
                So we chose Nigella. I should have known better. Nigella is the Devil’s Spawn from Christmas 2010. I followed the recipe, I didn’t once imagine that I knew better and add cream of tartar instead of vinegar, or beat when folding was called for. Still, my Pavlova was flat. It roamed all over the sheet pan, emerging as thin and boneless as a Dali clock. 



               Undeterred, beaten but unbowed, I piled up the whipped cream, loaded on the raspberries, shaved a little chocolate around the edges. I tried to remember that as the founder of Magenta Arborvitae, my motto is, The only thing pretty is our name.
                I think the Devil’s Spawn’s motto is, It tastes as bad as it looks. OK, it didn’t exactly taste bad, but I didn’t want seconds and I had no desire to go near it the next day. It was the ugly early of desserts. 

                Of the cyclists, two refused outright, one accepted a small piece and ate half, the other two cleaned their plates. I’m not blaming any of that on the Pavlova.
                I made the Individual Cheesecake Pots the next day and they were disappointing too.
                As they say in Alanon, if you meet more than two assholes in a day, who’s the asshole? Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m being overly ambitious, (cheesecake?) or have lost the baking magic. I’m not giving up. The only failure is the person who doesn’t try again the next day. I wonder if I could find a poster with that on it, maybe featuring a kitten in tight spot.

Love, Margaret

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Look, Marg! For the first time in history the Nantucket Cranberry Pie* unmolded without a hitch. I am shocked.

Used wax paper on the bottom of a springform pan and unmolded it exactly 7 minutes after it came out of the oven. Critical, I'm sure.

Anyway, very excited so wanted to share it.

Happy Thanksgivukkah!





From Lori Colwin's More Home Cooking


Monday, November 25, 2013

Pre-func, or Pumpkin Ramekins

*photos taken with Ipad, excuse garish yellow color of pumpkin filling

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Still Yummy After All These Years

Hi Marg,


In need of comfort food for my jet lag and poor mangled Achilles I made Lone Star Chicken from The Supper Book by Marion Cunningham. I made it years ago and the note in the book says "made exactly as written - yum!".


This is relevant bc when you read the rice you immediately think of all the ways it could be improved. Saute the onions seems obvious, brown the chicken even more so. A little fresh thyme would fit nicely. But all those things take work and since I can only stand up for 5 minutes at a time browning and sautéing are kind of outside the realm of the possible. Even if I felt like it, which I didn't. So once again, I made it exactly as written, and once again, you guessed it, yummy.


Here's how it goes. Put a can of tomatoes and their juice i n a big ovenproof pot. Add a chopped up (un-sautéed) onion, garlic, bay leaves, cumin, a little vinegar, and some oregano. Cook for 30 minutes. Put in in-browned chicken parts even though you think there isn't enough liquid and bake, or is it braise? at 350 for 45 minutes or so. S and P to taste and serve over brown rice. The chicken is just as pale and anemic looking as you would expect, but tender and delicious. And easy. And comforting.




Then pretend that you are too crippled to do the dishes.


All my love, Elise


PS Despite the inordinate sums spent on camera equipment, photos are from IPad. Don't judge me, as my friend's tween says.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Humphrey is missing a few teeth

We ate street food in Bangkok. Annie, our guide, has lived here for 23 years and only gotten sick twice, both times from something she cooked. It's been 2 days and so far so good...

Don't worry mom, we Purelled first.

Sawadeekha, Elise


Friday, November 1, 2013

Fruit Soup, A Paleo-ish Dessert

         Paleo dinner parties are pretty easy, some protein, some vegetables, no one complains about the lack of bread. 

         Paleo dessert is more challenging. 

        This was probably my most successful effort. Of course, other than this, the only dessert I ever provided was a bowl of berries with a side of whipped cream. So most successful should be understood in that context.

        I started with a James Peterson recipe, Fruit Soup in a Spice Broth.

        First, the spices.
        There is some sugar, that's what makes it paleo-ish, but it is also what makes it dessert.  


       Then the fruit.

        His Lordship said that I had really upped my game, and this was the sort of thing one might be served in a fancy restaurant. That could have been the bowl of berries talking.