We stumbled across this book during a sidewalk sale in Concord, MA. It was on a folding table in front of Concord Cookware. Of course we had to go inside and Alex picked up a few other things but this book was the gem. Pasta Modern, New and Inspired Recipes From Italy, by Francine Segan, photographs by Lucy Schaeffer is the kind of book we love. It is grounded in history and full of creative ideas and interesting (and well written) techniques. This is a book to inspire you to get in the kitchen and start cooking.
Tortelli with a Tail
Crunchy Cornmeal-Buckwheat Triangles
Puglia's Twirled Pasta with Olives
Pretty Easter Pie
Just a few pictures of the photos to tease you along. If you want recipes and more involved techniques you'll have to get your hands on a copy. If you love pasta you should definitely try to find one.
I was pretty interested in this cooking rig. It is supposedly a slab of volcanic pumice that is suspended over a propane flame. The pumice is heated and used as the cooking surface. We have seen pumice used as grill bricks. It certainly can take the heat, think volcanoes. Now seeing a slab of pumice as a griddle sparks the questions. First, where can we get pumice slabs? Does pumice transfer heat in an ideal way for cooking? Or is this just a novel way to create a portable cooking surface at a farmers market?
Two weeks ago we went out to a "fancy" seafood place in Manchester and Bill ordered a Mai Tai. He was met with a blank stare and a "let me see if the bartender can make this." Our server came back and informed us that a Mai Tai was impossible but that there was a very nice rum punch on the cocktail menu and suggested that maybe he would like to try that. I was puzzled by their response because from where we were sitting we could see the fully stocked bar. Even if the bartender didn't know how to make one and didn't have a book behind the counter, the recipe was only a Google search away. Why not make one?
from The Algonquin Bar and Cocktail Book by Anna Kiernan
Now Manchester, NH may not be a tropical paradise but in the summertime there's nothing like rum punch. I'm partial to Planter's Punch myself, preferably accompanied by a lobster roll overlooking the ocean, but I digress. I went to my cocktail books and the Mai Tai was surprisingly difficult to find. While many books made mention of the cocktail, very few had recipes. Rather it was referred to as a relic of bygone days, over-used, and now out of fashion.
It was originally created by Victor Bergeron of Trader VIc's in 1944 and has crossed the world and gone through countless variations, many of which bear very little resemblance to the original. Still, as with my Planter's Punch, many drinks are tied to our memories and we want them for the way they make us feel, as much as for the way they taste. Bill ordered the rum punch but it was not the same. I'm happy to report that this week another seafood restaurant in Concord was much more accommodating and he got his Mai Tai from the bartender. And now that we have a good starting point we'll see what we can whip up for him here at home. Everyone deserves a good cocktail, if they want one.
We continue along our color path. These purple torpedo style onions caught our attention at the market. And they made it all the way into our kitchen. Now we are looking to explore what we can do with purple onions that we couldn't do with white ones. Changing the color changes our perspective and lets us see an ingredient from a fresh point of view.
The color sparks ideas. What does burgundy or purple taste like? What other ingredients have this color? Can they be combined? What would a burgundy carrot cake or ice cream be like? We have concentrated them and they resemble beef jerky in appearance. After exploring plumsyesterday and stumbling across the carrots today a new composition is beginning to form.
I love plums. Juicy, sweet, floral. Their soft skins are are tinged with acidity. Their character is somewhere between the headiness of a pear and the muskiness of a melon, with a rich juice that brings to mind fresh cherries. Plums have a hint of concentrated fruit flavor. There is a reason they were made into intense, chewy prunes. The plum has potential. It can be eaten straight out of hand and the experience sparks a wealth of ideas: from pairing them with beets to exploring them with blood sausage. The only caveat is that they need to be perfectly ripe, firm--not flabby, bursting with juice, and sweet enough to balance the sharp bite of the skins. There's nothing worse than a mealy plum. They are the mushy lobster tail of stone fruits. But a perfectly ripe, succulent, plum is an indulgence to be savored slowly.
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