Monday, July 31, 2006

Oooooo! Presents!

Sixteen days before my birthday, dearest BF gave me presents!
My favorite glasses in the world: The Riedel Burgundy glasses! And if that wasn't enough, the very chic and modern Riedel "O" stemless glasses in both Pinot and Chardonnay versions! And if that wasn't enough: A 40 bottle wine rack for my spiffy new kitchen! And if that wasn't enough: A beautiful bottle of 1994 Sea Smoke Botella Pinot Noir!
I am in heaven with all the winey attention, and immediately popped a bottle of Supermarket Pinot (BV Coastal) to test out the Riedel glasses against any other glass in my arsenal. Riedel claims that they have designed each glass to best bring out the characteristics of its named grape varietal: They design the glass to enhance both the aroma and the flavor or the wine. A very fun time can be had by testing their theory!
Pour similar sized tastes of the same wine into several of your favorite glasses, including your brand-new birthday Riedel glasses! Swirl, sniff, taste, and speculate until bottle is empty and all your glasses are dirty and in the sink. Repeat (with progressively less expensive wines!).

Monday, July 24, 2006

How to Dismember an Offensive Pineapple

Dearest BF brought me this sweet white pineapple from "someone at work who grows them". I was pleased, as I always am, when he brings me anything. Perhaps I am so starved for affection and sweetness that I grasp at the first prickly secondhand fruit I can get and read affection into it. I love fruit. When I was a child, my father and I would finish all the fruit on the table, while the rest of the family chose other items. Lately I have been yearning for the peaches, nectarines and apricots of California summers, and trying to be happy with what I have at hand: Prickly tropical fruit, and a somewhat prickly and distant man.

Grasp the pineapple firmly, and with your beloved's dangerously sharp Japanese vegetable knife, swiftly decapitate the leafy top of the pineapple. Turning the fruit, decisively slice the disc of root end, leaving a solid cylinder on your cutting board.

My father worked in the pineapple fields during World War I. I guess the kids helped bring the fruit in during wartime. He talks about how hot and itchy it was, and how they would refresh themselves by eating the pineapple cores rejected by the cannery. (Dole? Maui Pineapple? You getting this about child labor, and product losses?) Pineapple cores for him are a taste of childhood: the sweet fruit, drippy juice, and woody stringy texture of the core. He almost prefers them to the soft outer fruit, and he was the one who first taught me how to cut a pineapple.

With your beloved's excessively sharp knife, cut the skin from the pineapple in long, curved strips, following the curve of the fruit. The peel should be thin, just taking off the green reptilian skin, and leaving most of the yellow fruit behind. The cylinder left behind should be bright, juicy, yellow with "eyes" left on the fruit. Discard the peel and base, keeping the top only if you plan on using it for decoration.

My beloved BF, whom I adore beyond a logic or reason, does stupid things that make me, my friends, and my family doubt his character. When I received this pineapple from him, I took it down to my parent's house. I did this for two reasons: I wanted to share the fruit with my father, like we did when I was young. Maybe he could cut it for me, since he does a much cleaner and more beautiful job than I. The second reason was perhaps more crafty: I wanted to show off the gift. Use the pineapple to say, "See? He can be really sweet, and sometimes he brings me stuff and tells me I am beautiful and I think he loves me and I am sure he doesn't mean the moodiness and criticisms and such...Look! Pineapple! See!"

Cut out the eyes: The nicest way to do this is slicing a wedge along about 3 eyes at a time. This leaves a beautifully spiraled, eye-free fruit. My father's spiraling is much shallower, prettier, and geometric. Mine is a bit hacked. I have also used my tomato corer on tougher fruit, although it tends to tear really ripe fruit. The eye areas are tougher than the surrounding soft fibers.

Yesterday he came over all moody and with his Irish all up. He searched the refrigerator for the pineapple, and I reported that I took it down to the house. He was enraged that I could give away his pineapple. He claimed that next time he just wouldn't give me anything, and when the grower at work asked him how it was, he would have to lie. I protested that I didn't give it away and it wasn't that I didn't like it or the thought behind it, I scurried down to the house and brought the pineapple back, but it was too late. He stormed out and I haven't seen him since.

If you own a pineapple corer, now is the time to use it to remove the core. If not, the core can be removed by cutting the pineapple into quarters lengthwise, slicing off a triangle of core from each wedge, and then slicing the fruit as desired. The cores can be given to my father (if that doesn't offend anyone). I chose to puree the cores and the eyes in the blender, pass the puree through a strainer, add coconut milk, ice, and rum, and make the following delightful tropical beverage.

So today I slice the crap out of the offending pineapple, leaving tasty chunks in the refrigerator in case he comes back. I won't bring it down to my Dad, I won't bring it to work, I will cherish every damn slice of this fruit like it is the edible affection I so desire. After all, when life gives you lemons, skin the f**kers for the zest, slice them open, cram a citrus reamer into their hearts, pulse their juicy lifeblood out, and drink it with copious amounts of tequila.

(This is a Duane Fish Tiki Mug from Honolulu from about 1960. It is chipped but I love it. See also copious cocktail monkeys!)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Cherry Tartlets

I had just enough tart dough left over to make these silver-dollar sized mini cherry tartlets. I free-formed the dough into rimmed cookies, filled with chopped and sugared bing cherries, and served with a dollop of vanilla yoghurt.
I miss cherries, but at least the Bing Cherries from the west coast can travel to us only a bit bruised. What I really miss are peaches, nectarines and apricots so fragrant and delicious! Like summer on a pit! I contemplate spending too much money on shipping in order to experience Frog Hollow peaches. And check out what Julie is doing at Oliveto: White Peach Sorbetto?! 'June Pride' Peaches with Prosecco Zabaglione and Blackberry Sauce?!?! You are killing me! Well...I have...Papayas...I guess that is the same...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Chocolate Walnut Tarts

I made these delectable Chocolate Walnut Caramel tarts for my friend's birthday: He is the kind of guy who likes Tarts!
I used to make this recipe all the time when I worked for Pastry Chef Chris Draa at Wente Vineyards in Livermore California. That was my first pastry job! Chef Draa later contributed the recipe in a Livermore Winery cookbook entitled "Cooking a Honker". We served the tart at the restaurant with chocolate and caramel sauces on the plate, and a dollop of Chantilly Cream.
The tart is regular tart dough (I love tart dough! So tender! So crisp! So endlessly forgiving and versatile!) filled with Walnuts and huge chocolate chunks, and a rich caramel sauce poured over. There are just enough eggs in the caramel to solidify the tart into a rich gooey candy-like confection.
We used to steal a broken piece, cut it into bite sized morsels, and store it on a plate in the reach in for instant sugar-shock snacking.

Monday, July 10, 2006

No, I am NOT a Cucumber Cookie!

You Are a Chocolate Chip Cookie

Traditional and conservative, most people find you comforting.

You're friendly and easy to get to know. This makes you very popular - without even trying!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Oh Now I Have Done It...

Cucumber Cocktail:
1 oz Sake
1/2 oz Homemade Limoncello (perhaps more on that later)
2 oz Cucumber water (squeezed and filtered from shredded cucumbers)
Squeeze Lime
Shaken in cocktail shaker and served in an antique green coupe with slice cucumber and, of course, green cocktail monkey!

Now, I really liked the cucumber latkes, don't get me wrong... But this is just... the epitome of refreshing!