Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How to Make Chicken Broth

I was so excited. I bought a rotisserie chicken. 

And I was going to use the bones to make a deep, rich broth for my favorite soup. I pulled the meat from the bones, and found the wishbone. 
I covered the bones in water, added some garlic and onion and salt, and set it all on the stove, simmering. 
And then I forgot about it. 
And then, when I remembered, it had burned. 
I don't even know. 
I also tried to bake a blueberry crisp that night, only we were out of flour. And I tried to get inventive. And I ended up with mild blueberry disaster. 

I don't even know how you burn soup that isn't even soup yet. 

The point is, Beloveds. 

Do not give up. 

Your soup-that's-not-yet-soup may burn, your blueberry crisps that you were craving may not taste the way you know they should.

So what?

I've been thinking so much about failure lately. 
Because I feel like I've been having my share of it.
These disappointments, they will not stop me. 
I will not stop. 
I will burn my soups, until one day I don't. 
I will not give up on my blueberry crisps. 
And I will fail boldly. 
Because life is too short to be afraid, and to be afraid to fail. 

If you're failing, maybe it means you're really living. 

Or maybe it means you just burned your future soup. 

How to Make Chicken Broth

- leftover bones and skin from a cooked or raw chicken carcass
-optional celery, garlic, carrot

Put leftover bone and skin from a chicken carcass into a large stock pot and cover with cold water. Add vegetables. Add salt and pepper, about a teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper. 
Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to bring the broth to barely a simmer. Simmer uncovered fat least 4 hours, occassionally skimming off the foam that comes to the surface. 
Remove bones and strain the broth. 

Blueberry Crisp
adapted from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

For Crisp Topping:

6 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats or chopped nuts
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional

6 cups blueberries, tossed with an optional 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and maybe some lemon zest if you're feeling fancy

Preheat oven to 375 F.
Using your fingers or the paddle attachment of a mizer, work the butter with the rest of the ingredients (except blueberries) so that each piece is coated and you have a coarse crumbly mixture. Butter a 2-2 1/2-quart baking dish. Pour in blueberries. Gently cover with the topping. Bake for about 45 minutes. Or until topping is lightly browned and blueberries are luscious and bubbly looking.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Why I Eat Doughnuts

Right now I feel a rage at college and at the process of "being educated" in general. 
Because I don't know how what I'm currently being taught in my philosophy class about a bunch of dead white men, specifically John Locke, applies to my own strange life of early mornings and late nights and too many Conversations About Everything and The Future. 

I want someone to explain to me why I should care. 

Because I have a job at a restaurant where chefs work fourteen hour days so that people can pay $40 for a a plate of pasta. And at that same restaurant the other night I ate a sea urchin that tasted what the ocean would taste like, if the ocean gave you only the sweetest kiss.

I want someone to explain to me why John Locke matters when you can taste kisses from the ocean, prepared by fat men in white, whose life's work is to make you remember a flavor?

I want someone to explain to me the value of John Locke, when I go to parties and make small talk with people who are determinedly hipper than me, though they are not cleverer or more interesting. But the point is, none of them will be impressed by my knowledge or lack thereof, of John Locke. 

I want someone to explain to me how John Locke will make me a Better person. I want someone to explain how John Locke will make me a wiser, kinder, more joyous, more thoughtful, more industrious, more generous, less judgmental, more loving human being. 

Because at the moment, John Locke and my philosophy class are doing absolutely none of those things. And it is making me lose some faith in the ultimate purpose of education. 

I just wanna be Better y'all. 

However, I do know one thing that always makes me Better:


Always. Every. Single. Time. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Baked Israeli Coucous with Scallops and Mozzarella

I saw the movie The Perks of Being a Wallflower last week.
I cried through the entire movie. Understand that I do not usually cry during movies. The last time this happened to me, I was in the depths of some serious teen angst, and wailed my way through the entirety of Rachel Getting Married. 

Which, needless to say, I am never watching again. 

The thing is, even though I like to think that I've left my teen angst behind, some of the experiences portrayed in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and the feelings of being so young and so hurt and so confused and simultaneously so in love with life, I still carry all those with me. 
The film reminded me of some of the better/worse mistakes that I, as well as friends of mine, have made in the past several years. And it was excruciatingly painful, to see some of those mistakes reenacted all over again. I wanted to leave the theatre and go sob in a pillow, granted I didn't because I needed to find out what happened. 

Lately, whenever I realize that I have to go the grocery store AGAIN I feel a desire to start weeping with the exhaustion of growing up, because Number One on The List of Things People Do Not Tell You About Adulthood: 

You have to go to the grocery store ALL the time.

Which is frequently the anthesis of a GREAT TIME.  
I have been trying to convince myself that grocery shopping is really fun by ending things on my list in exclamation points and buying things like: Scallops! Cheese I Can't Afford! Chocolate! 

Actually the scallops I made were really great. I folded them into israeli couscous with fresh mozzarella, green beans and mushrooms. This meal was so beautifully delicious, the sheer memory of it makes me want to cry, almost as much as this did: 


Baked Israeli Couscous with Scallops and Mozzarella 

 I cooked israeli couscous (a larger version of normal couscous), combined it with some sauteed mushrooms and green beans, and added uncooked scallops and soft pieces of fresh mozzarella cheese. I baked it in a heavy glass pan in the oven at 375 F for about ten minutes, until the scallops went from translucent pink to a creamy white.  

Monday, October 8, 2012

Apple Tarte Tatin

Isn't it strange when you look around at all the people in the world, and realize that every single thing that they're wearing, they chose to put on that day. 
Isn't that insane? 
Clothes are perhaps one of the only things that people have any real control over. 
Dressing up is a way to be empowered. 
This Apple Tarte Tatin is like your Little Black Dress that shows enough cleavage so that you feel voluptuous but not slutty.  
It's perfect and easy going and classy. 
It's simple. 
It's divine. 
It goes with everything. 
And everyone loves it. 

Sophia Loren 

Distressing Facts in Life Part I: Many people do not know what an Apple Tarte Tatin even is. 


Basically it's apples that are cooked in butter and caramelized sugar until they almost have the consistency of jam. It's a slice of beauty. 

Do yourself a favor. 
Get classy. 
Get the Little Black Dress out. 
Make Apple Tarte Tatin
Exercise some beautiful control in your life. 

Apple Tarte Tatin

6 medium apples (I used Pink Lady apples and they were oh so good.) 
Juice of half a lemon
6 tablespoons (3 ounces or 85 grams) butter
1 1/3 cup (266 grams) sugar, divided
Puffed pastry, chilled or a single Pie Crust

A 9-inch ovenproof skillet, heavy enough that you fear dropping it on your toes

Peel apples, halve and core apples. Once cored, cut lengthwise into quarters (i.e. four pieces per apple) and cut a bevel along their inner edge, which will help their curved exteriors stay on top as they rest on this edge. (You can see this beveled edge here.) Toss apple chunks with the lemon juice and 1/3 cup of the sugar. Set aside for 15 minutes; this will help release the apple’s juices, too much of them and the caramel doesn’t thicken enough to cling merrily to the cooked apples.
Melt butter in your skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle in remaining 1 cup sugar and whisk it over the heat until it becomes the palest of caramels. Off the heat, add the apples to the skillet, arranging them rounded sides down in one layer. Lay any additional apple wedges rounded sides down in a second layer, starting from the center.
Return the pan to the stove and cook in the caramel for another 20 to 25 minutes over moderately high heat. With a spoon, regularly press down on the apples and baste them caramel juices from the pan. If it seems that your apples in the center are cooking faster, swap them with ones that are cooking more slowly, and rotate apples that are cooking unevenly 180 degrees. The apples will shrink a bit and by the end of the cooking time, your second layer of apples might end up slipping into the first — this is fine.
Preheat oven to 400. Roll out your puffed pastry to a 9-inch circle and trim if needed. Cut four vents in pastry. Remove skillet from heat again, and arrange pastry round over apples. Tuck it in around the apples for nicer edges later. Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Once baked, use potholders to place a plate or serving dish (larger in diameter than the pan, learn from my messes!) over the pasty and with a deep breath and a quick prayer, if you’re into that kind of thing, unmold the pastry and apples at once onto the plate. If any apples stubbornly remain behind in the pan, nudge them out with a spatula.
Eat immediately.