Thursday, April 19, 2012

mama, why do you always lose your keys?

because i worry about the important things like keeping you alive and there's no more room in my brain thank you dash i do know that my sunglasses are on top of my head yes i'll turn up the music i love that you feel bach in your legs and next to your heart but i think i feel bach right smack in the middle of my heart and a bit going up the back of my neck dash did you know these aren't songs they are pieces called the goldberg variations dude you must chill i'll define the word a variation is a version of something that stays fundamentally the same with a bit of a change a shift a modification like me this morning when I used that tinted eyebrow gel no not tintin's eyebrow gel it's tinted as in expresso-colored no i'm not laughing at you wow you think the makeup makes me look younger i'm still mama but i'm a little different see now that's a kick ass variation 


I make the same food over and over again. Recipe variations take up very little brain space. Trust me. Memorize a few of your favorites, get out of your head, absorb the recipes into your hands, and then start to play. If you need inspiration, you can start with my two favorites: salad dressing and onion tart.

SALAD DRESSING:
It's a bit different every time I make it. You don't need fancy oil or vinegar. Just vary it a bit every time so that you don't get sick of the flavor. Don't add salt to the dressing. Instead, sprinkle coarse salt on the greens when you toss them with the dressing (use your hands).

I usually do 2 parts extra virgin olive oil to 1 part vinegar. Any combination of champagne, white wine, red wine, and sherry wine vinegars will do. I avoid balsamic, apple cider, and rice wine vinegars because they tend to overpower the dressing.

Peel and finely dice a few shallots. With a mortar and pestle (or on a cutting board with a chef knife), bash an anchovy fillet and a peeled garlic clove into a paste. If it is large enough, use your mortar as as your mixing bowl. To the anchovy/garlic puree, add the diced shallots and some vinegars (maybe 4 or so tablespoons) and stir together. Set aside for 10 minutes. Whisk in a few teaspoons of creamy dijon mustard. Slowly whisk in olive oil (maybe 8 or so tablespoons). It should start to emulsify after about half of the olive oil is added. Taste. I like it nice and tangy but add more olive oil if you like it mellower. Store in a jar. It keeps for a week. No need to put it in the fridge.

A few things to play with. Crank up the garlic and anchovy flavor. Use lemon juice instead of vinegar. Mix in chopped capers. Use spring onions instead of shallots.Whisk in some caramelized onions (see below). Add chopped mint to your salad. Or whole parsley and celery leaves. Or lemon zest.

Other uses for the dressing: as a marinade for chicken or fish, on a sandwich, drizzled over pizza, or as a dip for your kids' vegetables. But the best thing ever is to slurp it out of what Dash calls "avocado bowls." 
ONION TART:
(heavily influenced by my mom, my grandmother, and Lulu Peyraud)
Here's a recipe for tart dough. Frozen puff pastry works well too.

There's no point in caramelizing one onion. It's too much work for so little reward. And the resulting jam is just too fucking tasty. I usually do 8-10 onions which supply me with enough caramelized onions for one big tart (I'm left with an extra jarful to add to pastas, sandwiches, and salad dressings). You can also cook down a combination of onions, leeks, green garlic, and spring onions. Be warned that red onions taste great cooked but they look hella ugly when caramelized.

To start, peel and slice onions as thinly as possible (but don't be perfect about it). Heat a large heavy-bottomed pan with a big splash of olive oil. Throw in 2 tablespoons of butter. Add onions. Stir. Add a few teaspoons of salt (many say to add salt at the end for more even cooking but I'm a little stuck in my ways here and I love the juices that are released). Add a sprig or two of thyme. Turn to medium heat. Keep stirring every few minutes. When the onions have softened a bit, turn fire down to low, throw on a lid, and make yourself some tea. Don't start drinking wine yet. Your tart won't be done for hours. Remove lid and stir every 10 minutes or so. Make sure it's not browning. After about an hour, remove lid for good and boil away most of the onion liquid. Stay with it. Don't let it burn. Stir, stir, stir until it's honey-colored. Remove from heat. Locate thyme stems and discard.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll out tart dough or puff pastry (keep free form or press into a tart pan). Prebake shell for about 10 minutes. Spread a thick layer of the cooked onions all over the partially baked pastry shell. It's fine if all the components are warm. Here's where you can play. Add black olives and anchovies for a more classic pissaladière. Make a pattern with peeled, cooked, and sliced yukon gold potatoes (sprinkled with salt and painted with garlic confit oil?). Tuck cooked bacon under the potato slices. Maybe scatter some halved cherry tomatoes all over the top. Or place a layer of wilted winter greens mixed with garlic and lemon zest on top of the onions. Bake until crust is cooked through and the top is nicely browned. Serve warm or room temperature. 

53 comments:

  1. Hey lovely,
    Here's to variations - Bach or edible! You are so right that just a few really good basic techniques in the kitchen will take you far. I would be happy to eat that onion tart and a good salad any time:)
    xxoo
    E

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    1. i look forward to feeding you both of them.

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  2. "Hella ugly."

    Thank you.

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  3. I once complained to my husband that I couldn't lose any weight. He said, "Don't worry. I've seen how you are with your keys. I am sure you'll lose the pounds soon enough."

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  4. Great Recipes! The salad dressing especially will come in handy as I am going back to school full time :) I finally lost my key's for good, haven't been able to locate them in two weeks!! I'm assuming I ACTUALLY lost them. Happy Weekend!!

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  5. i couldn't find my keys this very afternoon. so i wasn't able to go to the market. oh well. if only keys had a locator device like my phone. so exciting about school!

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    1. Agreed! Key's should come with a gps locator ;) I'm very excited about school (going to be a midwife :)))), I'm actually moving to New York City for school! Any good tips ?

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    2. a midwife? i want to be a midwife. damn. how beautiful. i'm a birth doula. certified many years ago! now i do believe i'm an expired doula! email me about nyc. my email is dashandbella@gmail.com

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    3. Doula's never expire ;-p Just sent you an email. Thanks!

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  6. i once got my step-day "the key clapper" because he loses his keys. a lot. unfortunately, he did not really appreciate it very much. the next year, i got him a movie. went over much easier.

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  7. there's a key clapper? omg. i need one.

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  8. Are you going to publish a book any time soon?

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    Replies
    1. yes! yes! someday. that's the plan. thank you for asking. i'll let you know.

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  9. I recently lost my sunglasses for 3 days under the blanket keeping our patch of carrot seeds wet and protected.

    Also, love the kick ass variation on a mom.

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  10. Just came across your blog, it is wonderful! These recipes look wonderful. I too don't believe in kids food and do very much believe in cooking with them. Although I am not a chef I am an occupational therapist (and mom) that helps kids with feeding difficulties. Your blog gives me new inspiration.

    If anyone is looking for help with improving your kid's eating check out my blog at www.YourKidsTable.com

    Thank You!

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  11. will try both things and had an aha moment here...always love that. what was it? the bit about the strong vinegars...buying new vinegars today. i lose my favorite bra. all the time. and only figure it out once i'm topless. will work on this. the brain is full, you're right.

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    1. so true. the keys, the favorite bra, the sunglasses, the phone. perpetually searching for them.

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  12. mmm..something about the creaminess of those avocados paired with the crunchy lettuce and the bite of the dressing...that will happen. Tomorrow with dinner. Beautiful blog.

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    1. thank you, robin. and yes, it is one of my favorite combinations. you're right that it's the combination of the creamy, the crunchy, and the bite that really makes it work.

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    2. Is there anything else in the salad but romaine, avocados, parsley and that wonderful dressing? And what do you suggest for variation? Thanks.

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  13. This is perfect- simple and beautiful. I'm always losing things too.

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  14. the avocado "bowls" are simply stunning -- and look absolutely divine! i love it!

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  15. So wonderful. Looking forward to making it and visiting your blog again! But please, do be careful about keeping anything with garlic and oil at room temperature. Once my husband and I infused an oil with garlic and used it after being unrefrigerated a few days,and we got very, very sick. http://www.bchu.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1092&Itemid=468

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  16. Your blog is fucking awesome. Write a book so I can give it for gifts!

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  17. First time on your blog...children grown...but can I ever relate to your recipes and writing style!! Thanks a million!!!

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  18. First time visit to your blog, I saw the avocado salad on Ex-presso blog and had to come check it out! So creative, a lovely post format and beautiful photographs! Can't wait to try out that salad dressing!

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  19. I love your blog and recipes...just not your potty mouth.

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  20. Potty mouth? Ha... That is like asking Emeril to cook without his essence.. Keep it real, that's why people like your work!

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    1. it's how i speak. it's how i write. that's just the way it is!

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  21. I agree with no potty mouth. There are so many great words in the English language that are descriptive for good cooking. But, that would take a little time and 'food for thought'. It devalues your work as far as I'm concerned.

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  22. I think we could do without the swearing in this recipe suggestions. Seriously....it definitely directs people away from your entries!

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  23. I disagree about the "potty mouth"... it made me want to read more , as I can feel the emotion in the writing, a real person who I can identify with has written this... thank you for not censoring out the realness just so people wont be offended. I will be trying the salad for sure!

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  24. "Fucking" is one of the best words in the English language. Well placed and keeping it real. Love this blog but trying to figure out how to print without using all my color cartridge up. Any chance there is a way to just print the recipe?? I spend more time cooking and gardening then on a computer...

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  25. I think I love your blog spot page already because of all the healthy salad recipe you had posted. Going to add your link on my bookmark.

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  26. Divine dressing recipe, the whole family loved it! Made it for the avocado salad which was so perfect, I am now craving to try it on some fresh tomatoes and mozzarella.
    I love the variations, looking forward to reading more of your blog, thank you.
    And p.s. your writing style is sexy and fun, I hope you always ignore these lame-o naysayers!

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  27. TOTAL yum. want to eat NOW. thank you for posting!

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  28. I can't wait to try this dressing, with all of it's many incarnations! I seem to be incapable of going anywhere without bringing home some of the local, so there's lots of vinegars at my house to play with. Thanks!

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  29. Cecilia may like your language but it turns me off. Won't be back.

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  30. Best blog I have ever found. I love it. I want you to be my new bff. It's great that you drop the f bomb, as in real life. My real life anyway. And I love that you speak to your kid like he is a person, not a short dimwit. Kids are people without as much life experience as us and getting them ready to fully participate in the world is hard, hard work. Seems like you've got a handle on it. I am now going to the kitchen. That salad is on tonight's menu; much less fussy than my usual, although I do make a similar mustard vinaigrette. That is something I see no point in not making since it takes seconds, not minutes, to throw together. I even buy anchovy paste to really keep it simple.

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  31. What is in your salad besides Avacado/ Romaine lettuce? Recipe please :)

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  32. Someone asked me this question over the weekend and I must have really raised an eyebrow or something, because the person went on to

    Buy Yacon Syrup United Kingdom say she really just wanted to have the BEST wedding possible and how do you go about getting it?Someone asked me this question over the weekend and I must have really raised an eyebrow or something,because the person went on to say she really just wanted to have the BEST wedding possible and how do you go about getting it?

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  33. the first F-bomb actually made me laugh out loud...i cannot go buy romaine and avocados soon enough....smashed anchovy...OMG i love the whole idea...it is swirling around as i type and i cannot wait to eat it...

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