Monday, January 17, 2011


It's things like this that make me think I must have been Italian in another life. Every Christmas I buy a panetonne and proceed to eat it myself. This year the one I bought was a little too sweet. A little too redolent of artifical vanilla. And a little too cakey. This is bread, after all.
So, when I espied in the cabinet some whole candied mixed citrus, I had to give it a shot. Start with sourdough starter, about 2 cups. Add in a few cups of whey, an egg, a hefty pinch of saffron, about a tablespoon of melted butter and a half cup of sugar. Knead in the finely chopped candied fruit. A tablespoon of salt. Let rise for a few hours knock down and let rise again in a bowl lined with parchment paper. A cylinder would have been a little better, but the shape doesn't really matter. About 10 -12 hours later bake at about 450 degrees, right on the parchment. OH MY, is this delicious!

Friday, January 14, 2011


One day over the break I took the boys into Berkeley to buy presents, and simply had to stop at one of my favorite stores, The Spanish Table. Bought odds and ends with no particular dish in mind.
But by sheer coincidence I happened to win, via Zester Daily, a paella set - from The Spanish Table. I never win anything! But there is was, rice, a new pan, piquillo peppers, saffron, pimenton. And I just happened to have the other odds and ends I bought: razor clams, an end of serrano ham, chickpeas. Why not? It was actually a stunningly good paella too. Rice came out perfect, not too dense and clumpy, not over flavored. I'm thinking chorizo overpowers it. Little bits of ham work much nicer, and as for overcooked chicken breast, forget it. I imagine vegetables alone would be fabulous in this too.

Latke Trick

DO you suffer from soggy latkes? We've all eaten them. Someone fried too many in a pan, on too low a temperature, or covered them with foil. They would have made milch the burning eyes of heaven.
Here's a neat trick to avoid such tragedy. Coarsely grate your potato (pictured is the results of but one) into a bowl. Squeeze out every drop of water by hand into another bowl. You don't need a strainer or cloth. Bare hand works fine.
Wait a minute or two and you'll see the water separate into two layers. Discard the upper layer of dirty water, keep the surprisingly dry white starch below. Add it back to the grated potato. Mix in well, with a touch of salt, pepper, thyme. Then divide into about 3 small cakes and fry in just a few tablespoons of duckfat or goosefat until brown and crisp. Eat at once, or keep warm UNcovered in the oven.
If you are stark raving hungry, serve with a round of boudin noir (I brought this one back from Paris) and some homemade sauerkraut. I suppose some sour cream couldn't hurt. It is said that the first meal of the New Year presages all to come. This was my first. HUzzah!