Ooooh, I am such a bad blogger. Many, many fun food things have been happening in my life and I have not had time to post about them. No, not so – I have had time but not enough to craft the perfect story, so I have posted nothing at all.
So, in lieu of literary perfection, here is a list:
The Slow Food Bloomington Chefs Dinner was superb – the best of the four years we have been holding it. All the food was terrific, but among the highlights were Dave Tallent’s roasted suckling pig (he boned the pig and stuffed it with the tenderloin and a confit of the shoulder. Rolled it up and roasted it til the skin was crackling crisp and the meat was succulent. Served with warm mustardy potato salad, greens and Kentucky bourbon sauce), Regina Mehallick’s tomato consommé with tiny sweet melon balls and a crispy butterfly pastry, and the wild cherry sorbet I “helped” Krissy Tallent make as an intermezzo. But truthfully, the whole dinner was wonderful (all ten courses of it) and it was great to be a part of it.
Birthday. Actually, it fell on the day
before the Chefs Dinner, so we celebrated early and late, but not on the
date. A few weeks ago we were in DC, so
we had dinner at CityZen, a place I’d been wanting to try. It was good, but not
fabulous, though the Jerusalem artichoke soup came close. Okay, and maybe the spring vegetable salad with pickled baby leeks and beer battered ramps. And I'm always partial to grilled romaine. But the rest had a few too many notes. The older I get, the simpler I like my food
So the day after my birthday I invited a bunch of friends over for fried chicken, barbequed ribs, TWO kinds of potato salad – my mom’s mayonnaisey old fashioned version and a roasted red potato salad in balsamic vinaigrette, green bean salad (the first from the market!), a salad of roasted beets, diced, in a pistachio vinaigrette with chopped nuts, and coleslaw. Krissy Tallent made the cake – essentially thousands (lots, anyway) of crepes layered with nutella and spun sugar on top. Oh. My. Heavens. Worth turning 52 for!
Fried Chicken. The recipe is in the most recent issue of Bloom, but here you go. This stuff is seriously delicious:
Find yourself a naturally raised frying chicken – I get mine at the Butchers Block – and cut it into serving pieces.
Then soak it. Soak it in brine, buttermilk, or both, but do not skip this step. I soak my chicken in salt water (1/2 cup salt to two quarts water) for four hours and in buttermilk (with some hot sauce added) for four more.
Dredge it in seasoned flour. Use salt, pepper, paprika, whatever you like. Swapping out 1/3 of the flour for corn starch will make it crunchier.
Fry it. A seasoned cast iron skillet is de rigeur for this, but I don’t have one. A heavy nonstick works just fine. Pour in enough peanut oil to come 1 inch up the chicken when it is added. Heat oil to 350 degrees. Lay the chicken in skin-side down (don’t crowd it) and fry until the bottom is browned and crusty (about 12 minutes.) Turn it over and do the same for the other side. Cook until the juices run clear when you stick it with a skewer or until it hits 165 degrees on a meat thermometer. Drain on a rack and enjoy.
Bacon. We did it – 21 artisanal bacons in one sitting. I felt great afterward, but some of my fellow testers were definitely green. I learned A LOT about bacon –- that there are the normal “breakfast bacons” that we all know and love – sweet, salty, smoky and succulent -- and then there are their darker cousins that take smokiness to a new and scarier level. Some of those were good, but some were too complex and punishing for me. Father's Bacon, for instance, from Bremen, Kentucky, was a mouthful of hickory. Some folks liked it okay, but give me Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Bacon, or Burger’s Original Country Smoked. There were lots of good ones, but those may have been my favorites of the commercial brands. Best of all -- more complex and nuanced and delicious -- was the Restaurant Tallent house-smoked bacon. I know I am a one-woman cheering section for Tallent today, but that’s how it is.
More about Bacon in the next issue of Bloom.
The Market is in full force, though the farmers are still feeling the drought. Still, I got eggplants and zucchini and tried a recipe from Martha Stewart Living – possibly the first time I have done that – and it was excellent. Who knew? It was a pomegranate molasses and mint dressing for grilled vegetables – 1 1/3 cups olive oil, 3 tsp coarse salt, 3 Tbs pomegranate molasses, 1/3 cup lemon juice, 2 garlic cloves (minced), 1/3 cup shredded fresh mint, ¼ tsp ground pepper. Whisk together and dress grilled vegetables – sweet and sour, garlicky and good. I am an eggplant fiend, but this stuff was lovely by any measure. (and it was also great leftover, chopped up with a diced ripe tomato and tossed with penne. Served cold.) We had it with after an Italian Cheese Board from fromages.com that we shared with our “cheese friends.” Fontina, Brescianella, Tellegio (yummy!), Trifulin (yummier!), Gorgonzola Dolce (and Piccante), and Pecorino Siciliano Pepato. Really something!
Tomorrow we head down to Florida and maybe I’ll have more time for posting and less obsession with perfection. Reunion on the weekend with three old high school friends and their husbands, and lots of good food.
Oh, yeah, and this blog had a birthday too, while I wasn't paying attention.
(And, weirdly, this is also my 100th post...)