Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 16 Dec, 2010. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.
About that food…
I’ve been playing with an idea I had awhile ago when I first tried celeriac — I think it would be nice cooked like scalloped potatoes. So I’ve did a little research and discovered that scalloped potatoes — or, more properly, gratin dauphinous (which my limited French and Shakespeare combine to interpret as potatoes topped with crumbles made out of either dolphins or princes… Where was I?) Anyway, the recipes I’ve found all seem to be just potatoes sliced and baked in cream or milk. My sister-in-law made a similar dish over Thanksgiving, Jansson’s frestelse (only it wasn’t really, because she left out the anchovies in deference to my squeemishness), with a mix of potatoes and celeriac and it was pretty good. I can’t get away from the idea that it should have something more… saucelike on it, though — no doubt because I’ve only ever had scalloped potatoes out of a box and if there’s nothing but dried milk in the sauce packet what’s the point of a mix? So the next time my guinea pig… I mean, when my very good friend visits again, I think I’ll try using a basic cream sauce instead.
In the meantime, since it’s December we have to talk about fruitcake (I’m sure I saw that in the rules somewhere).
Fruitcake has become more joke than a treat in these days of pretty mail-order bricks in sugar mortar, but a nice homemade fruitcake, still fresh and soft, kept properly wrapped and cool, is worth the effort. I don’t really associate it with Christmas, though, because my mother always kept some on hand to put in my father’s lunchbox when she ran out of other dessert items. I won’t put the whole recipe in the newsletter because it’s a little long, but you can find it here in the Market recipe pages.*
For actual recipes-in-the-newsletter I have a couple of interesting things I came across while researching the gratin idea.
6-8 medium leeks, dark green and all but 2 inches of light green removed
1 c heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
Cut leeks in half lengthwise and rinse out any grit. Arrange them cut side down in a baking dish just large enough to hold them in a single layer; some can be turned on their sides if necessary to fit. Top with cream and season to taste. ake at 375F until the cream has thickened and mostly been absorbed by the leeks, about 35 min., basting leeks with the cream a couple of times and pressing them down to prevent exposed parts from browning and getting tough.
From: Vegetables / James Peterson. William Morrow and Co., c1998.
12 Tbsp. (1.5 sticks) butter, clarified
2.5-3 lb potatoes, peeldd and sliced 1/8 inch thick
salt and pepepr to taste
melted butter (optional)
Pour the clarified butter into an 8-inch cast iron skillet (unless you have the special pan designed for this dish) to a depth of 1/4 inch. Set over low heat and arrange potato slices in layers. Build the bottom layer especially carefully so the slices overlap and look nice. Sprinkle each layer with salt, pepper, and more butter as desired. When complete, butter or oil a pot lid slightly smaller than the pan and press in firmly on top of the potatoes. Cover the pan and place in a 425F oven on a baking sheet in case of drips. Bake 20 min, remove from oven and press the potatoes again. Bake uncovered until the sides are brown and crisp, 20-25 min. Pour off any excess butter, holdign the potatoes in the pan with the lid. Invert onto a plate and serve in wedges.
From: Joy of cooking / by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, and Ethan Becker. Scribner, c1997.
And one more, for those who are already thinking ahead to New Year’s Eve. Here’s something I came across in a book a friend of mine is getting for Christmas (what, don’t you read your gift books before wrapping them? How else can you make sure there’s nothing obscene or offensive in them, like deep-fried Mars bars or cheese sauce on broccoli?):
3 oz. plain or vanilla vodka
1.5 oz. clear creme de cacao
2 Hershey’s Kisses, unwrapped
Place vodka and creme de cacao in a cocktail shaker with ice and stir togther until cold. Strain into two martini glasses and garnish each with a Kiss. You can also add half a teaspoon of Cointreau or other clear liqueur of your choice to influence the flavor.
From: The chocolate deck : 50 luscious indulgences / by Lori Longbotham. Chronicle Books, c2005.
Winter reading, winter dreaming
Kristen Suzanne’s easy raw vegan holidays : delicious & easy raw food recipes for parties & fun at Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the holiday season / by Kristen Suzanne. Green Butterfly Press, c2008.
Gourmet game night : bite-sized, mess-free eating for board-game parties, bridge clubs, poker nights, book groups, and more / by Cynthia Nims. Ten Speed Press, 2010.
In giving is the true enlightenment.
-Santideva (Sikshasammuccaya : Ratnamegha)-
If you don’t tell me what you want, you will get socks.
Gifts allow us to demonstrate exactly how little we know about a person. And nothing pisses a person off more than being shoved into the wrong pigeonhole.
-Pam Davis, House M.D., It’s A Wonderful Lie-
A tule fog
fills the sky–
-Michael P. Garofalo, Cuttings-
Do give books – religious or otherwise – for Christmas. They’re never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal.
“Great bore, Christmas, isn’t it? All the people ones hates most gathered together in the name of goodwill and all that.”
-Dorothy Sayers (Strong Poison)-
*The recipe pages were lost with the old website; I’ll try to dig up the recipe and post it in the blog when I get a chance. dh.