This one could be a candidate for Confessions of a Locavore. Local it ain’t, and neither is it particularly healthy. It is, however, highly seasonal, in that I only eat it on or around Thanksgiving. And it’s really, really good. I don’t know where the recipe originated, but it’s a staple of my husband’s family’s Thanksgivings, hosted by his Aunt Mary. No matter what else I have on my plate, I always make sure there’s plenty of room for creamed spinach.
It’s one of those dishes where I might be happier not knowing what was in it. But as Mary writes in the family cookbook, “Don’t worry about the ingredients, just enjoy.” That said, here’s what the ingredients look like before the spinach goes in:
For some unknown reason, I had never tasted tarte Tatin until recently, and it was a revelation. I like apple pie, but often find it a bit bland. Tarte Tatin is not at all bland: the apples are soaked with caramel, chewy around the edges, and the crust has a wonderful shatteringly crisp quality that I’ve never encountered in a regular fruit pie. As soon as I tasted it, I vowed that I would try making one myself.
The basic concept really isn’t too complicated, and there seems to be some flexibility, based on the difference between the various recipes I looked up. The foundation is a caramel sauce made with sugar and butter, the apples are laid on the caramel, and pie crust is laid on the apples before baking, then the whole thing is turned upside down before serving. I found variations involving cooking the caramel in a separate pan, then mixing it with the apples, but I went with an approach of cooking the butter, sugar and apples together in a skillet, without stirring, until the sauce caramelized with the juice from the fruit. Continue reading
If you’re looking at the picture above, rubbing your eyes and thinking “why on earth does that look like a plate of potato chips with an egg on top?” then read on. What can I say, the Parsis made me do it. Or one particular Parsi cookbook author, anyway. For those who don’t know (as I did not), Parsis are Zoroastrian Persians who emigrated to India. Their cuisine has a great deal in common with Indian cooking, but retains certain unique qualities – including a serious attachment to potato chips.
I bought a copy of Niloufer Ichaporia King’s book My Bombay Kitchen some time ago, and was utterly delighted when I discovered the little drawing of the “Parsi food pyramid,” with the base layer consisting entirely of potato chips (the top two layers are ginger and garlic). These are my kind of people! According to King, potato “wafers” and eggs are both beloved of the Parsi people, and this recipe brings them together, along with cilantro and hot chiles, in a ridiculous, yet sublime, dish. We had it for breakfast, with cafe au lait, but it could be a quick supper with a bit of salad and a beer. Depending on your ability to pretend that potato chips are real food. Continue reading