Wednesday, October 22, 2003

This weekend I didn't cook much, though it felt like I did. I made pizza Friday night, and then started this giant bread project- mixed starter bread from Baking With Julia. I recommend calculating the timing of this in advance, since you don't want to wake up at 3 a.m. to put your second batch of starter in the fridge. Trust me, you don't.

Also, if you see that the dough itself calls for instant (NOT rapid-rise) or some other yeast, write down "Instant, (NOT rapid-rise)." You will not remember when you get to Bristol Farms. No. You won't. And then you'll get home with your rapid-rise yeast and curse mightily. You may even slam a bag of flour into the counter. You do not want to do this.

Even with the rapid-rise yeast, though, the bread won't rise too quickly. It'll be fine. You'll be happy you bought that dowel at Home Depot to roll your own pasta, because it helps in shaping the pain fendu. Something must help. You don't have rice flour and will learn that you don't need it, but it is six pains in your ass, the shaping of the pain fendu. The shaped loaves will all rise and stick together, and you'll peel them apart, throw them into the oven, and hope for the best.

The bread, though, turned out really delicious. Even a few days later, toasted, it's divine.

The pasta, however. I decided to try handmade pasta. I love Marcella that much. She recommends green pasta for the beginner, so I cooked some spinach and let it cool and drained and chopped it, and then cleared off my table and started with the pasta.

After adding twice as much flour as the recipe called for, the pasta was still sticky. I tried rolling it out, but it stuck to everything. I added more flour, and still, the stick. I got to the second stage of rolling, but could bear no more. Jeff had just gotten a new job, so he took pity on me, and we went out to Angeli. There are no words for my love of Angeli- a block away, a ridiculous value, and the perfect neighborhood restaurant. One of Jeff's friends is a waiter there, but even when he's not around, the service is fabulous. I love it, even though they do caramelize garlic, which is wrong (or as their menu says, carmelize). Anyway, I wanted Jeff to have something spinachy to make up for the forlorn pasta, so he had the spinach ricotta gnocchi with butter sage sauce, and I still have the worst menu regret in the world, even though I ate 9 of his gnocchi. I'm not a huge potato gnocchi fan, but the ricotta!

So Marcella Hazan week will stretch on. Someday I WILL make pasta. But first, I must try her ricotta gnocchi, my new favorite food.

Last night I made her tomato onion and basil fritatta. However, the tomatoes I had from the Farmer's Market were highly suspicious (the potato guy had no tomatoes, and I got some from someone else, and by Tuesday they smelled rank and looked weird when cut open. All dried out.) so I used two leftover from who knows tomatoes. And only 7 or 8 of my last basil leaves- my basil is out for the winter, I suspect. My oregano all dried out on the stem. My second cilantro plant has died, though I tried everything. I tried moving it out of the sun, and into the sun, and watering it more, and watering it less, and talking to it, and painting it pictures, and performing a finger puppet show for it, but nothing. Cilantro hates me.

Um, where was I? Oh. Subpar tomatoes, less than required basil- neither of which are a problem with the frittata. You can throw ANYTHING into a fritatta, and it'll come out okay. I also braved my broiler- I cooked the fritatta on low, and then put it under the broiler (I don't know why the broiler scared me. I am not entirely sure what I thought it was going to do, but it didn't do anything besides broil.) and pulled it out when it looked cooked. Then I flipped it over onto a plate to discover a) while 2 tbsp of butter is too much for a fritatte, 1/2 tbsp may not be enough to keep the frittate from sticking. 1 tbsp is probably just right and b) I misjudged how much of the fritatte was done when I put it under the broiler, and the middle was not set through.

No worries- I scootched it back into the pan, put it back under the broiler, and then served when done.

I think I need to tattoo "I love onions" on my ass. Because I do.