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Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
After a few years of silent longing, I finally bit the bullet and bought eight copper cannelé molds and some beeswax. If you've never had them before, cannelés come from Bordeaux and are small, custardy cakes with incredibly molten, lacquered crusts whose hues range from a beautiful burgundy color to pitch black. The best crusts are formed by coating the interiors of the molds with a layer of beeswax. They are highly addictive, and notoriously difficult to make.
I spent a couple days fooling around with them, and used Pierre Herme's recipe from Secrets Gourmands. Some would get stuck in the molds and tear when I tried to get them out. Some would rise up to great irregular heights while baking, which created a lumpy bottom when they were unmolded. Some turned black while others stayed pale, even though they had been baked for the same amount of time.
Despite their complete and utter lack of consistency, they all tasted very, very good. Obviously more experimentation and further sampling will be required.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Le Fancy Jam de Christine Ferber
Before I left Paris last month, I had to buy an extra suitcase to cart back all the foods that I simply couldn’t live without. Yes, I’m one of those sad individuals who insists on bringing foreign items back (including four bottles of wine!) even if I know perfectly well that I can find them in the U.S.—and probably at a lower price, too. There’s just something about that cheery little carton of brown sugar cubes sitting on my shelf that wouldn’t be quite the same if I had bought it in Brisbane.
And no, I'm not an international drug smuggler. That's a bag of cornstarch-free powdered sugar, if you must know.
This morning while I was still in bed, Randy came into my room holding an unopened jar of Christine Ferber’s raspberry jam, fresh from its trans-oceanic journey and still bedecked with a charming little polka dot hat and white ribbon.
“Can I open this?”
“Sure. That’s the famous jam woman. We saw her cookbook at Powells, remember?”
“Oh. Sort of. Can I use it in my PB&J?”
“Sure. But remember that it’s $9 a jar.”*
At this Randy fell to the carpet, writhing in mock agony. Once back on his feet, his voice rose an octave and his eyelids lowered to cruel slits as he began channeling Snotty Foodie, a character we like to drag out every now and again. “But perhaps a peanut butter and jelly sandwich will be the best possible application for this jam, so simple in its elegance! What HONESTY! The purest expression of a humble sandwich! A raspberry jam of this type of perfection will complement the rustic wholegrain goodness of the bread, the smooth creaminess of the peanuts!”
Groaning, I pulled the covers back over my head.
An hour later, still pajama-clad, I am staring at the jam. The cute little polka dot cap and jaunty white ribbon have been callously flung aside and now lie sadly clinging to our sticky counter top. I throw them both in the trash. All this charming packaging is wasted on us. I love the idea, but what are we supposed to DO with it? It lies between me and the food. Therefore, it must be speedily discarded. What do the French do with all their wrapping paper, their ribbons, their expensive stickers? And the Japanese? My god, the Japanese! Everything's elaborately wrapped in Japan. How am I supposed to appreciate this packaging enough to justify the increased price? Stare at it? Photograph it? I need tips.
Randy’s sandwich has been built and there is no bread left, so I reach for a package of $1 Trader Joe’s hot dog buns (stale, naturally). I toast one and smear it with butter. Then I smear the butter with Madame Ferber’s raspberry jam. It’s wonderful. Dare I say that it’s worth 9 euros? The berry flavor is intense. The color is deep scarlet. I'm sorry. It's worth 9 euros.**
The next day when I get home from work, I open the fridge and see this:
Elegant Madame Ferber had been replaced by Mary Ellen, that trashy ho! I guess a certain person had decided that Madame's jam WAS too good for a lowly PB&J. But it'll still have a home on my hot dog buns.
*I was wrong. It’s actually 9 EUROS a jar.
**But I wasn’t as big a fan of her blood orange marmalade. It’s good, just not as earth-shatteringly yummy.
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