Sunday, April 20, 2008
We missed you at the Seder last night (though somehow it seems apropos that you were out upholding the other half of our blog identity as "performing artist")! Not that there was, or ever is much actual sedering going on. Of course there was the ubiquitous asking of the four questions by our 27 year old cousin since the youngest members of the family apparently haven't taken enough time off from shrieking wildly or standing on their heads long enough to learn to read. (At one point during the reading, I looked over to see one of the youngest of our group face down in the fire place. I sympathized.) But mostly there was eating. Though the general observation was that no one ate as much this year as we usually do. I noted that you were missing and let them draw the conclusions :)
To summarize, there was gefilte fish with the neon red horseradish, and chopped liver to start, matzoh ball soup which was fragrant and salty and studded with carrots and parsley, apple sauce and the ubiquitous orange jellomold, potato kugel, matzoh pudding, matzoh farfel (spell check is not recognizing this word which either confirms my suspicion that it's not an actual word, or my suspicion that spellcheck was developed by the Christian right), three-pea salad (sugar snap, sweet peas, and snowpeas in a light dressing), the amazing pickles (sour and half-sour) and pickled red peppers (heaven), moist and meaty capons with perfectly browned skin and rich gravy, and 2, count em TWO BRISKETS. The second was not even brought out for public consumption which of course made me think--score! Brisket sandwich in T minus 24 hours. Sadly, when the doggie-bags came around to me, everyone else had already cleaned it out. piggies. I had to be satisfied with a tupperware-full of capon and farfel which aside from being delicious is worth it just for the combo of words. capon. farfel. capon. farfel. Three times fast.
Dessert was an exercize in flourless wonder, making the chemistry of baking all the more apparent. There was an orange sponge cake made with matzoh flour, an apple cake made with sweet and sugary apples and cinnamon and who knows what holding it together, pears poached in wine (3 of which were eaten by our 4 year old cousin. Boy am I glad I wasn't in that car on the way home. Drunk people are such backseat drivers), and the two cookies assigned to yours truly. These were, the coconut macaroons, which came out beautifully thankyouverymuch, and the chocolate contribution to the meal in the form of flourless chocolate walnut cookies our aunt had found in last week's NY Magazine. The macaroons went off without a hitch, turning out golden brown fluffy little mounts that I dipped in melted chocolate. The chocolate cookies were another story. I went shopping for the ingredients with the boyfriend in tow who though, generally patient, was a little antsy when i started reading labels of cocoa powder searching for a sign that any were "dutch-processed". Despite my instinct that there is actually a crucial difference between dutch processed and regular unsweetened, in my concern for getting my poor lovie out of the supermarket before 11pm on a friday night I ignored that nagging feeling and bought the unsweetened. BIG mistake. Hear me now, bakers. If a recipe has only a few ingredients and is already playing with fire by eliminating the basics like flour, make sure you get what it calls for. Turns out, the big difference I had forgotten is that dutch-processed cocoa has some kind of alkaline added to it to help it rise--an important element if there's no baking soda and especially if there's no flour. Chemistry, shmemistry. My cookies turned out like chocolate pancakes with little walnut pimples under the surface. Dance=10, Looks=3.
As it turned out, our cousin unknowingly made the same recipe! Looking at the two of ours side by side you never would have guessed it as hers were deep chocolate fudgy mounds which made me consider giving this recipe another shot. It is super easy, after all. In the end I think we all left with some renewed faith in slow cooked meat and the conviction that flourless chocolate items are not just for passover. DAYENU!
Hungry For More?
I happened to catch this adorable documentary called The Gefilte Fish Chronicles on PBS last year and again this year. If you've ever had a jewish grandmother or known one or have any kind of bossy maternal figure in your family who loves to cook, I think you'll appreciate it. Watch a clip here.