|September 11th, 2005|
One of the Herculean tasks that faced me as our move back to San Francisco drew near (by the way, a few friends, who shall remain nameless, tend to laugh when I call our trip to San Diego and back A Move, but when you have an entire mini-van crammed so full of stuff you compromise your sanity, oxygen, and rearview, it's A Move. Get behind it.) was the perishable foodstuffs that would not make the eight hour drive back to San Francisco. The leftover dry goods -- the flour, the pasta, the sugar, etc. -- would be fine. However, the eggs, butter, chocolate, cheese, and random-jars-of-liquidy-stuff-that-will-ooze-leak-and-otherwise-get- everywhere-I-mean-everywhere-no-matter-how-securely-they-are-wrapped-in-plastic- sealed-with-glue-or-placed-in-space-age-technology-airtight-packaging were giving me vivid dreams. Just how could I rid myself of these troublesome ingredients?
Many would say, "Steph? Let it go -- just toss the stuff out! Bin it! Feed the trash monster! Let it rot in a dumpster!" But I couldn't, I just couldn't. Concocting random dishes and meals from seemly unconnected and useless ingredients is something I kinda groove on. Plus, waste not want not, and all that. I started out by making The Evil Dr. Mathra a large frittata to last him a few lunches, thus using up the eggs, chèvre, and leftover homemade marinara sauce, the last of which was slashed across the top of each frittata slice.
I took my butter, a random jar of leaky stuff (chipotles in adobo sauce to be precise), limes, and some more leftover cheese and made up two different kinds of compound butter. One wax paper tube was stuffed with a Gorgonzola-garlic butter and the other tube was a lime-chipotle butter. The Gorgonzola one got a bit gray because that's what tends to happen when you add blue cheeses to white things, but it's still yummy. I planned to stick these sliceable compound butters in our refrigerated picnic bag and present them to Sep and Brit Boy when we headed over to South Park for a Cuban dinner at Taza Blanca.
Compound butters are lovely, very easy to make, and impressive when used in front of guests. You can top steaks with them, stir pats into vegetables, or even toss cooked pasta with them for a quick and simple meal. To make them, all you do is slam some (preferably unsalted) butter into a large bowl, let it soften to room temperature, add your ingredients, and mash everything together. Some might advise using a spatula to do the mashing, but if you're impatient like me and haven't waited long enough for the butter to reach optimum softness, a fork is a much better instrument for ingredient mashing and combining. Next, tear off a long piece of wax paper and spread -- using a rubber spatula this time -- the fully mixed butter along the bottom edge. Make the butter spread about two inches wide, leaving an inch of free space on either end. Starting at the butter spread, roll the wax paper around the butter until you've got a big roll. Through the wax paper, you can shape the butter with your hands to make it as rounded and even as possible. Twist the ends of the roll to seal it. It will look like a giant piece of saltwater taffy. Refrigerate the butter rolls to firm them up and make subsequent slicings easier.
When you make compound butter this way, you end up with nice round pats of butter that slide impressively down grilled meats and fish.
The easiest way to get rid of a lot of chocolate is to melt it down, chill it off, scoop it up, make truffles, and distribute them liberally. Doing this, not only did I get to use my new truffle tools from Scharffenberger, but I also got to invent a new flavor: Wild Turkey Truffles.
Just get a load of all that lovely, shiny, melty chocolate. I gotta tell you, as much as I like working just with my hands, using the tiny ice cream scoop made all the difference when making these truffles -- it totally speeded up the often painstaking process. I think I'll have to invest in the elegantly long-tined fork to better roll the truffles around in whatever exterior I've chosen. (In this case, I was getting rid of walntus, which I toasted and chopped.) Keeping hot, eminently suckable fingers far away from the quickly softening, delicious semi-sweet chocolate is for the good when you're making several dozen of these suckers.
I sent Mathra off to work with a few truffles more than a dozen and another dozen went to Sep and Brit Boy. Chocolate and butter, that was my legacy to them.
In other news...
...my parents are celebrating their 40th Annversary this weekend. Since they got married in Ann Arbor on September 11th, I fineagled tickets to the Michigan-Notre Dame football game (thanks, Purdy!) so they could celebrate their matrimonial bliss among all the friends in Ann Arbor that attended their wedding 40 years ago. I also sent them a huge gourmet goodie box from Zingerman's (also of Ann Arbor), so the Keckler Karavan would be well-stocked on their drive down. My mother emailed me to say that my dad was already poking his nose in the box but that she wasn't letting him eat anything until "[they] were well underway." Some things never change. When my parents got the football tickets in the mail, my dad was already having palpitations over whether Michigan was going to win or not. Some things never change. GO BLUE!
...pick up the newest issue of Chow. Among other delicacies, it has a long-anticipated article about how to prepare for the meal of your life.
...speaking of chocolate and Scharffenberger, check out my new favorite tee-shirt! It's so awesome, I might have to buy a few more in case I wear this one out.