MND: Cheese, Gromit, Cheese!November 30, 2010
Dear country mice who visit their city mice relatives during the holiday season,
Hello, fellow country mice. As a transplant myself, I understand that the big city can be a bit overwhelming. It’s big and loud and there are so many things you don’t have to deal with on a regular basis, like, say public transportation. But that’s a discussion for another time. Today, I’m writing to talk to you about sidewalks.
Now, I know that you don’t really have to walk on the sidewalks in your suburban neighborhood too often… Or if you do, you probably never run into anyone else walking on them at the same time. But here in the big city, sidewalks are shared by everyone. All the time. So, here are a few suggestions for how to walk on a sidewalk without making all the city mice behind you want to commit murder:
(1) DO NOT walk four abreast on a sidewalk, I don’t care how wide it is. Our sidewalks are wide because so many people use them, not so that you can carry on a conversation with your entire family at the same time.
(2) DO NOT randomly stop. Particularly in the middle of the sidewalk. ESPECIALLY when you’re walking four abreast. I don’t care how interesting that store window is, or if that building is really pretty, or if it is A REAL LIVE CABLE CAR, OMG! If you jerk to a stop on the sidewalk, the commuter behind you, who really just wants to get home, WILL run into you… and it’s NOT THEIR FAULT.
(3) IF you must randomly stop to have a conversation, DO NOT stop in front of a doorway or the corner of an intersection. If you stop on a street corner, not only are you pissing off the person behind yiou, you’re also aggravating the person in front of you and beside you, and thus all the people around them… Basically? Blocking a street corner is the fastest way to make yourself a crowd full of enemies.
(4) BE CONSIDERATE. Yes, we know, the Dog-Cat-Rat guy is pretty amusing. And the panhandlers will make some entertaining signs to attract your attention. But if you must take a photograph, please please please do not expect me to walk around you if you’re trying to take that photograph from across the sidewalk.
Remember, I’m just trying to get home.
Cheers and happy holidays!
Lemon Basil Vodka Gimlets
Four cheeses & brown sugar salami (from the Ferry Building) w/ walnut bread
Cheese purchased from Say Cheese. The cheese guy was so awesome yesterday; I told him what I was serving and kinda what I wanted, and he suggested the most amazing cheeses. I was apprehensive about a vein of truffles in my cheese, but I have been persuaded that it is AMAZING.
Arugula Salad w/ persimmons & candied pecans
Sweet Potato Soup with Bacon & Rosemary Croutons
Apple & Cranberry Crumble
Lemon Basil Syrup
4 cups packed fresh basil sprigs (pretty much a full bunch of basil)
4 cups water
2 cups sugar
9 strips lemon zest (2ish lemons, I think)
Heat all ingredients in a medium saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved (the recipe says to bring everything to a boil, but I tried that and it ends up cooking the basil. Really you just want to heat up the liquid enough to dissolve the sugar fully, without cooking the basil). Let stand at room temperature, covered, 1 hour, then transfer to an airtight container and chill until cold, about 1 hour. Strain syrup through a sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on and then discarding solids.
Lemon Basil Gimlets
Makes 6 drinks.
1 cup basil lemon syrup
3/4 cup vodka
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup ice cubes
This ratio actually is pretty important — when I evenly matched syrup, vodka and lemon juice, the basil flavor got overpowered. Also, I highly HIGHLY suggest taking the time to squeeze lemons. The gimlets were good when I used regular lemon juice, but they were AWESOME with the juice squeezed from Meyer lemons I got at the farmer’s market.
Sweet Potato Soup with [insert your favorite pork product here] and Rosemary Croutons
This was awesome. I really enjoyed the soup. I would make again, whether or not I had leftover sweet potatoes in the fridge. In fact, next time I cook them, I may make SURE I have leftover sweet potatoes in the fridge, just so I can make this. It has great fall flavors and is just generally yummy, while not being terribly much work.
Serves 4. I doubled the recipe, but altered it just slightly. Since my bacon came with a guest, I used a bit of extra butter to cook down the shallots instead of the bacon grease (though I did add a bit of the drippings to the soup at the end). I added an additional half a teaspoon of rosemary, as well as 3 shakes of nutmeg and 5 shakes of cinnamon. I used about a half a cup less stock that it called for because I was using homemade stock made from the chickens last week.
1 (3-ounce) package thinly sliced pancetta (Italian bacon), chopped
1 pkg of thick cut maple bacon. For 7 people, I made 8 slices.
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup (scant) sliced shallots (3 large)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary, divided
2 cups mashed peeled red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams)
3 1/2 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth
nutmeg & cinnamon (if desired)
1 cup (1/3-inch) cubes country-style sourdough bread
I had left over mashed sweet potatoes from Thanksgiving, which is why I chose this dish. 3 lbs of potatoes will make about 4 cups of mashed sweet potatoes. My favourite way to make mashed sweet potatoes is to roast them; it really adds another dimension to whatever you’re making. Pre-heat the oven to 400degF. Take your potatoes and poke them a few times with a fork. Stick them in the middle of a cookie sheet in the middle of the oven for an hour, turning once. When they’re soft enough for a fork to easily slide into them (and the skin is starting to pull away), take them out and let them cool for a little bit. Peel the skins away and drop the potatoes into a big bowl and then mash them.
Sauté pancetta/bacon in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towels.
Add 1 1/2 tablespoons butter to drippings in same saucepan; add shallots and reduce heat to medium. Sauté until shallots are soft and golden, about 4 minutes. Stir in 1 teaspoon rosemary, then mashed sweet potatoes and 31/2 cups broth. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes to blend flavors, adding more broth by 1/4 cupfuls to thin soup, if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Puree soup in blender or processor (this adds a nice airiness to the soup; I highly recommend putting it through the processor for both taste and texture).
Meanwhile, melt remaining 11/2 tablespoons butter in small skillet over medium-high heat. Add bread cubes and remaining 1/2 teaspoon rosemary and sauté until croutons are crisp and golden, about 3 minutes.
Ladle soup into bowls. Top with croutons and [pork product] and serve.