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WND – CSI Boston

June 10, 2010

All due respect to Dorothy L. Sayers who writes a cracking good mystery, but I don’t think that dusting Turkish Delight with arsenic laced powdered sugar would kill many people these days.  Putting arsenic in something chocolate on the other hand . . . we’ve long theorized that if you wanted to off your coworkers the best way to do it would be to poison something chocolate and then leave it in a public place.  The trick is doing it so that not only do you not die, but also so that no suspicion falls on you for being the one person left standing.  This wasn’t actually proved in practice this past Monday since everyone in my office is still alive and well, but the theory was definitely proved sound.

Let me back up.  On Monday morning I was sitting at my computer when one of my coworkers stopped by my desk to compliment me on the chocolate cake.  This was flattering except that I hadn’t brought in a chocolate cake.  A little later I wandered into the kitchen – purely by chance you understand – and had a nibble of the chocolate cake which was excellent and had frosting that was basically fudge.  I went to compliment our receptionist on the chocolate cake she’d brought in.  She disavowed knowledge of it.  We paused to consider who else could have brought in the cake if it wasn’t one of the two of us.  We decided it was another coworker who’d been at a baby shower that weekend – clearly she’d brought in leftovers.  I stopped by to tell her that the cake was excellent, except she hadn’t brought it in either.

This is when the morning took on a CSI kind of flair as we worked our way through the office trying to figure out who on earth had brought in the cake.  We dismissed the various men in the office who do cook, but don’t bake (it’s great, they all stand around and talk about the salmon they grilled over the weekend and the awesome vegetarian lasagna they made – this from the same men who consistently veto salad for lunch meetings).  We hypothesized it was someone’s Italian mother, but when we asked he said “Do I look like someone who bakes?”  To which we replied, “Well no, which is why we asked if your mother made it.”  But she hadn’t.

By 1:00pm when nobody had claimed credit for the cake it was moving beyond mysterious to a little comically worrisome.  I mean, nobody had keeled over and died yet, but it felt a little like we should leave a note that if only one person made it into the office on Tuesday the police should look seriously at them as a possible suspect.  Eventually the responsible party made it back to the office after an all morning meeting and admitted that his daughter had been experimenting with chocolate cake recipes over the weekend and had made more than their house could possibly eat, so he’d donated one to the office.

Moral of the story?  If you feed them they will come, and nobody will ask questions about where the food came from until it’s too late.

Grilled Chicken Salad
Roasted Rhubarb
Mile High Biscuits

Rhubarb Cupcakes

Grilled Chicken Salad
There are about a million variations on a grilled chicken salad, for this particular variation I built my ingredients around the rhubarb and what else was seasonal.

Beet greens
Roasted rhubarb
Strawberries, sliced
Fennel, thinly sliced
Goat cheese, crumbled
Grilled Chicken

The key ingredient here for me is the roasted rhubarb – the rest of the ingredients can be played with – I did it a couple of weeks ago as a side salad with baby arugula, fennel, orange segments (and left out the chicken and cheese).  You could add nuts for more crunch.  You could grill steak or salmon instead of chicken, or substitute sliced hard boiled eggs and add some chickpeas if you wanted to make it vegetarian, or even vegan if you also leave out the cheese (depending on their feelings on the ethics of eating honey).

I marinated the chicken overnight in a lot of chopped garlic, the zest & juice of one lemon, some olive oil, thyme and salt & pepper and then grilled and sliced it just before dinner (although it works fine cold too).

I made a light vinaigrette with white wine vinegar, olive oil, a dab of mustard and some honey – when I made the salad with orange segments I used some of the fresh orange juice to make the salad dressing.

Roasted Rhubarb
This is the other rhubarb recipe I talked about a couple of weeks ago  – and unlike the braised rhubarb which required rescuing, this worked perfectly as advertised and the only thing I changed was to add cinnamon because there are very few things I think can’t be improved by the addition of cinnamon.  Also, and this is worth noting, my roommate who by and large humors my obsession with rhubarb asked for me to save some aside for her because she wasn’t going to be at Dinner but didn’t want to miss out on the roasted rhubarb.

A 1/3 cup of honey sounds like a lot of honey, but this really is a savory application for rhubarb.  A lot of the honey ends up on the pan, and the bit that coats the rhubarb is just enough to take the edge off the bitter without masking the flavor of the rhubarb.

1 lb rhubarb, cut into ¾”lengths
1/3 cup honey
Generous sprinkle cinnamon

Toss the rhubarb with the cinnamon and then pour the honey over it and mix with a spoon until everything is evenly coated.  Turn onto a baking sheet and separate the rhubarb so that it’s spread out in an even layer.  Roast at 450 for 5 minutes until rhubarb is just tender (really, 5 minutes is all it will take, much longer and you’ll have mush).  Cool slightly.

Mile High Biscuits

Recipe previously given:  The Beauty of Chaos

Last time I made these I said that I thought you could probably cut the butter in with a pastry cutter and skip getting your blender dirty.  This is indeed true.  It takes maybe 1-2 minutes longer than pulsing the flour mixture with the butter in the blender, but probably slightly less time than it would take me to wash all the components of the blender.

Rhubarb Cupcakes
Dessert courtesy of someone who is not me, and who both grows her own rhubarb and owns the food porn that is the Martha Stewart cupcake book – also known as Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes: 175 Inspired Ideas for Everyone’s Favorite Treat.

I swear we didn’t call each other to discuss what we were wearing before we went to school – or, in the grown up variation of this, we didn’t call each other to discuss ingredient lists before Dinner.

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