WND – The Chalice from the Palace

July 15, 2010

One of the weirder parts about growing up is discovering where your taste diverges from your parents’ taste. When you’re a kid you eat what your parents eat – or well, you did in my house, I’ve heard tell of kids who will only eat white food, or round food, or frozen peas and Vienna sausages (she grew up to be a perfectly normal person who comes to Dinner every week and eats all sorts of things), but they didn’t live in my house. When I got my first apartment I started by cooking the foods that I’d grown up eating. Gradually I branched out and discovered a love affair with cinnamon, and how well dried fruit pairs with meat, and that while I don’t like coconut desserts I think coconut milk in savory dishes is the cat’s meow.

Meanwhile, my parents retired and started entertaining constantly – this is what happens when you retire to the South of France, everyone wants to visit you – and the rhythm of their life changed. My father wasn’t working any more, which also meant he wasn’t travelling 2-3 days a week. My mother (eventually) stopped volunteering – and by volunteering I mean working the equivalent of a full time job, just without being paid for it. They also moved away from the colder climate of Geneva, and the stodgier cuisine of Switzerland to the heat and tomato and olive oil infused air of Provence. The upshot of all of this is that what my mother cooks and what I cook intersect infrequently these days.

Now my mother sends me complex five day menu plans for things like the annual Opera Weekend at Orange that involve nothing that would ever have made it to the table when I was in high school, and that I would probably never serve at my table now. Sometimes it’s just that they’re more luncheon oriented than dinner oriented. Sometimes they’re not hearty enough for a Boston winter. Sometimes I think they sound tasty for people who aren’t me, which is to say people who have a greater appreciation for cold green beans (green bean salad with basil vinaigrette), or who have discovered the appeal of white beans (white bean salad with balsamic dressing and cherry tomatoes) or who like smoked salmon in ways that don’t involve thin slices on buttered brown bread (smoked salmon dip). I’m sure they’re good, because my mother’s a good cook, I just wouldn’t ever put them on a menu I was planning. On the other hand the roasted quail and the French Silk Pie (think of the best chocolate frosting you’ve ever had and then make it a little denser and put it in a pie shell and that’s French Silk Pie) that she’s serving the first night of the weekend are making my mouth water just thinking about them. I would never serve them because where would I even find quail to roast, but I’d be all for sitting down to a meal that featured them.

Conversely I don’t think my mother is ever going to make Hoisin Pulled Pork, not the least of which because I don’t know if you can even get hoisin sauce in the South of France. Frankly, I’m not sure my mother would make anything you could describe as fusion cuisine, whereas this entire dinner reads like one of those nonsensical itineraries you sometimes get when travel sites suggest that you fly from Boston to Paris via Detroit (okay, yes I know it’s an airline hub, but I still don’t understand how it makes economic sense to fly someone 5 hours in the wrong direction). This dinner is Boston to the South via Asia, with stopovers in Mexico and Cuba.

This makes it sound like my mother and I wouldn’t be able or perfectly delighted to eat at the other’s table, which isn’t at all true.  It’s just that there’s less overlap than there used to be, and what I might find delightful served to me at Christmas might not be something I’d turn around and make at home in the new year.  And, while I might make suggestions for a starch side for the first night of the Opera weekend, it might not make it to her table in France because it’s too fussy, too casual, too full of ingredients she can’t find or doesn’t like, too . . . et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Sake Mojitos

Hoisin Pulled Pork Wraps
Crunchy Peanut Slaw
Roasted Corn on the Cob w/ Chili-Lime Butter

Mocha Cupcakes

Sake Mojitos
(makes 2 drinks)
Starting the vaguely Asian + something else fusion theme for the evening off right.

8 mint leaves
½ lime, juiced
1 tsp simple syrup
3 oz sake
1 oz plum wine

Crush the mint lightly with a spoon. Add all other ingredients, plus ice. Shake to combine, and pour. Garnish with more mint if desired.

Hoisin Pulled Pork Wraps
I don’t know y’all, this thing where someone requested a birthday Dinner that wasn’t based around a high fat content starch dish is kind of throwing me. It feels unnatural.

Recipe previously given: Dinner with a Side of Schadenfreude

Crunchy Peanut Slaw

Recipe previously given: Dinner with a Side of Schadenfreude
And edited: Of Shoes & Ships & Ceiling Wax

Roasted Corn on the Cob w/ Chili-Lime Butter
I always see recipes for grilled corn on the cob and read them wistfully because I don’t have a grill, but they always sound so excellent. Turns out, you can approximate the general idea in your oven. Granted, it involves being willing to turn your oven on for 30 minutes which will heat up your house a lot more than boiling a pot of water, but on the other hand you don’t have to husk the corn before you cook it, you just put a large bowl or bag at the table and let everyone else deal with the clingy corn silk.

Opinion seems to be somewhat divided as to the necessity of soaking your corn before you roast it. I didn’t, mostly because I couldn’t think of what I owned that would be large enough to soak 8 ears of corn, and it came out perfectly. In fact it was so easy I may never cook corn another way again.

Roasted Corn
Preheat your oven to 350.

Trim the visible corn silk. Place the corn in their husks in the on the rack and roast for about 30 minutes.

Chili-Lime Butter
The other reason grilled corn always sounds so amazing is that recipes for it tend to come with lovely compound butters, but there’s no reason you have to have a grill to use a compound butter.

8 Tbsp butter, cut into chunks
Zest of 2 limes
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp chili powder

Puree in a food processor until smooth, and then refrigerate in your container of choice.

Mocha Cupcakes
Courtesy of the Martha Stewart Cupcake book and, via the application of judicious (if not terribly strenuous) arm twisting, made by someone not me.



  1. […] Recipe previously given: The Chalice from the Palace […]

  2. […] Recipe previously given: The Chalice from the Palace […]

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