Monday, February 18, 2008

*a mad loon rising.

Yeah, I know that's obtuse. Not as in "vague and intellectually-lofty implied reference." More like "weak, lazily constructed pun based on easy rhyming, stress, and tired ... ness." Buckle up, people. It's gonna be a bumpy ride.

I'll head off the critics now and say there's a trip to the grocery in the weekly to-do list, so be gentle about the lack of green around the Woodside lately. I do think there's some lettuce in the crisper, but I'd wager it's neither crisp nor green. And Reagan's dead, so I can't really double-check the veggie credentials of wasabi mayonnaise. So that leaves eggs, cheese, and leftovers. Yeah, that's right, I'm fresh out of pride today.

Oh! Black olives. The detritus of two separate cans of black olives are ALSO in the refrigerator. Redemption!

Bring on the fixin's:

Nutmeg, cayenne pepper, black pepper, flour, salt, egg shells, butter, SERIOUSLY SHARP cheddar, and Parmigiano.

Back there, in the ridiculously awesome but unfortunately small orange enamel pot, is skim milk and melted butter. That was an experiment based on a sweet resource I found. The recipe I worked with tonight called for whole milk, and I only had skim. But the recommended substitution—1 cup of milk plus 2 tablespoons of butter—created a strange consistency situation I couldn't reconcile. I think milk is sort of like these two. Once you split them up, putting them back together is just ... lumpy and nauseating and possibly resulting in offspring named "Alabama Barker."

Aaaaaaaaaand, you caught me. Egg shells aren't an ingredient. I just got a little overzealous and forgot to take pictures.

Which brings me to yet another side subject. I know I may have fooled you up to this point, but I feel I must confess: My kitchen is not professionally lit. I know, right? For some reason, in this endeavor things went entirely off the photogenic track. Some of the images you are about to see are blurry, some are cast in hideous shadow, and some are dim. Not unlike the photographer. Scroll down with caution, is what I'm saying. Not suitable for minors. Or seeing people.

But! Guess what I did!

Aren't they lovely? I separated eggs like a pro. Those are cage-free, vegetarian-fed hens' eggs. It really does make a difference. They tumbled out like pockets of sunny softness. Into more Grandma china. Which I consistently put in the microwave, despite its metal rim, but which manages to survive my abuses and still look like a grownup interpretation of what Frances would have wanted with her bread and jam. And, since we're on the subject, did you see that butter dish above? That was a hand-me-down, too, and it's thick and crystal and throwback tremendous. It always makes me want to buy one of these. And a white terry robe, and a pedicure, and a bistro table and chairs, and a pulp-free glass of orange juice, and a man who reads the financial pages and hands me the style section.

Then there were the whites. They were boring.

While Coppertone beat the living crumbs out of the egg whites, I whisked together 1 tablespoon of flour with the skim milk over medium heat, then (off the heat) stirred in a smooth yolk, salt, cayenne, pepper, and nutmeg.

The yolk mixture stepped aside to cool, and I grated cheddar and Parmigiano. Which leads me to one of my favorite kitchen tools: the Microplane. Mine came in a protective plastic cover, so every time I use it I feel like I'm unholstering my dagger. Or something less violent. The best thing, though, is the pretty curtain it leaves behind:

ANYhoo. Whipped egg whites and the yolk base and the cheese get folded CAREFULLY together. Or, you know, haphazardly hacked at with a spatula until something like a mixture comes together. That all goes into a souffle dish (thank you again JLB!) that's been buttered and powdered with Parmigiano. Then onto a baking sheet and into an oven. It was preheated to 375, but I was instructed to crank it up to 400 once the souffle went in. I'm sure that's some sort of French magic.

Twenty minutes later ...

See? Cuz I'm a little bit mad hatter and a little bit loony, and the souffle was rising?

Yeah, it wouldn't hold up in court.




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I am a work in progress. I perpetually need a hair cut. I'm totally devoted to my remarkable nieces and nephew. I am an elementary home cook and a magazine worker bee. (Please criticize my syntax and spelling in the comments.) I think my dog is hilarious. I like chicken and spicy things. I have difficulty being a grown-up. Left to my own devices, I will eat enormous amounts of cheese snacks of all kinds.