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Author Archive: "Harriet Fasenfest"

Life — and Dessert — on the Crooked Path

(Continued from yesterday)
Being one of the first guests to arrive, I decided, quite on my own, that the tart should be in the savory, first-course round of dishes. But after cutting the tart in small sections (and licking the crumbs that came off the knife), I thought better of it. I moved it over to the desserts. The flavor was sweet, maybe too sweet, and surprisingly I cannot taste the sage. But I have only tasted a small section. I will eat it as a full slice later on.

Soon the place is full with people and food. Our hosts have barbecued a turkey and baked a bread pudding to be topped with dulce leche. The dishes keep coming. Each guest is asked to write down what they brought. There are two kinds of flat breads, one topped with onions, peppers, sage, and walnuts and the other with roasted tomatoes and rosemary. Both make a great starter to the meal. We eat them with glasses, too many glasses, of wine. There are Sweet Potatoes with Honey and Lime; Uncle Lewis's Turkey Enchiladas, Drunken Onion Jam with onions, ...


Born of Invention

(Continued from yesterday)
...I blind bake the tart shell. I set the oven for 350 degrees and, once heated, allow the shell to bake 10 minutes. It has turned a lighter shade of pale but has not buckled liked a butter crust might do . It is flat and solid. I set it on a rack to cool.

I mix milk with cream (2 cups total) and a fair amount of sage. I bring the ingredients to a simmer in a pot and turn off the heat. I let it steep for an hour. In no time the sage has permeated the milk mixture. It is full-on fragrant. Perhaps a tad too strong, though I am hoping that once set against the goat cheese and cranberries, it will loose some of its astringency. Sage is demanding like that. It has a tendency to claim the turf and is best used judiciously. But when used just right, say in tender pasta pillows along with autumn squash or rendered in browned butter on top of a bowl of pasta, it can be a celebration. Frankly, it is all but required for poultry ...


Tart on Tart — The Making of a Crust

(Continued from yesterday)
It seems I was on to something . Now I needed to turn vision into reality. No matter the discipline, it is always the same thing. We start in a rapid fire of possibilities — this with that, a dash of something else. But once settled on, the real work begins. As any artist knows, that work can be nerve-racking. It is one thing to engage in flights of fancy but another altogether to see it in print, on a canvas or in a tart shell.

I consult my Joy of Cooking. Along with Mom (and the tried and true lessons of having made mistakes), that book, torn at the cover and pages flying akimbo, has taught me most of what I know. Though I have dozens of books on my shelf, the Joy is my go-to guide. I have grown up with it and should you find one of the older editions I suggest you snap it up (newer editions are not nearly as complete).

It's not a recipe I am looking for but a little inspiration. Most ...


Thanksgiving Remastered

(Continued from yesterday)
... decided to have a party a few days after Thanksgiving. The theme was leftovers remastered and redone. In spirit it suggested the high art of making something out of nothing, or at least out of nothing you felt like eating anymore.

After countless meals of turkey and trimmings, what, by the following Saturday afternoon, could make leftovers sound appetizing? Of course, Mom has always said hunger makes the best cook. Asking friends to fast a few days preceding a dinner party will allow you some leeway but this was not a hunger strike event. This was one of those dinners where artists come together for fellowship and food. One of those events that invites cleverness and invention — iron chef with a beret, as it were. I admit I gave the matter some thought.

Having prepared a huge vat of cranberry sauce, I had plenty to spare. I always wonder why we only eat the stuff at Thanksgiving. It's easy to make and tastes plenty good. And given the huge amount of pectin in the fruit, when combined with water and sugar, cranberries cook to a ...


The Practical Art of Cooking

We have just lived through a tidal wave of cooking obsession . Thanksgiving, with all its turkey tips and side-dish recipes, can feel like overkill, particularly if you have been at this for a while. I try not to be snide; I remember the good old days when helpful hints and cooking instructions were appreciated. But that was back in the '70s when I was a young woman. A time when "aged" cheddar seemed gourmet, when asparagus tips were all the rage, and cooking with Julia was neither popularized nor parodied. It was an age of innocence, an age when you did not have to hide the Cool Whip.

Not that I am advocating for a return to Cool Whip and Velveeta, nor to the fancy foods made popular during the first wave of fine dining (we of a certain age have eaten our share of smoked oysters), but rather to a time when we could enter into a kitchen without fear, confident of our capacity to cook in the first place.

I'm not sure when we traded in our ability to cook plain and simple for the ...


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