Posts Tagged ‘food’

When Jeffry Steingarten first became a food critic, he set out to rid himself of all his food prejudices. A food critic who wouldn’t eat clams, kimchi, mocha, and so on, would be like an art critic who detested the color blue. So he started exposing himself to those foods he disliked, figuring that eventually they’d grow on him, which for the most part they did.

I’ve always been impressed by this, and so for the last few years I, too, have tried to become a more perfect omnivore. (This isn’t, by the way, why I abandoned vegetarianism – that’s another story.) I learned to like bacon and mango at the table of one of my college advisers, though I was unable to work up any enthusiasm for cantaloupe, which he also served us. Recently I bought a bunch of kale and tried several ways to prepare it, hoping one would appeal. (My favorite was the kale chips from the Kitchn.) I learned to like beets, especially in the form of beet ravioli, but the last time I made that, the beets came with the leafy tops still attached, so I had to figure out something to do with those, as well.

And so I stumbled upon what is now one of my very favorite dishes: pasta with beet greens. You simply stem and wash a big bunch of beet greens, toss them in a heavy skillet and let them cook down a bit. Then you add a pat of butter, a little milk, and a generous lump of goat cheese. Toss this mixture with some cooked pasta and you have a very tasty meal. The first time I did this I used the fresh linguine left over from the ravioli dough, and it was transcendent, but it’s quite good with box pasta as well.

As I mentioned the other day, I bought some gooseberries at the market on Saturday, and today being my last good day for a little bit, I figured I’d better put them to use. I wasn’t able to find a recipe for gooseberry tart in any of my cookbooks, but I got a general sense that they could be used like any other fruit. They were, however, very sour – while I was topping and tailing them (an arduous task that took me almost the entire length of a Tegan and Sara CD) I tasted one and found it sour and astringent. Were they ripe? The internet informed me that gooseberries are red when ripe; mine were pale green. Would they ripen off the tree? I doubted it, so I kept on and hoped for the best.

I tossed the pint of gooseberries with 3/4 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of flour, which turned out to be way too much, so I sort of sifted them out again and sprinkled the flour/sugar mixture on top. This looked dreadful. I had also failed to follow the directions for the tart pastry, which called for cold butter, and left the butter out to soften all day. The resulting dough had the consistency of brownie batter. I put it in the fridge to chill, but it was hopeless. When I finally patted it into the pan it was still completely soft and goopy.

Then I put the gooseberries in the tart shell, without baking it first, as I probably should have. I had little hope for the tart by this time, but I figured I’d see it through to the bitter end.

And actually it turned out quite well! The crust was buttery and crisp, the berries tart, but not Old Sneep tart. The filling was a bit runny, but no more so than a decent peach pie, and the thick layer of flour and sugar on top had melted and blended nicely.

This story has two morals: the first is that you should always try new things at least once, and preferably again and again until you learn to like them. The second is that there is no need to follow directions when you are cooking. God looks after children, drunks, and girls with adventurous palates.

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