And now, on with the Post:
Last week was busy in preparation for E and Laura's visit on Friday. I do like to clean and organize, this is true, but somehow I never felt like I had enough hours in the day. I realised around Wednesday that I feel this way since Daylight Savings time has robbed me of 60 precious daylight minutes. I now wake at 6:30 am, and am shocked to be turning on lights promptly around 5 pm. I know I'll get used to it, but the initial week always sends me into denial a little bit. Thankfully with the onset of shorter days and cooler weather, I feel re-inspired to cook. Some highlights from last week:
Spinach and bacon pizza with jalapeno Monterrey Jack cheese. I've decided on giving up my food snobbery of pizza dough construction (Sorry, Alex Guarneschelli...) and going with the "whatever is in the icebox" approach. It's good! I let a portion of the Artisan Bread in Five stored dough sit out covered with a towel for about an hour, and then added the toppings.
One pizza truth I will forevermore adhere to is the addition of the cheese after the pizza has baked 2/3 of the way. Oh, and bake at 500 degrees f. My own, unwritten rule is to only include 3 ingredients as toppings (not including the cheese), but I forgot about the onions until it was too late, so this one only had two. I just remembered that I also sauteed the spinach with sliced garlic, and that was a great idea.
It was even better a couple days later when I had it for lunch. I was cooking my beans via the Parson's Method (more on that below), and slipped it into the oven on its foil for 10 minutes.
Bay scallops with mushrooms, sherry "cream" sauce and polenta. I Loved this. My Husband Liked it, since he's not a huge fan of polenta. I hate to hear this, but secretly plan on making it for lunch every once in a while.
Friday, I decided on a bean soup since it's flexible in the serving time. Rancho Gordo Midnight blacks, cooked via the Parson's Method mentioned in the book Heirloom Beans. I was so curious when I read this, I just had to try it. I figured a soup pot of beans was the best way to experiment.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees f. In a dutch oven, bring one pound of unsoaked beans to a boil in 6 cups of water. After it boils, put on the lid and slip it into the oven for 1-2 hours. I checked at 1 hour, and then again at 1:20. They were done enough to add the salt, so I added 1 t. and then back in the oven for another 20. Perfect black beans! And, a delicious soup. But some things no matter how delicious, do not translate well on film.
Now, PIE! All the pie talk last week did really wet my appetite for pie in the home. I wasn't sure what kind to make. I did know that I wanted to make Cook's Illustrated Magazine's vodka pie crust. I call it this to differentiate it from all the other pie doughs I've made. This one is really great, and the vodka allows for easier rolling since the liquid evaporates in the oven. It's flaky and tender so Alton Brown would be proud, and my friends agreed that it was pretty darn tasty, so I'll take it.
The guts included a layer of what was essentially cranberry jam. The recipe was peeking out at me from behind the vodka pie dough recipe. I don't know why I never thought to make it before. I do know that I'll be making it again. As for a photo of the finished product? You will have to click on over to my Flickr stream, since I'm nearing the end of my allotted computer time for one day. And, all this pie talk is making me hungry.