"Perhaps the most impressive of all the cookbook blogs are the three devoted to the 2004 edition of Gourmet magazine's "The Gourmet Cookbook" -- all 5¼ pounds and 1,300-odd recipes of it. Befitting this culinary Everest, all three writers are overachievers in their professional lives."

--Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2008
"I should have told you before how much I've been enjoying reading your thoughts. You seem like such a great cook."

--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Melissa Feeds the World , Continuing with Her Writing Group

There are two reasons I love my writing group:

1. They are great writers and readers.

2. They enthusiastically eat whatever I put in front of them.

I LOVE people like that. Give me an appreciative and adventuresome audience any day. (Oh, picky eaters don't be sad. I love you too. You know who you are.)

So when it was my turn to host I thought a nice thing to make for our wintry lunchtime meeting would be Yellow Split Pea Soup, and being the organized lass I am, I even made it the day before so I could share it with my son and husband.

What's not to love about split pea soup? The folks on Epicurious sure do--this recipe is rated by 30 people with a 4 out of 4 fork rating...all would make it again. And I will too--it's seriously yummy and I made it even more so by putting in all three of the ham hocks that were in my styrofoam meat tray from Stop n Shop instead of only one.

Now, I just know my writing group gals are reading this, and scratching their heads and saying I KNOW we didn't eat split pea soup, yellow or otherwise. What gives?

What gives is that while I was heating it up for dinner, with Don and O'Malley, I left the burner on, and scorched the bottom (this is the problem with thick, puree-type soups) and what I could rescue was not enough to feed my lovely guests.

Plan B!!

I was determined to have soup. And I didn't have loads of time, considering I had to shop and produce said soup between dropping my son off at school and welcoming my group at 11:30.

Chicken Soup with Almond Matzo Balls seemed to be easy enough, and pretty fun since a) I've never had matzo ball soup and b) one of our group is a gal from Vermont who converted when she married a Jew from Long Island.

The basic idea here is to spice up what seems to be a bland product with coarsely chopped almonds, fresh dill, and cinnamon. Sounds weird, but they taste great, and Martha was so impressed that she took some home in a baggie to give to her Dan. She was sure they wouldn't fly with his mother, but maybe at home, during Passover?

I streamlined the recipe slightly by cooking the matzo balls in the chicken stock instead of cooking them in water and then putting them in the stock. I don't think I screwed anything up by doing that, and it made a lot more sense to me.

Try it. You will like it too.

And since I had had such a success with the chicory salad from the dinner party with my parents, I thought I'd go wild and try another salad recipe, and one that I've had my eye on since the beginning: Bibb Lettuce with Butter Dressing.

All you have to do is wave the word "butter" around in front of me to get my attention. I love that stuff, though it seems like a counter-intuitive choice for salad dressing. The trick here is to have your lettuce at room temp--anything cooler will make the butter clump up unpleasantly.

But there was no clumping in this household. The way you make this is wonderfully simple--melt butter and add one halved clove of garlic...saute until both garlic and butter are golden brown. Add a little lemon juice and some salt, pour it over the lettuce, and toss to coat.

Easy, and delightful. Hooray for butter! I didn't take a picture of the salad, but here's a picture of a 800 lb. butter sculpture for you to enjoy.

Butter. Is there anything it can't do?

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