"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".

Monday, March 30, 2009

Guest Blogger: O'Malley bakes Apple Brown Betty and Hamantaschen

Folks, I'd like you to give a warm welcome to my son O'Malley, who has been following along with this project with a great deal of interest and enthusiasm. Well, sometimes he's more enthusiastic about the idea of what I'm cooking than the finished product but for sure his favorite part is when I write about it. It's possible O'Malley is one of my biggest fans.

He came home this week with a container of hamantaschen (beautiful AND delicious) that he had baked at his dad's, and reports of an Apple Brown Betty he had baked for Li's (his girlfriend) family. Now, neither of these recipes come from The Gourmet Cookbook--they came from Sundays at Moosewood--a book that opened my horizons during my vegetarian years. But O'Malley was so enthusiastic about blogging about them that I decided to give him the floor anyway.

So without further ado, I present O'Malley Bach, a ninth grader at Rockport High School.

So, what to do on a lazy Saturday when the rest of the family is out of the house? Reading? Already read all my books. TV? Please. Go outside? Get the hell out of my office. Saturdays, in my opinion, are meant to be spent either doing absolutely nothing or doing something really exciting, preferably a trip into Boston with a significant other.

I sat at the table in the kitchen, wondering precisely what I should do with my time. Should I spend hours on the phone with Li, should I go for a quick bike ride, should I feed the cat because he's meowing and clawing the heck out of my right leg? Well, I did do that last one, but after that, I had a pretty awesome revelation.

"THAT'S IT! I'll put hours of labor into a dish that I'll eventually burn both of my hands on and will never taste, all for my girlfriend's parents who don't even like me anyway!"

Or something like that.

I found the Sundays At Moosewood cookbook in a hidden alcove ("hidden", here means "in plain sight") and began leafing through the book to find a nice recipe that didn't require ingredients unique to four different continents. Of course, this eliminated about 82 percent of the recipes in that book, so I perused the remaining eighteen percent to find a recipe for Apple Brown Betty, an Irish dessert that I'd never heard of and wasn't sure exactly what it should look like.

"'Kay, I'll do that one."

It turned out that we really did have most of the ingredients in the house already. It was pretty simple, and you can find the recipe here if you're inclined to try it.

The biggest problem I ran into while I was making this dish was my inexperience with exactly how finely shredded the bread crumbs should have been. I didn't really finely shred the bread, so I just tore it, really, and that was a mistake. I didn't have enough crumbs to cover even 1/2 of the area the crumbs were supposed to.

It's supposed to look like this:

It didn't.

Looking back, I believe the mistake I made was not cooking it long enough and not putting enough filling in between the apple slices (granny smith apples work best for this, by the way). I eventually came out with a decent dish, but I'm not sure it was true to the spirit of what it should have been. Maybe I need to move to Ireland.

Start time: 12:00 PM. End time: 2:00 PM.

Li and her mother picked me up that night at 5:30 to go and see Watchmen. Readers, I have to tell you, that movie was really great. It may seem like a superhero movie, but don't be fooled. The "heroes" in that movie are depressed at best and psychopathic at worst. Don't see it with the kids. Truly, though, the movie raises some serious philosophical questions; the most prominent one being about whether the end justifies the means.

Also, Ozymandias looks totally cool.


Hamantaschen. Say that 20 times quickly. Delicious, too!

For anyone who doesn't know, Hamantaschen is a type of Jewish pastry that looks a little like this:

Looks good! Unfortunately, I misread the directions a little bit and folded the seams a different way. This resulted in cookies that looked more like those big three-pointed hats that the British used to wear.

But never mind that.

The original recipe (also from Sundays at Moosewood) called for prunes and prune butter, along with raisins, all completely mashed up and obliterated, to be the filling. I decided to ignore that part of the recipe for the express reasons of:

1.) We didn't have any of the above ingredients,
2.) I friggin' hate prunes.

Satisfied in my little act of rebellion against the authority of the book, I made the filling with honey and poppy seeds instead. This, I've been told, is how they're actually supposed to be made. Hey, maybe I have a little Jewish part of me in the culinary section of my heart.

The next real mess-up came when I was making the dough. I had the wet mix in one bowl and the dry mix in the other bowl, and decided to save some time by pouring it all together at once, instead of gradually adding in the dry mix to the wet mix. Big mistake. I had to add about 3X as much water as I normally needed just to locate the wet mix under all that flour. I couldn't have sworn, in a court of law, that the wet mix still existed.

After that fiasco was over, I managed to roll out the dough onto a flowered surface and begin the painstaking process of cutting out the cookie shapes. They need to be perfectly round so that they can be folded correctly. As I've already said, I totally messed up on that part, so I'll skip that part.

After the cookies, however they look, are shaped, they need to be put in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. the full recipe can be found here.

These, actually, turned out really well. They were a big hit with Li and her family, and they went over well at my house too. On Sunday I went over to Li's house for the day, and we were served my own Apple Brown Betty when dessert time rolled around.

There's no greater feeling than that.

I'd like to thank my mom for letting me use this blog to post these cooking experiences. Thanks for making all the cool food, mom. You're the best cook in town.


Adam said...

Great post, O'Malley. Welcome to the wonderful world of food blogging.

Georgia (Milo & Nutella) said...

Great post O'Malley. You have your mother's writing talent.

R.B. said...

O'Malley, the rice you and Li so kindly brought me during camp leads me to believe, along with this, that you are a master cook. In disguise, of course.