What prey tell goes into a St. Honore cake? I am decidedly undereducated in the realm of French desserts.
Well, first let’s start with the fact that St. Honoré cake is supposedly named after St. Honoré (or Honoratus of Amiens), the patron saint of bakers, pastry chefs, and confectioners. (Ok fine, also of holy wafer bakers and candle makers and a few other things but the first three are somewhat more relevant to my interests.) I find St. Honoré to be an excellent example of “What has the Roman Catholic Church done for the greater good? Can the church still find relevance?” They have a St. Cake. They have a ST. CANDY MAKER.
Also, well done there, France.
Anyway, St. Honoré cake is traditionally a puff pastry ring with pâte à choux piped on the outer edge, plus little cream puffs that are attached to the pâte à choux with hardened caramelized sugar (not soft squishy caramel, the stuff of my very private dreams). The base is filled with a pastry cream (usually crème chiboust or similar crème pâtissière), and whipped cream is piped on the top with a special St. Honoré tip.
This particular one was particularly delicious in that the crème that filled both the puffs and the ring was hazelnut (or filbert, if that’s your steez). Also the hardened caramel covered the puffs and the ring. There was maybe a little too much caramel for me, but I am in a “I can’t eat a lot of overly sweet right now” mode. It’s okay, I’ll still accept a nice drawing of ST. COOKIE if you’re feeling artistic.
If you GIS for St. Honoré cake, you see how they vary. Also Gateau St. Honoré is a biggish deal in a city here in the states. SEE IF YOU CAN GUESS WHICH ONE.
back at you
make your own damn hummus
Earlier today, Michele requested a hummus recipe. She likes flavored hummus. I like plain hummus because I love the taste of chickpeas, so here’s the hummus recipe I learned from my mom.
Notes before you begin:
1. I never bother with dried chickpeas. Canned taste fine and like I ever think that much ahead of time.
2. I don’t use jarred tahini. It goes bad too quickly and it’s expensive to waste. Plus, I think fresh sesame seeds you toast yourself taste better - and anyway, once you grind up sesame seeds, you’ve just made your own tahini!
3. You can scale this recipe up as much as you want - just remember the ratio is about one 15 oz. can of chickpeas for one clove of garlic.
OK! Here we go.
15 oz. can chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved in case you need it
1 clove garlic, peeled and, if you want, lightly toasted in a pan with no oil
raw sesame seeds
freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. In a food processor, combine the chickpeas and garlic. Whir around until combined and they become a paste.
2. As the food processor is running, drizzle in the olive oil, slowly, a small amount at a time, until it reaches the consistency you like. If you want, you can also add a bit of the chickpea liquid.
3. Place the sesame seeds in a small skillet on the stove, over medium-low heat. DO NOT WALK AWAY. DO NOT GO DO OTHER THINGS. STAND THERE AND WATCH THE SESAME SEEDS LIKE A HAWK. You want them to be nicely toasted and golden brown, and sesame seeds go from nicely toasted to burnt very quickly. And burnt sesame seeds are horrible.
4. Sprinkle the seeds in a small amount at a time, along with the lemon juice and salt, pulsing the food processor and combining well, until you get the taste you like.
5. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with paprika, to make it pretty, or add whatever flavors you want.
Looks like I need to move to Charleston
Last night I had the incredible fortune of eating a very special meal at a wonderful restaurant, cooked by a chef in town for only two days. Sean Brock, from Charleston, SC, was here cooking with Daniel Patterson at his two restaurants, COI and Plum. His meal at COI was on Friday and used ingredients local to the San Francisco Bay Area, while his meal at Plum used ingredients he brought with him from Charleston. Basically, the two meals mirrored his own restaurants in SC - McCrady’s / COI are more formal, while Husk / Plum are more casual.
The meal was a birthday gift, and you cannot know what a gift it really was. Yes, the meal was marvelous in so many ways. I will tell you about the food below, but my words and these photos can never do it justice. Kat Kinsman, you were so right - Sean’s cooking is not just a good thing, it is the BEST thing.
Sometimes you spend too long feeling gray all over and then you wake up. It’s a lovely experience.
Things You Should Make To Eat, No. 1*: Kasha Varnishkes
Reblogging a section of an old post** because:
a) it’s about how to make kasha varnishkes, and that’s a topic worth repeating.
b) it’s specifically about how to make kasha varnishkes as taught to me by my mom, who learned from her grandparents, which means it is not-fuck-withable.
c) it’s from a year ago so you don’t remember anyway.
and best and most important of all,
(*Yes, there was a No. 2, about Korean food.)
(**There’s more to the post, but this is the main and best part.)
I originally typed this recipe up when Michele Humes wrote a little something about kasha being the sad grey quivering porridge, served throughout Russia, whose only purpose was to make already miserable diners even more miserable. Not true! Kasha - buckwheat groats for those who are still sitting there going “Leah, what the fuck IS kasha?” - is wonderful, toasty, warm and a fantastic grain. Cook it properly and pair it with varnishkes (bowtie noodles) and you’re in for one of the most addicting meals you’ll eat this winter. Or spring. Or summer or fall. But I mean, winter. Totally what the weather calls for.
Kasha Varnishkes, like your Russian bubbeh would make if you had one
1. beat an egg.
2. mix the kasha - a cup’s worth or so, and I prefer the large kasha kernels, the whole kernels - in with the egg.
3. heat up the water you’re going to add to it and mix in an appropriate amount of chicken bouillon. even the crappy cheap kind. throw in some extra, so it’s good and salty. we do a cube and a half sometimes.
4. heat a small heavy pot, like one of the small all-clad pots (my mom has that kind and it’s perfect), over high heat with nothing in it. get that pot HOT. as hot as it can get without burning the pot. this is the most important step. if it is not hot enough, a) the kasha won’t toast as well, and b) that shit will stick so hard to your pot you’ll be scrubbing forever and will want to kill a lot of Russian people.
5. toss in the kasha and egg mixture and stir it around, until the kasha kernels are all nice and toasty, all separated from each other - until the whole thing looks dry (no more wet egg), and it looks all brown and toasted and smells good.
6. add the bouillon. watch out for the steam. cooking is fun!
7. cover and cook, about 20 minutes or however long it takes. don’t undercook (mushy ugh).
8. chop up an entire good—sized white onion and sauté it very gently in some oil so it gets translucent, and maybe a tiny bit brown around the edges. you want A LOT of onion. you’ll go, this is a shit ton of onion, who the hell would want that much onion for a cup of kasha? maybe I should use half. and then when it’s all mixed in you’ll go, goddammit, I shoulda made the whole onion.
9. also you’ll be making your varnishkes at this time, yes? good. do not use anything but bowties, it looks weird.*
10. mix together. add pepper.
11. shit yourself.
*You may not know this, but buckwheat is gluten-free! Unfortunately, most bowtie noodles are not. I know, I said don’t make it with anything but bowtie noodles. Bowtie noodles = varnishkes, which have the added benefit of catching the kasha in the little grooves. But I mean, gluten-free people should eat this too - AND HOW - so ignore my comment up there and make it with whatever damn noodle you want, until some genius starts making gluten-free bowties.
I’ll just leave this here.