And the New Year begins...

A break from the mortifying political, social turmoil: food, drink and good, fun links.

Meals we’ve loved…

We started the New Year with Hoppin’ John for good luck (recipe) and a White Russian because it was requested for The Friday Cocktail hour, an homage to Jeff Bridges (it was live on IGTV but you can watch an enhanced Youtube here), which is why my Ray Bans are on the dinner table. I love the earthiness of the black-eyed peas, the baconyness of the bacon, and the chili pepper heat. And it’s great for breakfast with a poached egg on top. Really, it’s so good you should make it in every season.

Of course, we couldn’t resist a quick drive to Elephant Rock beach to celebrate the new year, first!

We saw no fewer than six people take a plunge in that icy water.

The next best meal of the week, was schnitzel. Sam and I were hankering for something crispy and fried and this was just the ticket. I used pork tenderloin, big chunks flattened and then breaded, because its tenderness makes the cooking fast.

I used what was called in cooking school, which was not know for its verbal imagination, the Standard Breading Procedure: shake them in a bag with flour (dry sticks to wet), then dip them in beaten egg (wet sticks to dry), and then into panko bread crumbs, the best bread crumbs for just about everything.

Green beens at the ready (the schnitzel will rest in a warm oven) and boiled potatoes, will be quartered and tossed with butter and fresh, soft herbs. The schnitzel by the way is being “pan-fried,” another culinary school term, meaning the “food item” is only half submerged in the oil (we did not use the term “fry,” but rather “sauté,” unless the item were completely submerged, which we call deep frying.

Crepes…

The Sunday morning after New Year’s, crêpes were requested. Regrettably, I wasn’t wearing my glasses when I calculated amounts on my handy dandy smart phone Ratio App. The basic crêpe ratio is two parts egg and milk, and one part flour (with some sugar and vanilla, for sweet crêpes). I switched the flour and the egg. It was obviously too thick and I realized what I’d done. I needed only to double the eggs and milk and, because I’d weighed all the ingredients, this was simple.

I had a bit of an issue with clumping though, so I had to pass it through a chinois, but this made them very, very smooth.

Every kitchen needs a good non-stick pan, well taken care of (I hang ours on the wall so it doesn’t get beat up in the pots and pans cupboard). They make crêpes a snap.

A third of a cup of batter was perfect for the 8-inch pan.

When I’d made enough crêpes for all, a voice from the bedroom called out, “Can you do Crêpes Suzette?”

Topping idea! Two parts Grand Marnier, 1 part brandy (about a third of a cup in all). Flame by bringing to simmer and tilt it so that gas flames can catch the fumes.

The hooch, with some extra butter and sugar make a fabulous sauce! Be sure to present flaming pan to the one in bed, perusing The Times, and requesting the Suzette.

And because my blunder resulted in a double batch, I jarred the left over batter and used it the following day for Monday morning breakfast crêpes.

I could have used them as savory crêpes, wrapping cooked food in them, a great strategy for leftovers. There’s a printable recipe in this post.

And speaking of leftovers, the Turkey Tetrazzini, frozen since the day after Thanksgiving was stellar. All it needed was a fresh coating of panko breadcrumbs lightly sautéed in butter and spread across the top. This and our go-to salad: Arugula, shaved fennel, lemon, olive oil and salt (add sliced radish and carrot for more visuals and flavor). Measure everything by sight and sense. It’s a fabulous salad.

What we’re drinking…

We brought a bottle of an Italian brut to the beach and I can’t recommend this one more highly. Thank you Aura, at Bin 312 in Providence, for this Italian sparkling wine—every bit as dry and delicious as a Schramsberg, and just $25.

We’ve also been loving the Spagliato cocktail: equal parts sweet vermouth, Campari, and sparkling wine, over ice. Or for an even lighter cocktail, soda water instead of sparkling wine, called and Americano.

I’m trying to drop a few pounds so am mainly avoiding the caloric Campari (though I miss my favorite cocktail, the Negroni), sticking to my very dry martini with a twist and a splash of orange bitters (watch the Friday Cocktail Hour of this one here).

And this week’s Friday Cocktail Hour featured The Alexander (with chocolate chip cookies, courtesy of Dorie Greenspan’s superb recipe—I agree with her, and with Ann: this recipe is perfection). Watch on my IGTV and also on Youtube.

What we’re reading…

I’m just a small chunk into Charlie Baxter’s The Sun Collective and liking it. He’s a master.

In The New Yorker, don’t miss David Gilbert’s essay on appearing on The Wheel of Fortune. It’s a delight.

I’ve noticed Ann returned to one of her favorite authors, Anne Enright: “You know I love my Irish writers,” Ann says. “Anne Enright top of my list. My favorite book of hers is The Forgotten Waltz. Or maybe The Gathering. I love them all. Her latest is Actress, and, well, I’m loving it.”

And I’m very much looking forward to my pal Blake Bailey’s bio of Philip Roth, due out in April: here’s an early review from Kirkus.

And speaking of my Ann, she wrote a tear-jerker of an essay, “Memory House,” on selling the home her family had lived in since 1884, which appears in the current Yankee Magazine this month. It’s one of those perfect essays. I love it and so do others, judging from the uncommon amount of mail she’s getting.

And our dear friend, Anne LeClaire, sent us the gem of a volume, People Who Love To Eat Are Always the Best People."

It’s a book filled with aphorisms that spilled naturally and endlessly from the mouth of the culinary treasure who was Julia Child:

The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.

and…

I think every woman should have a blow torch.

and…

Learn to cook—try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!

Long Live Julia!

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What we’re watching…

I loved The Morning Show, being a newsroom junkie. Great performances, even though Jennifer Aniston is unlikable throughout. The finale is a bit of shark jump but the whole ride was worth it. Ann fell asleep during the last episode and asked for the rundown, not liking it quite enough to rewatch. I say it’s worth a week’s free trial of Apple TV.

Also, watching, obsessively, CNN and MSNBC.

Fun links…

I love the New York Times Sunday column about how various people spend their Sundays. Here’s how a. young chef, a former Eleven Madison Park sous chef who turned his sights to fried chicken, spends his.

The author, journalist, travel writer, and historian Jan Morris died in November at the age of 94 (NYTimes obit here). Born James Morris, in Somerset, England, Morris was a soldier who became a daring journalist, climbing Mount Everest and covering wars. James transitioned to Jan from the 1960s to the 70s (it took a long time). She continued her extraordinary writing career, remained married and raised children. This is a great story about her on the eve, at age 93, her final book, published in March 2020 in The Guardian. What an extraordinary soul.

I’m not a huge fan of Trader Joe’s, but I found this story by Arati Menon of Food52 on the spice mixture dukkah. Will have to brave the store.

Here’s a great list of movies from the British Film Institute that are currently streaming.

Don’t miss this extraordinary film of the immersive Van Gogh exhibit in Paris in 2019, a fascinating way to experience painting:

And for more Van Gogh, an Iranian cartoonist appreciates the artist with his own art (don’t miss the darker cartoons, especially the one with the starry night dripping through his ceiling in the famous bedroom).

The WhitmanAlabama project, a series of films shot throughout Alabama by Jenn Crandall, features the people of the state reciting verses Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself,” in an effort to use “documentary and poetry to reveal the threads that tie us together—as people, as states, and as a nation.”

Here are some words to heed next holiday season: Slate’s worst purchase of the year.

And I’ll leave you with this extraordinary performance of the legendary tenor Andrea Bocelli, with his eight-year-old daughter, Virginia, singing a duet of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” See you in a couple weeks!

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