That's it. I'm officially a big kid. This Passover, instead of heading down to Seattle, my parents (and a stray cousin) came here for Seder. From the first cup of wine to the last guest, the meal stretched out over six leisurely hours of food, wine, stories, and photocopied family Haggadahs.
There is an elemental satisfaction in food rituals and feast days. Growing up on a block of lapsed Catholics and atheist Jews, we built our community on a foundation of food traditions. The latkes, matzo ball soup, my grandma's brisket, Kathy's almond crescent cookies, peppermint ice cream, the Christmas tamales: these took the place of story or prayer or God at the center of our gatherings.
This, I think, is really why I'm still doggedly holding on to the idea of a community wood fired oven, even as the weeks slip by and we approach my summer oh-shit-I'm-out-of-time deadline, and I have yet to lay a single brick: I want the feast days of my childhood recreated here, with new traditions for my new community. I want to bring people together with food and fire, to make a gathering place that feels like home.
In the meantime, I'm detouring from oven planning, again, for the farmers market. This week's breads are Red & White, Rosemary & Sea Salt, Mountain Rye, and Smoky Vollkornbrot. And alongside the usual sweet treats, I'm making a rhubarb & lebneh tart, and some darling spruce tip & spring potato galettes.
See you soon!
Just a quick midweek note:
I'll be making a flourless chocolate torte for Passover. Drop me a line if you'd like to order one for pickup at the market Saturday. This is kind of like the cake version of my bittersweet cookies: dark Theo chocolate, a dash of espresso, dense, sticky, and not too sweet. A sliver of torte with fresh whipped cream would be a lovely end to your wine-drenched Seder.
Chocolate Torte, 9", serves 8-12, $35.
Well, I finally built a cold smoker. It looks a bit like a Wallace and Gromit spaceship crossed with a junkyard, but it smokes like nobody's business. How cool is it that I can spend the day tinkering on a project like this and call it work? Sometimes I can't quite believe this is my job, though an eighteen hour day in the kitchen, or a glance at my bank account balance can usually set me straight.
Thanks to my new toy, we have a smoky German rye bread and smoked potato, kale & onion galettes on the menu this week. Also rhubarb & lemon buckwheat galettes and a toasted corn & rosemary pound cake, inspired by the gift of a trash can full of rosemary, alongside the usual cast of characters.
I've been working on my malted chocolate chip cookie recipe. If you're a cookie connoisseur, or just a cookie enthusiast, come give me your two cents on the latest iterations. I'm getting closer every week, but the perfect chocolate chip cookie is an elusive beast, and so my quest continues.
Time to go set up at the market.
See you soon!
Oh, but the spring is bright. All week I've been dazzled by the colors, by the frothing pink cherry blossoms, the deep blue sky, the explosion of blooms in every color--witch hazel yellow, currant pink, apple white, rosemary violet--and behind it all, a backdrop more dazzling than the show, the exuberant, jubilant green of new grass.
The bake this week was gentler than last week's, but still, I'm grateful to be starting out the season slow, with only the one market. Somehow, a market bake that last year would have taken eighteen hours, for the first farmers market took thirty three! How? But then, what took me three days to bake the first year, now takes me a day and a half (if you can count going into the kitchen midday Thursday and emerging, dazed, well after dark a half day), so I know very well my capacity for inefficiency.
From this week's (slightly) less epic kitchen run, I emerged victorious with some handsome old standards, and a handful of specials. The bread special this week is an orange-cinnamon-raisin swirl (toast, anyone?), the sweet galette is goat cheese custard and sour cherry preserves in a buckwheat crust, the savory galette once more beet and goat cheese, and to finish (or start) the day a boozy spice cake.
And the toast bar is back! In fact, I'm going to go rustle up the day's jam selection right now.
See you soon, or at least sooner than later. Last week I was totally cleaned out by 1:30, so don't wait too long to wander over to the market.