Dinner Last Night

May 30, 2015

On Thursday night, after a cocktail party for Book Expo, I found myself wandering the Columbus Circle Whole Foods supermarket in search of something to cook for dinner.

I looked at the soft shell crabs, but they seemed sad and exhausted. The steamer clams looked tempting, but I decided to peruse the butcher counter before committing. 

And there it was: humanely raised veal from a local farm, glowing up at me.  Rosy pink, it looked very seductive.

I've missed veal.  I was raised by a Berlin-born man who considered Wiener Schnitzel one of life's major food groups.  But modern veal, which is primarily a by-product of dairy farming, is problematic. Male calves are removed from their mothers soon after birth to keep them from drinking up the profits. They're fed a low iron diet, which keeps the meat white but is so unhealthy that the formula is generally laced with antibiotics. The result is pale, listless meat with no taste; there's no way you can feel good about eating it.

But this looked different. I couldn't resist.

I bought some beautiful pink veal, took it home, and cooked it quickly with lemons and capers.  It was fantastic. My only worry is this: am I ever going to find this glorious veal again?

Veal with Lemon and Capers

1 pound veal scaloppine, cut from the leg

flour

salt 

pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 lemon

1/4 cup chicken stock

squeeze of lemon juice

Put each piece of veal between two pieces of wax paper and pound with a heavy object (I use a rolling pin), until it is very thin.

Spread a good handful of  flour on a plate, add a fair amount of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Dredge each piece of veal in the flour, and put on a plate to dry out a bit.

Cut the ends off the lemon, then slice off the rind. Remove the seeds and cut the peeled lemon into eight segments.   

Melt the olive and butter, over high heat, in a large skillet.  Cook the veal, in stages, about 1 minute on each side, and remove to a large platter.

Deglaze the pan with the  chicken stock and lemon juice, scraping up the brown bits.  Add the lemon pieces and boil down until the lemon has gone soft and the liquid is reduced in half; it should only take a couple of minutes. Turn the heat down, add the veal and capers to the pan, turn to coat the meat, add another tablespoon of butter and stir until the sauce is slightly thickened and serve to four people.

I like to served this on rice, to soak up all that delicious sauce. 

 

 

 

 

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Covers III

May 28, 2015

Thanks everybody, for your comments on Comfort me with Apples.  I have to admit that when I started reading comments on Amazon like, "I wouldn't want my children to know this woman," I was taken aback.  But then the sixties, seventies, pre-Aids world was a very different place.

On to Garlic and Sapphires, which has been my most popular book.  

The original jacket, which we copied from a picture taken at Gotham Bar and Grill for an article in Newsweek when I first got to the New York Times, is of a waiter holding a plate of pasta so that it obscures my face. The wonderful Romulo Yanes shot it in Gourmet's studio at 4 Times Square.  I've always liked it.

But other countries, other covers.  Here are a few:

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The Norwegian hardback edition reprised the American cover, although the colors are decidedly more garish.

 

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Thai version – lovely little line drawings on each chapter opening (by the same artist who did the cover).

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I don't speak Hebrew, so I don't know why the Israeli version has a man on the cover. But they do make up for it, by having a HUGE photograph of me, split, divided between the flaps.

Flap

 

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 Chinese version, in paperback. But this is actually a jacket.  Take it off and what is revealed is…..

Onion

an onion! 

 

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British edition.  A bit literal, but in a good way. The restaurant always reminds me of Torrisi Italian Specialties.

 

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Brazillian edition. They are consistent. (See Comfort me with Apples.)

 

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The German edition which was, briefly and implausibly, a best-seller.  The title , which translates literally as "fake rabbit," is the German word for meatloaf and a slang expression for a counterfeiter. Kind of a great title translation.

 

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And finally, my all-time favorite. This Complex Chinese version uses two pictures of me taken by Josef Astor for an article in More Magazine.  This picture, where I'm dressed in my mother's clothes, is one of the few pictures I have of me in disguise. 

 

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A Book and its Cover, Part II

May 27, 2015

Comfort Me With Apples

This is the book that's sold least-well of anything I've written.  I've always wondered if it was because of the contents, which some people find risque, or because nobody's nailed the cover, in any language. 

Comfort

  Original hardcover.

 

Comfort 2
 Current paperback

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Korean version

Zoeter

Dutch version

Aussie
 Australian version

 

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Spanish version

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Portuguese version

 

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Judging a Book by its Cover

May 26, 2015

Been thinking a lot about book jackets lately, as we tried to decide what the cover for my new cookbook, My Kitchen Year; 136 Recipes That Saved My Life should look like.  (The book will be out at the end of September.)

That sent me to my bookshelf, to the place where I store some of the foreign translations of previous books.  I don't have them all; the books are now in twenty-something different languages, but here are some of the more interesting jackets for Tender at the Bone.

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I especially like this Taiwanese version; that little girl holding the bowl of food is embossed. But what I like best is that they've used classic food-related paintings for each of the chapter openings.  What makes this particularly funny is that so many of them are religious paintings, like Veronese's The Wedding at Cana.

 

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 This is the Complex Chinese edition….

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This is a different Complex Chinese edition.  I kind of love that inside, where they spell out my name in arabic letters, they misspell it, turning me into Ruth Reich.

 

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The Spanish Edition.

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This is the Japanese edition.

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 This is Simplified Chinese.  

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Three Italian editions.

Tomorrow: a few different takes on Comfort Me With Apples.

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The Best Brownie Ever

May 25, 2015

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Brownies are the ultimate cheap trick; it takes less than five minutes to throw the classic recipe together, they bake in a flash – and everybody loves them.  As far as I’m concerned, there is no such thing as a bad brownie. 

But having so few ingredients means that it's remarkably easy to improve the recipe.  Replace ordinary ingredients with spectacular ones and you end up with something rich, dark and deep that lingers in your memory long after the last crumb is gone. 

But it's not all about ingredients.  When a recipe is this simple, technique can also change it enormously. In this version, I double the ingredients in the classic recipe and use a stand mixer to whip the eggs and sugar into a frenzy.  The result is a taller, denser brownie with a deep fudge-like interior and a crackling meringue-like top that crunches when you take a bite.  (Stir by hand, and you’ll end up with a denser, thinner brownie that some people prefer.)

However you choose to make it, this is a brownie that combines sweetness  with the rich sophisticated complexity of chocolate – a little bite of childhood wrapped in a very grown-up package. 

Memorable Brownies

2/3 cup (5 ounces) unsalted high-fat butter (like Plugra)

5 ounces unsweetened excellent chocolate (I used Dandelion Camino Verde from Ecuador)

2 cups sugar 

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 organic eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose white flour, sifted 

To prepare the pan, butter a 9X9 square pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter the bottom again and lightly dust the pan with chocolate or cocoa powder.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Melt the chocolate and the butter over low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Stir in the vanilla.

Beat the eggs and salt in a stand mixer.  Add the sugar and beat on high for about 10 minutes, until the mixture has turned quite white.  Add the chocolate mixture to the eggs, beating on low until just mixed. 

Gently stir in the flour until it just disappears.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, place in the middle of the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 350 degrees. 

Bake for 40 minutes; the brownies will be quite fudgy and a toothpick should come out not quite clean. Cool on a rack. 

Invert the pan, remove the parchment paper and invert again onto a cutting surface.

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