Monday, November 17, 2008
From Snow to Fire
It's white, it's white, its very, very white. When I got up this morning the roads were white too, however, I am glad to say an hour or so later they are already beginning to clear on their own. I don't mind the snow (we garage our car in our underground parking lot) but I am not keen on driving in the stuff if I don't have to. When we had to go to work and spend an age cleaning off the car before we could drive it used to be a pain, but now we are spoilt and can just get in the car and go. We don't often get cars covered like the picture, although I remember one occasion close to 30 years ago when my car ended up like that because conditions were so bad Matt collected me from work and we left my car in the parking lot there. Even Matt's car, which was our 'main' vehicle and a big 8 cylinder, had trouble travelling the short distance home, it was a bit silly of him to come and get me. At work we were ready to hunker down for the night. The car conked out a few times but luckily re-started. When we got home, we lifted the hood and the engine was packed solid with snow. Incredible that it ran at all. What I don't understand and am sure I have said before, is how people forget every year (some of them may never have known) how to drive in snow. They end up spinning their wheels and getting nowhere instead of letting the engine do the work on its own. One of my pet peeves. We have a TV programme here called Mythbusters where they take a statement that everyone makes and test out whether there is any truth in it. Last night one of the things they tested was whether it was true that cockroaches would survive radiation after atomic blasts. I have certainly heard that they would be the only critters left. I didn't watch the whole thing as I have a strong aversion to cockroaches. They decided to test roaches, fruit flies and flour beetles (unfamiliar with those) the ones that survived the irradiation were the flour beetles - I googled them and they called them grain beetles. Apparently they can infest stored grain. Never heard of them before. Not sure I want to hear of them again. Cockroaches are, to me, the most revolting things. They are supposed to live everywhere but I personally never came across them in England and have never done so in Canada which doesn't mean to say they are not here. However, I came across them in the Mediterranean when my parents took their boat there to live and we certainly came across them in the States. We had to spray for them regularly to keep them out of the house. A friend of mine once ate fried cockroach when he was touring an Asian country, I forget where. I would have starved to death rather than eat one. Just saw a young man on TV who had lost 248 lbs by changing his diet and walking around the office. His company had to buy him two tickets to fly somewhere because he wouldn't fit into one airline seat. Not that I am very surprised about that, some of them are really small seats. Matt has just lost 15 lbs (not sure in what time period) which worried us as he hasn't been trying to lose. Turns out everything OK. I, on the other hand, have been trying to lose and its taken me all year to lose 18 lbs where I have stayed for ages. Men can lose so much more easily than women. Discrimination!!! The wildfires are still raging in California although last night they said the Santa Ana winds, which had been making them so much worse, had died down so there was more hope they could be controlled. I believe the tally was something like 800 homes at last count. A mobile home park was totally wiped out. That could have happened to us so easily when we lived in the States, we were surrounded by trees, lots of which were pine trees which burn so easily. Watched The Godfather on Saturday, hadn't seen it in years. Matt swears he still has the bruises from when we saw it the first time in a movie theatre in England over 30 years ago and I clutched his arm at the horse scene. We then saw a documentary last night about the 10 commandments of the Mafia. Apparently the Mafia today is not the "secret society" it was in the old days, family doesn't mean as much and there is no loyalty to families, now it is all about money and nothing else. I gave you an egg dish from Food and Drink last week, here is another which I think sounds good and will try in the near future. Baked Eggs with Mushroom Sauce I (the author)had this dish in Paris at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, one of the best restaurants in Paris. L'Atelier has since become a mini chain with outposts in London, New York, Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Tokyo and soon Tel Aviv. Robuchon served this appetizer in a Martini glass but he cooked it sous vide which is not available to home cooks. We used ramekins. Be sure to measure the size of your ramekins. You will need a 1 cup capacity to hold both the egg and the sauce. Timing is important here. You can make the sauce well ahead and bring back to a boil just before pouring over the hot eggs. This will cook the yolk slightly more. When you eat it, the egg breaks and mixes with the rich sauce. Serve as a luxurious first course. 2 Tbs butter 4 eggs 8 oz sliced mixed mushrooms, including shiitake and oyster 4 packed cups baby spinach 3/4 cup whipping cream salt and freshly ground pepper 4 drops truffle oil or to taste (there are no substitutes and I suspect most of us would have to omit this ingredient) Preheat oven to 300°F. Butter four 1-cup ramekins or glass dishes. Break an egg into each one and top each egg with a tiny knob of butter Place ramekins into a baking dish and fill dish with boiling water halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Place in oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until egg whites are opaque and yolk is just set but still runny. It will continue to cook once the sauce is spooned over it. Remove ramekins from water bath. While the eggs are cooking, heat the remaining butter in a skillet over high heat and add mushrooms. Sauté for 2 minutes or until mushrooms are just cooked. Add spinach and cook 1 minute longer or until spinach wilts. Add cream and bring to boil and boil for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper and add truffle oil. Divide sauce between ramekins and spoon over eggs. Serve at once with some crusty bread to sop up the sauce. Serves 4. My note: Obviously if you have truffle oil (which you make yourself) it is supposed to enrich the sauce, but, Philistine that I am, I personally have never found truffles to do anything much for me. However if you really feel the need for truffle oil, you slice up a dry fresh truffle in olive oil and let it sit for a while to infuse then keep it in the fridge. Have a great day.