The Supper of the Lamb by Robert Farrar Capon. I’ve been reading it for the past week (it should be read slow, to be savoured) and it’s really an amazing book. It was first released in the 1950s and it’s just the most eccentric journey into the mind of a cook/chef I’ve read. I love cookbooks, I love reading recipes and finding little personal touches and tips and tricks, things to watch out for, to mind, to not mind. Food blogs are great for that, I’ll be posting a blogroll soon, I think.
This isn’t just a cookbook. It’s a manifesto. It’s a celebration of life, food, the earth, God’s creation. To love things for what they are, not for what they mean, which, by the way, works for people too. Intrinsic value, not exchange value, is what is important. You have value for who you are, not for what you mean to me or to anyone else. And that apple you’re eating, has value for simply being an apple, not just because it’s good for you.
The first thing I made from this book was actually bread; beautiful crusty bread rolls, yeasty and delicious, but they’re not here because I made them at Surrender with some of the people from Credo Cafe over at Urban Seed (if you’re in Melbourne, in the city around noon, head over to Credo for food and good company. I guarantee you it will blast your expectations out of the water.) Their Strangers are Fiction campaign is has been launched, so if you want to jump in with that, by all means do so. We’re not strangers, we’re just family that hasn’t met yet.
The first thing I made from this book when I owned it (after I heard about it at Surrender I had to find it) was this hollandaise sauce and it is seriously one of the easiest things in the world to do. After I made those macarons for Easter, I had all these egg yolks left over so of course, I had to make hollandaise sauce.
For each egg yolk, add a tablespoon of cream to a saucepan (that your egg yolks are already in, I hope) some salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and lemon juice to taste. Whisk well and then place over medium heat, still whisking. When the custard thickens sufficiently, back away from the heat (carrying your saucepan and still whisking) over to a pot-stand where you have ready two tablespoons of butter for each egg yolk. Whisk these in and when they are incorporated, you have homemade hollandaise sauce that will rock your socks off.
I love winter. I love the rain, I love snuggling up in my pyjamas and a doona, watching movies and drinking hot chocolate. Or coffee. Or tea. I love watching the rain fall. I love skirts and tights, leggings, boots, socks and legwarmers. I love hoodies and scarves and coats and jumping in puddles.
And I love soup.
Potato and Leek, possibly my favourite type of soup, despite its simplicity.
And I’ve been hanging out to try a whole list of soups, and waiting for winter, and proper soup weather, to arrive for me to do so. On my list, no longer onion soup but 44 clove garlic soup, baked potato soup, homemade tomato soup (maybe with the homegrown heritage tomatoes we have here at the family home) and some sort of dumpling soup. A vegetarian kind of dumpling soup, which by all accounts will be hard to come by. We’ll get there.
There isn’t much to say about this soup, except that it is weepingly delicious, started out life in Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, and was the perfect antidote to my flu-like symptoms. They haven’t disappeared, but they are definitely on the back burner of my mind right now. All due to this soup.
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking via Smitten Kitchen
780g thinly sliced brown onions
1 tbsp/slosh of vegetable oil (I have no doubt that the original olive oil requested would elevate this soup even further than it is, however, there was none in the house. We make do.)
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp sugar
3tbsp plain flour
approx 2 litres brown stock (we used mushroom; you can use beef if you’re not vegetarian; but please, for the love of all that is good in this world, make your own. We had 50g of dehydrated shiitake mushrooms and boiled them for about an hour or two. THAT’S ALL IT TAKES PEOPLE. Just remember to keep topping up the water if it reduces too much.)
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 tbsp brandy or cognac (optional but recommended. You can definitely add more to taste; the original recipe called for three tablespoons but we didn’t actually have that much.)
For the gratinée (also optional but recommended.):
About 350-400g sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Crusty bread to cover six bowls, toasted until hard
Melt butter and olive oil in the bottom of your soup pot or Dutch oven (about 4 litres) and add the onion; stir to coat and turn the heat down low for about 15 minutes, until the onion is translucent ish. You don’t need to baby them; just cover them and let them go.
After the 15 minutes or so, sprinkle the salt and sugar over the onions and stir to coat; turn the heat up to medium and caramelize for 30-40 minutes (or longer if the spirit so moves you) stirring often. Don’t skimp on the caramelization. It’s worth it.
Sprinkle the flour over the caramelized onions and cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes. Add all the wine and a little bit of stock at a time, stirring well in between additions. Lower heat to a simmer and cover, partially, to simmer for about 30 minutes or so; skim off the scum if you need to (we needed to).
Correct seasonings and stir in the cognac or brandy. Set aside until needed, or serve immediately, if not gratinéeing the tops.
For the gratinée:
Preheat oven to 170ºC. Line a tray with foil and place six soup bowls on it (we had to use two trays); Fill them with soup. Sprinkle a little cheese into each bowl. Butter the crusty croutons and float them, butter side down, on the soup, covering as much surface area as you can. Cover the croutons with cheese and place in the oven for about 20 minutes; grill them for a few minutes at the end to brown the cheese. Serve immediately and carefully – the bowls will be hot. Cures all manner of ailments.
So I feel like it’s time to talk about what happened last week.
This is a sensitive issue. Please don’t think I’m making light of it at all; I’m still vulnerable and so are a lot of people. But this news was in the news, it is on Facebook, it’s common knowledge, or at least it should be. And it’s all I’ve really been thinking about, because at the moment, everything comes back to this one life-altering event.
On Tuesday 5th April, 2011 at approximately 8am, my housemate, a 25-year-old trainee aircraft engineer was killed in a motorbike accident on his way to college.
He was an amazing guy and we’re still all reeling from the shock. I can’t believe it was more than a week ago, to be honest. Yesterday was the funeral in Sydney; on Wednesday night I spilled my heart on the matter in a public forum via the medium of spoken word poetry.
This is that poem.
here i am
sitting in not enough memories
insomniac thoughts flittering through
thundering clouds whisper rainbows into dreams of sunlight and dancing
underneath this gathering storm which threatens violence on my somewhat ordered life
darkness is all i can see but
sunlight is all there is here
such a beautiful day
sometimes, life punches you in the guts. SUCKER! it yells and runs off, leaving you gasping and disoriented
wandering around in familiarity but not recognising a single thing
this ache in my heart used to be hope, for hope is what kept it beating
hope keeps us all breathing
for a while
unable to picture anything
alone with these thoughts marching in, keeping me wondering
or is it too many?
uncomfortable in my own skin
no rest for the living
anxious and frantic
my soul fraying at the edges with
nowhere to go and
no one to help
my heart so heavy now
filled with rocks called
for this does not happen to one that we know
one of our own
the show got cancelled, with no warning and no reason why
leaving me with a too-small boxed set
wondering what could have been and
unsure of what to feel for
there is no formula for grief
of the lighthearted kind.
I love… promise you won’t laugh…socks. And legwarmers. And armwarmers. Hats and shoes also – I’m an accessories b*tch, what can I say. And I confess this to you now because I just got an order from Sock Dreams delivered today! Yay!
I got the Harajuku Super Loose socks in Milk Tea (cos I love my tea milky and sweet… Actually, I’ve been eyeing these off for a while. And then the earthquake happened in Japan and these were made in Japan, so it’s kind of a way to support. Just a little. On that also, I figured everyone was blogging about Japan, so why add another clanging bell? I have nothing new to say, it’s just unbelievably tragic. Ah, I digress again.) and the Super Ms in Dark Red because they didn’t have Olive.
I wanted to wear them immediately but I only have work today so I’m going to save them for tomorrow. I am so excited, not least because it’s almost winter, my favourite season, but also because, well, you gotta be excited about something. And there hasn’t been much to be excited about this past week.