Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Just in case you’ve been wondering what Tastee Fudz have occupied the Elisson table lately, here’s what I’ve been up to in the kitchen these past few days.

Friday provided an excuse to bake yet another loaf of challah...

Challah 030212
This week’s challah.

I’m not sure how happy I am with Elder Daughter for having introduced me to the practice of baking challah for Shabbat dinner. The main problem is, it tastes too damn good. Especially when fresh out of the oven, it is way better than anything from a commercial bakery, with just a hint of honey providing a sweet counterpoint to its perfect eggy flavor.

Friday was also a good day for a mushroom omelette. Baby portabello mushrooms sautéed with shallots and smoked paprika, to be exact. Given that this baby is packed with fungus, Erica, the Wiseass Jooette, would call it an abomination. Breakfast (or lunch) of champions, I calls it.

Mushroom Omelette
Mushroom omelette. Some shallots and a little smoked paprika convert plain old mushrooms into Fungal Ambrosia.

Dessert? Glad you asked.

How about some pear ice cream with a salted caramel swirl?

Pear and Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Pear and salted caramel ice cream.

I had a metric buttload of Bosc pears left over after last week’s Costco expedition, and I wanted to do something useful with them before they turned into brown goo. My buddy Gary makes a perfectly delicious pear sorbet, but I wanted something with dairy in it, the better to complement the salted caramel sauce I had sitting around. The answer was in my old Chez Panisse Desserts cookbook. Swirling the salted caramel into the ice cream created a combination both delicate and decadent. I’m kinda sorry I did it, to be honest.

Update: From our Saturday evening repast, here’s a side dish to reckon with - fregola with zucchini, cacao nibs, and Parmesan. “WTF is fregola?” you ask, and I answer: It’s the Sardinian answer to Israeli couscous. Imagine pasta in the form of little beebee-like spheres. If it’s smooth, it’s Israeli couscous; if rough, it’s fregola.

Fregola with Zucchini and Cacao
Fregola with zucchini, cacao nibs, and Parmesan.

This is an adaptation of a recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen, by Clotilde Dusoulier. Clotilde is the sweet genius behind the aptly named blog Chocolate and Zucchini, where most of the recipes include neither chocolate or zucchini. This one, nevertheless, manages to include both.

It’s easy enough to make, and you can use pretty much any kind of pasta. You just hack up an onion and sweat it down in olive oil with a few minced cloves of garlic, then add the pasta and sauté for a couple of minutes. Now add just enough hot chicken or vegetable broth to cover the pasta; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has absorbed the broth. After five minutes, throw in some sliced-up zucchini and cook the whole mess until the pasta is done to the desired degree - about ten minutes. Hint: Al dente is better than mushy. If it’s not quite done and the broth has been completely absorbed, add a little more broth. To finish the dish, add a tablespoon or so of chopped, toasted cacao nibs and a liberal sprinkling of grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Yowza!

What have you been eating lately?


Kevin Kim said...

Veddy nice, veddy nice.

DogsDontPurr said...

I love challah bread! But I have always been confused as to what the proper pronunciation of the word is. I've heard everything from "holla" to "kolla" and variations in between.

Can you enlighten us on the proper way to say "challa"?

Elisson said...

@DogsDontPurr - Challah is pronounced so as to rhyme with "holla." The "ch" sound has no direct analogy in English - it's a throat-clearing, guttural sound like the "ch" in the Scottish "loch."

Erica said...

A mushroom omelette betwixt a delicious, warm challah, and iced cream. How positively indecent. You should be ashamed.

El Capitan said...

Speaking of Chez Panisse, Alice Waters was the guest of honor at last week's City Hall Farmer's Market.

Unlike the Dallas Farmer's Market, where you have truckloads of locally grown produce available at affordable prices, the Houston City Hall version is a preciously twee affair where our downtown foodies trade heirloom herb sprigs at nosebleed prices.

I was tempted to seek out Ms. Waters whilst consuming deep-fried Rodeo grub covered in melted Velveeta, but decided to avoid getting pelted with organically-grown tomatoes hurled by locavore acolytes...

Elisson said...

Aw, Erica - the only reason I even mentioned that mushroom omelette was to piss you off.

(That, and it was pretty damned tasty.)