Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Not Mean, Not Mean, Not Mean

I keep biting my tongue.
Not accidentally. On purpose. I'm trying not to say horrible, mean things.
I've read a new book on food that I want to say horrible, mean things about. It's written by someone who, by all accounts, is just a really, really nice guy.
But I hate the book.
So instead, I will think nice thoughts about pie, and crust, and ricotta cheese, and the last ripe tomatoes of the year. Garlic, a few leaves of oregano and thyme, salt... and lard!
Cranky made the crust using 100% local lard, rendered by Bonnie this year from Clark Summit Farm hogs. The lard is almost gooey, not quite as solid as cold butter. Cranky dutifully scooped the amount called for by the recipe, and cut it into the whole-wheat flour. He kept cutting (smashing, really), trying to get the "pea-sized" lumps... But this dough was basically just greasy sand. I think he used too much lard, not following the elements of cooking where you tweak the recipe. I added in a little extra flour and a splash of cream, and it looked OK (and tasted fantastic).
After an hour in the fridge, the dough rolled out easily enough, but it broke into pieces when I tried to pick it up.
However, this is a success story. I picked up the pieces and placed them in the tart pan, patching here and there with extra dough.
The shell was blind-baked for ten minutes, and then we layered in some ricotta, a dusting of parmesan, topped it with the mixture of cut-up tomatoes with salt, herbs and garlic.
OK. Bakey-bake for about 45 minutes (at 375°F), and it came out a little wet. The tomatoes had oozed.
Cranky was crestfallen by this time but I simply tilted the tart dish over the sink and drained off the juice. Amazing how you can fiddle with the rules, man.
Then, and I think this was the move that saved the day, I said "Wait."
The pie needed to cool off a little. And in the waiting, the crust came together. Slices of the pie came out of the tart pan intact.
It's a happy ending!
Maybe tomorrow I'll be mean after all. Heh, heh.


Jennifer Jeffrey said...

Poor Crestfallen Cranky!

Your slice of cheese-y-tomato-ey goodness looks marvelous from here, and it's good to know that sometimes crumbly, oozy things still turn out to be delicious in the end. xox

Dagny said...

Still not sure about the tomatoes but the cheese more than makes up for them.

El said...

Last tomatoes! Sigh!

Piecrusts take practice. Their one saving grace is that even "failed" ones taste just fabulous. And I think lard is entirely appropriate in a savory pie! Unknowingly, once, I ate an onion gallette that was wickedly delicious because of its pig kidney fat crust...yum.

But I am dying to know who's making you bite your tongue.

cookiecrumb said...

Jennifer: Isn't that a great word? I think writing these days has veered too far away from Dickensian deliciousness. Let's bring back Victorian Prose! (Who's she?)
Thanks, dolling.

Dagny: Well, I guess we could have just made a savory cheese pie. Wow, that sounds good, come to think of it.

El: Whole-wheat flour definitely throws a curve, too. Ah well. Sorry you digested forbidden pig fat!
Who's making me bite my tongue? I left two clues in the post, one is the title of the book and one is a play on the author's name. :D

peter said...

Yes, be mean. Deliciously, unabashedly mean. Make someone's crest fall.

As for pie crust, nice work. I use butter, because my Grandmother's recipe is sacrosanct and makes people swoon.

PS I can't even conceive of tomatoes right now.

Kalyn said...

Well your clues are too hard for me and I'm also dying to know. This sounds fantastic. I'm eating some bean soup I made with one of the Rancho Gordo beans I bought in SF. The soup is good, but if the Rancho Gordo people lived in a high altitude place like Utah they would definitely recommend soaking the beans overnight! Five hours I cooked those beans, after soaking 4 hours.

I hope you will be mean tomorrow. In a nice way of course.

tammy said...

Mmmmm, lard!

Rules, man? Hmmmm. You're coming in loud and clear.

Mimi said...

Lard in piecrust? Blasphemy! Lard is for tamales. I command you to get some piggy pieces from whence came the lard and go forth and tamalinate (If our leader, "the great decider", can make up words, so can I).
The blasphemous pie looks quite yummy even with porcine infusion

kudzu said...

Maybe my head is just too full of facts and images after a day of research but I could get nowhere with your hidden clues. Maybe I need a rebus. Maybe I need a drink....Just remember that it doesn't do us good to bite our tongues and repress our nasty throughts, so tell us, already.

Melissa said...

You're good. Very subtle. I haven't read it yet. Curious to know what you hate so much about it.

sam said...

I know exactly which book. Like I told you I am still on chapter one and not loving it yet. It has some stoopid suggestions as far as I can tell. I'll give him time though...

Anita said...

I think I know which book. This is why I always check books out from the library (or borrow from friends) before I commit. :D

Lard in pie crust is heavenly... we made our thanksgiving pies with a mix of butter and leaf-lard and they were unstoppable. Mmm, must get home to have the last slice before the bald guy eats it. :D

KathyR said...

My grandmother's pie crust was half lard, half butter. Cold water. A little vinegar. Light and airy.

Light and airy like my head, as I cannot guess the target of your meanness. I do hope you'll spill.

KathyR said...

Oh, wait, I just figured it out!

Tricksy, you are.

Zoomie said...

You're mad so you're _supposed_ to say mean things!

Alice Q. said...

Yeah, you really don't want to be shy about bending those rules, man. tee hee hee.

Anna Haight said...

I have a bookcase full of nothing but cookbooks, so I try hard to stay away from temptation. But I'm very curious as to which one I should not be tempted by... the pie looks wholesomely good!

dancingmorganmouse said...

Lard is a MUST for coldwater pastry - which you have to have if you are making proper pork pies. Also, lard is perfect for steak & kidney pie crust, nothing else will do.
Gawd, I've come over all English haven't I.

El said...

I'm still clueless, so I hope you're working up to a nice, mean post. xxoo

kudzu said...

Cold light of morning: figured out who the writer is -- now I want to know which book, and why you are so mad.

cookiecrumb said...

Peter: Butter might be best, but lard is so flaky. Break the rules, man, and try it.

Kalyn: We've been very inspired by your soup recipes. I'm workin' up to a mean, right now!

Tammy: Gold star for you.

Mimi: Oh, no, lard in piecrust is very luscious. (I've never made tamales! Sigh.)

Kudzu: I'll spill... just testing the waters here, and I'm amazed how many people want me to be mean. Heh, heh.

Melissa: It's like reading a... dictionary. Eh.

Sam: It's a maddening book. I'm maddened and I eat.

Anita: The copy I read is from the library! Yay.
(Shoulda done half butter/half lard, like we usually do.)

KathyR: We needed the cold water, but I've had sumptuous luck with cream in the past... Too much fat. I've never used that little touch of vinegar; must give it a try.

Zoomie: Thanks for the permission! :D

Alice Q: Tee hee. I feel like I'm just about to become a mean old poopy head. Fun!

Anna: Don't worry! It's not a cookbook. You're safe.

Morgan: Ah, g'wan back outside and tend to your summery tomatoes. You don't want to be talking steak and kidney pie just now. :-)

El: Yeah, and all those hugs and kisses? Bribes? Hm? OK, I'll spill. xoxo

Kudzu: Coming up, after lunch.

Bonnie said...

Phew! I thought you were mad about the lard. I made pecan pie with it for T'giving (you were missed, especially as I needed feedback on my Karo-less versions) and I think the best ratio is 1/3 lard, 2/3 butter. I have done half & half and that works well, too, but all lard and I had the same result you did. It might be because this wasn't leaf lard, which is harder. I've got some of that to render and will give you a new batch someday to try.

Glad you stopped biting your tongue and broke the rules (balls)!

and hope to have a raincheck get-together soon.

leena! said...

Wow, that looks good... I wish my failed recipes turned out that nice!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Or maybe you can continue being not mean, then for your New Year's resolution resolve to be mean again. How 'bout that? ;)

Ellie the Kitchen Wench said...

Nyom nyom nyom - this looks and sounds delightful, despite Cranky's efforts with the lard! And I think I know what I should do with the remaining tub of ricotta sitting in my fridge!

Ellie @ Kitchen Wench

cookiecrumb said...

Bonnie: No, I was HAPPY about the lard! Happy. But, yes, I think a mixture with butter would be the thing to do.
See you soon, wink, wink.

Leena: We would have eaten it and loved it any way it came out, but we were stunned to pull out that intact crust! Happy.

Susan: I think I like being mean. In a nice way.

Ellie: This is an embarassingly recent discovery for us. Ricotta bakes up real neat-o!

melissa said...

I just found you through cook.eat.FRET and couldn't help but giggle at this post because I totally agreed with your assessment. I picked up that book just yesterday at B&N and flipped through it and thought "oh, this isn't what I expected, it's a freakin dictionary." yahoo. I put it back down.

cookiecrumb said...

Melissa: Nice to have you here, via our pal Claudia.
Yeah, do you think a dictionary could teach you how to cook? Nah.

Squishy said...

Happy Endings gotta love em!