Thursday, October 27, 2011

Every day I'm snifflin

I am just now getting over a cold that has stayed with me for the better part of ten days. I remember when I was in high school I used to say that I enjoyed being sick, because it happened so rarely that every day of my journey out of and then back into good health seemed like a new and exciting experience. Apparently in the intervening ten years I have gotten over the novelty of illness, because having a cold really does not have a net positive effect on my life these days. Is the fact that Cherry Nyquil tastes a lot better than Classic Nyquil noteworthy in the context of a food blog?

Let me start off by saying that this pear pecorino ice cream I made at the height of my congestion has tasted just a little bit better every day, the gradual drainage of snot from my nostrils allowing the floral notes of the pear puree better access to my olfactory machinery, and those previously undetected floral notes balancing the intense saltiness of the pecorino cheese bits ribboned throughout the ice cream. Still, this is not my favorite flavor of all time--David Lebovitz's instruction to chop up a quarter pound of pecorino romano into tiny chunks the size of rice grains led me to a distinctly chewy ice cream with a serious cheese flavor. Imagine eating a really delicious ice cream and then chewing on a piece of cheese simultaneously. Next time I might either microplane the cheese so that it's more evenly distributed or use half the amount.

One thing I still do enjoy about congestion is that it's an excuse to make ginger tea, which is one of those things, like pho, that is so delicious I should make it all the time, but really only seems like a good idea when pouring it down my throat has the added benefit of melting a few layers of mucus off of my esophagus. Prepared correctly, this tea is the perfect blend of spicy ginger with a bracing sour kick and a little bit of viscous sweetness from the honey. Here's what you do.

Chop up an inch of fresh ginger; peeling it is nice but that's not really in the realm of possibilities when I have a cold. Add the ginger to 2 cups of water and then zest half a lemon into the water. Bring that to a gentle boil and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes, or until you can pick out a piece of ginger and eat it and find that it has no flavor, or until you find yourself so miserable that you need to drink some ginger tea right away. Add one or two tablespoons of honey to your favorite mug, pour the ginger tea over the honey, and squeeze the juice of half the lemon into the tea. Stir until the honey is dissolved, and then alternate between sipping the tea and letting it steam open your nostrils.

If you want a Hot Toddy, just add some warm spices (star anise, cloves, cinnamon) to the simmering water, and then pour a little bit of rum or whiskey into the finished product. Unfortunately, I haven't been indulging in any of those because someone once told me that mixing acetaminophen and alcohol is a bad idea. Well, Christmas is just around the corner.

My friend Chelsoise asked me to make duck fat popcorn for her Halloween party this year, since it went over so well at the last one we threw. I responded by writing up a recipe, and she in turn drew this picture of me as a Level 9 Hipster alongside the recipe. Well, I guess I'm going to stop making food for people and to start just giving them the recipes instead, if the tradeoff is that I don't have to do any actual work and I get cool portraits in return.

Making duck fat popcorn may look pretty basic, having only nine steps, two of which are not actually related to cooking and two of which are "add salt", but I think my recipe actually tells you everything you need to know for a superior version. The big thing is step 3--adding the chili flakes to the warm duck fat not only opens up the flavor of the red pepper, but also disperses it throughout the fat, giving you a more complex, more even spiciness when you toss it over the popcorn. If you had a few habaneros to fry in the duck fat for a minute or a little duck confit to crisp up and throw on top, oooh, even better.

Long story short, I'm hoping to enjoy some duck fat popcorn this Halloween, a holiday for which I have no costume and no other firm plans except that I'm going to make apple butter that day. Maybe I will go out dressed as Apple Butter.


Recipe roundup...

Pear pecorino ice cream from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

1 comment:

  1. Will you make me duck fat popcorn and ship it to Virginia?