Tuesday, November 27, 2007
We had the fourth meeting of our supper club, The Brooklyn Food Group, the weekend before Thanksgiving.
The days before were filled with flour and yeast. Dough rose, rested, relaxed on my windowsill and kitchen table. Sugar spilled on the floor and cornmeal coated my clothes; the oven clanked constantly. Cream scalded and tempered eggs faded to pale yellow. Whisks were plentiful. And as I sat on the subway, on my hour-long commute to school the day before the event, I couldn’t shake the scent of butter.
Four days later I would stand barefoot in my mom’s kitchen in Boston, relaxed and sleepy as I casually basted turkey and slowly rolled pie dough. Thanksgiving cooking didn’t carry such a sense of urgency.
But that night—the Saturday of the supper club—my friend Ben and I spent many frenetic hours sautéing and frying in the small confines of a sweaty Brooklyn kitchen. Twenty-three guests sat—drinking, laughing, eating—at two long tables nearby; we fed them six courses.
Ben, who is now a line chef at a wonderful restaurant on the Upper West Side, outdid himself with the savory courses.
There was a nutty beige cauliflower soup with raisins agrodolce; an autumnal salad studded with purple cauliflower, farmers market apples, pumpkin vinaigrette and a knobby stack of sautéed mushrooms.
There were basil pancakes: deep green, tender, and balanced on an orange puree of chile-pumpkin. They were topped with pickled fennel and reduced orange juice syrup. And for Ben’s final course, there were freshly made cardamom noodles with a slow-roasted lamb ragu.
My contribution—aside from the baskets of Italian bread and sea-salt focaccia, which had oozed the sweet and steamy scent of “fresh baked” into my apartment all morning—was dessert.
Pumpkin Crème Brulee; milky bronze and peppered with spice. I melted the sugar sprinkled over the custards with a small blow torch. It formed a crunchy, sweet skin to be cracked with a dessert spoon for the first bite.
It was a successful night. When I got home I collapsed into bed and have perhaps never slept so well in my life.