Saturday, February 6, 2010

The baguette in winter.

Snow clouds the senses.

The baguette.

Fond, if you've watched any two consecutive minutes of food tv is the browned-on junk at the bottom of a pan after you've cooked in it. Last night I made some farfalle with olives and Zamorano, and consistent with my character did not wash up afterward. There was fond. Mind you for health reasons I should caution against leaving pans sit unwashed for so long as rumors of illness and foul taste follow them. Personally I find it all perfectly false and unduly worrisome.

Bring the fond-stained skillet back to a medium heat, scudding in olive oil to loosen the remnants. Once you've made a rough sludge of it add some aromatics; I chose sweet onions, shallots and fennel. Season the mixture shortly into the saute as the salt will speed the softening. Add diced tomatoes and all juices. As the liquid cooks out continue to season and moisten--my pal, Crystal, brought a grand Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon to dinner last night: It was on hand and did the trick nicely. Once incorporated the red sauce will take on a rusty caramel color. Add a liberal pinch of sugar and let simmer til the solids have largely been broken down. As the last of the dousings dry in the pan stir in a healthy soak of olive oil. Whisk. Once emulsified it will both fortify the body of the sauce and tame the color a bit.

This too provides an essential boost in substance. Matching the dimension of the oil with the caviar-like richness of the eggplant will prove among the most satisfying elements of the dish--not to mention a subtle unifying factor.

Slice the eggplant into discs and salt, leaving them to sit for 15 minutes--this will remove moisture that might otherwise prevent bread crumbs from adhering. Pat dry with paper towels. Dredge and fry the eggplant in batches: Lightly flour (I toss them into a brown bag with a half cup of all purpose flour and shake). Next into egg wash then into a mixture of fresh bread crumbs, plane-grated Parmigiano Reggiano and parsley. Fry and transfer to a newspaper to dry.

In the halved, still-warm baguette begin with a layer of sliced Taleggio, topping with overlapping eggplant discs. Spoon the reduced red sauce overtop along with thinly cut fresh buffalo mozzarella. Finish with parsley, chile flakes Parmigiano and one last splash of olive oil.

It goes under the broiler til the bread is nearly blackened and all visible cheese bubbles.


  1. are you really going to do that? should make for some interesting veggie posts. i always wondered how happy it makes god that we give up indulgences, especially if we over-imbibe before the appointed occasion. wouldn't we do him(or her) better by practicing moderation throughout? however, i truly believe i could not resist temptation for gluttony if i had a big block of tellagio stinking in front of my face. i can't even dream how heavenly was that baguette..

  2. I actually reassessed my commitment; I will be eating Taleggio and drinking Rittenhouse Rye with a roomful of well-heeled prostitutes--counting myself in that final appellation.

    As for a Creative Force caring for what I eat or refrain from eating, no I think the Creator is busy planning a Flood and a New Novel.