Okay faceless masses. Listen up. I don't like you and you don't like me. But dammit, I love food - cooking it, eating it, tossing it around. And I really like you. Seriously. Why don't you like me? I'm a fairly sweet man. Not like Splenda sweet. You know, the real kind.
I'll drop it for now, but I'll be watching.
So, back to my gastronomic proclivities. That's right. I said it. I'm a man with proclivities.
I have a secret. I fancy myself to be marginally talented in the kitchen. Not all Morimoto style or anything, but I can throw together some vittles when there's call. I like trying to make new things and then playing "Guess What's Edible."
So let's dive right in. On tonight's Board of Possible Dinner are three things:
A Fennel, Cardamom, and Taleggio Tart (NOTE: I have never made a tart. Well, there was that one time but I forgot her name)
"Taleggio, the cheese what smells like butt, but tastes delicious."
A Collard Green and Canellini Bean (Brazilian-Italian fusion kinda) Thing
Peperonata (a favorite)
I started with the tart crust after spending way too much time tracking down a tart pan (I ended up buying one from a store that we had called earlier. On the phone my wife, M. Girlie, had been told by a very engaged, energetic, and informed young man that they only had pans "for like muffins and stuff." It is kind of like a large flat muffin. You know, kind of.)
So after we obtained said pan, I mixed the dough - basically just flour, butter, salt, and water. Chilled it for an hour, rolled it out, and laid it gently (read -pain in the assedly)in the pan. It looked something like this:
While round two of tart-crust-chilling progressed, I crushed the cardamom pods (with my mind) and then butchered and dismembered the two bulbs of fennel.
After tossing the fennel bits with various oils, booze, unguents, and random seasonings they cooked down for about 25 minutes in my Evil Pan of Delicious Vegetable Penance.
Mmm. Smell the forgiveness.
That underway, it was time to show the tart crust who's boss by filling it with beans for a well deserved blind bake. 15 minutes for the edges and then another 15 for the bottom - to put some healthy color on it.
"Maw. This here bean pie don't taste right."
"Hush up and finish breaking out the last of them teeth."
I made M. Girlie take out the beans because it looked unpleasant and dangerous and after all, what is marriage really for?
So, we then filled the crust with fennel and dotted it with the taleggio before pouring in an egg custard mixture (eggs, milk, half and half). Of course one part of the crust had cracked and the custard went streaming into the pan like suburbanites at the opening of a new Olive Garden.
Girlie (she of the clear head) suggested fashioning a tiny cheese dam to plug the gap. That turned out to be much more effective than me yelling "stop you bastard for the love of all that's holy STOP!" at it.
The Infernal Tart goes back in the oven. We turn our attention to the side dishes.
Pan fry some canellini beans with some pepper oil and then throw in some chiffonaded collards and presto:
That's right, it's almost good for you.
Then we diamond chop some bell peppers, toss in some crushed garlic and a habanero (which is your friend - be nice to it and it will be nice to you. Oh, and it can smell your fear). Finish it off with a healthy splash of good aged sherry vinegar and tastiness abounds.
Add some crusty white bread and the whole spread looks something like this:
Yumminess all around.
Tonight's endeavor seems to have worked. Girlie only gnawed one of my shoulders while we were fighting for the last piece of pepper, so I guess it could have been better.