October 26, 2009
Follow me on Twitter


We tried a Sunday Supper this week. The extra weekend day makes prep more relaxed. I did the usual marketing on Saturday, did a little extra baking on Sunday morning (scones!) and stayed out of the weeds until I knicked my finger on the mandoline.

But I also had a bad attack of the dumbs all day. At breakfast, I made whole wheat scones — and forgot to cut the scones before putting them in the oven. Linda charitably points out that this error is not without precedent:

The Quaker’s wife, she baked a scone
And Johnny danced while it was on
Merrily danced the Quaker’s wife
And merrily danced the Quaker.

Linda also encouragingly prophecied that I had made my mistake for the day, the spirits would be satisfied now and the rest of the menu would go off without a hitch. It did not. I underbaked the madeleines for no good reason, scorched the roast beef badly on the charcoal grill while listening as the Patriots scored another pointless touchdown, indulged in a protracted a wrestling match with a pie crust that tried to be light and flaky before baking, failed to note when the mignardises were put into the oven and so had no clue when they were to be taken out, and then, disastrously, believed my instant-read when it said the beef had reached 135°. Somewhere, no doubt, the sun was over the yardarm, somewhere children were shouting, and somewhere someone’s beef as in fact done. Mine was not. (An indoor grill is a handy thing in such an emergency.)

What I was trying to do was to adapt the Blowtorch Beef from the new Ad Hoc book to manage without the blowtorch, searing the beef over charcoal and then finishing it in a slow oven. I even got permission, or perhaps absolution, from Michael Ruhlman for this innovation. But I assumed that the beef would look after itself for a couple of minutes while the Patriots amused the crowd at Wembley, and when I returned to check the flames were engulfing the grill and threatening the house, the tree, and the neighbors’ pets. This turned out to be a good, fast sear, but it wasn’t relaxing. (Solution: grab mitts. Reach into conflagration. Grab large, flaming, grass-fed organic beef. Avoid setting fire to shirt, trousers, or cutting board. Allow beef, and cook, to rest before proceeding.)

So, dinner was a bit ragged. But you know what? It was pretty tasty! Even the bits that weren’t right were still good food.

(*) ifs and buts are candied nuts.