Saturday, February 18, 2006


Our friends Phred and Deley came by yesterday evening for a Big Feed.

Friends? Relatives? Hard to say with these two - they’re both. Not only are they close friends of long standing with my Uncle Phil (my mother’s brother) and Aunt Marge, but Deley is, as best as we can tell, a third cousin of mine on my father’s side. It’s the Flanking Attack of relationships.

After years of living in South Florida, they (re) migrated to the Atlanta area to be near two of their three daughters and their families...which gives Phil and Marge yet another reason to get on the road and visit us here in Georgia.

What was on the menu?

Aside from the obligatory loaf of (store-bought) challah, I ran up a trough of Lil Pachter’s Braised Beef Brisket, cooking the meat Thursday, reheating it and slicing it up right before dinner. My experience is that four hours of braising renders the meat meltingly tender, and that extra day allows the flavors to really come together.

She Who Must Be Obeyed put together a fine salad of baby romaine and miscellaneous field greens, with toasted pine nuts and dried cherries and blueberries thown in to make it interesting.

For Vegetabobbles, I hocked up some carrots, parsnips, and a turnip, tossed them in olive oil and a dab of sea salt, then stuck the whole mess in a 375°F oven for an hour or so to make Roasted Root Vegetables...always a good accompaniment to brisket. I would have thrown in some onions, but the brisket already had a serious quantity of onions in it; it would have been gilding the lily.

The Starchy Veg consisted of Golden Oven-Fried Potatoes. These can be tricky, but I found a great technique that results in the next-best thing (maybe even a better thing) to an honest-to-Gawd french fry. You take Russet baking potatoes, slice ’em into wedges and soak ’em in hot water for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 475°F (yes, that’s 475°F) and put the oven rack at the bottom of the oven. Meanwhile, get a heavy industrial-quality baking sheet, sprinkle it with 4 tbsp peanut oil, 1 tsp kosher salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Drain the ’tater wedges and dry thoroughly with paper towels, then toss ’em with 1 more tbsp peanut oil and arrange on the baking sheet in a single layer. Cover the sheet tightly with foil. Bake for 5 minutes, remove the foil, then bake for 20 minutes; then use tongs to flip the wedges over and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Turn the sheet occasionally during the baking process to ensure that they brown evenly. Remove when done and drain on paper towels before serving. Yum!

Dessert consisted of coffee and Chocolate Pots de Crème, for which I turned to my old Chocolate Bible: my vintage copy of Maida Heatter’s Book of Chocolate Desserts. I’ll save that recipe for another occasion, but meanwhile, here’s a picture to set your mouth to watering.

Chocolate Pot de Crème

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