Monthly Archives: November 2010

DÉPANNEUR LE PICK UP: TAKING A STAB AT THE INTERNET

Have you noticed? I started blogging at the Dépanneur le Pick Up website. There’s not much there — yet — but it’s soon going to be a great place to visit for event notices, menu updates, and photo galleries. (We also have a Twitter, which I update, and a Facebook account. Hooray, Internet!) Now I can add ‘Internet Babe’ alongside ‘Baker’ to my Pick Up credentials.

Not unrelated: the registration for the pastry workshop with Michelle Marek is now closed. Thanks to everyone who was interested in participating — we can’t wait to see you there!

TOMATO PURITY

With end of season Roma tomatoes patiently sitting on our counter, I knew I could only make one thing with the bushel’s hefty contents: simple tomato soup. This time around, my approach was unusually particular. Usually I freestyle a bit more — leave it chunky, add curry powder, stir in spinach at the end. But this was all about playing around with the smoothness of textures and the purity of the classic tomato soup flavor.

Even though I had nearly 100 tomatoes to work through, the process was relaxing and simple. Each tomato bottom was scored with an X and gently lowered into a pot of salted, boiling water. Groups of 12 tomatoes blanched for about 45 seconds, and then fished out to cool. Once they were ready to handle, I gently tugged the skins off the tomatoes, pulling outwards from the X. The tomatoes were cut into quarters, using my thumbs to scoop out the seeds, which went into a big bowl (along with the skins). It was messy but deeply satisfying work.

Once all tomatoes were blanched, peeled, seeded, and diced, I began to build the soup. I sauteed a classic mirepoix — a finely diced mix of onion, carrot, and celery — in a golden puddle of olive oil. Chopped garlic, red chili flakes, bay leaves, butter, and plenty of kosher salt were all added. Then went in the tomatoes, and stirred to combine. The leftover seeds, guts, and juices went through a colander directly over the pot, catching all of the delicious tomato juice as it strained through the solids. These tomatoes happened to be so juicy, that I barely added any stock or water to the pot — only about a few tablespoons of chicken broth! It was remarkable.

The entire mess stewed away for a few hours, and then I turned the heat off, removed the bay, and ran the soup in batches through my food processor. Although part of me loves the rustic presentation of a chunkier soup, I was glad I ran it through the blender. The soup had a creamy, velvety texture and tasted unabashedly, deeply of tomatoes. We had a few bowls for dinner, and I froze the rest. I’ve since used the tomato soup for baked onions, reduced into a simple pasta sauce, and combined with carrots to make another soup.

 

THE BLACKENED AIR

I was suitably awed with this photo of writer Diane Ackerman (shown with poet Mary Oliver). She is the best. What is also best is her hair. It reminded me of two things: my undying love for Kate Bush, and the Ruth Reichl memoir ‘Comfort Me With Apples,’ in which she often mentions her unruly, untamable raven hair. Marina Abramovic, Ruth Reichl, Diane Ackerman, Kate Bush. It’s no coincidence that I love all these women. The LA Times surmises that Catherine Keener would be great in the role of Ruth Reichl. I actually agree.

So consider this part two to this post.

Marina Abramovic

Ruth Reichl

Kate Bush

TESTING FEKKAS + GHORIBAS

Over at Popcorn Youth, I posted some photos I took at the Sublime Frequencies film screening at Depanneur Le Pick Up. It was a crazy amount of fun + I can’t wait to get Hisham back in Montreal for more film screenings (he had never been to the city before and especially loved — as I thought he would — the Jean-Talon Market, the annual Expozine, the Nouveau Palais, Phonopolis Records, and Primitive Records).

For the event, I baked up a few batches of Moroccan fekkas and coconut ghoribas, which turned out to be a pretty polarizing choice of desserts. People either really liked the biscotti-like, anise-spiked fekkas, or the fluffy, semolina-battered, lime-zested and icing sugar-dusted ghoribas.

Personally, I adored the fekkas. They hold up great for weeks in an air-tight container, and are perfect with green tea in the afternoons or at night.

GIVING THANKS

These photos — from our last major trip to Jean-Talon market — are at least a few weeks old, but I thought they were fitting for today, American Thanksgiving. Looking at these images fill me happiness but also wistfulness — definitely can’t buy Jerusalem artichokes or Roma tomatoes or fresh marjoram anymore!

This fall, I found myself anticipating Thanksgiving with less glee than usual (it’s widely known that it’s my favorite holiday). At first it was puzzling, but I think understand: I live with somewhere where blow-out dinners similar to Thanksgiving feasts happen at least once a week. Why wait a whole year to have dishes that you want to eat year-round?

At first, eating so well was overwhelming; now it just feels normal + right. Roast chicken dinners are a breeze (this one above was cooked Thomas Keller style — with no oil, at high heat and sprinkled with thyme — and was one of the juicest birds I’ve ever eaten); lamb shanks bubbling away for five hours are manageable, too. We eat bone marrow with red wine vinegar and parsley for a snack, and broil scallops in brown butter to perch atop creamed rutabaga puree. I bake at home more than I have in my entire life, and learned to incorporate it into my daily routine in an effortless way. (There is an apple tart bubbling away in the oven as we speak).

I’ve learned to appreciate the incredible richness of my life, and revel in the love we share for food. This Thanksgiving I’m reminded that living spectacularly can happen regularly.

Happy Thanksgiving!

ALL TOGETHER NOW

[Dinner: Cucumber + arugula + Belgian dive + bacon + homemade garlic rye croutons of very stale yet delicious bread from Barney Greengrass + mustard vinaigrette]

[Snack: Skillet cornbread, adapted heavily from the Lee Brothers — I added spicy peppers, shredded sharp cheddar, and bacon]

[Breakfast: Empire apples (the best, best kind) and cranberry + dark chocolate blondies. Maybe a bit too sweet, but the perfect texture for an espresso]

[Dinner: Beet sauce pasta! Adam's impromptu hockey night creation, but given my extremely vocal love of beets I like to think that I was the inspiration for this dish. Ground beef + onions saute with lemon, olive oil + a bit of cream. Add roasted cube beets to pan to infuse cream with the most luscious, vibrant hue of magenta that you have ever seen. Coats penne brilliantly, is shiny + full of color. Delicious too.]

[Breakfast again. Sometimes all you really want is tea + freshly squeezed orange juice + toast + butter.]

[More breakfast, more orange juice. This time supplemented with my favorite of snacks — toasted whole wheat bread slathered with avocado, butter, and a lot of salt and pepper.]

I feel inspired by Sasha’s recent chronological look at her meals. I really admire the variety + bounty + simplicity of her breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. This post is a bit more piecemeal but equally valid look into my (often) random eating habits.

SOUP SEASON

This house has been quite a little hotbed of sickness in the past few weeks. As far as our diets have been concerned, we’ve been doing what we can to get better: kale smoothies spiked with apples, oregano oil dissolved in water, huge glasses of fresh orange juice, mugs of echinacea tea. One afternoon, wandering listlessly around the house, I felt particularly anemic, and spontaneously ran to the grocery store and bought bags overflowing with kale, swiss chard, lettuces, and spinach. Making a pot of a restorative, healthy soup seemed like the only logical solution for my vitamin-deficient body.

I used a homemade chicken stock (one roast chicken carcass + roughly chopped onions, carrots, celery + bay leaves + thyme + baby leeks + parsley springs, cover with water + salt judiciously + simmer for 3 hours) as the base and added whatever my body was calling out to me: tiny brown lentils, diced potatoes, cubes of butternut squash, ribs of chopped celery, minced shallots  + the juice of one entire lemon. It simmered for about an hour, and then I added thick ribbons of dinosaur kale, which stayed firm + chewy. A huge bowl of kale soup was nourishing, hearty and cleansing, just as I had hoped it would be.

ERMIE COLOR SPLAY

[All images via Ermie, by Jeana Sohn]

Jennifer Parry Dodge — the talented designer behind Ermie — has a remarkable eye for pattern and color [just take a glance through her tumblr!].  I love how she sees nature — the way the colors can be saturated or muted, in sharp focus or full of blur — and incorporates those glimpses of life into her work. These preview images from her ERMIE Lookbook were posted the other day + they are all so magical. I have often felt conspicuous + gauche wearing so much bold color in Montreal (naturally, the chic people here like black!), but ERMIE gives me courage + inspiration to wear color as frequently as I want.

STAINED GLASS BODY

[Albert + Gillian Maysles at their home in Harlem, via The Selby]

Gillian, why is maximalism better than minimalism?

Because you can collage everything you ever have been given by all your friends + family + visitors in all your life. It’s not about possessions, it’s about memory + attachments.

 

EXPLORING CANDIED FRUITS: A HOLIDAY DESSERT WORKSHOP WITH CHEF MICHELLE MAREK

Montreal readers — check this out!

Join us at the Dépanneur le Pick Up for an interactive evening with talented chef Michelle Marek, the head pastry chef at Montreal restaurant Laloux. Michelle also runs the mouthwatering food blog ...An Endless Banquet with her partner AJ Kinik.

On Monday, December 6, we will be exploring ways to incorporate candied fruits into unique winter desserts. The workshop will include a presentation and execution of:

Panforte with spices, chocolate + candied fruits

Stollen with marzipan + candied fruits

Crystallized fruits

Ginger cookies

The workshop will begin promptly at 7:30pm. Each participant will be making his or her own desserts to take home, with guidance and instruction from Michelle. Come early for hot cider! The registration fee is $30 and will cover all costs for the desserts presented. The Dep is located at 7032 Rue Waverly.

The Dep is a cozy, intimate space — please register soon as there are only 15 spots. Cash only, please. To register, email me at natasha DOT pickowicz AT gmail DOT com.

We think you’ll leave inspired and ready for the holidays!