This is really just a post about celery toast. It’s not pretty, but it has become my favorite snack over the past few months.
2 slices white bread (We like Pepperidge Farm for this because it’s nice and square and toasts up well.)
4 ounces Cambozola blue cheese
1 cup celery from the center (Don’t use the outer stalks, you want the inner, tender stuff.)
1 garlic clove
olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper
Slice the celery and the scallion on the bias and as thinly as possible. Mix together in a bowl and grate the garlic into the mixture. Add olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and until everything is dressed, but not soaked. Toast the bread until golden brown. While the bread is still warm, butter it generously. Slice the cheese into quarter inch wedges and divide on the bread. Top with the celery mixture and a grind of pepper. Cut the toast in half and serve.
Although I *may* have taken to eating this for my entire supper, it really is the perfect snack or appetizer. The acidity of the celery and scallion slaw are so perfect with the creamy blue cheese and butter. Plus it is so easy to double or triple the recipe for a crowd (when it’s safe to have a crowd again…) We’ve started keeping a little notebook of recipes we’ve tried that will be good for entertaining someday. It’s nice to have goals, right?
Over July 4th weekend, Naoto and I went all out for a fondue feast. I’ve been wanting to have fondue for awhile now, and at the beginning of the pandemic, I made it one of our stay-at-home goals…who knew at the time we’d have so much time to accomplish that list!
(Try to ignore Naoto’s hair here…it’s even longer and more epic now!) Randomly, we own three fondue pots. I received the metal one for a Christmas gift in college and then learned cheese works better in ceramic, so I bought the ceramic one at Marshall Fields (RIP) almost twenty years ago. And my parents found the burnt orange 70s model at a thrift shop. So we figured we’d break out alllll the pots for our three course fondue fest.
We started with traditional Swiss fondue. I have (had?) a fondue cookbook but I couldn’t find it in time for the fest, so we relied on Food & Wine for the recipe. (We halved the recipe since there were only two of us which was more than enough and included leftovers.) We made the fondue in the pot, adding the cheese slowly and stirring often. It worked like a charm! (We learned our lesson the last time we had fondue…seven years ago!)
We had bread, carrots, potatoes, and broccoli for dipping. I can’t believe we forgot apples and pretzels for this round!
After we’d had enough cheese (yes, there is such a thing!) we started preparing the main course–meat and vegetables.
For the main course, we used this recipe for a broth fondue. We built the broth in the pot and let it come to a boil slowly. We found this was a nice way to pace ourselves…
We were going to do a few kinds of meat and vegetables, but we ended up just going with steak…next time I would add shrimp or chicken for some variety. (We were afraid of having too much food!) With the steak, we had carrots, broccoli, zucchini, potatoes, and mushrooms.
We ended up making little shish-ka-bobs, mixing meat and vegetables together on the same fork.
My favorite combination was steak + carrot + zucchini dipped in ponzu sauce. Fondue sauces are a great part of the experience and next time we’d like to experiment with more. I have to say though…the ponzu was the perfect citrusy balance to the meats and vegetables.
For the dessert round, I mixed up some Brandy Alexanders while Naoto prepped the fondue ingredients. It was a very indulgent evening!
For the chocolate fondue, we used this recipe and we made it on the double broiler on the stove before we transferred it into the fondue pot. We dipped strawberries, bananas, brioche, marshmallows, and pretzels. I had to blow out the flame after a few minutes because the pot got too hot and the chocolate was burning, so we need to find a better heating element for the chocolate fondue next time! Maybe just a little tea light? It took three days of soaking to get the pot clean!
It was such a fun project to plan and to execute. I’m really missing hosting parties and it might seem silly to make a big to-do on a regular ol’ Sunday night, but I found it such a great distraction. I love a good theme party and why not throw one just for ourselves? Oh, and it was a perfect excuse to wear my kaftan and bask in the 1970s for the evening. (P.S. We used these forks from our coffee shop pal, Madonna.)
Nic replied to my Bread Mail with her own bread mail! Doesn’t it just make you want to eat a giant baguette? She included a postcard and some extra baguette paper so someone else is getting some #breadmail soon! (Also, how cute are those fabric “stamps”?)
Tucked in the little bag was a letter and some extra sheets of baguette paper. This reminds me that I have some donut cards that some in little waxed paper bags…I need to find them so I can send out some more carby mail!
I hope things are happy in your home and in your mailbox! We’ve been doing a lot, well, a lot of stay-at-home activities so I’ll be back this week to share some more! In the meantime, I encourage you to send some theme mail–bread or otherwise!
Speaking of ramen…Naoto made homemade broth on Saturday and it was a step-up in flavor from the Furious Spoon version! He is going to try a bunch of different recipes until we find the perfect blend for us! We used this recipe which is chicken based and seemed easy enough for a “quick” broth. It took about four hours from beginning to end and we had enough for our two bowls, and a huge container to freeze for leftovers.
With the broth recipe, you first roast chicken wings and vegetables (to intensify their flavors.)
Next, you boil the roasted chicken and vegetables for hours along with shiitake mushrooms and aromatics.
By the end, the meat is falling off the bone and the broth is a deep brown. You’re never supposed to let it boil; it just barely simmers on low for hours. This keeps it from getting cloudy. (No one likes a cloudy broth!)
In the end, you strain the broth and you’re left with a giant bowl of spent chicken and vegetables.
Here’s the final product. We added chashu (using the Furious Spoon recipe,) a soft-boiled egg (that was a little overdone,) and scallions. I love the Hokkaido-style ramen at Misoya so Naoto made buttered corn and roasted potatoes to add to mine. It was a fun experiment for a Saturday! I kind of wish we’d started this earlier in the pandemic! There’s time to perfect Hasegawa Ramen before winter!