Goodness, but yesterday was a red-letter food day. Lunchtime saw me at Wei-Wei Palace for dim sum with Miss Veronica, and boyfriend Ted. Dim sum is one of those things that I have always wanted to eat, can describe accurately, and yet I somehow never had the actual experience. UNTIL NOW.
Dim sum is a little bit like tapas- small, shared plates, and a boisterous, relaxed environment. Unlike tapas the dishes in dim sum are pre-made, set onto little carts, and rolled between tables for you to pick and choose from. This is a great boon if, like me, you are unfamiliar with the food. You are released from the burden of ordering! There is no wondering whether descriptions are misleading you into picking the wrong thing- instead just pick the dumplings that look the most delicious. Or pick all the dumplings, like we did!
Highlights include shrimp-cilantro dumplings, pork rib niblets (watch out for bone, also- how the hell do you eat those with chopsticks without resorting to picking with greasy fingers??) chinese broccoli with oyster sauce, and deep-fried rice dough dumplings filled with an indeterminate meat. Stuffed to the gills, the tab was about $10 a person. A most wonderful lunch, and then you are right there at the market to pick up more dried fish which your cat will just eat in the middle of the night anyway! A perfect day!
Fat and happy, Ted and I went back home to finish the preparations for Dinner Party. I went a little nuts at the farmers market and came back with a dozen ears of corn. I'm still not entirely sure why. This was kind of a good thing, though, as it forced me to figure out ways to use all the damn stuff.
Item 1: Corn soup. This one was easy enough, as it was in the Times last week, has about 4 ingredients, and just sounded awesome. It was a thin corn stock with 1/2 pulverized, 1/2 chunky corn bits with just a bit of heavy cream. I served it cold, with chives.
Item 2: Corn popovers. These were a bit intimidating, I'll admit. Basically, you make a thin batter, pour it into heated muffin tins or custard cups, and pray that it balloons up perfectly into crispy-skinned, ethereal little poufs. These treats are how I realized that my oven runs at least 25 degrees hotter than set.
Non-Corn Items 1&2: I am still not the meat-cooker in the household; when Ted is away up North I tend back towards vegetarianism. So, it was not I who made grilled jerk chicken, and I couldn't replicate it if I tried. We are quite fair though: Ted does not bake, so Peach Cake fell on my shoulders. This Peach Cake is a Silver Palate recipe that my mom makes in the summer. It is so easy and good! You make it in a cast iron frying pan so the bottom gets caramelized and crunchy, and you top it with sugar/butter crumblies so the top is too!
4 Tbs butter
1/4 C sugar
1 C flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt (if using salted butter, omit)
1/4 C milk
3 good peaches, peeled + sliced
1/2 C sugar
4 Tbs butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350 (or 325 if your oven sucks like mine.) Grease a 9" cast iron skillet. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg. Mix dry ingredients and beat half into butter/sugar/egg. Beat in half of milk. Repeat with rest of dry ing./milk. Pour into skillet, top with peaches, bake 25 min.
Moosh topping ing. together with your fingers. Crumble on top of cake and return to oven for 8 min. (If your oven sucks, like mine, and the bottom is getting too dark, run the cake under the broiler CAREFULLY to melt/crunchify the topping. But if you go this route do NOT leave your oven's side. I mean it.
Eat this with ice cream!