Foodie Tuesday: Artful Eating

Another pleasure of travel—of getting out of my familiar paths and habits—is discovering not only new things to eat but new ways of preparing and presenting foods I might have known all along. Whether there’s some entirely unforeseen ingredient or the known ones are combined in a completely unfamiliar way or plated more exotically or beautifully than I’ve seen before, it’s all, well, food for thought. And a danged fine way to assuage the hunger pangs brought on by wandering and exploring in new territory.

The time we spent in Europe in July was yet another happy example of this truism. So much so that I’ll just give you a few tantalizing shots for your contemplation and not go further. You’ll be wanting to dash off for lunch before I have any time to go on further anyhow, don’t you know.Photos: Artful Eating (Series) 2014-08-05.2.artful-eating 2014-08-05.3.artful-eating 2014-08-05.4.artful-eating 2014-08-05.5.artful-eating 2014-08-05.6.artful-eating 2014-08-05.7.artful-eating 2014-08-05.8.artful-eating

Foodie Tuesday: Fat & Sassy

In my unapologetically piggy way, I almost always manage to get a goodly amount of delicious fat into whatever food I’m fixing for any occasion. Yes, I do have the proverbial sweet tooth and oh boy do I crave my salt, and surely you’ve noticed that I rarely turn down practically any sort of food on offer at all. But there are some sneaky little biases that tend to recur so regularly that they might be considered trademarks of my taste no matter what dish or meal or bite is the treat of the moment, and tasty fat is one of those delights.

Doesn’t matter what’s the course of the meal or of the day, either one–fat is where it’s at.

Say, for a starter bite. Just putting some nice fatty dry salami together with pieces of dried apricots and chunks of dense, also fabulously fat, fried cheese makes an amazingly great treat that you might not even have to be as big an admirer of fat as I am to enjoy it all.photo

If that’s not fat enough for you (or if, like me, it’s simply not too much and therefore arguably not nearly enough), you can go about pumping up the main dish with some additional lipid-licious treasures. How about a sandwich with a nice thick slab of mozzarella or other mild, thick cheese and a whack of crispy bacon, glued together with a slathering of ginger jam and cradled between two slices of nut-butter based batter bread? All good, I assure you. Probably needed some good greasy chips to go with it, but the sandwich was perfectly serviceable on its own. Enough so that I’ll bet I could have enjoyed it with fruit or vegetables or some other ridiculously healthful and low-fat sides just the same.photo

That’d probably be an even better excuse to have a nice fat slice of sleekly fat dessert, no? Perhaps something like almond cream tart with chocolate sauce. Honestly, not a terrible way to alleviate the shortcomings of a meal that didn’t already have only strictly, gloriously fat ingredients beforehand. I like to keep my arteries well lubricated so my blood will flow nice and smoothly, you know.

Almond Cream Tart (an approximation of a recipe)

1/2 pound melted butter

1-1/3 cups sugar

4 large eggs

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1-1/2 teaspoons water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom

1-1/2 cups almond flour

Blend together thoroughly and divide the batter between two small, greased loaf pans and bake at 300 degrees until ‘sticky-finished’–very slightly underdone, or able to release a test toothpick fairly clean when it’s used to pierce the center of the loaf. Get the cakes out of the pans and let them cool enough to handle. While they’re cooling, line a Springform pan with plastic wrap.

Tear the cakes into large chunks. Distribute the cake pieces evenly in the Springform pan and press them down slightly. Moisten the cake with enough (1/4-1/2 cup of) heavy cream to help hold all of the pieces together. Smooth it out a little and sprinkle 1/2 cup sliced toasted almonds over the top of it. Press the almonds down, pull the plastic wrap over the top, and seal the tart into the pan. Then, into the fridge with it for a few hours or overnight, and when it’s well chilled it’s ready to glaze and serve.

To serve, plate up pretty pie wedges of tart for each diner. Microwave some more heavy cream (1/2 cup or so) together with some pieces of nice dark chocolate (I used Dove Promises) until you can stir them together into a nice smooth chocolate sauce and drizzle it over the top of the slices and take them all out to the table. Everybody stick your forks in and start making silly slurpy sounds. And don’t forget to wipe the luscious fatty residue off of chins, y’all. I may be greasing the skids to perdition, but isn’t it a lovely slide to take?photo