Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Raclette Rocks!

I feel like I've been on a tilt-a-whirl for the past few days. Donz and I got news from the publisher- they're going to do it! As the reality trickled in the whooping euphoria gave way to the usual roundabout of self defeating questions. But I am excited- in a terrified kind of way. Recipe thoughts and ideas are swirling around my head. I've been trying out some of these ideas on the Kiddles and Hub. My eezy-cheezy macaroni and cheese recipe experienced a whole new life once I added half a teaspoon of smoked paprika to it. And I think I have the beginning of something with the blueberry pancake muffins with a maple syrup glaze I baked yesterday.
My everyday life has continued, despite me being lost in a cookbook haze. I have a chocolate order due tomorrow. The 2 older Kiddles had Parent-Teacher conference last night. My parents are coming in tonight and staying for the weekend. We're going to have a large Shabbat event here the day after tomorrow at the house, and I volunteered to cook for it. I had a 1100 word article due on Monday, and I have another one on fried treats for Hanukkah due this Monday. I'm thinking about going totally over-the-top with crispy mac 'n cheese squares and fried ice cream (like at El Torito).
And then placed artfully in the middle of all this responsibility and commitment was Raclette Night at Noemi's. This dinner will definitely be shelved in my top ten. Noemi's apartment is on the Upper West Side, and it has a very single-citygirl-chic aesthetic to it. Her guests sat comfortably around a large dining table. In the center of that table was a Raclette set. Noemi is Swiss, so this was the real thing. It made my purist heart sing a song as clear as the alpine air. The cheese was melted on little trays and a whole array of accoutrements were laid out around the Raclette. There was a seasoned pepper that I took a shine to, cornichons or more accurately; gherkins, pickled pearl onions, grilled peppers and zucchini, and of course boiled new potatoes to slather the melted cheese on-mmmm.
Most of her guests are Raclette pro's, being Swiss or closely related to a Swiss person. Everyone had their own combinations. I settled on a 3 slice system, kicked up with a liberal amount of seasoned pepper- once melted, it covered my baby potatoes in a silky layer of cheesey bliss. Happy-Happy Joy-Joy!
Of course in order to be in the top-ten it must be about more than the food. It's also about the company. The crowd was definitely International in flavor as well as accent- friendly and funny too. Swiss Misster told a story about the Raclette gathering he hosted where his friend brought a friend who hated cheese. I could just imagine the look of nausea that crept across her face when she was assaulted full frontally by a very powerful fromage odor. The British Lass to my left had me sitting back in my chair and chuckling heartily as she told me about her baking misadventures. Noemi was the perfect hostess, the slices of raclette cheese were endless, and the peppermint tea she urged as a raclette companion went together as well as pizza and beer.

For dessert I brought a buttermilk pound cake that was as simple and as sweet as a fresh daisy. Raclette Night at Noemi's could not have happened at a better time for me. I had taken some disappointing news from a friend a few days earlier and it was refreshing to get out of my little world. At some point I took a Raclette break by the window that overlooked the West Side, with the mom of brand new twins. We chatted amiably about mom-stuff but in a different context that I'm used to. The night was a delicious reminder that there is so much more to discover and so many more people to meet.

Buttermilk Pound Cake
3 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soad
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. butter, softened
2 1/2 c. sugar
6 eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 c. buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a bundt pan or a tube pan. In a medium bowl mix together flour, baking soda, and salt- set aside. In a big bowl, beat butter with sugar. Mix in the eggs- one at a time- beating well after each addition. Fold in the vanilla extract. Mix in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Pour batter into pan. Bake for 60-75 minutes. WHen the top of the cake is a warm golden color, and a toothpick inserted in it's center comes out clean- the cake is done.

* 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice/lemon rind?

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