Very short crust;
or, Richard Olney was wrong about something
Some friends gave me Sunday Suppers at Lucques, so I cooked them dinner from it. It's been a while since I did a real dinner party, and I have to admit it was, in fact, fun, both the cooking and the eating.
And the drinking.
The food was uniformly excellent. My first impression of the book was not charitable: poor man's Zuni. Second impression: how many braised fucking short rib recipes am I going to have to read before I die?
But I constructed a menu and forged ahead. The book is of course organized by season, and it is not Goin's fault that I had to choose recipes from three different seasons in the middle of our dark February food hole. (But it is bullshit to pretend that spring onions are called young onions so you can put them in the winter chapter).
I followed the recipes as closely as I ever will (not that closely: I stuck with chuck for the daube instead of Goin's dubious introduction of short ribs). They seemed a little fussy, but everything turned out à point, with a depth of flavor and attention to detail that proved the seemingly unnecessary flourishes to have been essential. Her versions of two standards, daube and flammekuche, were exemplary, both true to what they are supposed to taste like, but with a little extra.
I'm sorry, Suzanne, for doubting you.
The flammekuche did raise an interesting issue: the story of the really short crust. All her tarts call, sensibly, for frozen puff pastry. Who in their right mind would make puff pastry at home? Well, after my usual purveyors were out of the frozen stuff, and I was too lazy to go further afield (metaphorically: the other options were actually closer than the places I'd struck out, just to give you a sense of the perversity of my laziness), I did. Or rather, I made some calls, said "fuck that," and looked through books until I found someone to cater to my laziness. Shockingly, this turned out to be Richard Olney, who suggests in Simple French Food that pâte brisée can be made to puff by a few rounds of the roll, fold, refrigerate, repeat method one uses for real puff pastry.
Now, I'm a pastry ingenue, so the fault probably lies in my hot little hands. And I used italian 00 flour of unknown protein composition, wanting (I thought) to keep the crust as short as possible. Let's just say it was so short it resembled a map of Indonesia more than the continents Russ complains about. But I'm pretty sure the handling required is never going to produce an acceptable feuilletée or brisée.
Anyway, we learned three important things this weekend:
- Buy Sunday Suppers at Lucques no matter how many short rib recipes you have
- Buy the frozen fucking puff pastry you lazy fuck
- Cooking is still fun