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Betsy-Tacy-Onion

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I have always been a reader, so naturally I grew up with Anne of Green Gables. About a year ago I re-read the first book. You know? Anne Shirley was kind of annoying. Actually, really annoying. It was kind of crushing, to lose that bit of childhood joy.

Then my beloved Aunt Kathie came to my rescue- the entire Betsy-Tacy series. There are ten of them, not nearly enough! You guys, Betsy Ray is the most delightful heroine… I can’t really say “since” anyone, she predates most of them. Why, oh why didn’t I own these as a kid? (Really, mom. Why?)

I won’t attempt to summarize all ten books, since they span a good twenty years. The series follows Betsy, her best friend Tacy, and their third musketeer Tib from age five through marriage. “Lots of things will happen,” says Betsy when they meet. And they do.

One of the more charming Ray Family Traditions is called Sunday Night Lunch. Basically, Mrs. Ray gets the evening off from cooking and Mr. Ray makes sandwiches. What a glorious idea, I thought, and read on (these books are as long on descriptive food scenes as any Little House book) through cold roast chicken, pot roast… Onions. Onion sandwiches. The most popular offering of all, apparently.

I was as disgusted as you are. I couldn’t stop thinking about how gross that was. All that thinking inevitably led to curiosity, and here we are! I made onion sandwiches. I still think I would prefer the beef, but I have to say, they aren’t bad at all! Munch on one of these while enjoying Betsy-Tacy, and I guarantee you’ll forget all about that little twit Anne.

Betsy-Tacy-Onion

4 Challah, or brioche rolls
1/2 sweet onion
1/2 c white vinegar
Butter
Salt and pepper

Slice the onion into 1/4″ rings, and marinate in the vinegar at least a few hours, or overnight. Butter the rolls, and add the onion. Season every inch carefully- Betsy swears that is her father’s secret to the perfect sandwich.

I had seconds the next day with the addition of a tomato slice, and liked it even better. I suspect trading out the butter for mayonnaise could be even more delicious, but the Ray’s would not approve.

Serve with pickles, olives, coffee, and fudge.

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Restaurant Beancakes

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In my dreams, I totally have a restaurant. It features loads of brick walls, chalkboards, and the perfect shade of turmeric-stained yellow. There are reading lamps at every table. People take books and leave them on the shelves in the back. It’s a place to read, or write, while you eat amazing food and enjoy craft beer.

Joe Bastianich is happy to burst that bubble. In Restaurant Man, he does for restaurant ownership what Anthony Bourdain has done for restaurant employment. Common sense and f-bombs abound. It’s great.

The narrative traces his foundation in the family business, to his current mega-successes in New York and Vegas. Along the way, there’s wine tutorials, anecdotes about famous people, and of course, said bubble bursting about what it really takes to run a restaurant.

Here’s the thing, though. One simply cannot read a book about the food business, written by an acclaimed wine guy, without a bottle of rosé and some Italian-style eats. I am not going to attempt a veal or duck dish like Joe’s partner (Mario Batali) or mother (Lidia Bastianich) might make. Besides, when you drink the whole bottle a glass or two of wine, you want something hearty enough to offset the alcohol, while light enough to offset the extra calories. You can easily make this dish vegan by replacing the cheese with nutritional yeast.

Restaurant Beancakes

2 cups cooked white beans, drained
2 Tb balsamic vinegar
1/4 c Parmesan or Grana Padano
2 shallots (1/2 a red onion is fine too)
2 cloves garlic, cut in half
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 bunch basil (1 cup, packed)
1/2 c panko breadcrumbs
3 Tb flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

3 Tb olive oil

Give everything but the oil a good whoozh in a food processor. You want it fairly smooth. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-medium-high heat. Using your hands, shape the bean mixture into 4 large hockey pucks. Cook for 4-5 minutes each side. They’ll turn nice and brown. Splash with extra balsamic.

Serve with roasted tomatoes, crusty bread, and copious amounts of wine.

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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