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Splintered Trout ala Wonderland

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Guys, I really don’t know where to start with this one. It’s SO GOOD, and I don’t want to give anything away. I guess I could start with the basics- Splintered, by A.G. Howard, is a dark, twisted homage to Lewis Carroll.

The book opens with Alyssa, Alice Liddell’s great-great-great granddaughter, explaining why her art is made of dead bugs. Because when she kills them, they stop speaking to her. All the women in her family have gone mad, and it always starts like this. Poor Alyssa just wants to make art, and skateboard, and hang out with her totes adorbs neighbor Jeb.

Naturally, the fates conspire to dump her into Wonderland. Although in this story, it’s more like Horrorland. I can’t say enough about this creepy, icky translation of the classic novel- it’s phenomenal. And the Caterpillar… GAH. Read this book, guys!!!

There are a couple marvelous food scenes in the book, but I took my inspiration from the Feast of Beasts. The first course is a live goldfish that Alyssa accidentally spills her apple-cinnamon wine on in her disgust. In the interest of less flippiness on your plate, I went with a cooked trout. If you’re after more authenticity, I bet the sauce would be super tasty on salmon sashimi.

Splintered Trout ala Wonderland

2 large fillets of rainbow trout
3/4 c apple juice or cider (100%)
1 Tb butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Lightly salt the fish fillets. Heat the apple juice in a shallow pan until simmering. Add the fish, and poach for 2-3 minutes, or barely cooked through. Remove the fish and turn the heat up to high.

Seriously, watch it the whole time, reductions can go awry in no time at all! Reduce the juice to about 3 Tb, turn off the heat, add the butter and cinnamon.

Spoon over the fish. Serves you and one romantic netherling- neighbor! I meant neighbor! (No I didn’t. Team Morpheus!)

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Posted by on March 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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The Oyster Cure

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Moth is 12 when her mother sells her into servitude in Ami McKay’s The Virgin Cure.For girls from the tenements of 1871 Manhattan, it’s the kindest choice available. When the abuse of her new mistress becomes too much, Moth runs away to live on the streets. Now she has a choice: stay on the street and risk becoming a “virgin cure” for a syphilitic man, or auctioning her virginity through a brothel known as the Infant School. On her journey, she encounters a colorful cast of unhappy servants, circus freaks, whores, and an unlikely female doctor.
When a girl from the brothel is wooing Moth, they eat oyster stew at a local shack called Graff’s. This recipe is in no way authentic to the time, but it’s still delicious!

The Oyster Cure

4 strips bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 russet potato, diced
1/4 oyster mushrooms (optional, but so cute)
4 Tb butter
1/2 lb oyster meat (jarred is fine)
1/4 c flour
2 c whole milk
1 c beer, lager or ale, no stouts here!
1/4 soy sauce

Render the bacon in a large saucepan until it’s crispy. Remove, and add the butter to your pan. Cook the onion, celery, potato, and mushrooms in the bacon fat/ butter mixture. When the vegetables are soft, add the flour. Stir while cooking for one minute before adding the milk, beer, and soy. Let the stew simmer for a few minutes before adding the oysters in their juices. Cook just until they start to curl and serve immediately. I garnished mine with canned smoked oysters, scallions, and plenty of hot sauce.

Serves 4.

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The Pasta Betrayal

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I picked up (downloaded) Sara Poole’s The Borgia Betrayal purely because I was in the mood for some high-drama historical fiction, which I felt the title promised. And it did deliver! It turns out this was her second book starring Francesca the Poisoner, but I didn’t feel I had missed anything by not reading the original. As one may deduce from the title, Francesca is Pope Rodrigo Borgia’s pet poisoner. Although she is more than capable of offing his many, many enemies, most of her work involves the detection of poisons aimed at the Borgia family. Now, with his daughter’s wedding fast approaching, the discovery of the New World setting off political bombs, and the rise of an ultra-conservative fanatic group, Francesca finds both herself and La Famiglia targeted by unseen enemies. Francesca loves good simple food, which is rather more decadent in Italy than it is here in the States. Her caretaker Portia makes this simple pasta for her the night before it all goes down. If you can’t find good canned sardines, feel free to substitute anchovies or tuna.
The Pasta Betrayal
8 oz fettucini
4 oz can smoked sardines in olive oil
2 fennel bulbs, fronds attached
1 Tb fennel seeds
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 lemon

Put water on to boil for the pasta. While it heats, open the can of sardines. Drain the oil into a saucepan, than add more olive oil until the bottom of the pan is liberally covered. Add red pepper and fennel seeds, and heat over medium. While it warms, core and slice the fennel, fronds and all. Once the oil is hot, add the fennel. Stir frequently. Once it begins to look caramelized, add the garlic and sardines. Break them up as you stir. After about a minute, add the wine. At this point, your pasta should be about ready to cook. Turn the fennel mix down to the lowest heat while the fettucini cooks. When it’s ready, use tongs to add pasta to the saucepan and toss well. Add a splash or two of pasta water if needed.

Serve with the rest of the bottle of wine, crusty bread, and a salad.

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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