A Homemade Life, Book Review

My long weekend at home over the New Year holiday was to cook a lot (will post on that subject soon) and read “A Homemade Life” by Molly Wizenberg, blog-turned-book by way of Orangette. I commented to a friend last week how kid-in-a-candy-store it is now to see the growing section of books with personal accounts of food and cooking, versus the classic cookbook with occasional humor and personal touch throughout it’s pages. A few years ago, books about food were limited to biographies about chefs and food editors, or the Gourmet compilation of food writing naturally derived from its monthly publication. In other words, if you were “in the know” about food, you had everything you needed after purchasing the latest cookbook, devouring Bon Appetit or Gourmet montly, and had a dinner reservation at such-and-such hot new place. Not that there is anything lacking in that, but I love that now, we can pick up a book about Molly Wizenberg’s account of how cooking and her love of food helped her grieve her father’s death and celebrate his memory, or how it connected her to unexpected friends and ultimately, her husband. It’s a true story that is neither biography nor memoir…it’s a story that notes memorable food throughout a memorable period of her life. I found her trustworthy (I love a gal from the midwest who isn’t afraid to be fearless and vulnerable at the same time), with a good heart and great stories behind the recipes she dishes out. For my friends in Seattle, she talks a lot about living there which I know is fun to read when you can identify with the weather, bus schedule, restaurants and such.

Here are a few recipes from the book I will be trying in the short weeks ahead:

Bouchons au Thon: “With a texture somewhere between that of a quiche filling and a freshly made country pâté, they tamed the flat pungency of canned fish with the sweetness of tomato and the rich butterfat of crème fraîche.”

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces canned (water-packed) chunk-light or solid albacore tuna, drained
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) finely grated or shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 1/3 cup creme fraiche
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • Leaves from 2 or 3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease 8 wells of a standard-size muffin tin with nonstick cooking oil spray.

Place the tuna in a medium mixing bowl; use a fork to break up pieces any larger than a dime. Add the cheese, creme fraiche, tomato paste, eggs, onion, parsley and salt, stirring to thoroughly combine. (The mixture will be a soft orange-pink color.)

Divide the mixture evenly among the 8 muffin wells. Use water to fill any empty wells halfway full to prevent those wells from scorching. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the tops and edges of the bouchons are set.

Carefully pour the water out of the muffin wells, then dislodge the bouchons by running a rounded knife around the inside edges of their wells. Let them sit for 2 to 3 minutes, then carefully extract them and transfer to individual plates (2 for each portion).

They will collapse a bit as they cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

As well as:

Scottish Scones, found on Orangette.

Burg’s French Toast, her father’s recipe and said to change your life.

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