Potatoes, elevated

So often, the simplest things are the best, especially now as the long winter yields (grudgingly, this year) to spring. Dinner tonight couldn’t be more elemental: a double-thick strip steak grilled over charcoal, pan-roasted local asparagus, and these fragrant, clay-baked potatoes.

We try to keep our cookware collection carefully edited; higher quality than we can really afford, and with as few “one-pot-wonders” (or is that “one-wonder-pots”?) as possible. So, for us to recommend a somewhat uncommon cooking vessel is, well, uncommon.

Nonetheless, here it is: an unglazed, unlovely, but uniquely qualified chunk of terra cotta that works a certain magic with chickens, potatoes, and other things that lend themselves to steam-roasting.

There are two easy tricks to cooking with this vessel (commonly sold here under the “Romertopf” name): soak it in water for an hour beforehand, and start it in a cold oven and bring it up to temperature.

Enough preamble. For some seriously good potatoes:

Soak your clay pot
Scatter 2 tsp grey sea salt or fleur de sel over the bottom
Tumble 2 lbs or 1 kg of new potatoes into the pot
Tuck 2 or 3 bay leaves (fresh is best) in amongst the spuds
Sprinkle 2 more tsp grey salt atop
Cover the pot, put it into a cold oven, bring it up to 375′ F, and bake for 45 mins
Turn the oven off, and let the pot sit there until you’re ready to serve
On the plate, crush the potatoes randomly and anoint them with a glug of good olive oil.

Rapture Recipes

So, we’ve all heard about the whack-a-doodles who think the rapture is coming tomorrow. If you’re a believer, it’s a bit late in the piece to be issuing invitations for a rapture party. On the other hand, if you’re a member of the reality based community, you probably have a lot more time to shop and prep for this more than slightly irreverent menu.

Welcome your guests with a Zombie Cocktail and drink to those whose “spirits” are destined to remain on earth.

By 6pm sharp, regardless of your time zone(!), the more pious of your guests will have shuffled off this mortal coil. Hell, that just means more food for the rest of you! Cheer up those who remain and help give props to those who’ve just galloped off to Heaven by way of Angels on Horseback: Bacon-wrapped Oysters.

A suitably effervescent cocktail to accompany this is The Benediction.

A gently chilled soup makes a nice first course, and echoes the chill that is likely to be running down your spine as you realize that the doomsayers were right all along. (If not, feel free to heat the damned soup up.) Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup carries any number of biblical allusions (some say the tomato was Eve’s Apple, after all).

For a main course that nods subtly toward those in the (now largely empty) Southern U.S., Ham in Coca-Cola: Tell your butcher that the ham must come from the pig’s Left Behind. (Rimshot) Thank you! I’ll be here all week! Or will I?

Beer goes well with pork, and what could be more appropriate than Quebec’s own La Fin du Monde (the end of the world)? As a side, sauteed broccoli rabe with red chili and lemon strikes bitter, sour, and hot notes that give culinary voice to your stinging regret. For a starch, recall Lot’s salty Wife with delicious Potatoes Baked in a Salt Crust.

For dessert, we’re having trouble coming up with anything more apt than this rather involved Heaven and Hell Cake, which bears a striking resemblance to the Gateau Opera that we made a few weeks ago and will blog about soon.

If there is a soon, that is.