I intended to cook when I got home from work last night. Specifically, I had designs on making a batch of Julie’s granola for part 2 of the Search for the Ultimate Granola; start on a batch of white buttermilk bread (despite the lack of a loaf pan); and whip up a quiche… tart… a thing with eggs and asparagus and onions to use up the asparagus that has been patiently sitting in my fridge. What makes the difference between a quiche and a tart, anyway?
Unfortunately for all these lovely culinary ideas, the dog decided that right before I came home was the time to snatch a blue Uniball off the coffee table and chew it to shreds so he could get blue ink all over himself and the carpet. Serves me right for leaving the little bastard out and hoping he’d have the good sense to play with his own damn chewtoys instead of my stuff. (DB bought a crate for him last night, so that’s where he’s going from now on.) After cleaning that up (mostly), I was so pissed off that all I wanted to do was cook or go to karate. It was too late for karate, and I was damn ready to go to cooking, but DB had other ideas: hibachi! It cheered me up a little, and we got to sit (unknowingly) with the new owners of the local hibachi joint. By the time we got home, it was too late for me to cook anything without having to stay up ridiculously late, so I took a shower and went to bed instead. Tonight, before and after karate, I have designs on cooking that quiche (tart?) and the granola. I have yogurt that needs a breakfast accompaniment, after all.
Before I went to bed last night, I decided on a whim that I needed to go through my clipboard and sort through all the various papers and crap that I’ve accumulated lately. Most of those papers were recipes that I have yet to copy over onto 3×5 cards for archiving purposes, although some of it was accounting notes. Somehow I came across some other recipes that I thought belonged in the stack of recipes, including Barbara’s recipe for methi paratha, which reminded me of the scallion pancakes I made back in March to go with tom kha gai. Since I don’t have anything current to post today, I’ll take a trip back in time to scallion pancakes, cooler weather and a good comfort food soup.
My mother is the reason I was ever introduced to Asian food of any kind in the first place; without her, I would have never known sushi, or Malay curry, or pho. I don’t remember where I had tom kha gai for the first time, but I do remember how good it was. I’d never actually eaten scallion pancakes, but the look of the pancakes on Tigers & Strawberries reminded me of some flatbread I favored at the Malay place in Marietta (actually roti, but I didn’t know at the time), and I wanted that mouthfeel again. I had a craving. Making those pancakes was, I guess, my first eye-opener into foodieism. I remember kneading the dough and oiling my hands, making a few mistakes but not failing in the recipe. The pancakes were kind to me; they let me screw up and keep going. I made the pancakes last, after the tom kha gai so it could have time to rest and meld, and so the pancakes could be served hot and crispy. For my first try, they were great – I made some without scallions and some with, and both were great. My non-adventurous roommate at the time even loved them, and the soup, too. For dessert for that meal, I made myself a funky iced version of “Vietnamese coffee,” which until I remember to get a real Asian coffee press (I keep hoping that maybe the local Asian grocery has some, but I’m afraid to look in case they don’t and my hopes are dashed), and some condensed milk, is just extra-strong percolated coffee, heavy cream and white sugar. A poor version compared to what Tony Bourdain describes in A Cook’s Tour:
“When the coffee has filtered through, it’s poured over the ice. Mingling with the milk below, it’s a slow, strangely mesmerizing process, delightful to watch and even better to drink. As the black coffee dribbles slowly through and around the ice cubes, swirling gently in dark-on-white wisps through the milk…”
…but it’s the best I can do with limited resources.
I can still drink the coffee, being iced and it’s hot outside, but the tom kha gai and the scallion pancakes have to wait until things get cool again. I can’t fry anything in the new kitchen without smoking the whole place up, and it’s too hot to be cooking a stockpot of tasty, creamy, spicy chicken soup on the stove. Until the cold returns, and I will bless its advent, I’ll just have to be satisfied with remembering that bite of chile and the tang of lime in the tom kha gai, and the tasty mouthfeel of scallion pancakes.