Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
The day before Hurricane Sandy, we all went up to the country, and we brought along gifts.
The countryside's haunting, unassuming beauty always surprises me, and while there is nothing wrong with the city, in the country I can breathe easier, there's a slower pace, and I can stop, take a moment, and not rush at all.
Kaitlyn Du Ross brought up a stack of beautiful linens, some knitted throws, and her squat, fawn-colored dishes, overflowed. Anna Helm Baxter and I drove up with the food. Her lemon-y, crunchy, roasted chicken was perfect, my sweet potato anna set the oven on fire.
I'd pickled some eggs, too, in ruby-red beet juice, and Anna had made us two pies; a tart, choc-full of walnuts buried deep in a hot caramel sauce and an apple pie, rustic-style, with a free-from dough.
I made biscuits using Scott Peacock's recipe from Kim Severson. The dough was flaky, light. The secret is stabbing it with a flour-dipped fork, repeatedly. Funnily enough that's what makes it rise. In my first batch, I didn't do it, and they were flat, and tough, like circular hockey pucks.
Photographer Justin Walker bought his camera and his axe, and proceeded to make light work of the boughs, and tree limbs that ended up in short stacked little logs. As the winds started to swirl, from the much-to-close Hurricane, Kaitlyn donned a wintery sweater, Justin pulled out a deck of cards and Anna emerged with her feast, and we hunkered down, to eat, almost holding our breaths, waiting for what surely was to come...
→ A (PRE-HURRICANE) FALL DINNER MENU Cheeses, Pickled Garlic Scapes, Cocoa Pears Chips, Whole Cracked Walnuts. Dry-Brined Roast Chicken with Lemon, Garlic and Shallots Sweet Potato Anna with Port-Soaked Prunes Black Kale (Cavalo Nero) in Anchovy Sauce with Crunchy Breadcrumbs Scott Peacock's Classic Buttermilk Biscuits Rustic Apple Tart Walnut Caramel Tart.
→ RECIPES COCOA PEAR CRISPS From Rivka, at Food52.com, click here to get recipe
SWEET POTATOES ANNA WITH PORT-SOAKED PRUNES From MRSP, at Food52.com, click here to get recipe
SCOTT PEACOCK'S CLASSIC BUTTERMILK BISCUITS From Kim Severson, click here to get the recipe.
DRY-BRINED ROAST CHICKEN with LEMON, GARLIC & SHALLOTS An ingenious idea: "Dry-brining" gives the chicken maximum flavor. From Anna Helm Baxter
"The chicken I added kosher salt (maybe 4 TBSP) and rubbed all over placed in a ziplock for 24 hours. I then dry off the chicken with paper towel and rubbed with softenened butter all over. I re-seasoned, stuffed it with rosemary, thyme, lemon and garlic cloves cut in half through the equator and cooked at 425F for 1 hour, until golden and the juices run clear when a skewer pokes into the thigh."
WALNUT CARAMEL TART Originally from Mary Cadogan at BBC's Good Food, adapted by Anna Helm Baxter.
6oz plain flour 3oz butter, cut into small cubes 2oz caster sugar 1 egg yolk FOR THE FILLING 7oz caster sugar 4oz butter, cut into small pieces 7fl oz whipping cream 7oz shelled walnut halves
Heat oven to 375F. Put the flour in a food processor with the butter and sugar and mix until it forms fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and 1-2 Tbsp cold water and pulse to make a firm dough. Refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes.
Have ready a pie dish. Briefly knead the pastry on a lightly floured surface, then roll out to a round about 2 inches larger than your pie pan. Lift on to the pan with the help of your rolling pin, then press into the corners using your finger. Trim and shape dough. Chill for 30 minutes
Fill the pastry case with a round of parchment and baking beans. Blind-bake for 10 minutes, remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 5-10 minutes until the crust looks dry and is very slightly golden.
To make the filling, put the sugar in a large pan with 3 Tbsp cold water. Heat gently, stirring to dissolve the sugar. When the sugar is completely dissolved, increase heat and bubble until the syrup has turned a rich caramel color. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until it has dissolved, then stir in the cream. Return to the heat and boil hard, stirring until the sauce is thick enough to leave a gap on the base of the pan when you draw your spoon across it. Stir in the walnuts.
Fill the pastry case with the nut mixture, leveling it with a fork. Return to the oven for 8-10 minutes until the filling is bubbling. Allow to cool.