March 10, 2016

Dear friends,

We joke that if we don’t kill each other first, Tony and I will return to Cupid’s Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas next year to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary. I hope we make it, but first we must weather the big chunks of togetherness his retirement brings.

“We are two different people,” Tony said today for about the twentieth time since he handed over the keys to his sushi bar last week. Yes, we’re very different. He throws stuff all over the house while I have a place for everything. He is a spendthrift, I’m a saver. He grew up in a patriarchal society, I’m a
feminist. And that’s just for starters.

A friend, Mitch Allen, wrote recently on Facebook, “Tony and Jane. So perfect and odd that it qualifies as a kind of art that no one could have expected yet everyone understands.” (Or as I paraphrased for Tony, “Mitch says as a couple we’re freaky-weird.”)

Fortunately we both like good food, although sometimes our ideas of what that entails are at odds.
Monday dinner, for example, was spaghetti with venison meat sauce for him and a broth bowl with wilted spinach, mushrooms and thin-sliced roast pork for me.

For Easter later this month he would probably love one of those cheesy breakfast casseroles made with frozen hash browns, but he isn’t getting it. I don’t serve those kinds of mindless fat sumps. I’m sure he will be even happier with what I will serve – tartines.

These French open-faced sandwiches are so perfect for breakfast and brunch gatherings I’m surprised they haven’t already taken over on Easter. They are nothing more than a sturdy slice of toasted bread, thoughtfully topped with a few ingredients. Attention is paid to texture, color and complementary flavors. Two or three varieties look so inviting on a platter. All that’s needed are juice and coffee.

If a few relatives show up I’ll probably make two or three kinds of tartines. If it’s just Tony and me, I’ll settle for a topping of soft-scrambled eggs, prosciutto, diced tomato and crumbled blue cheese.
Try the following combos or make up your own. Maybe you’ll find a freaky-weird pairing that somehow works.

Fresh ricotta cheese
Thin-sliced cantaloupe
Drizzle of honey
Sprinkle of fresh thyme

Smear of cold sweet butter
Thinly sliced radishes
Sea salt

Thin-sliced ham
Fig jam
Toasted walnuts

Serve the toppings on palm-sized slices (or half slices) of sturdy bread that has been toasted in the oven on a baking sheet. The toast and toppings may be made in advance. Assemble just before serving. If appropriate (for the scrambled egg tartine, for example), warm at 400 degrees on the top oven shelf for 5 minutes.

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TIDBITS

My friend Nancy would like me to point out that Monday is Pi Day (3-14), which she celebrates gleefully with pie. Pi Day pie is becoming a thing. If you’d like to celebrate but have no use for an entire pie, try this recipe I developed for a single serving of Key Lime Pie. It features a delicate custard filling with a tart lime flavor and sweet chocolate crust. Watch the filling closely while it cooks to prevent it from boiling and becoming lumpy.

KEY LIME MUG PIE
1 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup chocolate cookie crumbs (crushed Famous Chocolate Wafers)
1/3 cup sweetned condensed milk
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup lime juice (about 11/2 limes)
Grated zest of 1/2 lime

Melt butter in a 12-ounce ceramic mug on high power. Add crumbs and stir well with a fork. Press firmly into bottom of the mug.

Combine milk, egg, lime juice and lime zest in a measuring cup and beat well with a fork. Pour over crust in cup. Microwave on 50 percent power just until the first bubbles appear, about 1 minute and 15 seconds. Do not allow to boil. Place in freezer for 5 minutes for a soft set, or transfer to refrigerator until cool and fully set, about 30 minutes. Eat directly from mug.

THE MAILBAG

From M.K.:
I enjoy your newsletter. Thanks for all you do to bring us great food and recipes.

You may have noticed by now that you Curried Chicken recipe has an error–a not-revised ingredient. In the first paragraph after the ingredients the directions reference adding sour cream instead of the updated yogurt. I say this with kindness and as an editor. I can’t help but to see inconsistencies.

Secondly, I’m happy to see you use National Institutes of Health as a reliable online reference. However WebMD is not a reliable site. WebMD is a big pharma meta site with a “use drugs” bent. As per NIH and the New York Times, I use the Mayo Clinic’s site (www.mayoclinic.com) as a reliable, vetted medical information source.

Again, thanks for the great content.

Dear M.K.: I welcome all corrections. I try to be careful but as you know, errors can slip by the best of us.

Your take on WebMD is interesting. I have read the New York Times article and as a former nutrition reporter whose articles have run nationwide, here’s what I think: There are many awful nutrition sites on the Web but WebMD isn’t one of them. The heart of the Times columnist’s objections seems to be that it’s a for-profit site, unlike the Mayo Clinic site (which I use, also). Much of those profits come from ads from pharmaceutical companies. While no one has suggested that big pharma is dictating the content on WebMD, ads for medications are positioned next to information about related conditions. As a former newspaper reporter I can appreciate the concern, but that doesn’t mean the information consumers get from the site is in error.

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