Richard’s biscotto baking is reaching epic proportions. It seems that every woman we know absolutely loves biscotti; and when they hear that Richard can make it, they absolutely need for him to bake them some. Richard has become quite proficient at baking, but this becomes a bit complicated when one is in a kitchen other than one’s own. Richard took on the making of four batches of this treat in Elaine’s kitchen on lake in Louisiana.
We had to search a bit for all the necessary baking implements, but by the time Richard got started, Elaine had arrived on the scene. I think Eda would have been amused that he had a real Sicilian assisting in the incorporation of just the right amount of flour before baking.
The sacrifice I had to make in all of this was that I lost my sous chef, and had to do all my own slicing and dicing for making the day’s delicacies. The ingredients for the shrimp and coconut soup with butternut squash were mostly pureed in the food processor, with the exception of the squash. If Richard had been on board for my prep work, every square of squash would be a uniform size and shape. But with me wielding the knives, the diners will have to settle for “wing-it woman” chunks.
The second dish I had decided to make was mu shu pork. I should have known better than to attempt this on my own! All Chinese food takes endless hours of slicing every morsel that will go into the wok into teeny tiny strips of uniform size. This is ostensibly because the Chinese believe that no one should have to work for their dinner once it reaches the table. Have you ever seen a table knife at a Chinese restaurant?
For hours, I accompanied Richard’s biscotti baking with various veggie tales. The crinkly cabbage of the Savoy variety was relatively easy to handle, while each scallion had to be individually sliced into pieces of precise dimensions. The mushrooms were supposed to be slivered. I was glad that these were the only three vegetables that needed my ministrations with a knife. This left me enough courage to tackle the pork.
Have you every tried to cut a piece of uncooked pork into matchstick–sized shreds? I can tell you that it’s not for the faint-of-heart. Pigs are wiggly, even when they’re called pork ribs. The strips did resemble matchstick dimensions when I finished cutting them, but they mutated when they hit the hot pan. They’re now more the size, color, and shape of fat earthworms (which are also sometimes referred to as wigglers).
Once I got it all together with a nice portion of homemade hoisin sauce, it’s all quite good, but it doesn’t look like any Chinese cook was in the kitchen doing the cutting. Last I looked, Richard was still rolling along with his biscotti baking, but I needed a nap.