I have just finished reading Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl, after appealing to various people for recommendations of books themed around food that weren't straight cookbooks (next on the list might be Brideshead Revisited). Ruth Reichl (for those who don't know her) was the editor of Gourmet magazine and the New York Times restaurant critic. The book is her memoir, until her late 20's, focusing on how food was always a love and a passion, and the guiding force to different paths she took even when she didn't realize it was food that was helping her along the journey.
I really enjoyed how she wrote - a gently comic vision of the people around her, and an often self-deprecating view of her own behavior. Plus, for anyone interested in food, you can't help but cast admiring glances at her food journey and how devoted she is to the sense of taste. It would seem almost cruel in a book about food to not include recipes, and Ruth slips a recipe in per chapter (relating to some key event of that chapter). The recipe that jumped out at me were for brownies (which are always on my radar), complemented by a critic at the time to be the best brownies the critic ever tasted.
Ruth Reichl's Artpark Brownies
(all measurements/temperatures given in American units)
- 2/3 C butter
- 5 oz unsweetend, best-quality chocolate
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 C sugar
- 1 C sifted flour
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F
- Butter and flour a baking tray (9 inch square is ideal)
- Melt butter and chocolate in double boiler
- When melted, add vanilla
- Beat eggs and salt in mixer. Add sugar and beat on high for around 10 minutes (or until mixture is quite white)
- Add chocolate mixture to egg mixture, beating on low until just mixed.
- Add flour and combine quickly until no white streaks remain.
- Place batter in pan.
- Put pan in over and immediately turn temperature down to 350 degrees.
- Bake for about 40 minutes - the brownies will be quite fudgy so even a toothpick test when the brownies are done should come out not-quite-clean.