13 January, 2009

my love affair with Richard Corrigan











Isn't this photograph wonderful? I completely forgot, in my zeal to tell you about Washington, D.C., to describe our most wonderful experience of all: the self-photography project at the Corcoran Gallery! An artist called Mark van S has initiated a ridiculously simple interactive project: he's set up a camera against a white screen, and visitors can photograph themselves with a little remote button, and the photographs are shown immediately on an enormous screen in the museum lobby, then accessioned onto a computer system. It's open until January 25, and I cannot tell you how much we enjoyed it! Silly expressions, John held up his shoe, then Avery horizontal, then Avery's back of head. A lovely, spontaneous way to express yourself. Go! Do it.

Well, as for my subject line, I exaggerate as usual. It's a love affair only in my bookshelf, on my countertop, in my oven. Richard Corrigan is a divinely Irish Irishman, and a divine cook, and what's more, he can write a mean cookbook with recipes that actually WORK. Which is no easy task, as I can tell you trying to do the same myself (without the Irishness or the divinity).

But first, how on earth has nearly a week gone by without my speaking to you? Oh, no no, I'm being too hard on myself: it's only since Monday, the last day of Avery's school holiday. And would you believe, that very day I got an email from someone asking about our plans for HALF-TERM?? That's right, she has another week off in just a MONTH. Lord have mercy.

Tragically the most memorable event of our week was the unbearably sad memorial, yesterday, to the daughter of friends, a child who went to school with Avery and died of a brain tumor after a year of suffering. It seemed unbelievable to be gathered, yesterday morning, in the same church where countless Spring Concerts, Christmas Festivals and Harvest Thanksgivings had been sung with Avery's school, all faces alight with smiles and pride and indulgent love. Yesterday all was darkness, to me. So much black clothing, so many tears and tissues. Heartbreaking recitations and readings and singing from the child's best friends, her headmistresses, family. Finally finished and I could go home to wait until time to collect Avery at school, hold her tight, appreciate her whingeing about homework, rejoice in her annoying requests for permissions to be signed, bathing costumes found. The joy in feeding her dinner, watching her talk with her father, chase the shy cats.

And we were invited next door to meet our new neighbors: two tiny black kittens! Indistinguishable, one boy, one girl, Midnight and Smokey. I think we will be frequent visitors.

And perhaps the single funniest moment of all of John's ongoing job crisis. I told Avery this afternoon that he'd spent all day on the phone with his "erstwhile partners." "What does erstwhile mean?" Avery's friend Emily asked ingenuously. "Used to be," I said succinctly, but Avery added, "Well, they went from ersatz partners to erstwhile rather quickly." God love her education.

No, the single funniest moment for a long LONG time came when Avery burst out of school to ask us if we'd heard of the latest Ben and Jerry's flavor of ice cream, "Yes Pecan." That is what makes America great, and may we have MORE of it in the coming four years.

Today battling my stupid cough once more, which seems to come and go, some days leading me to believe cockily that I'm through, and then I am completely winded by running up and down five flights of stairs to do laundry. Either I have some dread disease or... I don't. Either way, it's making it a bit of a chore to host 30 ladies tomorrow afternoon from... Lost Property. Yes, lunch tomorrow will be all of us discussing everything under the sun from politics to childrearing to art history to catering to... whatever these mind-bendingly impressive volunteers from Avery's school can get their minds up to. And my contribution? Ah, here's where Richard Corrigan comes in. It's my irreplaceably luxurious, ridiculously caloric, every-bite-counts crab tart. Just you wait, Lost Property.

Crab Tart with Scallions and Goats Cheese
(serves 12)


175 grams plain flour
75 grams cornflour (cornstarch)
1 tsp salt
120 grams cold butter
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 eggs, beaten
sprinkles cold water

250 grams white crabmeat
250 grams goats cheese
1 bunch scallion, minced
600 ml double cream
6 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten

Make the pastry by mixing, in a food processor, the flour, cornflour, salt, butter (in little pieces, gradually), and thyme. Then add eggs and water to make a nice stiff dough and form into a ball. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

Roll out pastry to be at least 2 inches larger all round than the tart tin (21 cm diameter and 3 cm deep). Line the tin gently with the pastry, draping the extra over the sides (do not trim yet). Line with foil and weight with beans and bake at 160C for 40 minutes, then take out the foil and beans and check to see if the pastry is dry. If not, bake again for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs with the cream and season well. Beat the leftover egg and brush the baked pastry crust with it, all over. Scatter the scallions and crabmeat over the bottom, then pour over the cream and eggs. Bake at 180C for 20 minutes, then lower the heat to 160C for another 40 minutes. Leave tart to cool to room temperature before serving.

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You will roll over and beg like a dog when you have tasted this recipe. I have rephrased Richard's (can I call him that? after all, I do love him) instructions as I do not have his cookbook to hand right here. It's called "The Clatter of Forks and Spoons" and is a delight to read, but I can tell you now it is also a COOKBOOK. Bless his little Irish heart, and may my Lost Property Ladies enjoy the fruits of my labors.

2 comments:

Christian said...

Look, I can comment on this blog.

Hey, good to run into you this morning.

In addition to the permanent illness, which will not be commented on (the Brits should have just sent two toddlers to wipe out the Delaware, instead of smallpox-infected blankets, two comments -

One, we had a fantastic 3 plus hour lunch at Corrigan's Lindsay House before he lost interest in it and moved to Mayfair. Top stuff.

More sadly, we went through losing our nephew at 9 yrs old via a brain tumor last year, it shouldn't happen at all so our sympathies to your daughter's classmate's family and the community. Something children shouldn't really have to learn about.

Kristen In London said...

oh, it was great to see you too and meet young Sam, was it? He didn't look too lethal to me... but they run stealthy, I know. I will report back after our Corrigan's lunch.

I am so sorry to hear about your loss, your poor nephew. It is an unspeakable loss, even from the distance of mere friendship let alone family. You have all my empathy. See you soon, Christian. Thank goodness for Chez Kristoff!