Food Friday: Fall Is Coming to the Spy Test Kitchens


School is back in session. The nest has emptied. The sun is setting earlier. And it is rising later. I have seen a hint of bronze on the green dogwood leaves. The autumn clematis has swept over the mailbox in a wave of white blossoms. It is still summer, technically, but I think we can embrace the notion that fall might be around the corner. Certainly if the Halloween decorations at Target are any indication of the relentless advance of shameless commerce, so Christmas should happen along any day now.

I haven’t gotten my sweaters out yet. Nor have I turned off the A/C, so I might be able to persuade Mr. Friday to continue at his post as grill master on the back porch. But I am itching to get back to the interesting baking that I keep reading about.

There are some cream puffs from the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook that I am longing to try. Instead, I whipped up a batch of mix brownies last weekend. They were a jot easier; I just ripped open a Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate Brownie box and added an egg, basically. I didn’t have the inclination to stand over a hot flame stirring up choux. But I bet the reaction when I finally do present the cream puffs will be worth the effort.

I am waiting for the The Violet Bakery Cookbook to come in the mail. I tracked down a second-hand version that is being sent via media mail, which probably means it will arrive along about Thanksgiving, when by rule of law, I can only bake the traditional pumpkin and pecan pies, and I will be yearning to bake Harry and Meghan’s elderflower wedding cake instead. A slightly scaled down version, of course. Maybe even cupcakes. We’ll see.

I have looked with yearning at a brand new, untested French bread pan I bought last year, when I felt sure that I was going to be a great bread baker. Instead, it has been tucked way back in one of the kitchen storage cabinets. Standing in the dark. The road to my personal hell is littered with lots of good intentions.

I was once given a tour of the vaunted Condé Nast test kitchens, before they moved their offices downtown, and I was enchanted by the space. Acres of pots, pans, stovetops, ovens, and turkeys being roasted in August for the Bon Appétit Thanksgiving issue. I was positively giddy feeling the zeal and enthusiasm for food there.

Bon Appétit has put out a lot of videos of their cooks and food editors in their shiny new 1 World Trade Center kitchens. I tried out this fettuccine recipe earlier this week. It was a keeper – no more fettuccine dripping high calorie heavy cream for us. This was practically health food! It was a warm pasta meal that I could make on a work night, with stuff I had actually hunted and gathered a couple of weeks ago.

I love a recipe I can prepare with food items already stockpiled in the kitchen. The less time I spend at the grocery store is good: there are books to read, and paintings to paint and falling autumnal leaves to await. I can’t wait for the weather to cool down, so I can have my own Spy test kitchen moments.

“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.”
― J.K. Rowling

About Jean Sanders

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