|Grapefruit, coming to get you|
|Joanne Mariner, outside her round house, newly renovated|
|Tooth-puller, Djemma-el-Fna, Marrakesh|
|Hollywood Blvd. after 1994 Northridge Earthquake, around corner from my then apartment|
|Jane Morris, seated from The Spiral Staircase blog of writer Sarah Deming|
|Iconic Topanga house, formerly a watertower|
|Terry Zwigoff's "Crumb" documentary poster|
"He's crushing on you," I said, but Joanne demurred.
"You can have them, " she said. "I hate grapefruit. Maybe you can invent something to make using grapefruit."
Brown Derby Grapefruit Cake.
|Chef Maili's Grapefruit-Candied Fennel Salad: Photo by Elizabeth Messina|
|Chef Maili making veal lamb crust (Photo: Lauren Mann)|
CHEF MAILI'S ON-THE-FLY CANDIED FENNEL INSTRUCTIONS:
make a simple syrup (one-to-one sugar and water). sauce baby fennel or larger pieces of regular fennel with a pinch of salt. but you want a "chunk" of fennel as opposed to thin slices. saute in hot pan, olive oil and pinch of salt. turn down heat after first minute. then add simple syrup. in this case you are going to also add orange juice or blood orange juice or grapefruit juice since that is taste of this salad. (when I make a lemon fennel viniagrette for the early summer salad I do with warm apricots and cherries). the candied fennel will taste great on its own but then you can use drippings in pan in your vinaigrette.
Chef Maili's Balsamic Vinaigrette (subsitute blood orange-avocado oil), and sent a photo of the perfectly executed salad which she'd invented for an intimate Jimmy Choo event in 2006 (see above). The ingredients: candied fennel, segmented grapefruit, sliced avocado, grilled lobster, mixed baby greens, blood orange-avocado vinaigrette. I was hooked. Wouldn't you be? Even a pale rendition might delight.
|Cicciolina campaigning in Piazza Navona, circa 1987|
|Arancia Rossa, blood oranges|
|Campo dei Fiori market, Rome|
There remained the matter of a sifter. I hit Sur La Table on Wilshire, found a sifter. As I pulled the sifter trigger, I remembered operating one of these when I was a kid. For what, I don't know. But the action alone transported me. I also bought a cake pan. Though the recipe called for a 10", they only had 9" size. I figured I had what I needed.
|Jesus tortilla from Luke Ford's (ir-)reverent site|
Watched a vid per Maili's suggestion on how to segment citrus. Still working on it, but this one made it possible, even though I didn't get rid of all the pith. Chef Higgins Demonstrates How to Peel and Segment Grapefruit
Shot other pics of cake-in-process, but suffice to say -- I messed up by using that groovy motorized handmixer for the batter. Maili's voice was in my head, reminding me not to overmix any batter with baking soda or it would affect the rising -- but I zeroed in on "blend until smooth" in the recipe. So while the cake came out beautifully -- it hadn't risen as much as it should. Still, I was proud. As you would be with, say, a three-legged dog who gamely dashes to catch a frisbee.
Somehow it looked like an organ, a Mexican corazon with pulsing ventricles like you see on the loteria cards, only green. I stood it on the deck railing and mused. When I posted this fennel pic on my Facebook profile, along with a swooning praise of it in its rough then candied form, it garnered 20 odd responses.
Then my taster/dinner guest arrived.
When she arrived, I was still staring at the fennel trying to decide how to cut it.
"Quarter it," she suggested. That worked.
"How bizarre! Did you read my recent blog post about farmers markets and the Palisades Park rose garden?" I asked.
|Gaudi dragon vertebrae, Barcelona|