3/18/2003

one must be very, very careful when using a mandoline, as i discovered yesterday. after countless warnings from various cooks and enough trepidation and fear on my part to put off using the damn thing, i finally gave into my craving for a lovely, rich, crusty root veg gratin. i finally busted the brand new benriner out of its cutesy (so japanese) packaging, and prepped some celeriac, parsnip, and a really old peeled potato buried in the veg drawer. damn potato. after finally figuring out how the beni works, i sliced with fair success, cautiously using large pieces of my vegetables to avoid any chance encounter between fingertips and sharp -- lemme repeat, sharp -- blade. unfortunately, the potato slipped, and i severed off half the tip of my thumb. it gushed everywhere, and i applied pressure like my life depended on it (and in my semi-panicked state, i half-believed it did). after an hour-and-a-half of clutching paper towel to bloody thumb (and yanking open the gash each time i took a peek under the towel -- note to self: paper towels will adhere to bloody appendages.), the gushing slackened sufficiently to where i could finally assemble the gratin (but no more slicing for me, no siree. i kept a safe distance from the mandoline until i left the house altogether): a layer of sliced celeriac, potato, and parsnip, arranged overlapping in a little round pyrex casserole, a bit of S&P, a healthy dusting of grated parm (ideally, i would've gotten some gruyere, but ah well), repeat until veg supply runs out, chuck a couple big knobs of butter on top, splash with half-and-half until it looks properly moistened. baked in a 425-degree oven. not bad. the trick to safely using a mandoline, apparently, is to hold the vegetable with a towel. tim made breakfast (and boy, are we ever grateful): poached eggs on sauteed eggplant-caper-vento d'estate (formaggio)-prosciutto hash on top of toasted english muffins. an aside: poaching eggs is a fairly entertaining kitchen amusement. the whites balloon out into these parachutes that suspend the egg in its acidic liquid environment. it's a rather neat little bit of stovetop choreography. (i confess: i was going to put up pictures of my mangled thumb, but that's a bit gross, innit?)

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