Grillo Center Labyrinth

Grillo Center Labyrinth
Meander and Meet....designed by George Peters and Melanie Walker of Airworks For more information contact Susan at

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Saturday Morning Walkers - April 1, 2007

Hi everyone!

Sorry I missed yesterday's walk and coffee at Vic's Downtown (I love that place!). I do have lots to share this week - especially in the food department.

Book Report: After seeing The Namesake at the movies last week, I was motivated to read the book that it was based on, by Jhumpa Lahiri. The movie was a bit slow but a good story. Needless to say, the book is is a much fuller, detailed story. Our book group read Lahiri's collection of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies. She is a wonderful storyteller and really brings her characters to life.

Amazon.comAny talk of The Namesake--Jhumpa Lahiri's follow-up to her Pulitzer Prize-winning debut, Interpreter of Maladies--must begin with a name: Gogol Ganguli. Born to an Indian academic and his wife, Gogol is afflicted from birth with a name that is neither Indian nor American nor even really a first name at all. He is given the name by his father who, before he came to America to study at MIT, was almost killed in a train wreck in India. Rescuers caught sight of the volume of Nikolai Gogol's short stories that he held, and hauled him from the train. Ashoke gives his American-born son the name as a kind of placeholder, and the awkward thing sticks.
Awkwardness is Gogol's birthright. He grows up a bright American boy, goes to Yale, has pretty girlfriends, becomes a successful architect, but like many second-generation immigrants, he can never quite find his place in the world. There's a lovely section where he dates a wealthy, cultured young Manhattan woman who lives with her charming parents. They fold Gogol into their easy, elegant life, but even here he can find no peace and he breaks off the relationship. His mother finally sets him up on a blind date with the daughter of a Bengali friend, and Gogol thinks he has found his match. Moushumi, like Gogol, is at odds with the Indian-American world she inhabits. She has found, however, a circuitous escape: "At Brown, her rebellion had been academic ... she'd pursued a double major in French. Immersing herself in a third language, a third culture, had been her refuge--she approached French, unlike things American or Indian, without guilt, or misgiving, or expectation of any kind." Lahiri documents these quiet rebellions and random longings with great sensitivity. There's no cleverness or showing-off in The Namesake, just beautifully confident storytelling. Gogol's story is neither comedy nor tragedy; it's simply that ordinary, hard-to-get-down-on-paper commodity: real life.

Podcast Recommendation: You can download a weekly podcast from The Splendid Table website - - a great food site and a very entertaining podcast.

Website Recommendations: Mandy sent me this one - - she wanted me to know about a featured snack on the site - Thou Shall Snack Latke Crisps, Original Flavor - the site is a light-hearted, fun nutrition and food site.
The other site I heard about is http://www.toptipsforgirls/ - a fun, young "advice" site (for all of us fun, young girls!)

Food and Cooking Report:
Here's the recipe for the Baked Cod with Stuffing on Top and White Risotto that we had at book group last week at Rita's house - it is from Rachael Ray's 2, 4, 6, 8 Cookbook - just luscious!
8 cups chicken stock
3 T extra virgin olive oil (plus some for drizzling)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine8 center-cut cod fillets ( 8 ounces each)
salt and black pepper
2 cups seasoned stuffing mix
2 small garlic cloves, chopped
Generous handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 stick butter, softened
1 large shallot or 1/2 medium onion, minced
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese (4 generous handfuls)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Warm the stock in a medium sauce pot over medium-low heat.

Heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for 2 -3 minutes, then add the rice and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the wine and let it evaporate entirely, stirring occasionally. Add a few ladles of the warm stock. Stir the stock into the rice and cook until it is absorbed, stirring occasionally. Continue to add the stock to the rice, stirring with each addition, as you make the fish.

Pat the cod dry, drizzle it with olive oil, arrange it in a baking pan, and season with salt and pepper.

Place the stuffing in a large food storage bag. Press out the air and seal the bag, then crush the stuffing into crumbs with a rolling pin. On a cutting board, sprinkle the chopped garlic with some large-flaked salt and smash it to a paste b pressing the heel of your hand against the flat blade of a chef's knife. Combine the paste with some pepper and the parsley. Mix the paste with the softened butter and combine the softened butter thoroughly with the crumbs and the shallots or onions. Top the fish evenly with the butter crumbs and bake it in the center of the oven for 15 - 18 minutes. If the fish seems slow to firm and the stuffing isn't browning, you can switch the oven to broil for the last 2 - 3 minutes and that'll do the job. The rack should remain at the center of the oven.

Add the last of the stock to the risotto and stir until absorbed. The risotto will take 22 minutes, total and will become very creamy if yo stir it frequently as the liquid is added. The stirring process will release the starches that cream the rice. The rice should absorb all of the liquids in that time. If you need a bit of extra liquid, water will do. In the last minute or so of the cooking time, fold in the cheese and turn off the heat.

Serve the fish with white risotto alongside. Rita served this with steamed asparagus tips - perfect!

Dessert was Ina Garten's Frozen Key Lime Pie -,1977,FOOD_9936_23370,00.html

I made a couple of great meals this week:

Stracoto with Porcini Mushrooms from Giada De Laurentiis - very tasty pot roast,,FOOD_9936_28425,00.html?rsrc=search

Basil Chicken Hash from Ina Garten - a fair amount of prep but well worth it - very colorful and fun dish -,,FOOD_9936_35293,00.html?rsrc=search

Dark Chocolate Mousse from Ellie Krieger of the Food Network - this very dense, rich dessert has a secret ingredient, tofu!- Jack loved it and has no idea that it had tofu in it.

That's it for now - have a great week!

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