the Gustatory Experience

I enjoy food. Savor it. Over the last few years, I've hosted several dinner parties for my friends. The first was double-themed: 'Things that get stuck in your teeth,' and 'Things stuffed with themselves.' We've had 'Any kind of dumpling night' with wontons, samosas, and southwest puffs. 'Wrapped foods' was a simpler one, with enchiladas, sushi, and moo shoo. Our craziest one was 'Things that take effort to eat,' with lobster, ribs, nuts in shells, pomegranate, and more. Recently, I held a Korean dinner, with bulgogi, daeji gui, scallion pancakes, pan chan, and kim chee jigae. I'm thinking about holding 'Foods on sticks' some time. Other ideas that I've had but have proved out of reach are 'Raw Meal,' 'We Might Be Giants' (with miniature foods), 'Lets Eat Babies' (immature or unripe foods), and 'Foods that are still living.'

I'd like to share a few recipes here. More will come as I transcribe them. I'm in the middle of coordinating a Med school cookbook, and will be able to post the cookbook in the next month. But for now, here are a sampling of recipes.

Pear Upside Down Cake

1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 eggs, extra large
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
2 Pears, cored and thinly sliced
1 tbsp Unsalted butter
2 tbsp Sugar
1 tbsp Cinnamon, ground

Cream together butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Once creamed, add eggs one at a time and mix until fully incorporated. Add vanilla extract. Combine and sift flour, salt and baking powder, add to creamed mixture and mix slowly until combined. In a small saucepot, melt 1 tbsp butter, 2 tbsp sugar and 1 tbsp cinnamon and pour into a buttered and floured 9" cake pan. Arrange the pears on the bottom of the pan and then pour the cake batter over the top. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes or until golden. Let cool for 20 minutes. Over the flame, heat the bottom of the pan to loosen sugar mixture, then invert the pan, removing the cake. Serve warm.

Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled, diced
1 cup buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor outfitted with a plastic blade. Pulse until well-blended. Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 5 seconds.
2. Transfer mixture to a bowl and add the buttermilk.
3. Stir with a fork until it forms a dough.
4. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto a greased baking sheet, 1-inch apart from each other. The dough may also be spooned on top of savory fillings to form a crust. Bake until golden-brown, about 25 minutes.

Carrot Cake

4 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.
2 In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, white sugar and 2
teaspoons vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in carrots. Pour into prepared pan.
3 Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
4 To Make Frosting: In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Frost the cooled cake.

Chocolate Cake

2 cups boiling water
1 cup cocoa powder
2 3/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, soft
2 1/4 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two 9 inch rounds.
2. Mix hot water, cocoa. Whisk and set aside to cool
3. Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt
4. Combine in separate bowl: butter, sugar. then eggs, then vanilla.
5. Add flour and cocoa mixtures alternating.
6. Bake 25-30 mins.

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