Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The office is nearly empty and, let's just say, the workload is light. Mmmm. It sure's a good thing I stumbled on today's Minimalist column in The Times.

Although, Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything is probably the most influential book in my life (possibly only rivalled by those of Beatrix Potter), I usually don't watch his web blurbs or his proper tv show. Well, today I did watch so mentioned blurb and it set off a whirlwind of activity in this most quiet and bored of cubicles.

The topic of his little vid? Welsh Rarebit. Now this isn't something I remember anyone in my family making, but I've always been super-into the idea. Particularly because it's vegetarian, easy and dare I say, cheesy.

So, I bopped around looking for what I took to be the "best" recipe I could find and to be honest, Mr. Bittman did it again. I'm reposting his. His adapted recipe is simple and I think has that certain Je ne sais quoi, ok, there's no je ne saising going on, I know what it is. First, his recipe is not just melty cheese over toast, but melty cheese over toast, broiled into a savory, gooey, most-wonderful mess.

So, here's the Mark Bittman recipe as it appears in The NY Times.

Time: About 20 minutes, plus cooling Adapted from Fergus Henderson

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon mustard powder, or to taste
½ teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
¾ cup strong dark beer, like Guinness
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, or to taste
1 pound Cheddar, Double Gloucester or other English cheese (or other good semi-hard cheese, like Comté or Gruyère, or a mixture), grated
4 to 8 pieces lightly toasted bread.

1. Put butter in a saucepan over medium heat and, as it melts, stir in flour. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and very fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in mustard and cayenne, then whisk in beer and Worcestershire sauce.

2. When mixture is uniform, turn heat to low and stir in cheese, again stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and pour into a broad container to set (you can refrigerate for up to a day at this point).

3. Spread mixture thickly on toast and put under broiler until bubbly and edges of toast are crisp. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 or more servings.

Some more stuff: While looking around for Rarebit recipes, I came across people who used the Rarebit cheese mixture as a sort of Rarebit fondue and another who used the cheese concoction as Macaroni n' (Rarebit) Cheese.

And I promise to find a way to work the french cousin of Rarbit, the Croque Madame and Croque Monsieur, into conversation.

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