A long time ago, I remember reading a very intelligently written, though somewhat mocking, commentary about teenage girls. The author found it absolutely fascinating that teenage girls cry, hyperventilate, and sometimes even faint when they see the objects of their infatuation, live. He wondered what it is that produces such passionate reactions in girls from the era of the Beatles and Elvis Presley to today with the likes of Justin Timberlake and Ashton Kutcher. Unfortunately, the article didn’t come to any real, logical conclusions; female brains are simply biochemically weird that way. (I had originally typed "wired," but "weird" seems to fit much better.)
When I was in junior high and high school, I didn’t experience quite the same sort of outrageous obsession-to-the-point-of-physical-sickness with young, male celebrities. Sure, I thought that Leonardo di Caprio was adorable, that Johnny Depp was the epitome of cool (those were the days of 21 Jump Street!), and that Christian Slater was totally hot, but I think that was somewhat a by-product of peer pressure – it was something that all my friends thought, so I did, too. However, I never holed myself up in my bedroom weeping over my unrequited love for boys or built mini-shrines with magazine clippings and posters push-pinned onto my wall. Dad let me hang up a world map from National Geographic and a wall calendar. With tape so it wouldn’t cause permanent damage to the paint.
Certainly I suffered my fair share of crushes with more accessible figures in my life. But aside from Jayson, the quarterback of our football team, who was the frequent object of desire of almost every female in my high school, my crushes usually diverged from the normal high school infatuation with regularly accepted studly jocks. To put it bluntly, I had an inexplicable burning love for brilliant, adorable brainiacs.
But I think that not allowing myself to suffer such ridiculous, weepy, infatuation en masse with celebrities and always finding myself deviating from the normal high school crushes during my teenage years has resulted in some strange delayed displacement of behavior. Among the many mental inllnesses from which I suffer now, one of the more prominent food-related disorders that I am quite certain is absolutely incurable is OCD – Obsession with Chefs Disorder.
More specifically, I have an almost-teen-like obsession with Tyler Florence. I find Tyler absolutely adorable – rugged good looks, charming accent, all-American boy. Obviously, the fact that he cooks is quite an attractive feature, and let’s not get into the fact that while most normal women have secret, and some not-so-secret, obsessions with movie stars like Orlando Bloom (whom I never thought of as cute) or George Clooney (same – never thought he was cute), I choose to fawn all over chefs. Tony Bourdain is pretty hot, too.
Don't worry, it’s not some weird creepy infatuation where I would hijack a bus and travel cross-country to wherever he lives and stalk him (South Carolina? New York? I don’t actually know). I couldn’t even try to find him in a restaurant and get him to sign a menu, since, last I knew, he doesn’t have a restaurant. I do, however, have one of his cookbooks, a birthday gift last year. And while many of the recipes are for things I wouldn’t necessarily make myself (not that they are bad, but they are for fairly basic things that most people wouldn’t need a recipe), the pictures are utterly food pornographic and well, shoot, Tyler made them. The cover shot of him in leather jacket looking like a bad-ass, intently cruising through Chinatown ain’t bad either. *dreamy sigh*
So no, I doubt I’d be able to find a side of dried, salted cod to make his Portuguese version of croquetas de bacalao (which I love), nor could I try the basil ice cream with wine-poached pears since I don’t own an ice cream maker (yet). However, I did bookmark the recipe for lemon-ginger ice in sugared cups, and finally tried them. They were part of a light menu that included a cucumber and salmon starter, mixed greens in a raspberry citrus vinaigrette with toasted walnuts, lobster, mango and avocado heart, and shrimp in a spicy tomato sauce. Everything was on the lighter side, and after a spicy tomato sauce, the cold lemony ice was the perfect follow-up.
The perfect ending was adding the leftover slush to champagne. ;)
Tyler Florence's Lemon Ginger Ice in Sugared Lemon Cups
The recipe in the book makes eight, but my interpretation of his recipe is for four.
Slice a thin round off the bottom of 4 lemons so that they can stand upright. Slice off about ¼ off the top and keep these to make the lemon lids.
Using a teaspoon, carefully scrape out the lemon pulp and juice from inside the lemons into a bowl. (This is easier to do if the lemons are at room temperature.) The membranes (the stuff around each segment) are slippery, so I used a paper towel to grab them and pull them apart from the inside of the peel. Take the lemon pulp and juice and press through a sieve to get all the juice. Discard the pulp and membranes, but reserve the juice.
Paint the outsides of the lemon "cups" and the lids with beaten egg whites (it only took 1 egg white for 4 lemons) then roll each cup in granulated sugar. Place on a freezer-safe plate and freeze for at least an hour. I made mine the morning of the dinner, though I am sure they would also be fine overnight.
Bring to a boil over medium heat 1 c. sugar, 1 c. water and about a 1" piece of ginger that has been thinly sliced. Reduce heat and let simmer about 1 minute,until the sugar has dissolved, making sure that you don't get to the point where it caramelizes. Remove the ginger syrup from heat, cover, and refrigerate.
When the syrup has cooled, remove the ginger slices. Put about 2 c. crushed ice in a blender, pour the syrup and the lemon juice over the ice, and add zest from 1 lemon. Blend until slushy. Spoon into each of the lemon cups, and serve with the lid.
** this post originally published on 02.20.06 **