I'm typing to you large and in charge from business class on my flight to JFK. Yes, it would seem that my August Humble-Pie-a-polooza is off to a pretty great beginning. I mean there's pomegranate hand soap in the lavatory, for shizsakes. That alone was worth waking up at 4.30am and having the Supershuttle driver text while he drove the entire expanse to LAX with the A/C off. Though it was kind of like a little eastern european adventure all its own, with his smoking outside the van, crappy attitude and the general pre-dawn steam bath ambiance.
If I had thought, even for a second, that the slightest hint of a possibility of an upgrade existed for me, I may have passed on the $15 La Brea Bakery panini I bought right before I got to the gate. But as it is, I've had two fat breakfasts and a bloody mary (two turntables and a microphone!) before 10am and there's wifi and a footrest and a tablecloth and I must look like the biggest rube ever to fly taking pictures and grinning ear-to-ear like I just won the flipping lottery. It's like I've never even seen a plane before. It's no surprise that the guy next to me gave me the side eye an hour ago and is pretending not to speak English.
I was sitting in my coach seat when the flight attendant came to my seat, and, addressing me using the very proper sounding "Ms. McClure" (is my stepmother in the row behind me?), told me that I had been given a seat up front. It must be a good omen for what I'm sure is going to be an anxious few weeks for me, right? But here's the thing, I can't help but remember the other times I've been unexpectedly upgraded on my out-bound flights and how those trips kind of blew up in my face.
Like when I flew to Barcelona to see my Evil College Boyfriend, who wasn't really all that evil, but who I've delighted in calling that for twenty years. On that trip I lost my favorite coat, my car keys, my dignity and I got dumped by Evil College Boyfriend; all the champagne and bloody marys in all of business class doesn't make up for that mess. And to add insult to injury, when I flew back from that full force assault of a trip I was remanded to coach for 20 hours and four flight segments/ airport changes. When I finally arrived back at my airport of origin, my car's locks had frozen shut after sitting at for almost two weeks. But I didn't have keys, anyway, so I had to take a cab for over an hour (and for $100) to get home to my crappy dorm room that was full of glossy pictures of the two of us. If Evil College Boyfriend had given me Chlamydia (he DID NOT, just for the record) it would've been a quicker, cheaper and less embarrassing fix.
So I'm a bit suspicious of this good fortune.
There's already so much angst tied up with this NY trip. It's a big change, and I'm not so good with change. I don't know what to expect, other than to expect to be humbled. I don't know anything about working in a real kitchen. I'm a home cook, if even that. I do know how to dice the shit out of an onion since I've probably diced a couple of thousand of them, but I still cut myself and I'm probably the least graceful person that has ever had fourteen years of ballet training.
I'm afraid I'm going to offend someone by not calling them "Chef", or by calling them "Chef" when I shouldn't; that I'm going to look like a rookie kiss-ass (I'm totally a kiss-ass); that I'll wear the wrong kind of crocs or hat; that I'll trip someone or screw up so badly that the kitchen will need a full Silkwood to return to business after I leave.
I'm afraid I'll cry. I mean I've never once cried in a work environment before, but I've also never been a hormonally-challenged forty year old when I started a new career, before, either.
So we'll see. Hopefully the tears will be in private, the blisters well bandaged and the ego battered but intact when all is said and done.
In the meantime, I'm going to gulp down another free cocktail and share an amazing recipe for blueberry cobbler with drop biscuits that I made almost exactly two years ago, right before I flew to Italy for that year's culinary adventure in Umbria. Interestingly enough, that trip also started with a business class upgrade on the outbound flight...and it ended with a seat next to the bathroom with a broken monitor at the back of the plane. Hmmmm.
by Soa Davies
When blueberries are at their best (and most abundant), let their flavor shine in simple recipes. This cobbler can be assembled in minutes, and its ragged topping is both tender and crunchy. It's especially good with vanilla ice cream.Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours (includes baking and cooling time)
1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons plus 1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon crème fraîche or sour cream
6 cups fresh blueberries (about 2 pounds)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
Preheat oven to 375°F. Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add butter; using your fingertips, incorporate until only pea-size lumps remain. Gently mix in crème fraîche. Knead in bowl until a biscuit-like dough forms, 5–7 turns (overmixing will make dough tough).
Combine remaining 1 cup sugar, remaining 3 tablespoons flour, berries, juice, and zest in a large bowl. Toss to coat. Pour into an 8x8x2" glass baking dish or divide among six 6-ounce ramekins. Tear biscuit topping into quarter-size crumbles; scatter over berries.
Bake cobbler until juices are thick and bubbling and topping is cooked through and deep golden brown, 20–25 minutes for ramekins or 45–50 minutes for baking dish. Let cool for at least 1 hour.
This isn't the exact recipe I used two summers ago, but it is. When I get back to my loft in September I'll do some recon and dig the old recipe out, but the drop biscuits, in particular, I remember exactly.
I served this easy (and super delicious) cobbler with a buttermilk ice cream, which I also really fell in love with (and have made many times since).
To prevent curdling, be sure to cool the ice cream custard to room temperature before adding the buttermilk and crème fraîche.Yield: Makes 10 servings
2 cups heavy whipping cream
8 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup crème fraîche
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Bring cream to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk egg yolks and sugar in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk hot cream into yolk mixture. Return mixture to saucepan and stir constantly over medium-low heat until custard is thick enough to coat back of spoon, about 3 minutes (do not boil). Pour custard through fine strainer into clean bowl. Cool to room temperature. Whisk in buttermilk, creme fraiche, lemon juice, and salt. Chill custard until cold.
Process custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer ice cream to containers; cover and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.
DO AHEAD: Ice cream can be made 3 days ahead. Keep frozen. Let soften slightly at room temperature before serving.
I'm hoping that this super cool but super sketchy wifi will hold up long enough so that I can post this from 35,000 feet, because it makes me feel powerful. And connected.
And I hope I don't poison anyone or maim myself or anyone else in the coming weeks. And I hope I figure out WTF kind of hat I should wear in the kitchen. If you have any thoughts, send them my way.
I'm buying a few new things tomorrow, like knives and truly hideous footwear. Maybe that's my bad luck for this awesome, unexpected upgrade-- having to wear ugly shoes. Oh, a girl can dream. Stay tuned for the hijinks and...