Gael Green changed the way New Yorkers dined. She changed they way people thought about food. And in changing New York City, she effected change throughout the country. As such, Gael Green is Week #46 on Gourmet's list of female game-changers in food. Widely credited as coining the word "foodie," Green intended to make her mark as a novelist. In-between writing her novel she supported herself by being a stringer in Detroit for the Detroit Free Press and freelancing for magazines. After a stint at the New York Post, she became the restaurant critic for New York Magazine in 1968. She would remain there until 2008 when she was quite famously - fired.
"It's as if they removed the lions from the library steps," said Michael Batterberry, editor and publisher of Food Arts Magazine.
But by the time she was fired, she had established herself as knowledgeable, lusty and irrepressible (having written articles titled "Nobody Knows the Truffles I've Seen," "Everything You Wanted to Know about Ice Cream but Were Too Fat to Ask" and "The Mafia's Guide to Eating Out.") and her unemployment did not last long. She would continue to write books (a novel Blue Skies, No Candy, and her memoir Insatiable: Tales from a Life of Delicious Excess had been published earlier.)
Famous for wearing huge hats that hid her face, she also gave back to society with such programs as City Wheels-on-Meals which she co-founded in 1981 with James Beard. She has been honored with awards for her writing as well as for her humanitarian work.
Today she continues to write, judge chef competitions and has a website Insatiable Critic by Gael Green which chronicles her food journeys as well as her still-present lust for life.
Because Green is a writer and not a chef, her recipes were either sparse or admittedly from other chefs. I scoured her food writing and came across her review of eating-all-things-wonderful in Sicily at the blog SICILIAMO which contained one of her articles for the NY Times.
"Tradition hits the fan at Il Mulinazzo, with its two Michelin stars, helmed by Nino Graziano, a veteran of several kitchens in France. It’s just south of Palermo in Villafrati, a quick drive for lunch. Even the tradizionale tasting menu shows off Sicilian cooking creatively rethought: elegant snapper tartare with oil and lemon on warm chickpea fritters, lasagnetta with sardines and wild fennel, almond couscous in a fish soup, rack of lamb with an asparagus zabaglione."
Asparagus zabaglione? What was that? A savory zabagalione? Taking something traditionally sweet and making it savory and you have colored me 'obsessed.' A little cayenne pepper in a rich chocolate cake surprises me and makes me dig in further. Give me dark chocolate (please) and add some salt and I return again and again to pack on the calories with spice and glee.
When I read books - and suddenly a moment of inspired silliness turns poignant - or a tender turn of phrase continues on to the irreverent, I am intrigued. I think there is a truism - that really - that is what life is like. Rich with sweet cream and hot peppers. Careful and careless.
Is this the asparagus zabaglione that Green describes? No. I am sure the zabaglione actually had asparagus in it! But it is a fun inspiration of Green's description and perfect with a grilled or roasted vegetable. Inspired by Gael Green, I bring you Mario Batali's Savory Zabaglione with Black Pepper and Parmesan.. Richly decadent with hints of salt from the cheese and spicy black pepper, it's a concerto that's not afraid of containing too many notes.
Play with it - once you wrap your taste buds around this, the possibilities unfold. Today, I am thinking of this with asparagus puree, or taleggio instead of the Parmesan or pungent herbs...
Warm Asparagus with Black Pepper-Parmesan Zabaglione - serves 4
2 pounds medium asparagus
6 extra-large egg yolks (which makes me thankful for my sincere love of egg-white omelettes))
1 extra-large egg
1/2 cup dry, fragrant wine (he suggest Vin Santo - I cannot get that here, in Italy every home seems to make their own)
3 tablespoons sweet butter - room temperature
3 tablespoons heavy cream - slightly warmed (I didn't warm it but it was at room temp)
1/4 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon freshly-cracked pepper
salt to taste
Note: Batali has you cook the asparagus for exactly 1 minute and 15 seconds in the bottom of the double boiler as you whisk the zabaglione on top. I roasted it at 425 degrees F for about 5 minutes. I have a thing for roasted asparagus. It balances my "thing" for salty-dark chocolate.
Wash asparagus and snap off stems with fingers. In a double boiler combine yolks, egg and wine with whisk and stir vigorously until frothy. Remove egg mixture from heat and add asparagus to the bottom half of pan and cook for 1 minute, 15 seconds (remember: I roasted). Meanwhile, whisk butter, cream, Parmesan and pepper into egg mixture. Season with salt. Drain asparagus, dry it, divide into four servings, spoon sauce over it and serve.
Check out what the other bloggers are doing to honor this week's game-changer Gael Green and if you want to join in the fun, e-mail Mary at One Perfect Bite. Mary started this delectable journey.
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds,
Linda A - There and Back Again,