Saturday, April 23, 2011

I miss thinking.

I rarely cook with ricotta, and when I do, I always wonder why I rarely cook with ricotta.

This is a zucchini and ricotta pancake.

This is how I feel about said pancake*.

I used a combination of whole wheat flour and homemade chickpea flour, which I created by pulverizing chickpeas in my long-suffering mini food processor until those chickpeas could be pulverized no more. The pancakes were great, but needed a savory dip or a spread or something (I wouldn't have used lingonberry jam even if I had it). Sadly, I ate the last of the Greek yogurt cups acquired from a table of breakfast leftovers at the medical center, or I would have made some sort of sauce with that**. A dried tomato jam also would have been nice. Or marinara sauce. I'll stop now.

Man, I really want to write more about what we're doing in class (anatomy exam on Monday, god help us), but in all honesty, the perforated urethra thing from a few days ago was possibly the least gross aspect of it, so I'll spare you. If you don't want to be spared, click here.

There are also books I'd like to be reading, but that's not going to happen until after the exam. Incidentally, I overheard somebody talking to his friend about Habermas while I was headed to a cafe to study, and it really drove home how much I miss the humanities classes I took at Brandeis. Writing about, say, the development of the public sphere in eighteenth-century Britain was a welcome break from studying MAPK (which, don't get me wrong, is one of my favorite pathways). It required the kind of deep, meditative thought that has been replaced almost totally by the frenetic drinking from a fire hose that characterizes medical school. I love what I'm learning--seriously, that link above will direct you to something kind of gross but also kind of cool--but sometimes it feels like I never engage with that other part of myself, and I dread the inevitable atrophy of my (admittedly minimal) skills that led me to enjoy analyzing Wit or debating the finer points of H.F.'s relationship with God in Journal of the Plague Year. The headlong charge toward medical school led me to think of these things as nothing more than diversions, pit stops along the road to my medical degree, but now I realize how integral they were to my self-regard as an aspiring intellectual.

First-world problems, anyone? I think I'll solve them with Easter dessert: lemony cream biscuits. These took, like, 15 minutes to put together, and I didn't even have to break out the food processor. (They'd be perfect as shortbread biscuits, too, but it's disgusting out and I didn't want to leave the house again in order to get strawberries.) They taste like the spring that hasn't seemed to have made its way to New York yet.

Sorrow-drowning lemon-cardamom biscuits
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour (measure out 1 cup all-purpose, remove two tablespoons, and add two tablespoons of cornstarch, and you have cake flour)
3 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 lemon
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 to 1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1/4 tsp cardamom

Preheat the oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Zest the lemon into a bowl and juice the lemon into a second bowl that will hold nothing but lemon juice all recipe, so it can be a tiny bowl. In the same bowl as the zest, mix the dry ingredients. In a third bowl, beat the heavy cream until it's sort of puffy; stop just short of when it would form soft peaks. Fold it as gently as possible into the dry ingredients; fold in the lemon juice. Gently pat the dough about 1 inch thick and cut into rounds or squares without twisting the cutter, as this will impede rising. If you like, sprinkle the tops with a zest/sugar/cardamom mixture; this is thoroughly optional. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until light golden brown. Eat them while they're hot.

*I probably shouldn't apply Neruda's love poetry so casually to some silly little pancakes. His poems are staggeringly pure and unabashed in their emotivity; such achievement deserves respect.
**There is nothing wrong with dipping cheese in yogurt, I tell you!

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