Curators are my tribe.
You know the people I’m talking about — they’re incessantly choosing, arranging, rearranging. Always scrutinizing, editing, unsatisfied. They do it in the realm of material culture, the mind, even human relations. When they’re “in the zone,” you’re just a spectator. Curators are sometimes a huge pain to be around.
Brunch is totally a curator’s paradise. Tradition lounges in the wings and there’s plenty of room for appetite’s eccentric dance. Here’s my little jig:
CRAB & LEEK HUSHPUPPIES, GREEN GODDESS SAUCE
OYSTERS, GREEN APPLE JUICE, CHILE, PINK PEPPERCORN
SOFT SCRAMBLED EGGS
CRAB & LEEK HUSHPUPPIES with GREEN GODDESS SAUCE
recipe for 8 servings (32 hushpuppies) from Sean Brock’s Heritage:
1/2 pound leeks (or wild ramps), cleaned and green parts only
2 cups self-rising flour
2 cups cornmeal, such as Anson Mills
1 to 2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground white pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup small dice sweet onion or shallot
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
1/4 cup rendered fresh lard, melted, or vegetable shortening
canola oil for frying
1 1/2 cups fresh crabmeat, such as blue crab
Green Goddess dressing (below)
Preheat the oven to 400F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Prepare an ice bath in a bowl with equal parts ice and water. Place a steamer basket over the water and steam the leeks over the water, cover, and steam until softened and bright green. Remove the steamed leeks to an ice bath until completely cold. Drain and shake off any water, then dry with paper towels. Thinly slice the leeks.
Combine the self-rising flour, cornmeal, all-purpose flour, salt, sugar, white pepper, baking soda, and baking powder in a large bowl and whisk well. Mix in the onion and some of the chopped leeks (use your judgment as to what proportion of leeks to batter you prefer). Lightly beat the eggs and whisk in the milk, buttermilk, and lard. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
Heat 2-3 inches of canola oil in a large high-rimmed pot and heat to 350F. While the oil is heating, blend the remaining leeks in a blender on high and add the pureed leeks to the batter. Then fold in the fresh crabmeat. The batter should be scoopable. If the batter is too moist, add all-purpose flour. If too dry, add buttermilk. Place one scoop of the batter into the hot oil to test the consistency and shape. When it turns golden brown, transfer the hushpuppy to a wire rack or paper towel-lined platter. Continue frying the hushpuppies, placing scoops of batter into the hot oil without crowding the hushpuppies. Transfer the hushpuppies to your baking sheets and bake for 4-5 minutes to ensure that the hushpuppies are cooked through. Drain the hushpuppies on a paper towel then serve immediately with the green goddess sauce.
GREEN GODDESS SAUCE
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup packed basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh tarragon, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1-2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1-2 anchovy filtets (optional)
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
In a blender or food processor, puree all the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill until ready to use. Serve at room temperature.
OYSTERS with GREEN APPLE JUICE, CHILE & PINK PEPPERCORN
a dozen freshly shucked oysters
1-2 green apples, juiced
2 slender serrano peppers, thinly sliced
pink peppercorns, crushed
Place the shucked oysters on ice. Place a dab of foam from the green apple juice on each oyster along with a slice of the serrano pepper and some of the crushed pink peppercorn. Serve immediately.