Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Rantings of a Mad Woman

When our friend G was here for dinner the other night, he casually mentioned that he was trying to look up the grammatical rule for using a singular or plural verb with the word none. Now that may sound very boring to most--but I perked up. Unbeknownst to G is that I have an odd interest in grammar. He knows now. His research left him confused and with no real answer.

What I had learned, and always abided by, is that a singular noun takes a singular verb. A plural noun takes a plural verb. So far so good. I had also learned that the word none is singular. Not so fast. Evidently the rules have changed. What?

According to Jane Ruby at ,the writers of grammar books have finally decided to change the rule to match the way most writers and speakers use the word. They actually decided that the word none can be plural or singular in a sentence depending on the word it refers to. She says, "The way to correctly use none in a sentence today is to determine what word it is referring to, determine whether that word is plural or singular, and then make the verb plural or singular to match, like this:

None of the apples are ripe.
None of this apple is edible."

Oh no! Another example of the dumbing down of America. Look, I don't claim to have perfect grammar, but I strive to write and speak correctly. So, if I've got this right, because writers and speakers don't feel they need to follow the rule, let's change it! Makes perfect sense to me.

Well, in case all of your apples are ripe, try this wonderful recipe for Apple Crostata.

Apple Crostata adapted from a recipe by Ina Garten

For The Pastry:

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 pound very cold unsalted butter, diced
2-4 tablespoons ice water

For the Filling:

1 1/2 pounds apples for baking
1/4 teaspon grated orange zest
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced

For the pastry, place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse 12-15 times, or until the butter is the size of peas. With the motor running, add 2 tablespoons ice water--adding more if needed-- until dough just begins to come together. Turn dough out on floured board and form a disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour while you prepare filling

Preheat oven to 450.

When ready to make tart, roll pastry into an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer it to a baking sheet lined with parchment.

For filling, peel, core and quarter the apples. Cut each quarter into 3 chunks. Toss the chunks with the orange zest. Cover the tart dough with the apple chunks, leaving a 1 1/2 inch border.

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and allspice in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the butter and pulse until mixture is crumbly. Pour mixture into a bowl and rub it with your fingers until it starts holding together. Sprinkle evenly over apples. Gently fold the border over the apples, pleating it to make a circle. (Center of tart will not be covered with dough.)

Bake the crostata for 20-25 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the apples are tender. Let the tart cool for 5 minutes, then use 2 large spatulas to transfer to wire rack to cool.

Makes 1 tart

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