Wednesday, June 11, 2014

simple dinners

Wednesday, June 11

My friend Lynne joined me for a casual dinner a couple of nights ago, After a full day's work in the garden I didn;t feel like putting on a big production, so it was relaxed and uncomplicated. We sat on the deck for a glass of wine and a couple of cheeses, an Arena and some aged asiago. We went in for dinner - cod baked with roasted peppers. kalamata olives, lemon slices and halved grape tomatoes, with a few spring onions  and seasoned with fresh greek oregano. With the fish I served baking potatoes that had been sliced at intervals, but not all the way through. Into the slits I inserted garlic and fresh sage leaves, then put them in a baking dish, poured a modest amount of olive oil over them and they baked for forty-five minutes. So good. And some broccoli steamed just until tender. Lynne loves rhubarb so I made tarts by cooking the cut-up rhubarb in a mix of brandy, water, lemon juice and spices, the top note being ginger. Sugar was kept to a minimum.  When the fruit was cooked I took it off the stove,,cooled it in its liquid, then drained it and boiled down the cooking liquid to the consistency  of a glaze. Into a fully baked crust a spooned the rhubarb then brushed it generously with the wonderfully aromatic glaze. She loved it. Dinner with a close friend, pure joy.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

a gathering on the deck

Memorial day, and seven of us, family and friends, gathered here for a relaxed evening. The sun was warming to body and soul after a winter  from hell, the grill was ready to go, and I'd made a big pitcher of frozen, slushy margaritas which were a big hit. We sat and chatted for a long while, nibbling on marinated radishes served over bocconcini and topped with lemon zest and chopped  chives. Also, a plate of crudites with a spicy dip and a bowl of roasted, pureed eggplant whipped with thick yogurt and seasonings. Rachel, my personal grillmeister (and daughter) first grilled the chicken pieces which I'd painted with a highly seasoned rub that included curry, cumin, allspice, ginger and more.Then the shrimp, marinated in dark rum, lime juice and cialntro and skewered. The accompaniments were a salad of green beans, edamame and snow peas in a mint vinaigrette and piping hot garlic and  herb bread. Lots of light white wine and for dessert chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. Unceasing conversation , loving family and friends - what could be better.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

and a good time was had by all

Tuesday,July 2, 2013

Saturday night was steamed crab night at number two son's home. We ate on the patio, surrounded by his lush garden and made short work of a  mountain of steamed crabs, onions, new potatoes and corn. I contributed cole slaw and he'd chosen a gorgeous Sancerre, one of my favorite wines, to accompany the feast. There were three of us, Tony, Rachel and I, and we ate a lot and laughed a lot, and the music - he has outside speakers - was a  terrific mix. I'd made a fresh apricot tart for dessert which Tony served with an indulgence of whipped cream. After dinner we played scrabble and kept our pitiful competitiveness reasonably in check - for the most part. A wonderful night.

The next evening I had a graduation party for my granddaughter, Jordan. She chose the guest list and the menu, or at least the main course, her great favorite, pasta with shrimp in a sweet vermouth, tomato and cream sauce. It was a fun assemblage of good friends. Chilled white wine flowed freely, as did the conversation. For dessert I"d made a summer berry trifle, lining the glass trifle bowl with pound cake,then sprinkling the slices with Limoncello. A layer of lemon curd lightened with whipped cream, then a layer of mixed berries, continuing until the top layer of berries. Rich, gorgeous and delicious. We had fun, which was the operative word for the entire weekend.

Monday, May 13, 2013

mothers day

A wonderful evening with my daughter, grandkids and son#2. I was not permitted to do anything and they were hugely entertained by my obvious inability to accept this easily. But what fun. They produced a terrific repast, beginning with a prosecco and aperol aperitif accompanied by hummus. On to the table and a tossed salad with mustardy dressisng, corn on the cob, cedar planked salmon basted with a sweet and tangy sauce and roasted asparagus.. Tony had made delicious shortcake biscuits and he ladled on lots of sweet berries and indecent spoonfuls of whipped cream. We were happily sated. After the dishes were done, no thanks to me, I actually got up the nerve to sing to them  - I"ve been taking lessons for a while - and they were encouraging and enthusiastic. A perfect mothers day, I feel blessed.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

dinner with son # 2

Tony came for dinner last night and it was relaxed and fun and he ate with great appetite and enthusiasm. Our first course was a salad of lightly blanched haricots verts, snow peas, asparagus and peas, dressed with nigella seeds, toasted sesame seeds, sesame and olive oils and lemon juice - the essence of spring. Next, baked shrimp scampi with garlic,rosemary and parsley, the juices to be sopped up with bread. With this I served baby artichokes, halved and sauteed with garlic in olive oil. So good. Dessert was strawberries with a balsamic glaze and almond and cornmeal biscotti. Viognier was the wine I served and it was perfect. When baby artichokes are in season I could eat them every day, asparagus too. I plan on incorporating both tomorrow evening in a pasta. The herb garden, despite the cool weather, is already yielding thyme, oregano, chives, mint and rosemary - it's so exciting to me when I see all sorts of flowers and herbs pushing their way up toward the sun, a metaphor for possibilities of all sorts.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Dinner From "Jerusalem"

Yesterday was a day of blustery rain and cold so gardening, which I"d planned on, was out of the question. I decided to prepare a fine dinner for myself and opened a marvelous cookbook called "Jerusalem" by the London-based chef  and restauranteur  Yottam Otolenghi. My choice was  chicken on a bed of basmati rice. First I made caramelized onions, so sweet and soft, and put them aside. I emptied the skillet of most of the remaining olive oil and, after tossing chicken thighs with broken cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamom pods, salt and pepper and a couple tablespoons olive oil I seared the thighs, then removed them, leaving the spices in the pan. I put basmati rice in the skillet, the onion and the chicken, which I patted firmly onto the rice. I then added water, covered the pan and cooked for fifty minutes. The perfumes emanating from the skillet were so seductive. I removed the cover, folded a tea towel over the contents,put back the cover and left it to sit for fifteen minutes. After pouring a bit of white wine and tossing a salad of blanched snow peas and asparagus pieces, green beans and peas with lemon vinaigrette and finely chopped shallot and garlic and adding a sprinkling of mint and tarragon I sat down to a feast. The rice was exquisitely perfumed,the chicken and onions luscious and I relished every mouthful.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

movie night


Four of us gathered for a movie I'd rented - Kinky Boots - wonderfully entertaining. My daughter arrived with pots of miniature daffodils and Dick and Richard brought wine and a pot of marvelously fragrant lavender hyacinths. They brought to mind a poem I'd seen a few years ago by the Gulistan of Maslih:"If of thy mortal store thou art bereft
And from thy slender store,
Two loaves alone to thee are left
Sell one and with the dole
Buy hyacinth to feed the soul."

Intimations of spring raise my spirits and inform my menu choices. Dinner last evening was simple - we started with a creamy hummus  and sat down to a big tossed salad made with mixed greens, fennel, belgian endive and baby cucumbers.Hot and crisp garlic bread paintged with a garlic puree I keep on hand in the fridge.And a vegetarian pastitsio. We watched the movie and after I served dessert, a nut-laden apple cake, as good for breakfast as for dinner. We talked a lot, laughed a lot - good friends and good food, what could be better -