Monday, July 26, 2010

family gathering

With visiting kids and grandchildren we were nine at the dinner table last night. Everyone relaxed with guacamole, vibrant with just-harvested cilantro, before sitting down to dinner. Barbecued brisket, marinated the night before roasting with liquid smoke, garlic, onion and celery salt, then into the oven for five hours at a low temperature. Before cooking I seasoned with worcestershire, salt and pepper, and after four hours I poured barbecue sauce over the meat and cooked another hour. The entire house was permeated with wonderful aromas. With the meat there was potato salad, seasoned while warm with an herb vinaigrette, then mayo, sour cream and lots of fresh dill. A green bean salad and warm focaccia completed the array of dished served from the kitchen island. Dessert was blueberry pie - with vanilla ice cream of course. And lots of catching up - and laughs. This is as good as it gets.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

informal dinner

There were five for dinner on a blisteringly hot evening, so I decided on a room-temperature supper. There were gorgeous, fat bunched of swiss chard at the farmers market, thus the dish I would prepare. I heated a generous amount of olive oil in a large skillet, just until it shimmered. I added five sizable garlic cloves and let them perfume the oil for about five minutes, then removed them. I added the chard which I'd washed and spun dry (in a pillowcase on the spin cycle of the washer), then roughly chopped. While it was softening I drained a can of chickpeas, and added them, along with the zest of a lemon. Next, quite a lot of baby spinach, followed by grape tomatoes. I tossed this melange with a pound of tri-color farfalle, and the zest of an additional lemon. It looked gorgeous in its shallow round bowl, and I sprinkled ricotta salata over it, then sat it on the counter, to be served tepid. With this, baby wax beans from a friend's farm and crusty bread. Dessert, an indulgently rich chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream. Contentment reigned.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

supper for a hot and humid evening

After a week of ungodly heat and humidity we had a few days of relief - and now we're back to climbing temperatures and heavy humidity. That means my supper will be a salad plate - lemon and black pepper grilled tuna that comes in foil packets - a tasty and convenient discovery. So, the tuna, some baby wax beans, a couple of boiled potatoes, baby cucumber, beautiful tomatoes from the garden and some chunks of red pepper - all on a bed of leaf lettuces, the last from my garden until a new crop in the fall. I'll dress it with a lemon vinagrette and strew some baby basil leaves over all. After eating, I'll frost the chocolate root beer cake I baked this afternoon - another recipe from the wonderful book "Baked".Very rich, and I made sure to use really good root beer. It'll be served with vanilla ice cream.
Yesterday, preferring air conditioning to sauna-like conditions, I stayed inside and baked two types of lemon cookies - one, a simple sliced cookie that's incredibly lemony, including both lemon zest in abundance and pure lemon oi. The other delight is a lemon-cornmeal wafer with coarse black pepper to add a surprising piquancy. I love this cookie!!!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

a hot and humid summer evening

Despite near-unbearable heat, dinner for five was a relaxed affair with great conversation and high spirits. I grilled scallops and, to accompany them prepared a salsa of papaya, tomatillos, jalapenos, red onion, lime and honey. It was so colorful and refreshing that everyone went back for seconds. There was also a platter of tomatoes and fresh mozzarella scattered with black olives and pistou basil.Lastly, a room-temperature potato and haricot vert salad, dressed while warm with chicken stock, white wine and olive oil along with fresh tarragon from the herb garden.For dessert, the first peach pie of the season, topped with my favorite oat and wheat germ streusel. A lovely summer supper.