Monday, April 25, 2011

April dinner with friends

Though spring has made only tentative appearances, hope springs eternal, so I set the table with yellow and leafy green linens, palest mint-colored candles and a fat bunch of daffodils and narcissi from the garden. There were five of us, the conversation was easy and provocative and the wine flowed. With drinks before dinner I served little tartines of soft goat cheese spread on sliced, thin ciabatta, topped with thin slices of strawberries which I then drizzled with balsamic syrup. A turn of the pepper grinder, a shard of basil leaf and voila. Pretty to look at and delicious. At the table, a salad of boston lettuce, belgian endive and baby artichoke slices with a meyer lemon vinaigrette. The main course was chicken roasted on a bed of sliced onion, new potatoes, garlic and carrots,and a cup of armagnac. After the vegetables were lightly softened in olive oil, I added the chicken and brandy - then the enameled steel casserole went into a 400 oven to roast until beautifully bronzed. The aroma when the lid was lifted - sublime. Dessert was a martini glass layered with sliced peaches which had marinated in fresh tarragon and gran marnier and whisked mascarpone lightened with whipped cream and just a bit of sugar. I topped each serving with crushed amaretti cookies and sliced roasted almonds. Good friends, good food - it doesn't get much better than this.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

lunch with a friend

A good friend was coming to lunch and,for the first time in a long while the sun was shining, so I cut some daffodils, set the table with sunny yellow linens and made lunch. First, the simplest of soups, a mix of cubed fennel and zucchini, fennel seeds and chicken broth, quick to put together and delicious. I topped each serving with fennel fronds and next was a salad - crab louie. I lined a platter with baby romaine leaves, red and greed, then mounds of artichoke heart, grape tomatoes, poached asparagus, radishes and green beans. In the center, luscious lump crab with the sauce Louie on the side. With the salad, toasted wheat, raisin and walnut bread that I'd brushed with olive oil before grilling. A most satisfying lunch, not least for the conversation and laughs.