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 -

Thursday, February 14, 2013

an intimate birthday dinner

My good friends Jane and Jim came for dinner to celebrate Jane's birthday and as is  typical when we get together there were lots of laughs, camaraderie and eating with a good appetite. I prepared flatbread pizzas to have with drinks and, when we sat down to dinner I served a salad of blood orange sections and baby arugula, dressed with a vinaigrette made with the juice of the oranges reduced to a syrup and combined with garlic, honey, dijon and olive oil. Colorful and refreshing. On to the entree, shrimp sauteed with garlic, feta,capers and fresh lemon juice and showered before serving with basil leaves. I'd baked a loaf of crusty country bread to dip in the juices, and some roasted broccoli. A nice, flinty white wine was perfect with the seafood. The birthday cake was a chocolate amaretti torte frosted with a rich, deep chocolate icing and was accompanied by a dollop of whipped cream. A good time with great friends.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

post-holiday musings

well, december was a month of shopping, planning, cooking and eating. this was a mellow, loving and joyful christmas, no angst.good family vibes. a beloved niece spent a couple of weeks with me and we talked a lot, laughed a lot and shared some delicious food. on christmas day son number two (that's birth order) arrived  with scottish salmon, fresh bagels and herbed cream cheese. I'd prepared a refreshing bowl of cut-up clementines, red grapes,cantaloupe and a few deglet nour dates and a budapest coffee cake, a favorite, filled with layers of  a cinnamon, cocoa and walnut streusel. The three of us  had  a leisurely brunch, and my niece, sam, and I relaxed and read and listened to music till later in the day, when we prepared for dinner for  seven. The table was set with white flowers, silver candle holders, pewter water goblets and cobalt salad plates. the meal  commenced with a  salad of  belgain endive,  fennel, sliced pear and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds.the main course was capon and lobster in madeira sauce accompanied by saffron rice and snow peas with water chestnuts. dessert was a frozen gran marnier torte in a chocolate crust,topped with a glaze of whole cranberries cooked in port with a hit of cinnamon and orange zest - rich yet refreshing. and white wine through the meal. this was followed by the opening of gifts, all of them big hits.

the following saturday night I'd planned a party, twelve in all,and I'd decided on a mediterranean menu. the preceding day sam and I had made baklava. our assembly line cut prep time in half and gave birth to several jokes centering on butter oozing from  our pores. I'd chosen a recipe from  a favorite chef, Michael Symon which included both pistachios and walnuts in the filling. how would I describe the finished product? fantastic!~!~~!   we started the party with the kitchen island laden with appetizers. a feta spread seasoned with aleppo pepper and sweet hungarian paprika; tsatziki served with thin pita crisps; stuffed grape leaves and an assortment of olives and a garlicy lima bean spread. lastly a caponata made  not with eggplant but with fresh fennel and green olives - so tasty. lots of  wine, both red and white. the main course was a vegetarian pastitsio accompanied by a big salad with fig dressing and warm greek bread. dessert was the aforementioned baklave. the evening was punctuated by heated political discussion balanced by so much love and laughter -perfect. the next couple of  days I didn't have to cook anything and I recovered.my energy!!