Wednesday, April 24, 2013
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
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.