Tuesday, October 28, 2014

a birthday celebration

Saturday we celebrated son number two's birthday, six  of us, all family. He'd requested duck and a fruit tart, so that's what he got. We started with prosecco accompanied by a creamy, nutty provolone served with honey mixed with red pepper flakes.Also, a mushroom and walnut pate that even the mushroom scorning ate with happy surprise. Next, at table, a refreshing salad of Belgian endive,radicchio and blood oranges sprinkled with roughly chopped roasted hazelnuts. This was followed by duck with an apple,prune,celery and onion dressing that included cubes of rye bread and was moistened with a bit of lemon juice and a bit of heavy cream. I made a light pinot noir sauce for the bird and served broccoli alongside. We drank a really lovely pinot noir heartily recommended by my friendly pal at the wine store. The conversation was unceasing and frequently hilarious. My niece, Sam, has a wicked sense of humor and was in great humor. Dessert was a tarte aux cerises in an almond meal crust. Then it was gift opening time and a bit of recovery from the indulgences of the evening.More proof that family is what counts, big time.

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.