Cardinals, robins, chickadees, singing away – la, la, love it! Glorious weather these last few days, we could not have been luckier. Our weekend is over, the Levys have gone back to NYC, John’s back at work. Nathan is on spring break, spending the day with his Grammy Barb. Everyone is settling back into normal. Me? I’m happily wiped out. Putting the house back together today, perhaps finding some time to sit on the deck with a book. All good.
I’m just kicking myself that I didn’t take pictures at the Bat Mitzvah or here, at the party. Ridiculous, me of all people, as you know I photograph everything, including myself, all the damn time. I did take some random snaps on Friday night at least, and in one way or another thankfully got pictures of John’s family, including Nathan having a total blast with Allegra and Cameron. But no Suz or Kim, Rudy or Stu, Mary or Marge, Kathie or Jim T., no babies, not even the food (gasp!), none of my usual cast of characters.
Yesterday we all had Uncle Tom’s over-easy eggs for breakfast – yum. John partook heavily of leftovers later in the day. Now that I’m coming back down to Earth, here’s the Saturday party menu, and I’ll post the first couple of recipes (that I already have in Word, in comments, below). You’ll notice a couple of things I’ve already posted recipes for previously (couscous, cannellini and tuna) and items from our Friday night dinner, including lamb chops, salmon, and roasted potatoes.
New potato green bean salad
Couscous with raisins, pine nuts, feta, and mint
Cannellini and tuna salad
Sliced beef tenderloin with chopped tomato, herbs, and caramelized onions
Manchego cheese marinated with olive oil, orange rind and fresh rosemary
Artichoke and cheese toasts
Ham and cheese puff pastry palmiers
Toasts with fig, gorgonzola, and toasted walnuts
Toasts with truffle mousse pate and chives
Mon dieu, this day! It’s perfect. It’s been a tough one for me. Still in my pajamas, I took my fabulous new cookbook, La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange (the Original Companion for French Home Cooking), given to me this weekend by my father-in-law John, an amazing cook, onto the deck and into the sun for a thorough browsing. (Yes, that’s a Feminine Hijinx hat, I love it. My days of sunbathing are long past, sigh.) Made it officially mine by putting a greasy thumbprint on its cover, courtesy of popping a few Marcona almonds into my mouth on my way out the deck door. I’m hard on my cookbooks. The ones I use, not just read, have splatters, rips, and notes all over them. This book is most certainly destined for that state. What a read. Sort of MFK Fisher meets Julia Child – blunt, clever, funny, detailed. First printed in 1927, but still totally useful and relevant. Great gift! Merci!
Inspired by my new cookbook, I made soft, slowly scrambled eggs, with chives and creme fraiche, for dinner. Rich and so delicious. Along with a sort of salad Nicoise made from leftover potato and green bean salad, tossed with tuna. We had a late dinner, after luxuriously sitting on our (new) patio, by the (still covered) pool, in which we have yet to ever swim, just enjoying the setting sun, smell of spring, and balmy, 74-degree air. Sigh. What a night.
Oh man, made the New Potato and Green Bean Salad because I was CRAVING it after your party...it turned out perfectly, is SO delicious!!!!! YUMMM!
Marinated Pecorino with Orange Peel and Herbs
Adapted from The Cheese Course by Janet Fletcher
½ lb. young pecorino Toscano, in one wedge, rind removed (Manchego works well)
1 ½ tsp. coarsely cracked black pepper
2 bay leaves, crumbled
2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
2 strips orange zest
1 ½ c. extra virgin olive oil
12-16 outer leaves of radicchio
1/3 lb. red grapes
Holding a knife parallel to the ends from which the rind was trimmed, slice the cheese into thin triangular pieces. You should get about 20 triangles from ½ lb. of cheese. Arrange the cheese in a dish just large enough to hold the slices in one layer. Scatter the pepper, bay leaves, rosemary, and orange zest evenly over the cheese. Cover completely with olive oil. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 days. Remove from the refrigerator at least 4 hours before serving to allow the cheese to come to room temperature. Either spread the radicchio leaves on a large platter, or divide among four plates, spooning a little of the seasoned oil and cracked pepper over them. Drizzle the leaves lightly with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt. Arrange the cheese slices over or alongside the radicchio. Garnish each plate with a small cluster of grapes (or garnish the platter with grapes).
Note: this dish would also be appealing with fresh pears or with the sliced raw fennel. Use leftover oil as a dip for bread, or strain and use in vinaigrettes. Keep the leftover oil refrigerated.
New Potato and Green Bean Salad
¼ c. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
½ c. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 ½ lbs. new potatoes, halved
¾ lb. haricot vert green beans, trimmed
1 small red onion, chopped
¼ c. chopped fresh basil
4 hard cooked eggs, chopped
Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients. Cook potatoes in boiling salted water until just tender; drain and cool. Cook haricot vert in boiling salted water until just tender; drain and cool under running cold water. Combine potatoes, beans, onion, and basil in a large bowl. Whisk dressing, pour over potatoes and haricot vert, and toss to coat. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. (Can be prepared one day ahead; chill until 2 hours before serving, bring to room temperature to serve.)
16 oz. artichokes hearts, packed in water, not oil, drained, coarsely chopped
1 cup mayo
½ cup freshly grated Parmagiano Reggiano cheese
½ cup grated Swiss cheese
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 T. Madeira or freshly squeezed lemon juice
dash of paprika (optional)
dash of cayenne (optional)
salt and white pepper
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix artichoke hearts, mayo, and cheese with a fork. It should be thoroughly mixed but lumpy. Do not puree. Add garlic and Madeira or lemon juice. Season with salt and white pepper. Put mixture in small souffle or casserole dish large enough so that the mixture is no deeper than an inch or so. Top with paprika and cayenne. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes. Serve with thin slices of baguette.
Trim crusts off of loaf of Pepperidge Farm thin white bread. Spray one side of each slice with olive oil cooking spray. Flip, spread all the way to the corners a thin layer of artichoke mixture, cut into quarters, and lay on a baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 7 minutes or until bottoms are crisp and lightly browned and tops are bubbling. Or, freeze after laying on baking sheets; when solid, transfer to plastic freezer bags. Bake from frozen at 375 as above, perhaps a few minutes longer, until bubbling on top and browned on the bottoms.