Friday, November 23, 2012

Stay-At-Home Friday

When it comes to Black Friday, I'm a conscientious objector.

The Friday after Thanksgiving should begin late, after a deep turkey tryptophan induced sleep that makes you sleep in.

Then comes a few cups of coffee and pie as you sit around in your robe a little too long.  Then the kids should spend a lot of time outside and friends stop by to say hello and to eat a little turkey and drink a little wine.

Gana and our friend Sean eating pie directing from the pans on our back porch.
And that's how it's done!

If the Lord opens the door for some do-gooding, you should be busy blessing others, too.

The Friday after Thanksgiving is for living in the afterglow of the gratefulness and contentment we fostered on Thursday.  If you did Thanksgiving right (meaning you focused on all your abundant blessings and how you have more than you deserve and could possibly need and how the Lord has provided so much that your heart is literally overflowing with grace) than I don't see how it's possible to stand in line to fight, elbow, push and swear your way to a 40-inch on sale at a big box electronic store.

Call me crazy.

Leftover Quinoa Stuffing and Pumpkin Dinner Roll for lunch

The Day After Thanksgiving Panini:  Turkey, Cranberry Sauce, Arugula, and Fontina

It was a beautiful day.  A perfect Black Stay-At-Home Friday.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Baby Yorkshire Puds and Smoked Trout Pate

Oh Jamie, Jamie, Jamie.

When you bragged that this dish was an outrageously delicious bit of heaven you weren't joking.

Mini puds and lemon wedges

Creamy trout pate.  Just the exact right amount of kick.

So simple and so delicious

When we'd eaten up all the little puds,
we dipped our artichokes in the pate.
Now there's a great combination!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Grilled Eggplant

After a rough day, nothing makes me feel better than beautiful food.  

Eggplant, salted and grilled.

In a mortar with a pestle mash fresh basil with some garlic, fresh lemon juice and salt.

On each eggplant slice smear some basil mash.  Then layer up tomatoes, more eggplant and feta to your heart's content

Liberally drizzle with olive oil and give a good grind of Trader Joe's Flower Pepper.

Finish in the oven for about 15 minutes until the cheese is all toasted. 

Enjoy with some crusty bread and a rosé, preferably in the garden.  Breathe deeply and pretend you didn't lose your temper with the driver in the other car.

All better now.

(Inspired by this recipe.)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

French Food, Friends and An Accordion Concert

Back in August we went wine tasting and picnicking with some friends.  Over lunch our Haitian friend, Ed, told us a hilarious tale of how he became a musician and how (among the many instruments he plays) he learned to play the accordion.

The story goes something like this:  Ed was in high school in Haiti and his father wanted to inspire him to do better in school.  So, he told Ed that if he raised his grades to a certain point he could have whatever he wanted.  So, he brought his dad a catalog and said, "I want this."  He pointed AK47.

His father agreed.  Ed worked hard in school and achieved his father's academic goals.  One day Ed comes home from school and his father gives him a box.  He opens it and finds, not his gun, but an accordion.  His father had decided that an assault weapon was not a good prize and got him an accordion instead.

Quite disappointed, Ed pushed the accordion under his bed and ignored its presence entirely.  After some time he had the following thought: "I'm the only one losing on this deal.  Now I don't have a gun and I don't have an accordion."  So, he pulled it out, got a teacher and learned to play the accordion.

Hearing this story over our picnic, I told him how much I had enjoyed the accordion music in Paris and how no French meal is quite complete without accordion in the background.  I told Ed how much I would love to hear him play.  He said that there was one problem: he didn't have an accordion.  I said that I had access to two!  We have Gana's dad's instrument and my mother has a beautiful accordion.  Unfortunately, none of us play.  He said, "Well, you make me a real French dinner and I'll come play the accordion."

Seizing the moment, I said, "Deal!"  We shook on it, in the presence of our friends as witnesses.  The only stipulation was that those who witnessed the deal also had to be present for the meal.

So, this past Friday we both made good on our promises.

Bouquet Garni for the bouef
My friend KayLee came over early in the day.  We were like two school girls preparing for a tea party!  We rearranged the furniture, set the table properly, cooked up a storm in the kitchen and generally played house.


Champagne with hibiscus flowers

Provencal Tart
Chicken Liver Pate with cornichons 
Red Wine

Le Plat Principal 
Boeuf Bourguignon
Endive salad with roasted beets and goat cheese
More baguettes
Red Wine

Le Fromage
Feta Cheese Puffs
Various Cheeses 
with dried apricots and slivered almonds
More baguettes
White Wine

Le Dessert 
Red Wine Sorbet

Le Café 
Coffee creme 
Chocolate truffles

Le Digestif 

Thank you to Robert and KayLee for the almond champagne
and thank you, Jordan and Kristina for the wild hibiscus flowers in syrup

Provencal Tart, thanks to Kristina
Tomato, olives, roasted peppers, anchovies

Pate and Cornichons
(My first time making pate.  I don't know that I'll ever buy it again.)

Ed, playing his first song of the evening,
between  L'Entrée  and Le Plat Principal 

It just so happened to be a Russian song.
Jordan and I couldn't help it.  We had to dance.

Boeuf Bourguignon
I'm so glad he got an accordion and not a gun.

This was our Valentine's Day celebration a few days late.
What could be more romantic than French food and an accordion serenade.

Even River got a special song!

The rest of the children of the party had a French peasant's picnic upstairs. Homemade French bread, cheese, a little pot of jam, pastries and iced tea. When they had feasted they went downstairs for a movie and popcorn!

Cheese course.  Thank you, Nina for the delicious cheese puffs!
We laughed and told stories.  Dinner lasted about five hours.

Ed and Nina
Robert and River

As if the weather somehow understood our romantic and nostalgic mood, Saturday morning was gorgeous. We sat on the back porch sipping coffee, eating leftover bread and cheese, cuddling the baby and counting our blessings--namely our wonderful friends who know how to have fun!

Special thank you to my mom, whose accordion made it all possible.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Christmas Eats

I actually don't care for a lot of "holiday" food.  

I don't like stuffing--let's be honest folks, it's soggy bread.  

I don't like yams that are full of sugar and covered in marshmallows--if you're gonna eat a yam or a sweet potato, just treat it like a potato!  Don't try to mask its taste with all that extra stuff.

I only like cranberries if they are from fresh berries.  Cannot stand that canned stuff.

I don't like green bean casserole or any other casserole that has a cream-of-X soup in it or is covered with those crispy fried onion bits stuff.

I don't like ham a lot of time--unless it's a really expensive kind.  If it's the kind from the regular market it's just got a strange texture and squeaks on my teeth.  

But, I LOVE the holidays.  So I have to do my own thing.  One thing I adore is Christmas breakfast.  I love breakfast in general, which is not cereal.  Cereal is a great snack.  Breakfast is warm and buttery and requires a fork.  Christmas breakfast especially.  The oven must be turned on.  And it should take a good long time to eat it, while we sip coffee or tea and watch the sun move across the window.

Christmas Breakfast

Fruit Parfait (fruit, angel food cake, fruit dip)
Cinnamon Toast (from Trader Joe's)
Baked Egg in Ham Cup with Fontina and Dill

Baked Eggs

Christmas Dinner

Beef Wellington with Red Wine Sauce
(Gana and I had a good cut of meat,
but the kids' I made with ground beef.)
Mashed Potatoes
Garlic Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

Served up with a Cabernet Sauvignon

Eggnog Shortbread Trifle, AKA a little bit o' heaven

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tea Floats

This was our dessert last Sunday, while celebrating the fourth Sunday of Advent:

Tea Floats!

Zhenas Gypsy Organic Chocolate Chai Tea
with a scoop of Trader Joe's Vanilla ice cream
and a sprinkling of chocolate chips to punch it up a bit

I can't get this picture to flip.  My computer is in the hospital (read: the basement),
so for the time being I'm using Gana's laptop
and he doesn't have the same programs I'm used to using.

Any time is tea time when it comes with ice cream and chocolate chips!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Chia Pudding

I'm a little late to the chia party.  All the health conscious people I know have been recommending chia seeds for a while.  I finally tried them recently.  Guess what?  I'm in love.  They go in our morning oatmeal daily.  they get sprinkled in and on top of bread.  They get tossed into smoothies.

Today I debuted them for dessert!  

Actually, Meg made this by herself.

Chia Pudding
(enough for our crowd!)

1 1/2 cups organic black chia seeds
about six cups unsweetened almond milk
sugar to taste
about 2 teaspoons vanilla
pinch of salt

Put all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together.  Let it set for about 45 minutes, stirring every five minutes or so.  This will thicken by itself.  It will be sort of like tapioca pudding.

Top with fresh whipped cream.

Can dessert be healthy?  I say "Yes!"