I haven’t cooked at all since I’ve been in Ithaca — I’m truly being spoiled, and enjoying the break from the kitchen. Lucky me, beautiful Kathryn made me lunch to eat in her backyard yesterday. Azuki beans, kale and steamed tofu fried rice. Healthy, nourishing, and full of promise.
Recentlywe had something really wonderful to celebrate, so I knew it was time for roast chicken (I have a hard time waiting longer than a few weeks for roast chicken, anyway). This bird was extra special: we tucked truffle slivers, alongside the usual fresh sage, into tight pockets of skin, a handy trick we had picked up from a friend. The roasting smell as the truffles were marrying the chicken was indescribable. Truffles. After I pulled the bird out of the oven, smoking and sizzling, we dressed it with even more truffles. Served with two of my favorite sides — roasted purple potatoes and carrots, and kale with lemon and garlic — and one of my all-time favorite roast chicken wines, a juicy 2001 Joseph Roty bourgogne.
[First time: separate but equal]
[Second time: mixed up and happier]
ON LEFTOVERS. I often feel foolish cooking so much for only one person but the truth is, I love leftovers. I love eating the same meal that made me feel good and then eating it again and feeling good again. Certain pleasures. I’m more of a creature of habit than I like to admit.
This meal was particularly easy and thus feels silly to write about but it was also the kind of blending of harmonious ingredients that makes my heart sing and dance. The combination of cannellini beans / fresh kale / lemon zest / minced garlic / sweet onions / red pepper flakes / any kind of pasta is super classic and comforting.
I soaked some beautiful white beans overnight and simmered them all morning with lemon zest, garlic, chicken stock, olive oil and white wine, and then folded the beans into a pot of cooked penne. Also crucial: mash 1/2 cup of beans into a paste with 1/4 cup starchy pasta water to create luscious, rich sauce that feels outrageous, but isn’t, not at all. I fried kale in another pan at high heat with lemon and garlic until the whole mess collapsed and was tinged with char. The first time, I ate the kale and beans separately. The next day, I mixed it all together, and it was better. Perfect simplicity. [Note: the second day I cooked another handful of pasta because day-old bloated pasta is the worst.]
I think this was the first meal I made after I moved to Portland — it already feels so long ago. Since then I’ve learned a lot about portion sizes for cooking single meals, because I had leftovers for DAYS! Kale flash fried in butter and garlic, finished with lemon; red cabbage slaw tossed in lime juice; chickpeas fried with red onion, cumin, lemon, oil and parsley. Not even cooking, really. Just admiring the ingredients and adding salt.
I’m planting my garden today. It’s going to be wee, but I’m so excited. I even bought a catnip start for Joni so that I can enjoy her stoney hi jinx every day.
Truly, truly you couldn’t speak of discovery of the unknown unless you were unknowing. You have to make a room inside your own ego for what you don’t yet understand, and hold open the possibility that this is what you’re actually looking for. And that then becomes a very personal matter rather than a universal one, because you can’t account for what other people don’t know. But you can acknowledge inside yourself those things which you did not perceive until the encounter forced you into a recognition. You cannot keep score of that for anyone else, but you can acknowledge transformation of your own perception by experience. When you find something about yourself, you don’t throw it away, it’s a treasure. It’s symbolically very important because it acknowledges a transformation in yourself.
Emmit Gowin, from a truly amazing interview. [via BOMB]
Posted in food, home, outdoors, spring
Tagged emmit gowin, first meal, kale, leftovers, lunch, red cabbage, uncertainty, unknowing
I recently made roasted butternut squash soup from scratch. Without using a recipe, I made my first pureed soup with instinct and by hand (I never owned a food processor until now! Now I kind of want to puree everything). I cubed one butternut squash and roasted it at high heat (450 degrees) for 45 minutes, stirred with 5 garlic cloves, salt, pepper, a tiny bit of tumeric, olive oil and the juice of 1/2 a lemon. I sauteed half a red onion in butter until transluscent and added the pulpy roasted vegetables and equal parts vegetable and chicken stock (about 6 cups total) and stirred it all together. I let it simmer with a closed lid for 30 minutes and then I added 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream.
Then it went in the food processor and I pulsed until smooth. I added a huge handful of finely chopped parsley to stir in and the other half of the lemon juice and more salt to taste. In a separate saucepan I deep fried sage leaves in 2 tbsps butter and then crumbled on top (only did this for day 1 of the soup, i.e. in the photo of the trio of soup bowls). The easiest soup I’ve ever made, and somewhat healthy (minus the heavy whipping cream + butter, which would be easy to omit, but I wouldn’t. Don’t do it. Life is too short. And we love cream. Looooove it). It reminded me of this life-altering carrot soup I had in a cafe in Brussels last winter – it came with thick wedges of farm bread and tasted so tart and rich and clean and satisfying. I was famished and it was the best thing I had eaten in days. A walk down memory lane:
Okay, back to California. A bowl of soup wasn’t quite enough for dinner (never enough!), so I made a bubbling pot of organic French green lentils, simmered for 45 minutes with fresh bay, the other half of the onion, olive oil and vegetable stock. The essence of simplicity. In another pan, I flash fried a huge bunch of kale, torn into tiny strips, in equal parts butter and olive oil. The trick is to get the pan so hot that bits of the kale turn black and crispy, and then you add tons of lemon juice in the pan to deglaze and cook off the rest of the kale until slightly chewy and just barely not-raw. This process should take 4-5 minutes, tops. I stirred the kale into the pot of lentils and ate with sourdough bread and cheese. For lunch the next day I took it to a new level by adding chopped bacon, and the dish was infinitely improved, albeit far less healthy.
And finally, below, a photo of my tiny compost pile from the squash ingredients. I thought it was so ethereal and beautiful, a lovely counterpoint to the simple, earthy soup that emerged from its cocoon. It looks like the beginnings of a wonderful wedding dress.