Last week flew by in a rush of work. Artist Mildred Howard was here and spent seven days working with Bud on new monoprint/collages. She is a good cook so we have much in common ─ art and food. I enjoyed cooking for her and didn’t run out of ideas. Whew!
Each morning we ate our usual granola, fruit and yogurt. For lunches I prepared salads. One day I had no time to get into town for supplies so I raided my pantry for beans, from Rancho Gordo of course, and the freezer for shrimp. (Using what food I have is a challenge and a pleasure.)
To arugula and torn lettuce leaves I added halved cherry tomatoes and julienned radishes. I tossed this with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and a good squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper. There were only nine large shrimp in the freezer ─ luckily nine is divisible by three! After broiling them in the toaster oven, I halved them lengthwise. The warm beans were dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and a good bit of lemon zest. I crumbled feta over the salad and added a boiled egg to each dish for extra protein.
By Friday, we were all pooped after the intense work week. Mildred flew back to Oakland and a busy weekend; Bud and I took a nap and watched a movie.
Then on Sunday we celebrated our friend Larry’s birthday with a lunch party. Six of us sat around the table and told stories, drank champagne and laughed a lot. I had decided to make a variety of tapas for the meal and the table was loaded with dishes. There were tuna empanaditas:
And roasted red peppers. Stuffed mushrooms and grilled artichokes and asparagus. Roasted potatoes with a spicy Spanish tomato sauce. Cheese, including the delectable Nuage, ripe and creamy. Olives, white anchovies, salami, and bread from the St. Vrain Market in Lyons, where they bake a delicious baguette tasting like no other. Arugula and endive salad with pears, and to top it all off, a wonderful chocolate tort made by Roseanne. A new friend, Françoise, brought homemade chocolates flecked with gold.
I was so busy cooking, then eating, and enjoying our guests that I forgot to take pictures.
Here are recipes for a couple of the things I made:
This is a versatile recipe ─ add whatever sounds good ─ crumbled, cooked sausage ─ chorizo or Italian, cooked spinach, ricotta etc.
Start by cleaning large mushrooms, white, cremini, or portabello. Cut off the dry end of the stem and a bit off the edge of each to make a flat surface. (If using portabellos, remove gills and throw in the compost.) Finely chop the trimmings and the stems. If the trimmings are meager, chop up a couple whole mushrooms.
Mince a small onion and saute in butter or olive oil until translucent. Add the mushroom trimmings and cook until tender, then add a chopped clove of garlic and cook a minute. Let cool a bit then mix in fresh goat cheese. For a pound of mushrooms I used about half a small log. I added fresh chervil, an early spring arrival in my garden. Chives, basil, mint, thyme or parsley would also be good. Stir in a couple tablespoons of panko or other breadcrumbs.
Sauté the caps in olive oil until browned. Arrange in a baking dish, then pile the stuffing on each. Top with grated parmesan and a few more crumbs. Drizzle a little olive oil over the mushrooms. Bake at 350° until brown, about 20 minutes.
Once we had eaten these it was hard to go back to a simple, boiled artichoke.
First, prepare the artichokes by pulling away the small or wilted leaves at the base. Peel the stem if you like. Cut in half and scoop out the choke. Drop into a big pot with plenty of boiling water and cook until just tender, 10-15 minutes. (Or steam.) Test with a skewer or small knife. Drain and brush with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill, cut side down, for 10 minutes. Watch so they don’t burn. Serve with a vinaigrette made with red wine vinegar, minced garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil.
Happy Spring and Buon appetito!
Top: Mildred Howard, Incontro con Casanova: il potere dell’ Altro, 20 3/4 x 17 inches
(Meeting with Casanova: the power of the Other)