We met at the studio late this morning, CH carrying bags of baby vegetables she picked up at Trauger’s Farm Market on her way in, and MH following bringing Bobolink’s cheddar cheese and fresh eggs that she gets from her post mistress. But how to get everything to go together for our lunch? So . . . we roasted the vegetables and made a delicate, trembling cheese flan. It was the perfect way to end this week. And best of all, it feels like fall is finally here. Remember to cook something delicious for yourselves this weekend, dear friends.
Comfort food for us on this dreary afternoon. Nothing quite like the rich sweetness of a baked white sweet potato with pools of melted, salted Irish butter all further seasoned with Maldon salt and black pepper. We were tempted to pour ourselves a splash of Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vieux Télégraphe, but kept pious and sipped cups of hot milky tea instead.
We both happened to bring leftovers from last night’s dinners with us to the studio today to make lunch. CH brought beautiful finger-size eggplant she had braised in olive with salt and pepper in the oven until their skins were tender and their flesh soft and silky. MH brought a grilled flank steak and a cilantro-flecked, garlicky green sauce. We rarely know ahead what we’ll make for lunch, let alone who will make it. And if one of us text messages the other before getting to the studio that she’s “got lunch”, just what that will be is usually not revealed. So today’s lunch is a serendipitous one—a delicious combination of sliced cold steak and baby eggplant with lots of green sauce spooned on top. So nice when two things come together to make a whole.
We’ve been reluctant to dive head first into fall cooking, probably because we don’t feel like we really got enough summer produce this year with all the rain we have had. But there’s no denying it. The pumpkins and squash are the heroes at the farm stands now. So we bought ourselves a red kuri squash, scooped out the seeds, seasoned the cavity with olive oil, butter, salt, and a little smoked paprika, and roasted it in a 400°F oven. Squash wouldn’t be enough, really, so we put a slab of bacon in a heavy pot with a lid, added a splash of water, and roasted it next to the squash. Ahh, the deep flavors of this combo. So long summer. Fall cooking has commenced.
We made the simplest of lentil soups for lunch. We had a bag of lovely, little green lentils in the pantry and a tub of frozen rich turkey stock in the freezer. We rinsed the lentils then simmered them in the stock until tender. A little salt, black pepper, a splash of vinegar. Then, while looking for a lemon, we spotted some jellied pan drippings from a roast chicken in the back of the fridge and decided to stir them into the lentils. We each had a big bowl of soup garnished with some good olive oil, minced chives, and a squeeze of lemon—our version of a simple lentil soup. It sure helps having a few good ingredients to reach for.
The temperature keeps fluctuating. One day it’s cold and rainy, then next it’s sunny and warm. We bundle up, then we take it all off. In the farm stands pumpkins crowd out tomatoes and corn. But we aren’t quite ready to roast squash, braise cabbage, or stew collards yet. So today, we cut up some of the last tomatoes, chopped up crisp, unpeeled Kirby cukes, diced radishes and red onions, then tossed everything in a dressing of fresh lemon juice, good olive oil, ground cumin, red pepper flakes, and salt. We made a big big bowl, we’d take it home for our dinners, but it was so satisfying, along with some of last week’s garbanzos, that we devoured the lot! This healthy noon day meal left one of us so energized that she vacuumed the whole studio, while the other dozed at her desk. Everything is betwixt and between.
The latest of lunches today. This rainy weather takes our appetites away. But hunger finally prevailed and we quickly made ourselves a kale and prosciutto frittata to settle our tums as five o’clock rolled around. Would that be called linner? Perhaps, so we’ll just have dainty glasses of wine for supper tonight.
Last weekend’s cooking yielded rich bounty. We both ate well, and we each had lots of leftovers which came to the studio this morning. So for lunch we made a cocido of sorts—a Spanish chickpea-based stew—with our leftovers. Our version is chicken broth enriched with a ham hock, kale, poached chicken, some shredded ham from the hock, a scoop of rice, and of course, garbanzo beans. There’s plenty more where that came from. Stay tuned!
We made an excursion to our fishmonger earlier this week for some mussels and came away with a few extra treats—squid ink and calamari. Yesterday, we steamed open the mussels with onions, garlic, pepperoncini, and white wine, plucked the meat from the shells, and saved it along with the broth. Today we made a traditional squid ink risotto, plumping the rice with the mussel broth, then smothered it in calamari and mussels. A well deserved feast to end our long full week of work. Most likely it has been the same for you, so remember to cook something delicious for yourselves this weekend, dear friends.
When we look out the window these gray skies fool us into believing it is bitter cold out there, but actually the weather feels like Jakarta’s. So we have been making soups—and not cold gazpacho nor vichyssoise—good hearty potages. There was an enticing fairytale pumpkin at a farm stand and we couldn’t leave without it. Back in the studio we roasted it, scooped the deseeded flesh from the skin, then whirled it up with chicken stock, sautéed onions, and lemon. When we were plating it, we grabbed light instead of heavy cream and it spread out on the surface of the soup in a very unattractive way. We pulled a spoon through it, then swirled up a soup that looks like Florentine marbled paper. That was a happy accident. Hope the rest of the week goes that well. For you too.