Bofinger Sauerkrat with a knuckle of pork, white sausage, Strasbourg sausage, sausage with cumin, smoked pork belly, pork loin and boiled potatoes. Brasserie Bofinger
Dear Miss Manners,
When I was in Paris recently, I attended a small dinner party with four other American friends. Our gracious host and hostess live in an apartment with a balcony view of the Tour Eiffel. During our marvelous dinner we set our Apple watches for “on the hour” alarms to catch the 5-minute breathtaking display of sparkling lights superimposed over the tower’s golden lighting.
That meant the five of us left the table en masse four times during dinner. Was that rude? Is an apology needed? I feel guilty. Thank you for responding ASAP.
PS – In our defense, here’s our once-in-a-lifetime view. Vive la France.
As you read this post it’s a good bet I’m boarding an Air Canada 777 making my 32-hours way to Aspen via Toronto and Denver. After more than a five months absence, my tiny 940’ condo will seem like a palace. May is always a month of construction frenzy at The Gant. That’s okay. It’s jackhammer-loud, noisy and messy with just me and the construction guys on site. As a reminder of that, I understand earplugs (free) await me.
Aspenites Karen Kribs and Cathy O’Connell enjoying the Paris Skyline with our host, Michael.
While eager to see Colorado, leaving Paris is a bit of a tug. If you’ve joined me virtually for this adventure, you already know I’ve loved my experience.
Another familiar face from Aspen, Fred Venrick.
It’s always a treat to eat white asparagus during its very short season. Aliza Sokolow, an award winning food photographer, is in the background with Dorie.
NIBBLES WITH the GREENSPANS
For starters there were oysters with gougères and salmon rillettes. The last two, which I’ve also made, were from Dorie’s Around My French Table cookbook.
In a recent post I wrote about having dinner with Dorie and Michael Greenspan who were spending time at their Paris apartment. If you recall, for more than five years I was part of a group which cooked through Dorie’s Around My French Tablecookbook. Last week Dorie called to invite me and my Aspen friends, who had just arrived in Paris, to come for drinks and nibbles. An unexpected invitation, I was very pleased as were my friends.
I had never eaten oysters before so Cathy provided a tutorial and encouragement.
Just a heads up Readers, if you’re ever invited for “nibbles” at the Greenspans, we’re talking full-fledged dinner. Let me say this about the evening…..I knocked at their door and introduced them to 3 Aspenites who they had never met before. By the end of the evening (ahem, 12:30am), we were all best friends.
Although I am being facetious about writing Miss Manners. We did bob up and down and Apple watches were involved.
All Aboard. Belgium-bound.
ANTWERP by TRAIN
At the International Market with Andrea and 3 of her 4 daughters
Paying homage to Morocco at the International Market in Antwerp
During my 8 years of food blogging many of the acquaintances I’ve known virtually are now friends. Those who live in the USA I’ve often met personally. Others who live in faraway places, not so much. That’s why last Saturday was such a treat. I finally met the very-talented Andrea Mohr who blogs as The Kitchen Lioness and lives with her husband and four daughters in Bonn, Germany.
Pomme Frites with Mayo, surprisingly delicious
Posing with Nijntje (Miffy), a storybook character
We cooked up a plan where I would come by train to Antwerp and she, Thomas and the girls would drive from Bonn, a 21/2 hour trip for us both. Miraculously, with thanks to the Europeans’ efficient train system, the day passed without a hitch. Andrea met me at the station with, what else, a bouquet of gorgeous tulips. Their itinerary included visiting the International Market and all Andrea’s favorite kitchen stores, seeing Antwerp’s historical highlights, enjoying Belgium food specialities and a hot chocolate break. Since we’re usually separated by 5,000 miles, this was a glorious meet up.
“Homeless Jesus,” a sculpture by Timothy Schmalz was installed in Antwerp in February.
Lunch – burrata and Jambon de Parme salad
Bofinger’s fish sauerkraut with haddock, scottish salmon, langoustine, sea bass, boiled potatoes and horseradish butter Brasserie Bofinger
Île flottante, Brasserie Bofinger
Memorial de la Shoah, Paris’ holocaust museum was dedicated in 2005 by President Jacques Chirac.
The Luxor Obelisk with the Grande Roue de Paris in the foreground. The ferris wheel is 2000′ high.
It’s been 5 weeks since I arrived in Paris with 2 small suitcases, keys to an Airbnb rental (first time ever) and a blank slate. Albeit unnerving, the onus on me, there’s freedom in that. If my friends and family questioned the sanity of this adventure, I didn’t know it. That was truly a gift. When I asked them, a time or two or three, “Have I lost my mind?” No one said, “Yes.”
I arrived with the wind of their optimistic wishes at my back. This trip has been truly magical. Although I’ll wring every ounce of joy possible out of these last few days in Paris, going home is definitely on my radar.
Japanese Cherry Tree, (Cerisier du japon)
Meanwhile, here’s a look at Paris Week #5, best yet.
Mary & Dorie, the French Fridays girls
FRENCH THURSDAY with DORIE
We had dinner at Bistrot Paul Bert with the man himself, Bertrand Auboyneau.
As many of you know, my blog began eight years ago with French Fridays with Dorie, an international group which connected virtually to cook the book, Around my French Table. The cookbook, newly published by the James Beard award-winning author Dorie Greenspan, contained 300 recipes.
Over the next 5 years, with Dorie’s friendship, encouragement and mentoring, we made them all. And we now look forward to cooking fromEveryday Dorie, The Way I Cook, which hits the stands October 23.
The fish is Sole and was delicious but note the cauliflower.
Dorie and her husband, Michael, who have an apartment in Paris, arrived unexpectedly a week ago and asked me to join them for dinner. (My social calendar, of course, was blank.) Before dinner Michael took me out on their balcony where, starting with the Tour Eiffel and moving left, I could see every major Parisian landmark. I’ve archived that unforgettable moment.
You can see in two photos that Dorie ordered scallops for an entrée. Here are what Coquille Saint Jacques look like in the markets.
ANGELINA, MS. BELLE ÉPOQUE
Several weeks ago I enjoyed a memorable dinner at Susanna and Philippe Saint-Loubert’s home. Susanna called last week with two questions: 1) Did I like chocolate? (Yes), and 2) Had I been to Angelina’s Tea House? (No).
“I know it’s touristy, Mary,” she admitted, “but you must go once and have their hot chocolate.”
I was game so Saturday we met at the famous Angelina’s on Rue de Rivoli. Established in 1903 by Antoine Rumpelmayer and named for his granddaughter, Angelina’s is a Parisian institution. It was designed by French architect Édouard-Jean Niermans in the Belle Époque style and retains that gorgeous interior to this day. Its fame derives from its almost pudding-like hot chocolate. We happily piled on the Chantilly cream and enjoyed.
When I was walking home from Angelina’s, I stopped to watch about 100 kids breakdancing in the middle open square at the Louvre. Two young men (not shown) were the leaders.
This is the week that my home away from home included Aspenites. So thrilled to see them.
I couldn’t stop smiling. (L to R) Karen Kribs, Me, Fred Venrick, Pat Hutchinson, Nancy Alciatore and Cathy O’Connell.
And, joined by Jim Hutchinson at the head of the table. Fred and Cathy just arrived from attending the London Book Fair where she promoted her new book to be published in September. We were celebrating.
Mille Feuille Minute a la Vanille Bourbon We ate at Le MaZenay in the 3rd Arrondisement.
My longtime friend and Ranger colleague, Judy Schramm, arrived yesterday with her granddaughter, Thea. I remember when Thea was born. And, no, I did not say that. She is darling and so excited to be in Paris.
On Sunday Cathy volunteered to take Karen and me on a sightseeing stroll. Karen and I envisioned a 2-3 hour walk especially since Cathy had hip replacement surgery 10 weeks ago. What began at 11:30am didn’t end until 5:30pm, 7 miles later. Karen and I staged a sweet sit-in and were rewarded.
WELCOME to CASA O’LEARY, my home for the next 5 weeks.
Early every morning I pour a mug of coffee, stand out on the balcony and get my first glimpse of SMA through this oval non-window (located to the left in the above photo).
Seventeen years ago in April 2001, when Michael and I were driving home from an early AM yoga class, we followed a moving van turning into our Silver King Drive neighborhood. As it pulled to a halt at the vacant house near ours, we spotted a cute little guy, standing patiently with his parents, waiting for that truck to spill out the life he’d left behind in Houston, Texas.
We were smitten. And, dear Readers, that’s how I’ve ended up spending 5 weeks of this winter with the O’Leary’s in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
Every February 2nd families and communities dress up their image of Niño Dios (Child Christ) with brand new clothes and take them to the church to be blessed. It falls forty days after Christmas, and is celebrated by Catholics as the “Feast of Purification.”
The priest is blessing all the babies brought to the altar.
Everyone picks up their babies after being blessed.
That little 4-year old is now a junior at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. As our lives and the O’Leary’s became intertwined we were able to participate in and celebrate the many milestones of his journey. After Michael died Blanca and Cavanaugh were among the friends who quietly tucked me into their lifestyles and families.
After the ceremony families get together for a delicious tamales feast. We sat down with the whole staff and had homemade tamales and hot chocolate for breakfast.
That evening for my first dinner, Señora Trini, the O’Leary’s talented cook, made me a flan.
More than ten years ago, they bought a hacienda in Mexico and now spend 6 months of the year in SMA. Generous with their hospitality and skilled at entertaining, their home is a revolving door as friends come and go. Although Blanca has often invited me to visit, nothing meshed until this year when I asked to visit for ‘a week or so.’ But five weeks? Who does that?
A UNIQUE FRIENDSHIP
These cactus pads are called Nopales in Mexico. We brought some from this woman and brought them home to S. Trini. That night she made a delicious vegetable that looked much like green beans!
Over the years Blanca, who grew up in El Paso and I, Iowa born and bred, have created a unique friendship. Although I can’t speak to what I bring to her party, I am well aware of what she brings to mine. Strong-willed and intuitive, her passions and gusto for life run deep. Because our cultural experiences were so divergent and my ignorance and naivety about Latinos so great, we’ve never lacked for spirited conversation.
Since Blanca is on the board of San Miguel Pen, the worldwide association of writers with centers in 104 countries, we attended a evening author’s presentation. Later author Sandra Cisneros, who in 1995 received a MacArthur Genius Grant, joined us for dinner.
During our weekly hikes last summer, we discussed this upcoming visit. “If I’m coming for that long,” I said, after remembering that ‘guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days,’ “ I want it to be about learning.”
“Of course,” Cav and Blanca agreed, suggesting that was already a given.
Just a casual Saturday afternoon in downtown San Miguel. Actually these two fine people are headed to a wedding.
After spending one week in SMA I’ve already taken a deep dive into grasping the importance and significance of Mexico, our south-of-the-border friend and neighbor. For the next 5 weeks, with shorter written posts, I’m letting my photos tell the story of meals shared, celebrations observed, activities enjoyed and people encountered.
And yes, after a week of enjoying the O’Leary’s bounteous hospitality, I’ve begun mainlining my multivitamins.
I joined an early morning San Miguel Audubon birding walk at El Charco del Ingenio-Jardín Botánico. Besides seeing this Vermillion Flycatcher I viewed many birds species including the Great Kiskadee, the Chachalaca and the White-faced Ibis for the very first time.
On most mornings we take an early morning hike up to the El Charco preserve near the O’Leary’s home with our neighbor Christina.
Not for one moment do I begrudge water-deprived California a drop of moisture. After suffering through five years of drought, losing 102 million trees in its stricken forests, this state needed a miracle. Obviously Mother Nature heard the plea, tweeted Mt.Olympus and Zeus, the Greek god of clouds, rain, thunder and lightning answered the call. That’s my story. Sticking to it. As we know, however, sometimes Zeus, who rules the skies, goes overboard.
Salted Olive Crisps
Okay, okay, enough with the silliness. For me, 2017 will be remembered as the Winter of Rain. With apologies to the late Debbie Reynolds, may she rest in peace, I’ve gotten very weary of singing and dancing in it. To be clear, however, everyone living here is thrilled to see rain gauges rising. As am I.
The payoff is those winter showers brought April flowers, They’re spectacular. Unprecedented is the word used by wildflower experts. After 5 years of drought, the trees, however, cannot bounce back.
“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.” (Thanks, Dolly.)
Our feathered friends are happy – so much to eat and sing about. House Finch
Despite the inclement weather I chalked up another glorious winter. Wary of wasting a moment, that clock’s always ticking, and despite too much indoorness, I buddied up with Solitude. Christopher Knight, the now-outed hermit who lived for 27 years in the Maine wilderness, opined to his biographer, Michael Finkel, “There isn’t nearly enough nothing in the world anymore.”
The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel Penguin Random House photo
Whatever he meant by that, I decided to treat nothing as a luxury, building each day on that idea. It definitely worked for me. To my mind, I thrived. Honestly, that I could pull off four months of my definition ofnothing so happily was eye-opening to me. But, twenty-seven years of it, kill me now! I am very ready to return home.
Last Saturday my food blogging colleague, Katie, and her husband, Marcel, and daughter Alaia, came for lunch, a 3-year tradition. I made a Herbed Parmesan Dutch Baby from Melissa Clark’s newest cookbook, Dinner, Changing the Game. More about Clark’s cookbook next time.
Before my signing off from Cali, last Saturday Katie Baillargeon, her husband, Marcel and almost-five Alaia, joined me for lunch. I first met Katie, a professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara, in 2012 when I joined French Fridays with Dorie. She also organized and is now our Cook the Book Friday’s administrator. This is the third winter we’ve broken bread together, a record-breaking 5 hour lunch despite my setting off the smoke alarm while making it. I was mortified. Surprisingly, the meal was salvaged and the haze lessened (in about 30 minutes), There is much to admire about this young family.
Alaia played on the beach, climbed trees and ate a grilled cheese sandwich.
This is my last post from Cambria. I’m in Death Valley for Easter and then will fly from Las Vegas to Atlanta to visit the Carter Presidential Library. It’s the 12th of the 13 presidential libraries I have seen. I regard these under recognized libraries as the uncrowned jewels of our historic heritage. Then, Colorado-bound.
According to the Locals, the most delicious strawberries are grown in Santa Margarita and are now available at our Cambria Farmer’s Market.
This week’s CooktheBookFridays recipe is Salted Olive Crisps, usually served with apéritifs before dinner. I’ve shared the recipe and my personal tips below. One of my most delicious meals this winter was Iron Skillet Roasted Mussels. So simple. So easy. If you own a cast iron skillet, be open to the possibilities.
Carizzo Plain National Monument is a region of 250,000 acres and is the largest native grassland remaining in California. The San Andreas fault cuts straight through it. The unique Soda Lake, pictured here, is shallow, white, and alkaline, with no external drainage.
IRON SKILLET ROASTED MUSSELS by Sharon Kramis & Julie Kramis Hearne, The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 leek (white part only), rinsed well and chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded (discard any that won’t close)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Combine the wine, butter, leek, and red pepper in a 10- to 12-inch cast iron skillet or 5-quart Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
2. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the mussels, and cover either with a lid or heavy tinfoil. Cook until the shells open and the mussels are plump, about 8 minutes. Discard any that won’t open.
3. Sprinkle the parsley over the top and season with a dash of salt and pepper. Serve right from the skillet or Dutch oven with a leafy green salad and sliced baguette or rustic country bread.
Meal is Over.
SALTED OLIVE CRISPS by David Lebovitz, My Paris Kitchen
1. Rather than the 30 minutes David suggested for baking the loaf mixture, I baked it for 45 minutes.
2. Because I wanted a bit more crisp, I put the finished slices under the broiler for 1 to 11/2 minutes.
3. These Salted Olive Crisps are better eaten immediately. Although they can be stored up to one week in an airtight container at room temperature, I needed to ‘crisp them again” at 325 degree heat for 3-5 minutes.
4. Like baking mandelbrot or biscotti, this is a labor intensive recipe that requires an olive that is not too damp and a very sharp bread knife. While I enjoyed making this once, it’s probably a recipe I won’t bake again.
CooktheBookFridays is an international group virtually cooking through David Lebovitz’s, My Paris Kitchen. To see what my colleagues baked this week, go here.
Beautiful coastal Tinytips, an annual wildflower, and our dead California coastal oaks. A heartbreaking site prevalent throughout the state.
This post is dedicated, with fondness, to Dr. David Yokum, who was a prominent thoracic surgeon and catfish guy.
Another french classic, Brandade de Morue translates to Salt Cod and Potato Puree and is delicious.
Being Iowa born and bred in the Fifties/Sixties meant odds are heavily weighted to a meat-and-potatoes palate. In the Corn State then there were approximately 200,000, 150-170 acre family farms. Each August at the Delaware County Fair, the 4-H kids would show off their prized livestock, compete for ribbons and eventually auction those animals off.
My neighbor raptor, a red-shouldered hawk, gets scrutinized by a visiting hummingbird.
My parents would purchase a porker and reserve a side of beef from prize-winning 4-H livestock. At our house we didn’t eat fish. Mom was a good cook and those were different times. I had no hankering for fish nor, when it became more available, was curious enough to try. Plus, Michael was a meat man.
Salted Codfish is difficult to find in some areas. I found mine at Whole Foods. It’s better to buy it boned, if possible.
Thanks to David Yokum, I fully embraced the piscine world. David and his lovely wife, Martha, lived in Arkansas but, being music aficionados, summered in Aspen. He and I bonded shortly after our moving to Colorado in the late Eighties. Seated together at a charity dinner at the historic Hotel Jerome we chit-chatted with ease.
This Great Blue Heron likes to loiter nearby where there is a good possibility of scoring food.
A waitress, carrying two heavy coffee pots, stopped at our table to offer refills. As she leaned in to pour coffee into David’s cup, the pot in her other hand leaned with her. She successfully executed a full-on “pour” down David’s neck. When I noticed and started to scream, David remained oblivious…..until that piping hot coffee began streaming down his back.
After 36 hours of cold water rinses and draining, this is what reconstituted cod looks like.
Yeah, it hurt. Yeah, it scalded his skin. And, yeah, that frightened waitress was horrified. Ever the southern gentleman, he quietly left the table, making no fuss, and tended to his surface wounds. Throughout the 2-3 minute ordeal, the only words he grumbled to me were, “And, this is a new suit!”
Pacific Harbor Seal
Friends forever! That summer we newbies received an invitation to the Yokum’s annual catfish party. Apparently a coveted invitation to receive, we were none too interested in accepting. Growing up near the muddy Mississippi River, what I knew about catfish was not appetizing. Whiskers (barbels). Bottom dwellers. Considered the garbage eaters of the fish world.
The Brandade de Morue consisting of potatoes and cod is simmered in boiling water for 25 minutes before being drained and whipped together. Seasonings and heavy cream are added before it’s all mixed and ready for 20 minutes in the oven.
What we didn’t know was our doctor friend owned a 7,500-acre farm with about 60 ponds covering 1,200 water acres, producing soybeans, rice and catfish. His catfish were farm-raised. Not farming I recognized. But, Michael and I decided to chance it. Our new friend, David, was amused.
These brown pelicans are doing a bit of grooming.
Hushpuppies, cole slaw and Arkansas farm-fried catfish. Tasty fare, not-to-be-missed. Although David and Michael are gone now, the memories built off that first encounter and the Yokum’s friendship are forever.
In France, Les Accras, salt cod fritters served with tartar sauce, are a popular happy hour snack.
After moving to Aspen and realizing its local availability, I eventually joined the fish brigade. Today I eat very little pork or beef. It’s an easy walk to the Butcher Block/City Market to buy fish. This week’s Cook the Book Friday’s recipes, Brandade de Morue and Accras (fritters) de Morue are a far swim from the Yokum’s catfish.
This solitary Long-billed Curlew is at work, searching for food.
I first sampled Brandade de Morue in Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s demo at Aspen’s Food & Wine Festival. During my immersion french studies at the Institute de Français in Villefranche-sur-Mer, it was served at Côte d’Azur bistros/brasseries. Brandade is a purée of reconstituted salted cod, potato and seasonings. It’s served very hot, browned on top, with a leafy salad and beer (my taste). Or, it’s an elegant appetizer. Or, as a snack, Accras de Morue, chilled balls of brandade, coated with fritter batter and fried.
Using my cookie scoop, I made 1-2″ balls from the brandade and then refrigerated them for 30 minutes. I made the fritter batter and dipped the chilled balls in the batter before frying them in canola oil. Like potato chips, you cannot eat just one!
Since making these recipes is a two-day process involving reconstituting the salty cod, I am not adding recipes. I relished making this, channeling the phenomenal Samuelsson, but in the future will leave it to others. If you DO want these recipes, I will gladly send them.
Cook the Book Fridays is an international group virtually making its way through David Lebovitz‘s My Paris Kitchen. To visit out site or join the group, please link here.
TUNA & HUMMUS SANDWICH, THANKS TO INA GARTEN, THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA
This is my prediction. After reading this post you’ll open your cupboard doors or walk into your pantry, put your hands on your hips and take a mental inventory. Whether you’re into cooking or would rather not, it’s smart, if only for safety’s sake, to stock your pantry well. The question? Can you feed the two-legged/four-legged mouths in your home, for one week, from your pantry?
MY PANTRY, HOMEMADE INGREDIENTS THAT MAKE SIMPLE MEALS YOUR OWN by Alice Waters
Alice Waters, an American culinary icon and author of 12 books about food, recently published her 13th entitled “My Pantry, Homemade Ingredients That Make Simple Meals Your Own”. Being a Waters’ devotee, I ordered the book. When it arrived, I thumbed through the 135 pages but it was her Introduction that reminded me why I honor this woman.
MY PANTRY WAS UP TO THE TASK OF PROVIDING “COMING HOME PASTA” WHEN I RETURNED TO ASPEN AFTER AN 8-DAY TRIP.
“A familiar pantry,” she writes, “is like being surrounded by friends who won’t let you down. No matter how tired I am, at least I’ll be able to dream up something to cook — something delicious! — and right away, too.”
IT’S ALWAYS GREAT TO COME HOME AND THIS PASTA IS COMFORT FOOD AT ITS BEST.
It was her opening sentence, however, that threw down the gauntlet for this week’s post. “When I come back from a trip, one of the first things I need to do is walk into my kitchen and look around. A pantry is not just a shortcut to cooking something special in a hurry, it also encourages the best kind of impromptu cooking.”
BETSY’S AND MY FIRST STOP IN BOSTON WAS AT JFK’S PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY.
THIS IS A REPLICA OF THE CBS STUDIO WITH WALTER CRONKITE’S DESK AT WHICH HE ANNOUNCED THE VICTORY OF JFK AGAINST RICHARD NIXON IN THE 1960 ELECTION. THE RCA PROJECTION CAMERA IS TO THE LEFT.
Since I was leaving for an 8-day journey, I challenged myself to let my pantry create the meals for at least two days upon my return. So, while catching up on sleep (my usual 8:30pm lights-out routine would be severely interrupted), unpacking, returning calls and wading through a week’s mail, I’d survive on what was already in-house.
FDR’S PRESIDENTIA;L LIBRARY. OF THE 11 LIBRARIES I’VE VISITED THIS IS, IN MY OPINION, THE MOST WELL DONE AND MY FAVORITE.
SPRINGWOOD, THE LIFELONG HOME OF FDR. DIANE, ANOTHER FFWD COLLEAGUE, JOINED US FOR SATURDAY.
Fast forward to last Tuesday. Trip over. Early in the morning, my friend, Betsy, drove me to the Boston airport to catch my 4-hour flight to Denver. After arriving in the Mile-High city and retrieving my bags, I waved down a shuttle which dropped me by my parked car. I was Aspen-bound. Four hours later, cruising by Whole Foods and City Market in El Jebel, I wished I hadn’t read that damn book! By the time I reached Aspen and drove by the Hickory House (best ribs in town), I was silently cursing Alice Waters.
THIS IS THE BACKYARD OF VAL-KILL, ELEANOR ROOSEVELT’S LAST HOME WHERE THE HOT DOG SUMMIT OF 1939 BETWEEN FDR AND KING GEORGE V! OF ENGLAND TOOK PLACE. THOSE HOTDOGS WERE ROASTED ON THIS GRILL.
OCTOBER 11th WAS ELEANOR ROOSEVELT’S 131ST BIRTHDAY. WE PARTICIPATED IN A GRAVESIDE MEMORIAL CEREMONY AND THEN JOINED EVERYONE FOR A CELEBRATION AND BIRTHDAY CAKE.
Tired and hungry I decided to mimic Water’s menu. Coming Home Pasta: spaghetti tossed with a heap of sautéed garlic, dried chile flakes, a salted anchovy and handful of chopped parsley, ‘is what I always make for myself when returning from a trip,’ she writes.
SIX OF THE FRENCH FRIDAYS WITH DORIE GROUP DINING AT THE BOCUSE RESTAURANT AT THE CIA. Patty Stormer photo.
If this sounds familiar, Ina Garten’s version is called Spaghetti Aglio e Olio. I meshed the two recipes. It couldn’t have been easier, faster or more delicious. Most ingredients were in my pantry. I cut/refreshed parsley, in its last gasp but still growing on my balcony, grated an end chunk of Parmesan cheese and pulled half a whole-wheat baguette from the freezer. (Okay, the freezer thing, that was cheating.)
WE ALL WERE INVITED INTO THE KITCHEN FOR A TOUR (No, we didn’t ask!). THIS IS THE PROFESSOR CHEF AND OUR STUDENT WAITER.
My two-day challenge ends when I share this post with you. I didn’t starve. It was fun. I win. Oatmeal topped with dried dates or apricots. A hard-boiled egg. Popcorn, my fave snack. And, Ina’s Tuna & Hummus Sandwich. The leftover tuna mix was also fantastic with cheese, a grilled tuna melt.
BETSY AND I RETURNED ON THE NEXT DAY TO TOUR THE VERY BEAUTIFUL CIA CAMPUS.
While I may not make all Water’s suggested recipes myself, her book, packed with spice mixtures, sweet and savory preserves, grains, legumes and condiments, is loaded with ideas. Her All-Purpose Pickling Brine has my head spinning. (Stay tuned.) The Panforte recipe is doable. And, when I go shopping tomorrow to replenish my pantry, I’ll do it more skillfully.
BETSY TOOK ME TO AUTHORS RIDGE IN SLEEPY HOLLOW CEMETERY IN CONCORD, MASSACHUSETTS TO SEE THE GRAVESITES OF EMERSON, THOREAU, ALCOTT AND HAWTHORNE. I AM NOT EMBARRASSED TO SAY I WAS THRILLED. THIS IS EMERSON’S TOMBSTONE.
My recent journey to Boston and Hyde Park exceeded my expectations, thanks in part to the generosity of Betsy Pollack-Benjamin. Although Betsy and I had met only once, she’s been my virtual friend for years, having shared administrative duties on French Fridays with Dorie. When we finished cooking through Greenspan’s Around My French Table, our responsibilities ended but our friendship did not.
LOUISA M. ALCOTT GRAVESITE
These photos are a brief glimpse of our trip’s highlights. The premier memory was our dinner at The Bocuse Restaurant in Hyde Park’s prestigious Culinary Institute of America. We were joined by other FFWD colleagues who lived nearby in New York and Pennsylvania. “Nearby” translates to Cher & Joe (4-hours RT); Diane (2-hours RT) and Tricia & Ro, who stayed overnight, (6-hours RT). This evening, six months in the planning, was second to none, without equal.
COMING HOME PASTA/SPAGHETTI AGLIO e OLIO adapted from Waters & Garten
1/2 pound dried spaghetti, such as DeCecco
1/2 cup good olive oil
5 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 salted anchovy, chopped roughly
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1/2 – 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package. Set aside 1 1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water before you drain the pasta.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a pot large enough to hold the pasta. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until it just begins to turn golden on the edges. Don’t overcook it! Add the red pepper flakes and chopped sardine and cook for 30 seconds more.
3.Carefully add the reserved pasta-cooking water to the garlic/oil and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, add 1 teaspoon of salt, and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by about a third.
4. Add the drained pasta to the garlic sauce and toss. Off the heat, add the parsley and Parmesan and toss well. Allow the pasta to rest off the heat for 5 minutes for the sauce to be absorbed. Taste for seasoning and serve warm with extra Parmesan on the side, if desired.
TUNA & HUMMUS SANDWICHES, minimally adapted from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa, How Easy is That?
Makes 2 Sandwiches
5 ounces canned tuna packed in olive oil
1/4 cup minced celery
1 tablespoon minced yellow onion
1 tablespoon of capers, rinsed
1 tablespoon minced cornichons
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons good mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup fresh parsley, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Rustic artisan bread or baguette, sliced 1/2 inch thick
Hummus, store-bought or homemade
1.Drain the oil from the tuna.. Place the tuna in a mixing bowl and flake it with a fork.
2. Add the celery, onion, cornichons, lemon juice, mayonnaise, the mustard, salt, and pepper and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to develop.
3. When ready to serve, toast the bread and spread each slice with a layer of hummus. Spread the tuna mixture on each piece of bread and garnish with minded parsley.
4. Serve immediately.
TIP: Although I had an unopened container of Classic Hummus in the fridge, you can also make your own. Garten includes a tasty hummus recipe in her cookbook and Waters has a Hummus with Preserved Lemons recipe in hers.