For the 11 weeks of quarantining in residence, the social pinnacle of my week is a Wednesday 6am date with City Market grocery store. I don’t like shopping in general but I do like food shopping. These days I’m almost giddy when I walk over to the market.
Tomorrow night (Friday), however, I’m going to party, raising my absurdly low social bar to new heights. Who’s Invited: Me. What: Film Screening & Theme Dinner. Where: My Condo. When: 7pm. Dress Code: Festive & Fancy.
Aspen Film, in collaboration with BOSQ Restaurant is streaming the documentary, Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy, about the 97-year old iconic chef regarded as the world’s expert on Mexican cuisine. I once took a cooking class from Ms. Kennedy and I remember being both frightened out of my mind and mesmerized by her brilliance and dedication to her craft. She is strict, saucy and exact. They broke the mold.
Chef Barclay Dodge who with his wife Molly owns Bosq, my favorite Aspen restaurant, has put together a Diana Kennedy inspired take-out menu. I just happen to have some Tequila in the pantry and Margarita mix in the fridge to “pair” with the meal. A few of the many dishes, Chilled Shrimp & Carrot Aguachile w/ Wild Watercress, Chicken Pibil Tacos w/ Pickled Red Onions and Home-made Oaxacan Blue Corn Tortillas and Guajillo & Jalapeno Salsas, already have my table groaning in anticipation.
And that’s my answer to a question I’ve recently been asking others:
“After more than 11-12 weeks of quarantine, facing the unknown and sorrow every single day, what have you done, accomplished or surprised yourself by trying for the first time ever? How have you coped? What’s your new thing? What’s your takeaway?”
My next two or three blog posts will deal with the remarkable responses I’m receiving from others. Just common folk trying to discover an impossibly magic balance to help themselves, their family and friends cope with w-h-a-t-? We really don’t know.
HERE’S WHAT OTHERS ARE DOING…
DAY DRINKING with MOLLY
Need laughter? Jump on Facebook anytime to watch Day Drinking with Authors hosted by award-winning author Molly Fader (O’Keefe) from her home in Toronto. Molly, whose written more than 50 contemporary romance stories, is the daughter of one of my besties from childhood. She decided to provide a forum twice a week for her many author friends who have books in pre-publication but now have no way to publicize them. Spoiler Alert: There’s drinking involved. Ms. Molly entertains as well as she writes.
For the past ten years I’ve cooked virtually through many of Dorie Greenspan’s cookbooks with Ro Domenico and her daughter, Tricia. Ro, who generously shares her cooking expertise, and I have the daughter, grandchildren thing going on. Reason enough for our bonding. During the past pandemic months she’s put together a cookbook and has given one to each grandchild. Priceless.
Zoom has captured the world’s attention. In the early days of the pandemic, my friend, Deb Overeynder, challenged herself not only how to use the technology for Zoom Video Conferencing but also to help others (it’s taken hours). Our Senior Center Bookclub hasn’t missed a beat because of her. She’s also hosted birthday parties, family reunions and put together conversations with her international group of Peace Corp alums. For fun, she and her husband build nursery rhyme panoramas which they e-mail to their niece and nephew who must guess the rhyme. (I play along also. Old King Cole just arrived to my In Box.)
CLARA’s CORONA PROM
Although I’ll share more next week, my family and I have our own coping skill sets. Last week should have been Clara’s prom. Cancelled. Sister Emma, with Melissa’s support, decided Clara should have a prom with all the trimmings including her being crowned Prom Queen…on their back porch. I received play-by-play videos. Luv that family.
COOK the BOOK FRIDAYS
This week’s Cook the Book Fridays was blogger’s choice. This recipe for Portuguese-Style Cod and Beans En Papillote in Everyday Dorie, The Way I Cook, didn’t wow me. In the spirit of quarantine cuisine, however, I had all the ingredients but for cod. Check. I don’t often eat fish. I should. Check. Stuffing food into a tiny packet and tying a bow before cooking it is kid-friendly. Check.
I picked up a 5-oz. cod fillet at Whole Foods, quickly pulled the dish together to steam in a parchment paper packet tied with a red/white string bow. Here’s the surprise, when I untied the cooked packet, its first puff of aroma was fabulous. As was my dinner. This simple recipe will wow you. Guaranteed.
PORTUGUESE-STYLE COD and BEANS EN PAPILLOTE by Dorie Greenspan, Everyday Dorie, The Way I Cook
Serves: 1 (Multiply portions as you wish.)
1/3 cup cooked or canned cannellini beans, rinsed, drained and patted dry
1 garlic clove, slivered
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, or more to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2-1 teaspoon smoked paprika (sweet or hot)
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 lemon slices
3 slices from a medium tomato
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 scallion, white and light green parts only, cut into 1-inch lengths, or 3 tablespoons chopped spring or white onion
One 5-ounce cod fillet, with or without skin, at or close to room temperature
1 tablespoon white wine
WORKING AHEAD: You can make the packets and refrigerate them for up to 8 hours ahead. Remove before you preheat the oven.
1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, foil or a silicone baking mat. Cut a 15-inch (or close) square piece of parchment or foil, and have kitchen twine on hand.
2. Mix the beans, half of the garlic, the balsamic and ½ tablespoon of the olive oil together in a small bowl. Stir in a generous pinch of paprika and season with salt and pepper. Taste and add more balsamic, paprika, salt and/or pepper, if needed.
3. Place the sheet of parchment or foil on the counter. Start building the dish in the center of the packet. Lay down a slice of lemon, top with 2 slices of tomato and a sprig of thyme. Season with salt/pepper. Spoon on the bean mixture and scatter over half of the scallion or onion. Rub the cod with some paprika, salt and pepper and nestle it into the beans. Scatter over the remaining garlic slivers and scallion or onion. Top with the remaining tomato, lemon and thyme and, once again, season with salt and pepper. Pour over the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the wine.
4 Lift up the edges of the paper or foil to make a kind of hobo’s sack and tie it tightly at the “neck,” leaving a couple of inches between the ingredients and where you’re securing the bundle. Put the packet on the baking sheet. (Remember, the packet can be prepared up to 8 hours ahead and kept in the refrigerator; let it sit on the counter while you preheat the oven.)
5. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the fish is opaque at the center. Peek in to poke it with a paring knife. If your fillet was under 5 ounces, check at 12 minutes; if it was heavier or cold, check at 15 — you might need a minute or two longer. Because you’re steaming the fish, the risk of overcooking is minimal.
6. Serve the packet immediately, paying attention when you open it — the initial puff of steam is wonderfully fragrant but very fragrant. STORING: There is no keeping this dish once it is cooked.