Last night, on David’s Birthday Eve, we had this risotto. It’s a nice meal for a chilly fall day, when you still have piles of tomatoes tumbling off your counter. I realized, yesterday, that I’ve never had a risotto with beans in it. Which seems surprising, because rice and beans are so perfect together. I think of tomatoes, roasted reds, olives and white beans as being something of a classic combination. So I cooked it with arborio rice, and left it nice and warm and brothy.
Well! I have to get to work, so I’ll stop chattering on about my lifelong affection for the boy reporter and his best canine friend. This is my sort of version of french fries and catsup, except that it’s a sweet and spicy and smoky hummus instead of catsup. Fear not! If you don’t like catsup, you’ll still like this (at least David did, and he won’t eat catsup!) It’s a little sweet, and it has some sweet spices (cinnamon & allspice) but it also has smoky savory smoked paprika, and garlic and shallots. Hummus and french fries is one of our favorite simple meals, with a big green salad. It’s sort of a tradition that when we’re out for the day, and we start to feel our energy lag, we’ll stop for a glass of red wine, and a plate of french fries and hummus!
I don’t really know of any songs about Tintin, but one of the things I love about the books is the effortlessness with which he travels all over the world, so here’s Donald Byrd with Places and Spaces.
Since the food we put on our table is an important issue, i’m going to tell you about this handsome tart! It’s actually quite simple. It’s a standard flaky pate brisee crust, with rosemary and black pepper added for deliciousness. On top of that we have a layer of french lentils sauteed in port wine and balsamic vinegar. Lentils might seem like an odd ingredient in a tart, but they add real substance and texture, and their lovely meaty flavor. And the mushrooms are chopped chunkily and roasted, so that when the savory almond custard is baked all around them, it’s almost like a savory clafouti or toad-in-the-hole. If I do say so myself, and I do, the whole thing turned out super-tasty. David liked it a lot, and said it’s a “birthday meal.”
Here’s Women’s Realm by Belle and Sebastian
It’s August! Summer is ripe. I can’t tell you how excited I am about the vegetables this time of year. Tomatoes, shallots, potatoes, garlic. I love them all! I love them together! I decided to roast them – the potatoes by themselves till crispy, and the tomatoes, shallots, and garlic together till meltingly soft and starting to caramelize – and then stir them together at the last minute with lots of black pepper. I love how simple this is, and how it all works together.
We have a guest DJ today. My friend SpottedRichard put together an excellent playlist of Latin music, and I’m going to link to that, because it’s bright and sunny, and helping to wake me up. So here it is!
I have some cabbage from the CSA. I decided against stuffing it with klondike bars and lard, and opted instead to make a galette. I wanted it to be sweet and cripsyish, but also soft and comforting. I like cabbage when it’s very lightly cooked, so that’s how I approached this galette. I made a walnut crust (surprise!) and threw a few handfuls of toasted walnuts into the filling as well, for crunch. I was determined to add potatoes to the filling, and so I did, after frying them in olive oil. They were lovely! I flavored it with tamari (in a nod to moo shoo vegetable, which is one of the few cabbage dishes I like), white wine, and basil, tarragon, and thyme. I think it turned out really tasty! David liked it, too, and he’s not a fan of cabbage in any form. Score!! It’s not the prettiest thing you’ll ever make, so serve it with something colorful and crunchy, like a crispy salad with lots of fresh tomatoes and basil.
Of course I don’t understand the whole story of Bill Traylor’s life, but he had more than his share of cares and worries, and what did he do? He drew! It feels as though he didn’t over-think and fret about finding the right tools, and make a fuss about his grand projects: he sat and drew what he saw, and what was in his mind, and what he drew was beautiful and fervent.
Your song for today is this one about Bill Traylor by French double-bass-and-string-oud-band Off Duo (omg, another double bass and string oud band?). I just love it!
Meanwhile, I’ve got to get myself back some balance, some perspective. I love day-to-day life. I love the small things we do every day with the boys. I love watching them play, and draw, and build things. I like the creativity we call upon every day, and – for me – a big part of that is cooking. We eat to live, and we cook crazy things to keep our minds alive! And as dumb as it sounds, I find potatoes inspiring! They’re like a blank canvas, or a blank piece of re-used cardboard. We got some from our CSA, and a bag of dirty potatoes is a source of endless possibilities!! In this dish I wanted to combine the sweet crispiness of fried potatoes with the earthy softness of sautéed chard. The strongest flavoring here is rosemary, which is perfect with potatoes, and seems so summery and mysterious.
Here’s LL Cool J (and Adam Horowitz!) with I Need a Beet