Today friends, instead of finding a song about casseroles, tians or bakes, I’m going to post this song that has been haunting me. It’s so beautiful and plaintive. When a song like this is an earworm, it’s like having a little ghost howling in your head! It’s Tommy Johnson’s I Want Someone to Love Me.
My favorite meal in the summer is any meal that involves a lot of different little dishes. A mezze or tapas type of situation. It’s sort of funny that this makes me think of summer, because in the summertime we like to eat outside. If you do the math, you’ll see that this means that we carry lots of little dishes out the kitchen door, down a small path, down a step, and onto the outside table. It’s worth it, though! I swear it is! It was crazy warm last week, so we ate outside, and I’ve already started in with the summer meals.
Let me tell you about this one. I like to make a kind of crepe, a kind of green, a kind of sauce, a kind of salad, and a kind of potato, and have them all together. However…although we’ve had exactly this kind of meal before, we’ve never had anything quite like this!! I made crepes with semolina flour and roasted red peppers. Delicious! Not thin and elegant, exactly, but very satisfying! I made broccoli rabe sauteed with chickpeas and grape tomatoes. Lovely! And I made thinly sliced roasted potatoes seasoned with sage and Spanish smoked paprika. Finished with a simple salad of baby spinach and baby arugula dressed with with olive oil and balsamic, salt and pepper.
You know that Spanish tapas dish, patatas bravas? The one with potatoes in a spicy, smokey tomato sauce? This is my soup version of that. Plus cauliflower, for texture, flavor, and because potatoes and cauliflower are such good friends. It’s an easy soup to make, and the broth – warm, rich and spicy, is perfect for the freezingly dreary weather we’ve been experiencing here lately. I wanted it to be very brothy, but if you wanted a thicker soup, I think it would be nice to add a picada at the end…a mixture of toasted almonds, bread fried in olive oil, and garlic, all roughly ground together. I might try that some time! I’ll let you know how it goes.
Potatoes, so mild-mannered and comforting, meet some spicy, vibrant friends in this very pleasing, intensely flavored dish. The potatoes are sliced thinly, and layered with sofrito, olives, capers and fennel, and they all combine to create wonderful tastes and textures.
Here’s Le Pastie de la Bourgeoisie, by Belle and Sebastian. I have no idea what they mean by it (and I’m not sure they do, either!) but it fits this blog, if by pastie you mean savory pie (no, Tom Waits, not those kinds of pasties) and by bourgeois you mean thoroughly ordinary.
Belle and Sebastian – Le Pastie de la Bourgeoisie
If you’d like to see how it is really done, watch this video. It’s of Kay Bolitho, who cooks at the Port Eliot estate in Cornwall. I love everything about this video! The kitchen is beautiful, and I love the strange little objects around and about. And I love her gentle, measured voice.
Making Pasties in Cornwall
The other night, during a bout of insomnia, I started thinking about vanilla, as one does. I love the scent and flavor of vanilla. (I have recurring dreams about vanilla essence, actually. Wonder what that means?) I think vanilla has been unfairly labeled as plain and pale – almost a non-flavor. In fact it’s wonderfully flavorful. I started to ponder the fact that, in my experience, vanilla is always used as a flavoring in sweet dishes. Why shouldn’t vanilla find its way into a savory dish? Other sweet staples, like cinnamon and chocolate have done it. Then I started thinking about fries and a vanilla milkshake. Such a perfect pairing. One hot, crispy and salty, and one cool and vanilla-y. That’s when I came up with the idea for this combination.
The sauce is a tarator sauce – it’s nut-based, and though it’s quite creamy, there’s no dairy in it at all. And the french fries are actually roasted in olive oil in the oven, but they become as crispy as you could hope for. Keep reading for recipes…