Chickpea flour cake baked with tarragon and artichoke hearts AND spinach sauteed with white beans and black truffle butter

chickpea flour cake baked with tarragon and artichoke hearts

chickpea flour cake baked with tarragon and artichoke hearts

Malcolm wore flannel pajamas under his trousers all winter long. Why did he do it? He has his reasons! Was it for warmth? for comfort? for a sense of extra security? Out of laziness? Was it a nouveau-grunge look? (Grunge is more than a stylistic choice for Malcolm, it’s a way of life, and if you doubt his devotion to the cause, look at his fingernails.) These last few days, the unseasonably cool weather has given way with complete submission to the unseasonably warm weather. No peaceful transition of balmy spring-like days. Cold to hot, just like that. We took a walk after dinner one evening, and we were all a little overdressed and a little warm, and none more so than malcolm, with flannel pjs inside of his flannel-lined trousers. We said, “Are you really still…?” He said, in a sweetly funny, sighing voice, “I regret it.” And, of course, this got me thinking about Malcolm and regrets. It really seems as if children have no regrets – my children anyway! Perhaps they’re prodigiously lacking in compunction, but it seems as if their friends are just the same. And this is yet one more way that I wish I was more like them. I feel as though I live my life under the weight of a vast network of regrets. They cling to me like spider webs as I pass through my days. They seem silly, but they add up, and they slow me down. Why did I have that last cup of coffee when my heart already feels like it’s going to explode? Why did I have that last glass of wine when my head feels as if it’s going to explode? Why did I say what was on my mind when I knew nobody wanted to hear it? Why was I so snappish with Isaac when he hadn’t really done anything bad? Why did I curse angrily in front of Malcolm when I know it makes him sad? And on and on it goes. Sometimes, I’ll have a faint hint of uneasiness, a nagging feeling that I’d done or said something regrettable, and in trying to unravel that one string, I’ll pull on a million others, so I can feel my heart sinking over something foolish I said decades ago. But my boys aren’t like that. They move right on with their lives. They’re never angry for long, they’re not resentful. They don’t store up bitter feelings about something somebody else has done, and they do themselves the same favor. This makes them light of heart despite the fact that their hearts are endearingly full at all times. Sometimes they’re irritatingly on-with-the-next-thing. Sometimes I have to stop myself from shouting, “You just spilled a pint of juice on your homework! Show some remorse you little psychopath!!” I think I’ll try to be more like them. I think I’ll imagine myself throwing away my regrets the way the boys throw rocks into the water–joyously and wildly, never worrying about the splashes, never regretting the loss of the stones.

Chickpea flour tart

Chickpea flour tart

I thought this dinner turned out so pretty! I’m not even sure what to call it. I made a batter such as I might make for puffy socca or chickpea flour crepes. I cheat and add eggs and a bit of white flour, as you may recall, and this makes the batter lighter and easier to work with, whilst retaining the singular taste and texture of chickpea flour. So I did this, and then I arranged artichoke hearts, grape tomatoes, tarragon leaves and mozzarella cheese in a pretty pattern on the surface of the batter, and then I baked it! I thought it tasted very good! I love tarragon, but my boys were disconcerted by whole leaves of it, so you might want to chop it up. Or use rosemary or basil instead. Chickpea flour tends to result in a slightly dry texture, so we ate this with sauteed spinach, white beans, and black truffle butter. The combination was absolutely delicious!! You could eat it with any kind of soft sauteed vegetable or even a simple tomato sauce, though.
spinach sauteed with white beans and black truffle butter

spinach sauteed with white beans and black truffle butter

Of course it’s going to be Edith Piaf, with Non, Je ne regrette rien, isn’t it?
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Cauliflower steaks roasted with brown butter, caraway seeds and rosemary

Usually when I roast cauliflower I cut the florets into small pieces, so that everything gets crispy and brown. Sometimes, however, it’s nice to leave them thick and steak-y. The outside gets caramelized and the inside stays tender and juicy. They can take the center of attention on your plate, like a real steak, but they’re equally comfortable sitting off to the side as well. I drizzled them with brown butter, which I’d mixed with fresh rosemary and chopped caraway seeds. Fast and delicious!

Here’s Mr Brown, by Bob Marley, one of my favorite songs ever!
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Fennel in a sherry & green peppercorn broth

Fennel in a sherry green peppercorn sauce

Sweet fennel in a spicy, smoky, buttery broth. Garnished with toasted slivered almonds and gorgonzola. Delicious, but what is it? Whatever you want it to be! We had it over basmati rice. It would be good with couscous or orzo, or any other kind of pasta you like. If you add white beans or chickpeas it could become quite a hearty stew. If you cook until the fennel is very soft and the liquid quite reduced, you’ll have a delicious compote that would make a nice vegetable side dish. I was in the mood for something light and brothy (post thanksgiving search for clarity!). So I had mine by itself, with several large handfuls of baby arugula tossed on top and stirred in to wilt very slightly. And some toasted ciabatta bread. I think there’s something so pleasurable about combining ingredients, giving some thought to the flavors of the vegetables or beans, and choosing herbs and spices that match. And then tasting a spoonful of the broth, and finding it wonderful! Such a feeling of achievement! Such anticipation of the meal about to be eaten!

Here’s JJ Barnes singing about Sweet Sherry. I used dry for this, but we don’t need to tell him that.
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