Away, away

Faye is flying the coop, on the lamb, going away for vacation. I will be looking for new foods, old foods and all foods up in the northern reaches of our country. Ferdinand has been packed since shortly after he got up, and is begging to get out the door, so I can’t blame not being ready on him.
We had the final eggs last night with a piece of bread I found in the freezer.

The no groceries dinner

blogff0349.JPGThought you were going on vacation and just as you were about to get in the car, your son breaks his foot? I hate when that happens. So anyways, for the first time in my life, I had actually planned for vacation coming, and was determined to leave without a fridge full of groceries to rot while I was away. I had half a bag of spinach left. Get the noodles (about 1/2 lb. for two or three people, or double the whole recipe) going in salted, boiling water, and use a good brand. You might fight me on it, but I like De Cecco. Let it cook until it is al dente, still the faintest whisper of a white line in the middle when you bite into a piece. Drain well and reserve about 3 tablespoons of the cooking water in a cup. Dry out the pasta pot. Give it a spill of olive oil and add three to four finely slivered cloves of garlic. When they are golden, rip in some fresh thyme from one sprig, or a few basil leaves, or mint leaves or even marjoram or parsley (or nothing; I had nothing). If you have the patience, shallot, cooked til golden is really good as well, or forget the shallot and add the prewashed baby spinach leaves with a good pinch of salt, a few red pepper flakes, and a grind of black pepper. Add a handful of pine nuts and (if the people permit) a handful of currants. Toss it all together with about 1/2 cup of coarsly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, separating the cooked spinach leaves so that they are evenly distributed, and adding a little of the pasta water if you need it. Taste for salt and serve with more cheese on the side. Look happy.

The secret of being ready

When I was seven years old, I asked my mother if she couldn’t make me an outfit that could easily go from daywear to nightwear so that when I got up out of bed in the morning, I was ready to go. I wore it for seven days and seven nights, adding only the matching bathrobe for bed and a fashion show at school. I loved it; it was a long sleeved, red bell bottomed, cotton jump suit with loads of flowers, tiny yellow bubble buttons from the top to the belly button, and an eyelet collar.
I’m also all for food that looks good and tastes good, morning, noon and night. I know this might all sound a little like I have been reading too many magazines at the checkout counter, but I go way back with the cheap magazines and I owe them more than a little bit of thanks. You never know where inspiration will spring from.

Make your favorite waffle recipe. And (not all on the same day necessarily, but waffles freeze really well), serve them with real maple syrup and butter in the morning and a bowl of strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries, for lunch have them with peanut butter and bananas (or bacon) and for dinner have the waffels with a shrimp sauce. Saute a shallot with a sprig of fresh thyme and a pinch of salt in a little butter, then add the shrimp (1 pound) and leave them be on one side, til they go a little white up the sides and start to curl. Lift the shrimp from the pan with with a pair of tongs. Pour in a little delicious dry white wine, maybe 2 tablespoons to a quarter cup, and let that bubble down to a glaze. Add 1 cup of heavy cream, and let it reduce by a third. Taste for salt. Get the shrimp back in there, making sure that the cream is now only at a simmer, and heat the shrimp through. Pour all of this over the waffles. Sprinkle on a little finely chopped Italian parsley and finely minced lemon zest (no pith). This is really good with a side of collards and a lemon cake for dessert.

go to nytimes.com

The god of quick dinners outdid himself yesterday. I award Mark Bittman, otherwise known as the “minimalist” of the New York Times , the first ever FAYEFOOD Forever in my Heart Award for his 101 dinners to make in less than five minutes, printed in the Dining In section of the Times yesterday. The dinners are clever, classics and revolutionary for getting cooked, real, loved food back on the table. Get your fingers on the keyboard if you don’t have the paper, and click onto nytimes.com and then dining/wine, print out the list, and save it forever.

Heeeeeeer we go….

Jonathan went upstate last night to see which way the sun sets and rises on a piece of land. I am thinking of taking on the challenge of getting New Yorkers to vacation closer to home at a place reachable by train instead of plane, and Jonathan is thinking of building it. He likes the idea of a sort of big barn shape for sleeping, eating, cooking classes and drinking wine on a hillock up in Columbia County. The problem with us is, we have a hard time not going for it. All it takes is “hey you want to put everything we have on the line and try something we have never done before in a place we have never been to”? for me to say, “yea, all right.”
Ferdinand had mashed potatoes, apples and a glass of milk for dinner, and I had mini candy bars from the freezer on the sly and later on, ice cream. If I had made dinner, I would have made it very dependable; food to normalize the situation.
Chicken with dumplings and peach pie.

To go green or naked

I have to admit that the first time I saw a french fry sandwich with butter or mayonnaise on a menu, (a chip butty) I thought, there may be no return for the English (my husband).  The thing is, you can throw down your soap box, jump up onto it, and start judgement day early or just improve on a french fry sandwich. 
blogff0347.JPGCut a potato into matchsticks, get three cloves of minced garlic golden in olive oil with a minced shallot, add a sprig of marjoram (if you have it) and when the onion and garlic are gorgeous, about three tablespoons of chopped fresh parsely.  Season with salt.  Reserve all of this on the side.  Add another drizzle of olive oil and then your potatoes along with some salt.  Over medium heat let the potatoes get crisp and golden (don’t move them around in the pan) and then start to flip them around a bit with a spatula.  As soon as they are cooked through, add the garlic mixture.  Bring a pot of water to the boil, add salt to taste nearly like the sea, and add orchiette.  When the orchiette are al dente, drain well and then toss with the potatoes.  You can go the whole hog and top with some toasted croutons or pine nuts or just rip in some fresh mint and or basil leaves, and serve with a little green olive tapenade and shavings of parmesan, and on the side a salad of orange, red onion and tiny salad greens.  Also excellent with a cheese course.

(Just for the record, in Genoa, for possibly of hundreds years they have served a pasta dish with pesto, green beans and potato, which isn’t far off a chip butty, which at the end of the day, all right, it’s not so bad, even very good.  It’s a little bit like the difference between saying to hell with it and running into the river without, or wearing a bathing suit.)

Curried eggs on china

It is loveliness to be invited to someone’s home to be fed.  And when they have the table arranged for you just so with flowers from the garden and fragile china plates even with a full time job, two children and unbearable heat, well that’s just Mother Teresa kind of activity.  Needless to say I had invited myself and my family, changed the date from a Saturday to a Sunday and was still welcomed.  I thought we could get by on the bagels and pack of cream cheese that I brought along, but when we got there there were platters of curried cream eggs, toast points, a bowl of deep red strawberries still wearing their green tops, black cherries with their stems and blueberries, a piece of brie with sesame crusted almonds and walnuts, and a platter of lox with lemon and capers.  With a tiny silver candelabra.

There were no measurements, but start with a tiny clove of minced garlic, a quarter of a minced yellow onion, and saute in olive oil and butter with a little salt until the onion is completely soft.  Add a scant  teaspoon of curry powder and then about a half cup of heavy cream.  Heat gently.  In another pan, bring a dozen eggs to a boil and when the water is rolling, turn off the pan and cover, letting the eggs sit for 9 minutes.  Run the eggs under cold water and then peel.  The yolks should be about half way set.  Chop the whites roughly, and combine with the cream.  Stir gently to combine and serve over toast points.

Fruit tea to wake the weary

Heat got you sitting down swatting at responsibilities nagging at you like so many mosquitoes?
And me. Make orange minted iced tea to get your mojo going. Steep 4 English Breakfast Tea Bags in 8 cups of boiling water (covered). In another little pan, dissolve 1/2 cup sugar in 3/4 cup of water, stirring just until you can no longer see the sugar. Add about 3 or 4 sprigs of fresh mint and simmer for 30 seconds. Allow to cool. Remove the tea bags and the mint sprigs and combine the sugar syrup and the tea. Add about a half cup of fresh squeezed orange juice and taste. Float some orange rounds in there along with some new fresh mint leaves and serve over ice. Fresh raspberries look pretty in the glass as well. If I already told you how to do this, forgive me; it’s the heat.

Pick Big

The difference between stone crab and Maryland Blue is a little bit of flavor, a whole hell of a lot of price and the biggest reason to pay the difference, the size. I’m not saying crab has to be jumbo to be good, I’m just saying the difference in picking the sweet and tender stone crab meat out from a claw that is practically the size of your wrist or cussing your way through shells in miniature with a hammer and tweezer, is me paying the extra 20 bucks. Plus, you don’t have to kill stone crab. Unless you are fishing for it yourself off the back of a boat, the fishermen steam the big guys before they even leave the scene. You can come home from the grocery store, and pull the crab from the shell in one fell swoop, and then eat it just like that. People steam it for about 1 or 2 minutes to heat it up. It’s a hundred and fifty degrees outside in the shade. Forget heating it up. Dip the crab cold into a homemade mayonnaise. Serve it with side of a few arugula leaves (I bought a lot of arugula this week), thinly sliced fresh fennel and thin, thin slices of green apple, dressed with lemon, salt and olive oil and bruschetta made with the best bread you can find, grilled or toasted, then rubbed ever so gently with the flat side of a piece of garlic and a dusted with sea salt.
To make the mayo, use, 1 egg yolk at room temperarture, 1/2 clove of minced garlic, 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of dijon (no subsitutes) mustard, a grind of black pepper, a dash of cayenne, and some sea salt. Mix all this together, and slowly, teeny drizzle by teeny drizzle add olive oil until the mayo emulsifies. (About one cup of oil total.) If you want to serve the crab with a fennel, orange, green olive and red onion salad, fold in a half teaspoon of grated orange zest and shreds of fresh basil into the mayonnaise.

When it’s good, it’s good

I am having a minute yet significant affair with soft goat cheese. It reaches me somewhere deep in the center of my tongue and behind my breast bone. In particular one called Nettle Meadow. Usually I don’t get any further than eating it on a cracker and sometimes not even that, but yesterday I was moved to try some props.
Baby arugula leaves, a little torn basil and batons of fresh chive, toasted pepitas, a squeeze of acacia honey and the Nettle Meadow. I tossed it all together with a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a little sea salt, and the tiniest grind of freshly ground black pepper. Very good. Mr. Copola makes a white wine that is not so sweet, but just enough to get the tango going with the salad. So good that I didn’t want to eat anything else.