You never know

Rain was predicted for the entire week, but sun is flooding through the cracks. You never know when without waiting or warning things might just go swimmingly well.  I tend to err on the other side–will my car make it down the dirt road without a short flight into the looming ditch, will I be blissfully teaching about the importance of searing and transgress with no possibility of return into the depths of the terrors of teflon, will I remember the vegetable?

I have good reason to worry, but even after breaking 2 glasses, losing the panel of the front door and the fear of full on scorpion attack, I am having a wonderful time.  Everbody got through knife skills without losing more than a few centimeters of fingernail and when I forgot to remember that I was meant to be serving a cucumber salad with mint, after only a few minutes of panic, I noticed carrots stacked in the pantry.  I sliced them every so thinly for a quick simmer in water seasoned with olive oil, a garlic clove and salt to make them already delicious before they even left their bath, and ready by the time the onion had caramelized with thyme and a bay leaf.  They were tossed together and finished off with another spill of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, (a shot of balsamic if you, but I didn’t have) currants and pignoli. 



There have been no recipes this week.  (I am in the valley of Mercatale di Cortona teaching a lovely group of women the joys of cooking.)  We have flung tender garlic shoots with abandon into frittatas and lentils, and braised ribs with unmeasured wine.  There is always the risk that it won’t work out.  There is also the unlimited  possibility of amazing success and unexpected pleasure.  I completely forgot the sugar in the cake I was making for breakfast.  I cursed it, the pan it was sitting in, the oven that it was baking in, and threw a few “Porca Miseria’s” in for good measure.  Then I poured the smug cup of sugar into a sauce pan and melted it with a little water, a little orange juice and a squeeze of a lemon and reduced it by half.  When the cake was hot from the oven, I inverted it onto a plate, poured about a third of the syrup onto the pan, back in went the cake, and then after I poked holes all over the thing, I brushed the rest of the syrup over the top.  Delicous.  The recipe to start from:  1 3/4 cup of flour, 1 tablespoon of baking powder, 2 good pinches of salt, combined.  2 tablespoons of melted and slightly cooled butter, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 3/4 cup room temperature whole milk and 1 slightly beaten room temperature egg, combined.  Mash a very ripe banana.  Stir into the liquid ingredients.  Combine the dry ingredients with the wet, with the outside edge of your hand, only until everything is combined.  Make the syrup using not quite 1/2 cup of sugar, a few tablespoons of water, a few tablespoons of orange juice and the juice from one lemon.  Reduce by half.  When the cake is done (baked at 375 degrees), wait about 5 minutes and invert.  When still warm, pour 1/3 of syrup onto bottom of original pan, or another plate.  Get your cake back on there so it is sitting on a pool of syrup.  Brush the rest of the syrup over the top.  Pile fresh strawberries, uncut in the middle.  Serve slightly warm.

Chicken; new hat

At 80 Kenyon Street, in a room made into a phone booth by the following tenant, there was no place for an aging pair of jeans to chew its cud.  Before a new pair of jeans came in, the old pair was cut and accessorized into a whole new life that took up less space and a different drawer.  My original 16.99 for a cornerstone of my wardrobe ended as a denim wallet, tote bag, a mini skirt and possibly even a throw pillow.  Denim was “in” because there was no throwing denim out.  It was too available, too durable, and too transitional.  Which takes me to chicken.
Rework it.

Saute a cleaned, sliced leek in a spill of olive oil with a sprig of fresh thyme of a few leaves of basil and a clove of garlic that has been cut once, in half.  The leek should be completely softened over a low flame.  Scrape out the leek, add another spill of olive oil, increase the heat, and a package of thickly sliced mushrooms.  No salt or stirring until the mushrooms are beginning to go golden.  Then a few pinches of kosher salt (table salt has silicone and silicone is hell on your body) and a stir.  Scrape the mushrooms onto the leek plate; another spill of olive oil and toss in halved, cherry tomatoes that you have thumbed the seeds from.  Season with salt.  Serve as a ragoux on top of room temperature, lovely chicken left over from last night.