If I’m going to cook for somebody I have to step up to the plate. It’s like the movies–if you didn’t believe Clooney loved the girl it wouldn’t work. Clooney has to love her.
The morning of every job I press my whites to stiffness, scrub myself, push my hair into a manageable twist and get ready to give everything I’ve got to make sure the food is delicious.
Last night: bruschette w/President butter and paper thin radishes w/sea salt and smoked salmon. Homemade piadine that I made with the rendered fat from slab bacon, stuffed with dressed arugula leaves and tiny lardon.
For the first: i Gnudi.
We could have stopped right there. 3 bundles of fresh baby spinach leaves (15 oz) sauteed in butter w/sprigs of marjoram and then squeezed until you can’t squeeze anymore. Chop it up. Add 3 egg yolks, a cup of whole milk ricotta, a flurry of nutmeg–I always have a nutmeg and grater in my bag; you never know–salt, pepper, and a handful of Parmigiano Reggiano. Add 1/3 cup of flour and not one bit more.
Drop walnut sized balls of the spinach mix into a pan of sifted flour and shift it around in your hand so that the flour clings to the outsides. Brown the best butter you can get your hands on with fresh sage leaves. Boil the gnudi in small batches until they float to the top of a pan of boiling water. Remove to plate, and then toss them when they’re all ready together, with the sage butter.
For the main: fresh artichoke hearts tossed w/fingerling potatoes and leeks w/a marinated (dijon, a lovely olive oil, lemon zest, heads of garlic, leeks, bay leaf, thyme sprig, parsley sprig and teeny weeny bit of peppercorns) and seared chicken breast roasted on the bone, and then bones pulled off before slicing/serving. Not too early in the season for cherry tomatoes to be made into confit to sit on top.
For the salad: pan fried asparagus w/arugula leaves, nicoise olives, shavings of parmesan and crostini.
Dessert just kept coming. We started with sorbet. Strawberries smelled like red sugar; I smashed a pound and a half of them with a sugar syrup of 4 T’s water and 3/4 cup of water and then added 2 teaspoons of syrupy sweet aged balsamic (if you need the stuff to be thicker/sweeter, reduce it for a minute in a sauce pan.) Squeeze in the juice from half a lemon or more. Taste for sugar and acid. Pour it into a shallow pan and this is the best part, stir it with a spoon every 30 minutes 3 times. After the second time, puree the whole thing until smooth and creamy. I made brutti ma buoni, a bowl of cut fruit, a plate of enormous black grapes and tiny saucers of passed sweets: French glazed prunes, miniature coconut cubes and candied ginger.
You can’t help but hug somebody after that.