For the love of even better

Sarah says that the reason that I am a good cook is because I pay attention. You can think that there is no need really to think about the artichoke or the risotto, to just focus on the pain in your knee joints or your Christmas list, but the truth is like a child or a lover–when you take the time to take them in–to consider their shape and smell and being, then the thing between you goes beyond the chore of getting them dressed for school or making love before you sleep.  When you take the time to consider the thing in front of you, the thing between you lives and breathes.

If you really know someone, or an artichoke, you will know how to challenge them to do great things, and you will sense what they need to be at their best. And in return, ahhh the love and the food you will have.

Tonight we will have risotto with dried porcini mushrooms, string beans with grilled onions and a roast chicken stuffed with masacarpone. Sear the whole bird off in a hot and heavy pan that has been glazed with olive oil, seasoning first with salt all over, inside and out. When the chicken is beautifully browned, let it cool for a moment, then shove in a whole head of garlic cut in half crosswise, a few sprigs of fresh thyme, some of rosemary, and some of parsley. Prepare a 1/2 cup of mascarpone with finely diced lemon zest, pith removed, maybe a 1/2 teaspoon, a little torn basil, or minced fresh rosemary, but not so much that the herb takes over the mascarpone. Smash a clove of garlic and cut it into a paste. Add that as well, and season with salt and black pepper. Roast at 350 degrees for an hour and a half for a 3 pound chicken, but 20 minutes or so before you think it is done, make a slit in the skin on the breast on both sides of the breast bone, and engineer in about a quarter cup of mascarpone where you have made your cuts so that underneath the skin, the whole breast is covered.

For dessert, I will cut pears in half, crank up the oven to 425, toss them with sugar, and set them onto a well buttered sheet pan, cut side down. You are looking to caramelize them and soften them. Make a shortbread crust, bake it off, and when it is golden, slice the pears into eighths and arrange over the crust. Serve with ever so lightly whipped cream.

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