As many plates as you can fit

When I make menus for work I can usually make 3 menus in about a half an hour. I think about the month we’re in, the mood I’m in, whom I’m serving and who hired me.
When I try to come up with something for people coming to my house, it can take me days. In my brain it feels like playing freeze tag and being totally forgotten.
I shout, “chicken!” nothing. zzzzzzz. no words. no pictures. raw, pink, maybe clucking.

I shout, “fish!” grey, the sort of grey that spreads like the 26th day of cold, driving rain and then maybe flapping.

The rescue? Make everything. For a main make something that people have been making for at least 500 years in any part of the world; as long as it has endurance. I chose beef stew. Inspiration sparks once I’m cooking. I might throw in a little tomato sauce to toast in the hot spot of a pan once the onions are at the edge of gorgeous and then a pour of a hefty bottle of red wine that is nearly always somewhere in my kitchen. Then a bouquet garni and a stock that I made the night before and I know for sure something will be edible.

For the rest: as much as you can fit on the table. And why not. If it looks wrong, put whatever you decide is too much in that five minutes before they come in the fridge and eat it for the rest of the week.
I sliced up raw red red peppers, fat radishes, sauteed eggplant, shitake mushrooms and baby spinach with a bit of garlic and put all of that on platters w/a bowl of chic peas cooked up with tiny diced onion, celery, garlic, chile, fresh parsley and thyme and crushed fennel seed w/a splash of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. I tucked in a mushy smushy ball of burrata and sliced up a few loaves of turkish bread.

No one doesn’t like a lemon tart. Make this one and you will make friends with anybody.

1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
pinch salt
1/2 cup cold butter

rub the butter into the dry ingredients until nearly there. (some big bits, some small.) Press into a 9 inch pan. Bake at 400 til nearly golden.

Whisk 4 eggs and 2 yolks with 1 and nearly 1/4 cup sugar until light. Whisk in pinch of salt and 1/2 cup lemon juice. Stir over medium heat, pulling the pan from the flame when it steams. Continue until slightly thickened. Pour through a sieve and gently stir in half teaspoon finely minced lemon peel w/pith removed. Whisk in 2-3 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Pour over the crust and bake for another 5 minutes. Cool completely.

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