For M’s birthday yesterday, we feasted. No surprise there, since we have spent an inordinate amount of our free time this month stuffing ourselves with really delicious food. For the first two weeks of July, we were eating our way from Portland to Seattle to Vancouver. (More on that soon–promise!) Last week was spent using up lovely produce from our CSA box, trying to do a bit of penance for the indulgence fest that was our vacation. Though we managed to have a slightly out of hand backyard BBQ over at Claire’s last week and eat lunch at every day cook one day. So much for austerity.
When we weren’t eating, we were doing other food-related activities, like going to see Ratatouille and talking about what would go well with the pickled prunes I brought back with me from Seattle’s Boat St. Cafe, aka My New Favorite Restaurant in the Entire World. Oh, and speaking of pickles, there was the marathon pickling session on Sunday with my buddy Eric: six hours of making vinegar baths and chopping veggies and scratching our heads and wondering if we were doing things right.
Yes, readers, it’s been a month of cooking and eating and I kept it all to myself. How blessedly rude of me. Allow me to share with you, then, my most recent adventure in the kitchen: dinner last night for M’s birthday.
Menu for Michael
I knew that I wanted to make that Gateau au chocolat fondant that Orangette loves so much–her friend refers to it as the “winning hearts and minds” cake. The menu came together after reading (with a rumbling stomach) that Mark Bittman piece in the NYT: Summer Express: 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less. It wasn’t that I wanted a fast meal. Oh, no. But it reminded me how good a meal can be when you put together a few simply prepared, high quality ingredients. We had new potatoes and pattypan squash galore from the farm share, so I boiled the potatoes and added butter and salt and fresh parsley. The squash got a quick (maybe too quick) sautee in some olive oil and a sprinkling of chopped basil and a squeeze of lemon. From the Bittman piece, I lighted on the stuffed tomato recipe (#88) and the steak with lots of ground pepper pressed in (#71), with a few changes. I lopped off the tops of the tomatoes and scooped out the insides, and mixed up the pulp with lots of fresh basil and parsley, garlic, s + p, and toasted baguette. I baked the tomatoes for about 20 mins, and they got just soft enough to be a little oozy and a lot delicious. (Next time, I’m going to experiment with chunks of cheese and/or toasted pine nuts.) The delmonico steak turned out really quite well. It was gigantic and more than well-marbled. We doused it with coarse pepper (thanks, Liz!) and kosher salt, seared it in a pan w/ plenty of butter and olive oil, and let it do its thing for about 8-10 mins total. A little red wine into the pan to deglaze it, and the steak went back in for a good sloshing around in the mixture.