My brother and his family arrived today. It’s tourist and houseguest season in Seattle (so if you insist on going to Pike Place Market on a weekend, I recommend being done with your errands by about 10:30am). A whole lotta food was produced in my house.
I made a cumin-eggplant spread from the new Patricia Wells book (verdict: meh. Not bad as part of an assortment of tapas/appetizers, but nowhere near as good as most of the eggplant spreads in Arabesque). I made a brandade. Despite not soaking the salt cod for quite long enough, it still (luckily) turned out the way brandade should, which is a scrumptious salt-cod pudding-y sort of thing (sounds revolting, tastes good). What I liked best about the brandade was watching The Incredible Eating Nephew's deep, deep suspicion of it (sniffing, nose-wrinkling, poking, face-making), despite the fact that Curly was practically gargling it, which then turned into him actually, reluctantly, tasting it and admitting that yes-indeedy-ma'am, brandade is some tasty stuff. I bought baguettes from Bakery Nouveau (I wanted to buy their amazing olive fougasse, but they ran out and the next batch was only just in the oven... damn, but the baguettes are no slouch as a second choice. Looking at their website, I found that you, too, can take a cooking class with The World Champion of baking... pretty cool). I made an oldie-but-goodie tomato salad from Marcella Hazan (okay, I didn't actually check the recipe, but I'm pretty sure I followed it), sliced the better part of one of the Palacios dried chorizos (it turns out that I’m not the only one who can eat that stuff like candy- I actually had to smack the hand of The Incredible Eating Nephew to get him to lay off and leave some for the other nine people coming to the table), put out a big old bowl of cuquillo olives (I think they might be ash-cured, but honestly have no idea- still, they have a nice bitter taste that a bitter-loving girl like myself really digs), a plate of proscuitto, and finally, I made the recipe for Philadelphia-style vanilla ice cream from The Perfect Scoop. I still wuuv David Lebovitz, even if frozen food fidelity isn't a strong point of mine. Seriously, how not to wuuv him with such lip-smacking stuff? No pictures were taken. No leftovers were left. That stuff is gone. Judging by the enthusiasm for it, I'll be making another batch of one of the vanilla ice creams in The Perfect Scoop before the week is out.
I took some pictures of my lavender (which my crazy neighbor believes I sometimes lurk behind in order to spray her while she's eating fish), because one of my sisters arrives Thursday, and has a weird fondness for lavender-honey ice cream (which the wonderful Mr. Lebovitz has a recipe for). Okay, I get that it’s super-sophisticated of her to like it in a I-just-loved-it-last-time-I-was-in-Provence sort of way, but I’ve made it for her before, and it tastes like... plant-y ice cream. But she likes it, and I love her, and she is the mother of The Incredible Eating Nephew, so... we’ll make it for her. But seriously- peaches are about to come in season, strawberries are still astonishing… and she’d like plant-y ice cream? Whatever floats your boat, lady. If you change your mind, though, and decide that something normal and tasty like peach (or chocolate. or... c'mon, something good)would be better, just let me know.
I took a picture of the figs, partly because I watch them every day as I do dishes at the sink. They’re still quite hard, but getting bigger. I think when they’re ripe, we’ll have them with bacon and ricotta, in a recipe from The Herbal Kitchen that riffs on figs with prosciutto and marscapone, but it so, so, so much better.
The best part of dinner was when all of the adults and all but one of the children were sighing, having finished dinner, and thinking a little of having dessert (the Philadelphia-style vanilla ice cream, in a hot fudge sundae). The Incredible Eating Nephew turned to me, and very, very sweetly (but more than a bit plaintively), said, "Meg, what's for dinner?"
He looked stricken when I explained that dinner was what we had just consumed. "I thought those were appetizers," he said, visibly distressed (particularly since at that point, he had just demolished the last of the baguettes). Fortunately, the local ice cream store, Scoop du Jour, also makes killer sandwiches (and really, really good, peppery hamburgers). My dad gave him some money and I called in an order, and enough food was had by all.
And then, when we got home, he made a substantial dent in the strawberry gelato (and asked me to make another batch, ASAP). Again, there's a reason I call him The Incredible Eating Nephew. Crikey.