Saturday, October 31, 2009

Take a Little Rest, Mama

It being Friday evening, the end of a busy work-filled week, I was feeling a little tired around 6 pm. I'm sure this never happens to anyone else. Dinner was ready and the boys sitting at the table eating nicely, so I said I was going to sit on the sofa while they finished their dinner.

But when I got to the sofa, the two pillows were already propped up against the arm inviting me to lie down for a minute.

I gave in to the temptation. For 7 seconds. Then somebody asked for a second glass of milk.

Up I got, back to the kitchen, fixed 2 more glasses of milk, 1 requested and 1 preventative, and went back to the sofa. It was 11 seconds this time, before somebody needed another napkin but the napkin holder was empty so would I reach up to the high cabinet and get down some more napkins. "Okay, hold on," I said.

Up I got again, refilled the napkin holder, placed a clean napkin next to each person's place, again preventative measure, and went back to the sofa.

It took a minute and a half for the next necessity. "Mama, booger." This was from the little one. He still skips over the verbs in his sentences most of the time. "Come here," I said. "Give it to me." I put out my hand without opening my eyes and he hands me the booger. I don't even know if it really was a booger. It wasn't very big or sticky if it was.

"Night-night, mama," he says and goes back to the dinner table.

Up next: pit stop. "Mama, I have to go to the bathroom." This from the big one again. "Okay, honey," I say, eyes still closed going on 4 minutes at this point. "Don't forget to wash your hands before you come back to the table." Up he gets, stopping by to look at me lying on the sofa before he goes down the hall. "Are you having a nice rest, mama?"

"Yes, love, I am having a nice little rest."

While he is away from the table, the little one calls over to me, "Mama, on a floor. Dirty, mama." "Okay, honey, bring it to me," I say, putting out the booger hand again to get whatever offering he is bringing now. It turns out to be a little piece of mushroom that had fallen off of his plate onto the floor. "Night-night, mama." He says it again as he goes back to the table.

But as soon as he gets back there he says, "Oh no, mama. Here, mama." Not even bothering to tell me that the next thing has fallen to the floor and waiting for my instruction to bring it to me, he comes. "Here, mama," he says again. Out I reach the booger-mushroom hand, and in he plops a whole, wet, cold, oily tomato slice.

"Aaah!" I jump up to see what the hell he put in my hand. "Floor, mama," he says, smiling softly at me.

"No more night-night, mama?"

And that was the extent of my nap. I poured myself a glass of wine instead. Right, preventative measure.

Friday, October 23, 2009

New Best Cake

Since there are so many peaches lying around (and by the way, they come from my cousin's garden, not mine), I needed to something quick to cut up and use the ripe ones. I started a bowl full of sugar and peaches for jam last night, and I also made this cake. It was delicious. I used the base from a recipe that I've made many times which came from The Wednesday Chef last year some time, but I added pureed peaches to it. Since it has relatively little butter and sugar, plus whole wheat flour, I don't mind letting the boys eat it for breakfast.

5 peaches, peeled, roughly chopped, and pureed in blender
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease the baking dish. I used a 9 inch Pyrex dish.

Cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk, yogurt, egg and vanilla together.

Scrape down the sides of the butter bowl and alternately add the dry and wet ingredients; do not overmix. Gently fold in the pureed peaches.

Pour/spread into the baking dish and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Peaches in October

We had such a cold summer in these parts that the peaches didn't ripen until October. Can you imagine picking peaches and making peach pie in October! It's almost Halloween!

Believe it or not, Sunday was peach pickin' day.

What should we make? We've thought about peach pie, peach jam, peach chutney, peach cobbler, peach bread, peach ice cream, peach bellinis, peach cordial, peach vinegar, and good old peaches'n'cream. Any other suggestions?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Coq au Riesling

I made a few changes to this dish from Nigella Lawson's column in the New York Times, adding potatoes and shallots, and using prosciutto instead of bacon.

8 ounces lardons or cubed prosciutto
white parts only of 2 large leeks, thinly sliced
1 large shallot, peeled and chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, roughly chopped
10 mini Yukon potatoes, washed but not peeled (the little tiny ones)
10 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 bottle riesling wine
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley

Saute bacon, leeks, shallots, and mushrooms in 2 T olive oil until softened, about 10 minutes. Add chicken pieces and potatoes to pan along with the wine, and bring to a boil. Partially cover, turn heat to low, and simmer for 1 hour.

For best results, cool, and refrigerate overnight. Reheat gently over low heat, sprinkle with parsley before serving.

This was really delicious and hit the spot on a cold autumn night. Plus it was a great make-ahead dish. I love that Nigella Lawson's recipes are so practical for family life!

Oh, and we did have the caipirinhas, for Mama Goose!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Please Help Choose the Menu.....

Okay, so I need a little advice on menu-planning for the weekend. Which sounds like the better option to you on a fall evening when I get home from work and have 30 minutes to pull together dinner for 8 people?

Menu #1
Caesar Salad
Seafood Cioppinno
Garlic Bread
It's It bars
wine: Zinfandel
cocktail: cosmopolitans

Menu #2
Endive and Roquefort Salad
Coq au Vin
Apple tart
wine: Cabernet Sauvignon
cocktail: champagne

Menu #3
Garlic Soup
Seared Tuna sandwiches on Rosemary Bread
Green Beans
wine: Pinot Noir
cocktail: caipirinhas

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Eggplant and Manchego Pizza

Did you know that eggplants were introduced to the Mediterranean from North Africa during the Middle Ages?  That there is no Latin or Greek word for eggplant, only the Romance albergínia, aubergine, berenjena, and beringela, from the Arabic al-badnijan?  (So why do the Italians call it melenzana?) 

(I lost the photos of the eggplant and manchego pizza, and can find only a nice photo of some mozarabic pottery and glass, so I'm trying to tie this all together. We didn't really have a linguistic discussion over this pizza, we just ate it all up and washed it down with some nice Ribera del Duero.)

Eggplant and Manchego Pizza

Ingredients for two 8-inch pizzas:
One eggplant, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup tomato sauce (plain, no added italian seasonings, or basil and onion combo, etc.)
1/4 lb Manchego cheese
1/4 lb Mozzarella cheese
3-4 basil leaves, julienned
Use your favorite pizza crust recipe, like this or this, or use a pre-made crust.  I used a pre-made Vicolo cornmeal crust.

Lay the eggplant slices on a large plate and sprinkle both sides with coarse salt.  Let sit for 30 minutes or so.

After 30 minutes, wipe the salt off the eggplant slices and dredge them lightly in flour.  Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a skillet and fry the eggplant for approximately 5 minutes each side, depending on thickness.  Add additional oil as necessary, but there is no need to submerge the eggplant slices.  Drain the cooked slices on paper towels as you remove them from the skillet.  This can be done an hour or so ahead.

Preheat the oven to 425, or as directed for your pizza dough.

Place your pizza crust(s) on a cookie tray or baking dish, and spread tomato sauce on top.  Sprinkle the Manchego cheese evenly over the pizza, and place as many eggplant slices as fit without overlapping on top.  Sprinkle the mozzarella over the eggplant.

Bake as directed for your pizza crust.  When the pizza smells good and looks lovely, remove from the oven.  Let sit for a minute or two before slicing, seasoning with salt, and sprinkling with basil.  

There are words for basil in Greek (basileus) and Latin (basilicum), by the way.


Friday, October 2, 2009

I Miss My Boys

I am away on a work trip, and I really miss my boys.  No one kisses me good night.  No one calls me to get up in the morning.  I have no Coco to hug.  I can't wait to get home tomorrow!