So I threw seasonal eating to the wind and never-minded the ridiculousness of buying asparagus in January (which was perfect, eerily enough) last night, and cooked us the kind of risotto better associated with longer days. Somehow, just saying “See? We’re ready for you,” made me feel like we were luring springtime closer, fighting the good fight, keeping our chins up and horrifying you with clichés, I know, but there was some seriously warmer weather for dinner last night and it’s got me carried away… enough that after a glass (two) of bright white wine, I tried to breathe some fresh air into our place before we went to bed. Ah, well. If you’re like us and your next warm vacation feels like an eternity from now, I highly encourage you to fake yourselves out as we did. Just remember to close the window before you bed, lest winter come back and bite you in the arse.
Come on, be honest. Is there anything better than a homemade quiche? I could eat it with a pile of baby greens for dinner every night of the week. Or lunch, brunch or a post-gym snack. Is there anything more versatile? Oddly enough, I didn’t have a proper quiche pan until yesterday, when a trip to my beloved Bowery Kitchen Supply put me face-to-face with one for ten bucks. (Alex’s favorite kitchen name, ever, is Fluted Removable-Bottom Tart Pan, followed by Reamer. What, you didn’t know I was married to a twelve-year-old?) I was actually there to get my knives sharpened (mwa-ha-ha, it sounds so sinister, right?) and to look at pasta-makers (this excitement for later, but yes, I can barely contain myself, too), and within 2.5 seconds, I knew we were having quiche for dinner.
Unable to decide between Julia Child’s leek quiche and her mushroom variety, I opted instead to use a little of both. She suggests you braise the leeks for 30 minutes with a little butter, water and salt and you should listen to her. Remember those brown-braised pearl onions from the coq a vin? Well, they’ve got competition. She has you cook mushrooms in a way I haven’t before, but it will now be my go-to method for sautéed mushrooms because it was divine: a pat of butter, a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of port, cooked low with the lid on for eight minutes. How does she do that? How does she take something you’ve done your whole life and convince you each time you could have been doing it better because they’ve never tasted this good?
What was missing from the bland mushroom soup was bulk. So many varied soup recipes come down to a similar process: a sauté of onions, leeks or garlic and herbs, a pile of vegetables simmered in stock until soft, then pureed and topped with cream, grated cheese or a splash of booze or if you’re super-lucky, all three. But if you want to make it taste like more than watery vegetables, you’re going to need some volume. Balthazar’s cream of mushroom soup has over two pounds of sliced mushrooms with a relatively small volume of broth coaxing it gently into soup form — there’s nothing more worthy of your spoon. You might, ahem, even determine that it tastes so good, that no, you will not share it and will instead eat it standing over the pot, hungry husbands be damned, even when they catch your selfishness on film. But then again maybe not, as you’re probably a nicer person than me. One can only hope.
My in-laws had a cocktail party on Saturday night and in case you are new here, what this meant was that there was so much food, just the of plating of the appetizers took four people nearly an hour. (It also means that although there was much conversation and liveliness, I captured none of it. “Alex, what are they laughing at?” “He told a joke.” “What was it?” “It was funny.” “Thanks.”)
This would be but half the magnificent spread, not including the Cheese Table, which was not, mind you, a slew of cut-your-own cheese wedges and loose grapes but actual cheese-showcasing appetizers.
I spent a good chunk of this morning, nay, afternoon supine on the sofa moaning. Noooo, baaaad. Really, how did I not see this coming? Pink champagne. Two old-fashioneds. Baileys. Wine. Margaritas. Champagne again. Mmmmmeeeeehhhhh. Uch, remember when four or five glasses of water, some greasy eggs and potatoes and two aspirin did the trick? I’m soooooo oooooold. Alex turned on my Stories for me, that would be the hour of the Barefoot Contessa and Michael Chiarello during which I shall not be disturbed or else don’t complain about what happens when your Giants game is on. Nothing worked. Whhhyyyy meeee.
Eventually, this badly lit and shaky camera-ed new vision of the left side of Nigella Lawson’s face appeared on screen (no really, does anyone else feel utterly claustrophobic watching her new show?), the last thing I needed in my surely vertigoed state but there she was all ochre-lit with her smashing peas, golden olive oil drops from a kettle, scraped tins, lusty eggs, cooking for two although she has no intentions of sharing and insisting you eat certain dishes right there, from the pot, over the stove and I had this vision of cubes of crisped bacon and whisked eggs tangled up and knotted around steaming pasta then showered with parmesan and grindings of black pepper and I knew, I finally knew what could pry me off that sofa.