Monday, August 27, 2012

sabbath day candles

our friends with green thumbs and excellent taste brought us a basket of beautiful herbs and peppers from their garden.  i'm grateful for people who can grow food.  that skill has eluded me.

the 44 oz. maverick cup in the background tells you everything you need to know about our family's commitment to juxtaposition.

so make me a deal:  when we're living in a post-apocolyptic world, you grow it & i'll cook it, okay?  i'm pretty good at cooking in weird circumstances and with skimpy ingredients, almost as good as i am at killing plants.
thanks heather and kevin!
all summer i've wanted to do a candlelit italian dinner outside, and today was finally the day.  ingrid is leaving for college tuesday morning, so this was our farewell dinner: portabello mushroom lasagna, spinach salad, glace carrots, homemade vanilla ice cream, peach crisp, lemonade.

the kids love these carrots
i wanted to make this mushroom lasagne, but this recipe was too pricey (i'll get to it later, right after i cash my macarthur check), so i downgraded to ina garten's recipe, which was still pretty delish. especially with a few sprigs of fresh thyme from that gorgeous herb bouquet added to the mushrooms and the bechamel.

farewell ingrid, august
the whole family was together tonight, plus a few of our favorite friends.  it was a blazing hot day today, but right before dinner, a thunderstorm rolled in and we got a gorgeous summer storm that brought things to the perfect temperature, plus made it dark enough for candles even though we ate at 7 & it was still light out.

i love you, alice waters.
one more thing:  peach crisp and homemade ice cream.  first of all, i only ever use alice water's crisp recipe.  it's undoubtedly the best one out there, and i've been using it for years.  second of all, you definitely want an ice cream maker.  i love the simplest vanilla with a reduced amount of sugar so the flavor of the cream is the center piece.  which is what you want with really good peaches.  nothing to distract from the beauty of that brief-lived summer ecstasy.

never use any other crisp topping.  it's all about the roasted almonds.
sitting in my back yard eating peaches and looking at the mountains after a rain storm. come visit me in august, and that's what we'll do.
homemade ice cream is a whole different subject.

(rum & maldon sea salt, as this blogger suggests, is so not necessary.  fun, i suppose, but i think it would just get in the way.  also, i double the topping recipe because i'm a topping whore.)
Nectarine and Blueberry Crisp
Adapted from the Chez Panisse Café Cookbook and Chez Panisse Fruit
½ cup almonds
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
a pinch of salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 ripe nectarines, pitted and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup blueberries
¼ cup sugar
3 tablespoons unbleached flour
zest of one lemon, chopped fine
1 tablespoon aged rum
For the Topping
Preheat oven to 375 F. Toast the almonds until they smell nutty and are slightly more brown, about 7 or 8 minutes. Chop the almonds to a medium to fine consistency. Combine the flour, the sugars, the salt and spice in a mixing bowl. Add the chilled butter in pieces and mix with your fingers until it becomes mealy. Add the nuts and mix until the flour mixture holds together when squeezed. Put aside. (The topping can be prepared up to a week in advance and refrigerated).
For the Crisp
Mix the fruit in a medium-sized bowl and then add the sugar. Taste and adjust for sweetness. (*Note, don’t over sugar the fruit—there’s something quite beautiful about a semi-sweet crisp. Don’t be afraid to let the fruit express itself in its truest form.) Dust the flour over the mixture and stir gently. Spoon the topping into a small cooking dish is just big enough to hold the fruit. Mound a small amount in the center of the dish. Then, gently add the crisp mixture on top. Lightly push the crumble on top of the fruit mixture.
Place a cookie sheet on the middle rack of the oven (to catch any overflow juices) and put the crisp dish on top. Bake in the oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and the fruit juices are thickened and bubbling. The delicious smell of baked fruit will help you know when it’s close to being ready.
Serve with rum flavored whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Finish the ice cream with a sprinkle of Maldon sea salt.


  1. So fun! I had to cook from our pantry and garden . . . roasted potatoes, sauteed kale w/wild rice and yams, sauteed green beans, corn bread, and a dish of toasted pecans. I LOVE toasted pecans. Could make a meal of them. What's the recipe for carrots? Wanna make them! xoxo

    1. your meal sounds fantastic. i love toasted pecans, too. carrots are easy: steam until tender, drain, melt ALOT of butter in a saute pan, let them roll around in the butter for a while, throw in a bit of brown sugar and salt and let them play for a while longer, until they're caramely and brown in spots.