Monday, October 26, 2009

A Weekend of Cooking, Eating, and Grading

This weekend almost all of my dreams came true.

My all-time favorite poet joined FD and I for brunch at our house. We had bacon, goose, radishes, tomato salad, kale chips, and roasted potatoes. Everything we ate came from Ohio. It was a fantastic little meal, but what made it so fantastic was sharing it with Rachel Zucker. (Thanks, Rachel! I hope we can share another meal together soon!) My only regret: I didn't take any pictures.

[After brunch and before dinner I graded essays.]

For dinner that night, we invited friends over for homemade pizzas: one game pizza and one
pepperoni-onion-mushroom pizza. I served a side salad of bibb lettuce, radishes (clearly, I'm addicted to them), and red onion with the Everyday Food garlic and herb vinaigrette. Again,
great company. My only regret: I didn't take any pictures.

[After dinner I tried grading essays, but that was a futile cause.]

For lunch the next day, my foodie friend Lenz made me Chicken Liver Pate with wine soaked figs, as she promised. I was happy. And I finally remembered to take pictures.

What I loved about the pate was whatever condiment/garnish we added changed the flavor. On its own, the pate was rich, salty, and metallic-y (in a good way). Paired with a radish, the pate took on some heat and the pepperiness of the dish came alive. With yellow mustard, the sweetness moved to the forefront. With a fig, the earthy, gaminess came alive. I loved every bite. And if we hadn't decided to have a 3-course lunch, I would have eaten half the mold pictured above.

Our second course was artichokes with white wine reduction, butter, and Canal Junction's Burr Oak cheese dipping sauce. Lenz boiled the artichokes in salted water for about 45 minutes. In the meantime she made the sauce. We sat down to a feast of leaves and hearts. I was impatient for the third course, so quite frankly, all the peeling wasn't worth it to me. Lenz helped me get the heart, and after that I waited for the main course of game and polenta--my new food addiction.

As a token of appreciation, I'll let Lenz post her own polenta recipe. It's one I'm going to use again and again. As she says, polenta is the grown-up version of Mac 'n' Cheese. I adore it. And this course's was no exception. My only regret was that we didn't bake it right away after serving it. It got hard. I attempted reheating it on the stove later that day with more water and bouillon cubes. It just wasn't the same. Next time I'm baking it right away. Definitely.

Confession: Lenz and I cooked and ate from 11-3. That's food dedication.

[I graded later in the evening--after my wine buzz wore off...]

[The next morning and afternoon I graded like a fiend.]

Sunday was our dear friend Babs' birthday, and I wanted to give her something special. Of course, that gift would be a meal. But not just any meal. A Jamie Oliver meal. If I can't give her the man, I can, at least, give her his food.

For our first course, I served a simple garden salad with mushrooms, radishes, and red onion. Then for dinner I made her the Steak, Guinness and Cheese Pie with Puff Pastry Lid with a side of peas with the artichokes' wine, butter, and cheese dipping sauce. I was quite proud of how
everything turned out. (Though, I'm not sure why my pie filling was lighter and less liquidy than Jamie's...I will need to explore this more...) The taste, though, was spot on. It was the perfect birthday/comfort food I could have made for Babs' October birthday, and I think she was quite happy. My only regret: Babs made her own dessert because I suck at baking. And her cream cheese pound cake with pomegranate and cranberry sauce was a perfect ending to a spectacular meal.

[After dinner I could not grade. I was too full. But I finished this morning. Go, me!]

All in all, this was the best weekend I've ever had with grading.

Food does make everything better.

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