I look for reasons to go over the top with food. It doesn’t always happen – that is to say on a day-to-day basis at home, I’m not cooking a four course meal with an amuse-bouche du jour and dessert. Couscous-zucchini-citrus vinaigrette and some ice cream afterwards is definitely a staple. But when I can go over the top, flex my culinary muscles, I get giddy with excitement.
These moments sometimes are pushing it. Say, for instance, a friend has a great day. I can’t really be like “Oh, why don’t I do a quick something for you, plate it, serve it to you, and pair it with wine, you lucky goat you!” But when someone moves into a new apartment? That’s fair game.
At least that’s what I called fair game a couple of weeks ago. A friend from years when we only had one number to our age, Sophie, just moved from Manhattan into Brooklyn, and only five minutes from my current place, no less. I helped her move a bit, “Martha Stewarting” her kitchen, and trying to arrange as much as possible to help ease the burden of moving (cause, well, it’s no stroll around a lake). I also decided to christen her oven with a brief meal for five of us. I admit, I might have gone over the top. No courses, but different sections on our plate and pairings of flavors for sure.
Her place is beautiful. It’s a two bedroom in Prospect Heights with a wall of exposed brick. Dark wood and new appliances – a find for sure. It seemed the best place to go a little over the top. As you can tell, I try to rationalize with myself for spending over two hours in a kitchen during a beautiful summer-fall day in the city.
With Emily’s CSA at my disposal, I put seasonal produce to use: Eggplant, Beets, Carrots, Daikon Radish, Kale, Tomatoes. I added a few foreign goods like asparagus, pita, hummus, and chevre. After looking through the heaps of Saveur and Bon Appetit magazines I’ve accumulated while abroad, I decided on a menu.
Pita & Hummus with fresh cracked Black Pepper
Roasted Eggplant with Root Vegetable Salsa and Herbed Chevre
French Lentils with Kale, Roasted Tomatoes, and Butter Sauteed Asparagus
The menu isn’t too over the top but the fact that I then opened wine, poured Sophie, Emily, Rachel, and Madeleine wine, and plated the food… like I said, maybe over the top, but I have to say: everything was finished. And enjoyed! Dessert was on Sophie, and she brought out some delicious culinary muscles of her own with a plum nectarine crisp with a hefty and hearty granola-like crust. Vanilla ice cream on the side, but of course.
We dined until we were sated, and then some, and then some even more. All together, it was a feast for good people, no matter how “over the top” it might have been. Sometimes, it needs to be a little extravagant.
Want a recipe from this post? Holler at the comment box and I’ll reply with it!