Posts tagged: simple & special
February 22, 2012

Hervé This’ Chocolate Mousse

The trouble with having a real-life blog as opposed to a slick, editorial calendar, planning-ahead blog, is that here it is on February 22nd, and I’d like to tell you about a perfect Valentine’s Day dessert. What can I say? I made this last Tuesday to follow Manhattans and steak au poivre. The cocktail assisted in my success where women before me have tried and failed: I got my husband to watch The Notebook. We drank red wine and spooned this dark chocolate mousse out of ramekins topped with whisper-sweet whipped cream, and of course, I sobbed. Ali and Noah do that to me.

And while the eating of this chocolate mousse is pretty great, I might argue that the making of it is the real fun part. It’s like playing magician. This recipe has been going round and round the blogosphere charming and delighting all with its dubious simplicity: Melt chocolate in water. Pour melted chocolate and water into a bowl submerged in an ice water bath. Whisk and whisk and whisk and then, when you’re starting to think, this totally isn’t going to work, this recipe is bunk, the mixture starts to thicken. If you’ve ever made mayonnaise, the process will feel familiar. In essence, this chocolate mousse is an emulsification of chocolate. I mean, whoa. I used a 72% bittersweet chocolate, but next time, I think I’ll use something a little sweeter. (Can you imagine with Lindt’s Touch of Sea Salt?)

Too late for Valentine’s Day, yes, but not too late for your next romancing dinner at home or get-your-cry-on viewing of The Notebook.

Continue reading “Hervé This’ Chocolate Mousse” »

August 5, 2011

Roasted Shrimp with Feta and Oregano

Last week, there was a morning breeze so cool through the window I made hot coffee instead of iced. That alone would have been enough to make me feel quiet and a little wistful, but then I heard the cicadas. They send me right back to the summer I fell in love, kissing on a lonely country road, the skirt of my sundress fluttering around my knees in the breeze. The cicadas were the soundtrack.

And, though less romantic, that morning air reminded me of the last time I dared to turn on the oven, when the steam outside wasn’t itself like an oven . I made this recipe from the Barefoot Contessa, who I’ve rhapsodized about before. This recipe, like the last, was no disappointment. Simple, special, a little subtle, and tasting sweetly of sunny days by a Grecian sea (go with it): fresh shrimp, feta, fennel, lemon and oregano. We slid a tray of asparagus spears in alongside the main dish in the oven, and placed a hunk of sunflower bread on the table, and really, now that I think about it: that was pretty romantic, too.

What are you making this weekend?

Continue reading “Roasted Shrimp with Feta and Oregano” »

July 26, 2011

Summer Simplicity: Peach, Basil and Red Onion Salad

I used to get irritated when the summer lifestyle magazines started showing up in my mailbox. An apartment-dweller with no outdoor space to speak of (save for a rickety fire escape) can go a little batty from so many recipes that use the grill. I could not simply throw a cob of corn and a beautiful piece of fish on the grill and call it dinner. And yet those slick magazine pages continued to sing a refrain about summer cooking being so simple, so effortless; I just didn’t get it. If anything, trying to figure out how to eat something substantial for supper without warming up the entire apartment seemed like it required an advance degree.

And then my wonderful aunts and uncles gave me an indoor two-burner grill pan, and I started to see the light. I hate to say that a piece of specialty equipment can make life easier, but in some cases it’s just the plain truth, (See: food processor.) I get that “summer simplicity” now: I throw something on the grill, make a salad, and dinner is ready in 15 minutes. Moreover, it feels grown-up and relaxed, like a woman with real standards and know-how was in charge of this dinner, instead of just post-work, grouchy me. And this is when I start to wax about the ability of a certain recipe to bring out the best in you, but really, it’s true. A simple, wonderful dinner can be elevating: it can help you shed the bleary-eyed, email-beset, hunched-shoulder workhorse stance, take a deep breath, and feel like a human again. A human who revels in the delights of summer––like juicy, ripe peaches––and throws together easily elegant salads like this one. Creative, seasonal, healthy––you’ll feel like some kind of genius.

This salad even works with peaches that are slightly underripe and still a little firm. Serve with grilled, sliced skirt steak, chicken, or a pile of shrimp. It really can be that easy.

Continue reading “Summer Simplicity: Peach, Basil and Red Onion Salad” »

April 25, 2011

Roasted Potatoes with Lemon and Dill

The dance of spring vegetables is the subtlest of all the seasons. They come in on tiptoes, and I find myself clamoring for asparagus and artichokes long before they’ve made their entrance. This recipe seems to bridge the gap between the lightness we long for in these rainy, teasing spring months, and the reality of the growing season in my part of the world (slow to get going). If you slide a chicken in the oven alongside the potatoes and toss together a garlicky spinach salad in those final moments of cooking, you’ve got a special, simple spring dinner.

It’s hard for me to use dill without thinking of the Scandis, and I rather love the association. Even something as simple as scattering dill on my potatoes can feel like an access point to a culture that hold enormous appeal to me: the candlelight, saunas, bicycles, pale wood, health care, spare, clever design and good beer.

And that’s one of the best ways to enjoy a recipe, I think. As lofty as it might sound, a simple recipe with good, evocative ingredients can bring us closer to the life we want ourselves to live. While this supper was in the oven, I was inspired to light the candles that had been languishing in a cabinet and purchase a fresh bouquet of flowers for the dining room table. The purple hyacinths perfumed the room for days. Inspiration can come in the humblest of places: even a bunch of dill.

Continue reading “Roasted Potatoes with Lemon and Dill” »