Monday, May 21, 2012

Good Friends, Good Food

There’s been a flurry of entertaining around here along with some experimenting with new recipes. Two of the best cooks I know, Joe and Jet, came for the last weekend of April. I am always a bit intimidated when cooking for them, but I know they’re willing to try just about anything.  Our meal was basically simple-salmon and asparagus- with an interesting grapefruit salad.  It was somewhat labor-intensive, but with Jet as my sous-chef it was a breeze.

Pink Grapefruit and Radicchio Salad with Dates and Pistachios
New York Times,  April 11, 2012

2 pink or red grapefruits
2 medjool dates, pitted and thinly sliced
½ medium shallot, peeled and sliced
sea salt, to taste
1 small head radicchio, halved and cored
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped pistachios
freshly ground black pepper

Slice off the peel and pith of the grapefruits, saving the peels.  Slice the grapefruits into quarter-inch-thick rounds and arrange on a platter.  Evenly sprinkle the dates on top. Squeeze the juice from the peel into a bowl.  You should have about a tablespoon and if necessary squeeze some from one of the slices. Add the shallot and a pinch of salt; let sit for 5 minutes.  Thinly slice the radicchio and add to the bowl.  Add shallot and grapefruit juice and toss to combine.  Toss in 3 tablespoons of the oil.  Sprinkle grapefruit slices with salt and the remaining oil.  Place a mound of radicchio in the middle of the platter, leaving a border of the fruit exposed. Sprinkle with pistachios and black pepper and serve right away.  Yield: 4 generous servings.

Next up was a visit from my friend Susan, a transplanted Texan. She was game to try a seasonal dish of fiddleheads and pasta.  Fiddleheads are young ostrich ferns and I honestly don’t know if they’re available outside of New England.  Many people have their favorite, secret spots to pick fiddleheads, complete with mosquitoes and black flies, but I prefer to buy them in the supermarket (still fresh and local) or from a truck on the side of the road.  We cooked them with Portobello mushrooms and the combination was unusual but tasty.  Truthfully, I am good for only 1 or 2 servings of fiddleheads a year.

And last, but certainly not least, the organ guru who takes care of the tuning, repair and maintenance of the organ at St. Saviour’s came for dinner on a recent Sunday night.  Bill was in the area from Northampton MA to make a presentation at another church and do some checking up on our instrument.  He is great company and loads of fun, not to mention that he brings several bottles of excellent wine (we only drank one) plus old wooden organ pipes for kindling every time he comes over.  I made a tasty Moroccan stew of butternut squash and chickpeas, with plenty for leftovers.

I love to follow-up a good meal with a super simple dessert and a cup of decaf espresso made with my nifty little Moka (thanks, Emily).


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