07 June 2008

When shall we live, if not now?

First off, let me apologize for my undue absence from the blog. I have been sucked in to the tornado of everyday life and tossed around in the wind tunnel of lost time. I have been cooking however, and writing, and researching, so I will soon culminate these efforts in to a series of brilliant blog posts.
For now, however, I would like to share with you a quote from M.F.K Fisher's The Art of Eating (thank you Leah!!). It is filled with pearls of food related wisdom and so much more, I highly encourage you all to give it a read some time. This passage reminds me so much of the many loving meals I have relished with close friends and family, from Moneglia to Boerne.
From the Chapter "Meals for Me":

Dining partners, regardless of gender, social standing or the years they've lived, should be chosen for their ability to eat and drink with the right mixture of abandon and restraint. They should enjoy food, and look upon its preparation and its degustation as one of the human arts. They should relish the accompanying drinks, whether they be ale from a bottle on a hillside or the ripe bouquet of a Chambertin 1919 in a great crystal globe on finest damask.

And above all, friends should possess the rare gift of sitting. They should be able, no eager, to sit for hours--three, four, six--over a meal of soup and wine and cheese, as well as one of 20 fabulous courses.

Then with good friends of such attributes, and good food on the board, and good wine in the pitcher, we may well ask, When shall we live if not now?

04 June 2008

Indoor Summer Grill

The past few weeks of early summer have warmed me inside and out; understandably at 100F. I think it must be a case of remnant reverence for summer left over from my childhood, but lately I have overlooked the discomfort of my constant perspiration and focused on the slow sunsets, precious breezes, enthusiasm for swimming and meals prepared and enjoyed outdoors.

Last night, I wanted to celebrate summer and I didn't let anything (the lack of a backyard, outdoor grill and at-ready party of friends) stand in my way. I made a dinner of indoor-grilled hamburgers, chipotle ketchup, zucchini, balsamic onions and roasted asparagus. I used a panini press (George Foreman-style), but you could definitely do all of this on the stove top with a grill pan.

ground beef (natural, hormone-free)
seasoned bread crumbs
Worchestire sauce
finely chopped garlic
salt & pepper

Mix all ingredients together, taking caution not to overwork the meat and form into patties. A little tip: I coated my fingertips with olive oil before forming them into patties to keep the meat from sticking all over me. Grill until internal temp reaches 160F, or to personal liking and standard safety regulations. (Can't ever be too safe, these days.)

Chipotle Ketchup
chopped chipotle peppers and their adobo sauce
balsamic vinegar

Combine ingredients to your liking and enjoy with whatever you please.
(I enjoyed it with my hamburger meat and a squirt of dijon mustard.)

zucchini (um...duh)
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
chopped garlic
salt and pepper

Cut zucchini lengthwise strips, each about 1/4-inch wide and coat with remaining ingredients. Let marinate at least as long as it takes to cook the hamburgers. Then grill, a handful of minutes on each side.

yellow or red onion
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Cut onion horizontally into rounds. Toss onion in remaining ingredients and allow to marinate. Add rings/clusters of onion to grill, cooking for a handful of minutes until slightly transparent, or to your liking.

Roasted Asparagus
olive oil
chopped garlic
salt and pepper

Trim asparagus of tough flesh from bottom of stalk by bending until they break (best part). Coat in remaining ingredients and cook in oven set to 350F for 8-15 minutes depending on the asparagus and your preference for bite.

I ate my dinner outside, behind the cozy, fenced-in walls of my back patio. My beer bottle was sweating, but - for once - I wasn't. The heat outside matched the heat of the spicy, satisfying meal I just prepared and my skin felt soothingly radiant. Summer's finest offerings can be found indoors and out, with a community and alone, in the city and the country.