June 10 – June 16, 2019
Monday: Asparagus Ends Soup
Tuesday: Fettucine with Cherry Tomato Sauce and Fresh Sage
Wednesday: Gail’s Salad
Thursday: Best Tomato Soup with Peccorino Bruschetta
Friday: Grilled Shrimp and Shishito peppers with Turmeric Mojo Sauce, Rice, Salad, Klondikes (shared with Ambrose and Tim after 9 holes of golf).
Saturday: Leftover Tomato Soup with Avocado Toast
Billy made this taco – he is following in his old man’s footsteps – we’ll have pictures of the steak and chimichurri next week.
Sunday: Gazpacho, Strip Steaks with Argentinian Chimichurri, mashed fennel and potatoes, Klondike Bars
Looking back over the last week, two things strike me. First, we had a lot of fun, by ourselves, with Tim and Ambrose on Friday, and with Billy and Emily on Sunday. Second, we ate a lot of vegetables.
This really began on Monday at lunch. We met brother-in-law Bill Fettes and his friend, Gail, at the Juniper Grill in Mars.* We had heard about Gail and were happy when Gail had some business out Pittsburgh way.
*Mars? Well yes, and we also have a towns named Etna and Apollo nearby. In the Mideast and Midwest, we name towns for Greek and Roman cities and gods. The pace of settlement was so great and these new towns had no history, so what was once common knowledge – Greek and Roman history and myth – was a useful tool, kind of like those books of names, beginning with Abie and ending with Zooey, so beloved of millennial parents.
Lunch was fine, but the real news is that Gail is a pip. A delightful, gregarious lady and a childhood friend of Bill’s from the town of Oakmont – a delightful, old neighborhood suburb on the Allegheny River – where they grew up. Hearing Bill and Gail name all of their neighbors on either side of their street reminded us of growing up in the fifties and sixties. It was a special time for children – playing outside by themselves all day long and having plenty of other kids (baby boomers) to play with.
Gail, it turns out, has grown into vegetarian eating over the years. And it seems, looking at our weekly menus that we are heading, very slowly, and with much backsliding, in the same direction. So, with Gail’s inspiration, and with the help of Deborah Madison, we improvised an absolutely dynamite salad for dinner on Wednesday.
And next week, we’ll be sharing that steak we had on Father’s Day, not just because of the steak (sorry Gail) but because of the new chimichurri sauce we concocted to go along with it. We were channeling Argentina and we are thinking of bottling that sauce which, come to think of it, Gail, is entirely vegetarian as well as tongue-searingly good.
To conclude on a serious health note (I must be getting old) – it is easier to process vegetables and fish than red meat as you age and, because your taste changes and your appreciation for bitter tastes grows, vegetables are much more appealing. The price of meat would be another reason to move in this direction. As would cooking for Bill and Gail.
(inspired by Deborah Madison’s Improvised Platter Salad, from In My Kitchen)
The beauty of this salad is that you can make it from what you have in your fridge or pantry or what’s on offer at the local farmer’s market. Patty’s Farm Market had the best looking (and what turned out to be the most delicious) green beans I’ve ever seen, and Giant Eagle had some good-looking baby carrots with their tops intact. So, we built the salad from there. But you can use anything you want, cooked, raw or pickled. Just heap it in abundance and in separate piles atop some spring greens or lettuces. You’ll be dressing the various vegetables with a simple vinaigrette and you can toss it, or just sprinkle with some more of the vinaigrette once you’ve brought it to the table.
Here’s what we used: a spring-mix of lettuces from the supermarket and some chopped carrot greens as well as those baby carrots, boiled yellow potatoes (Deborah suggests fingerlings which is fine by me – but we had these potatoes lying around and cut them into bite-sized pieces), watermelon radishes, kalamata olives, those wonderful green beans, just-cooked and drained, two lightly hard-boiled eggs, halved cherry tomatoes, chives and some quick-pickled pieces of red onion.
The cooked items (eggs, beans) included the baby carrots which we roasted in a 425 F oven after tossing them with olive oil and sea salt. After about 15 minutes they were beginning to caramelize and their tops (we left maybe 2 inches of green) and their roots had carbonized to crunchiness. (Madison suggested using raw carrots, but these roasted ones are irresistible.)
Here is Deborah Madison’s excellent suggestion for a vinaigrette:
1 or 2 cloves of garlic (we used grated garlic from about ½ clove)
1 teaspoon of mustard
½ cup very good olive oil (we used a bit less)
Aged red wine vinegar (we used red wine vinegar that was probably not aged)
Heaping tablespoon of chopped herbs such as marjoram, chives, parsley or lovage (we used chives and parsley)
Pound the garlic with ½ teaspoon of salt until smooth (we just grated about ½ clove of garlic). Stir in the mustard, olive oil, vinegar and chopped herbs. Taste and add more salt, if needed.
Toss the potatoes with some of the vinaigrette when they’re still warm. Season them with salt and pepper. Toss the green beans while still warm with the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper.
We tossed the lettuces and carrot greens with a little vinaigrette before spreading them across a serving platter. (Madison tosses the whole platter just before serving). Then we arranged, in separate bunches, the carrots, the green beans, the potatoes, the tomatoes and the olives. We distributed the radishes and the pickled onions and more chopped chives all over, placed the halved eggs on the salad and, along with some crostini with melted pecorino, had a feast.
Avocado Toast from Saturday