Sunday, June 15, 2008

Salade Niçoise

We had company this weekend and due to working around a theater curtain time, etc., I decided to make a Salade niçoise, I chose the salad in Julia Child's The Way to Cook as my recipe.

Now we all know that Julia is not the short-cut queen, no recipes in 30 minutes from the French Chef, so I was prepared for a bit of work. My only "shortcut" if indeed it was, was to cook the small Yukon Gold potatoes whole and peel them. I also omitted anchovies since I don't like anchovies and when you are the cook you can do what you damn well please.

O.K. second substitution was to buy three small beautiful tuna steaks and grill them. I made Julia's potato salad, cooked the beans, S.O. grilled the tuna, and I boiled some eggs, and pounced upon a beautiful red tomato, capers, black olives, lettuce, the works all laid out beautifully on a big ceramic platter.

The dressing was a lemon-garlic affair, with both lemon peel and lemon juice and raw garlic pounded to a paste. A bit of work but well worth it. The whole was greater than the sum of its parts and we had a feast.

At the other end of the spectrum was dessert. I know our friend likes strawberries, so a strawberry dessert seemed optimal. I recalled back in the first years of marriage I had been on a Bavarian cream kick, making various flavors of a French dessert called Bavarian cream.

I looked in the old New York Times cookbook and lo, there is was, but it was the shortcut version--Julia would have disapproved big time. I measured out all the ingredients including a heaping cup of chipped ice and dumped them into the blender in the prescribed order, and blended the prescibed number of second, and lo, strawberry Bavarian cream in less than a minute, no cooking. Raw eggs, too. My bad. I licked the spoon to test whether the eggs were safe and I guess they were.

We ate it with sliced strawberries from Wards Berry Farm, altogether lucious with no hard white centers, but red berry all the way through.

So this was yin and yang of meals, but lovely.

As for lovely, the garden looks and smells lovely. The white carnations bloomed and have sent a fragrance over the yard and now into the house as I picked a few and added the sage blossoms, favored by the bumble bees.

The tomatoes, heirloom beets, pepper and herbs are growing apace, and the flowers are blooming, even the new white lupine, and the clematis has huge purple blossoms. The hummingbirds come to the feeder regularly and one looked at us in the window this morning. We had a fantastically large butterfly, all yellow and black, and of course the dragon flies swoop and land on the flowers. So life is good on the edge of the slough.

Big goldfinch battle yesterday. They are territorial little guys. Catbirds have discovered how to get into the suet feeder for small birds.

We had a good rain this morning and everything is lush. Looking at the garden puts me into a good mood, which is a good thing, because Festival Madness has two more rejections. We looked at the beginning again, and it read pretty good.

The New York Times Book Review today had many of the same books as the WSJ. Not my cuppa tea. The Globe's list is more literate, but Boston readers are obviously not typical.

Tonight I'll do a few more pages of the new book. I really need a working title.


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