We live in interesting times.
This day the sound of young voices in laughter, calling out to each other as they run across a soft grass yard, the air rich with moisture. Calling out to each other as they hide behind trees. Adults sit on the porch, overlooking an eden. Wine and water in hand, a pause. We await vegetables and grains carefully prepared, to develop flavors and tastes. A moment to be experienced. An opportunity to savor this, time.
This day, we create beautiful memories for our children through the experience of friends and family together, in peace and affection. We create the experience of community, and a pocket of calm within the crazy of our current reality. A respite, a rejuvenation.
This day, I feel like a good parent. This day, as all others, I wish the same for all parents. I give gratitude to fortune.
An evening we shared.
Creamy polenta, ratatouille, clafoutis. Wine, water, and children's laughter.
2c. Coarse Ground Cornmeal
3 c. Water
3 c. Whole Milk
Zest and Juice of One Lemon
3 tbl. Butter
2c. Corn Nibblets
1 c. Ricotta
3 oz. Asiago, Parmesan, Romano: Grated, Mixed
Coarse chopped herbs: Tarragon
Coarse Salt & Cracked Pepper to taste
Useful items: 8qt. Enamel coated cast iron Dutch Oven; Long-handled Wooden spoon
In large pot, bring water and milk to gentle boil. Add lemon juice: Very Slowly add cornmeal, stirring constantly, to avoid lumps. Continue stirring as it begins to thicken.
Turn heat to low, and stirring occasionally, cook for 30-45 minutes. Polenta can be thinned with up to an additional cup of water if it becomes too thick to stir, and you want to serve it firm. If you want the consistency to be more like porridge, add up to two additional cups of water. These additional amounts are approximate. Much will depend on the meal you use. Add as much water as needed to produce desired consistency. Just remember that the addition of cheese will soften the final consistency.
Cook until the grains are plump and soft, and taste cooked, not raw.
When fully cooked: Remove pot from heat. Add butter, cheese, corn, herbs, a pinch of nutmeg, and zest of lemon. Mix well.
The polenta can be poured into a large well-oiled pan or bowl, to shape a firm version. If you like, allow to cool enough to slice, then fry in butter in a good skillet. However, feel free to serve immediately.
For the ratatouille: I am without my scale, so for the tomatoes: I used at least ten solid, ripe tomatoes. You want it to be equal to the quantity of peppers (about 8 small) eggplant (about 4 Medium) and courgette (2 yellow, 3 green).
2-3 White Onions: Large Diced
4-5 cloves Garlic: Minced
4 anchovy filets
Coarse Salt and Cracked Pepper
Herbs: Fresh Parsley, Basil, Tarragon
1 tbl. Balsamic Vinegar
1 tbl. White Balsamic Vinegar
Useful Items: 8qt. Enamel cast iron Dutch Oven
Set pot on medium heat, pour in enough olive oil to sauté onions. Add onions, stirring occasionally. When translucent, add diced garlic. Cook until they begin to caramelize. Add tomatoes and anchovy filets. Bring to a gentle simmer. Stir occasionally.
Oven at 375 degrees F.
Electric: Halve and de-seed the peppers, leaving top on. Coat skin with oil, place cut side down on baking sheets. Run under High Broil until the skins crip and char. Gas: Using tongs, hold peppers over burner set with blue flame, and char the skins.
Peel, de-seed and chop peppers. Set aside.
Toss eggplant in olive oil. Pour onto baking sheets, and bake for about half an hour. When done, place in bowl and set aside.
Toss zucchini in olive oil. Pour onto baking sheets, and bake for about half an hour. When done, place in bowl and set aside.
Add the peppers, eggplant and zucchini to tomatoes. Add herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about an additional hour. Add vinegar. You want the ratatouille to have the consistency of a nice stew, not a sauce. But, really, it will taste good, regardless of consistency.
Clafoutis aux pêche
1/2 c. Blonde Sugar, plus two (2) teaspoons to dust pan.
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 tbl. Melted Butter, plus a smidge extra to butter pan.
1 c. Whole Milk
1/2 c. All Purpose Flour
3-4 Lovely Peaches: Cut into eighths.
Oven set to 350 degrees F.
Melt butter. Set aside to cool slightly.
Combine eggs, sugar and vanilla: With hand whisk, mix well. Add milk and butter. Mix until sugar has dissolved. Add flour and whisk until silky smooth.
Pour half of the batter into buttered and lightly sugared 10in cast iron skillet, pie plate, or tart pan (NOT one with a removable bottom). Arrange peaches in batter. Pour remaining batter over peaches.
Bake at 350 until clafoutis begins to puff and turn a golden-brown, about 45-60 minutes.
Sit down to eat with your peoples, and open a bottle of wine. You have created an experience, memories, not just food.