Wednesday, July 05, 2017

A killer lunch and other food matters

In mystery writing, we talk about blatant self-promotion. The phrase tonight for me is blatant bragging—I cooked a simple lunch today for a friend (former student—love bridging the generation gap) who is a chef but now cooks on the line at Fort Worth’s Modern Museum of Art, which has an upscale dining room with a trendy menu. My menu today—fruit medley and open-faced sandwiches with blue cheese and a celery/scallion salad. Super easy—start with a piece of buttered toast.

Interesting sidelight: The recipe called for Pullman bread. I looked it up and on the old Pullman dining cars, they made bread with economy of space in mind—so the loaves were square in shape rather than the irregular shapes we give bread today. They were kept in metal containers, for freshness I presume, and containers could be stacked in the galley of the dining car. Not sure if Pullman bread is available today or not, but it sounded suspiciously like what I call cotton-candy white bread. I chose sourdough, which proves difficult to cut when toasted. We made it finger food, but my salad pieces kept falling in my lap. Need to work on that.

Take that buttered bread and cover it with slices of a creamy blue cheese—I used a Danish blue. Top with the salad: for two, mix 1 cup celery, thinly sliced on the bias; 2 chopped scallions, thinly sliced; olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Here’s the tricky part: microplane one garlic clove over the salad—we had a large clove and only used about half. At that the garlic taste was strong—we wouldn’t have wanted more. Stir to mix thoroughly.

My fruit medley was cantaloupe, blueberries, and nectarine. For a dessert, I defrosted a thick piece of chocolate Bundt cake—that standard recipe that uses cake and pudding mixes, eggs, sour cream, oil. Heather tasted it and announced that she detected another flavor besides chocolate—it was cinnamon. You grease the pan, then dust with a mix of sugar and cinnamon. After you get the thick batter in the pan, level off the top and sprinkle it with that mix. A family favorite around here.

A nice light ladies lunch, and I had so much fun with it I got out a couple of my recipe files and began sorting recipes. When I downsized my house to move to the cottage I even downsized my appalling recipe collection, but now I’ve got a good start on a new collection. Today though I went through the older recipes I’d saved and was amazed at how many of them no longer interest me. My cooking conditions and my tastes have changed. I’m not sure how to describe the change, but it’s definite. I don’t necessarily go for easier—maybe more unusual, less traditional; lighter, not heavy. After all, I’m pretty sure my days of cooking for huge crowds are over. Makes me only a bit nostalgic. And I know cooking without a stove or oven dictates what I fix.

It’s a sign not only of my recovery but the adjustment Jordan, Christian, and I have made to our new way of life that we are talking about entertaining again, and they’ve given their first big party in my house.

The only other note of the day: I was interviewed by phone for five minutes on KJON Radio in St. Cloud, Minnesota, where I know absolutely no one. Wouldn’t it be nice if I picked up a reader or two? The host was good about making my website URL quite clear.

Now it’s thundering, and Sophie won’t leave my side. Rain all around us but none here yet. One brief power failure sent me into a panic because I don’t know that I have any candles—besides my reading material is all on my computer. Here’s a thought I hate; what if I had to read traditional print? Me, who espouses the importance of doing books in print. Shame on me.

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