Slow Sunday – Good Gravy

file6711284893685So… Two unusual events this quiet Sunday.  One, I am not travelling for work tomorrow and two, we did not have company.  My son wanted one of his perennial favorites – sausage and peppers.  I took the opportunity to make  a Focaccia with a new recipe.  I seem to have misplaced my old favorite.  This new one was easy enough but a hit fluffy and light for a focaccia.  But good olive oil and fresh snipped and minced Rosemary from my little bitty herb plot made it aromatic and yummy, in fact we ate it all.

I also took advantage of the cloudy windy not too busy Sunday to do something I haven’t done in a long time – I made what New York Italian families call gravy; old fashioned long cooked meat sauce.  It is for Monday pasta; another thing we rarely do – eat pasta, it will be a treat.  I used a mix of ground pork and lean ground beef, lots of garlic and onions and sautéed a little organic tomato paste to deepen the flavor before adding all the tomato, parsley, salt, pepper, oregano, lots of minced fresh basil and just a pinch of sugar.  Tomorrow when reheating I will add a little crushed red pepper and simmer another hour or so.  Not anything most people haven’t made a million times, but familiar, comforting and rare these days unless you are in a restaurant.  So pasta Monday it will be.  No funny stories this week, just a quiet Sunday with fresh bread and a house full of the smell of garlic.

Next Sunday, a smoking barbecue bonanza. Sides not entirely determined, but I see some fried green tomatoes coming down the line.

Italian Night and Single Men

So a few weeks ago, we had an Italian night inspired by the over growth of my basil plants and an overpowering need to make a pesto.  We cheated just a little on the “Italian” theme by having a fresh gazpacho as a starter and in place of a salad.  The recipe is my dad’s who lives on through my collection of his handwritten or annotated print recipes and includes no binding bread as would a classic.  We also like it a bit “greener” than the classic with more cucumber.  In lieu of the bread binder we top it with homemade garlic croutons and sliced avocado.  The secret ingredient is V-8.

Next was the classic pesto with toasted pine nuts and fresh basil over linguine to accompany a nice chicken piccata, a recipe I particularly like that does not have wine but rather chicken broth, butter, shallot and capers.  All with grilled asparagus on the side.  Mind you I haven’t made pasta in a very long time, it isn’t something we eat often although we love it so this was a wonderful treat; the result of starting a tiny herb garden in my back yard.  (if it doesn’t thrive when left in God’s hands, it doesn’t stay).

Dessert was the Cook’s Illustrated Lemon Pound Cake which I love, with macerated mixed berries with orange zest and fresh whipped cream.

So that is the menu, now to the friends.  We strive for laughter at our dinners and it is usually in great supply.  On this particular occasion, our friend Phil was recounting an encounter he had in the elevator in his building.  A woman he had never met or seen asked him if he was single, to which he replied he was.  Forward, you say?  Keep in mind we are mostly in our 60’s around here.  She then asked what floor he lived on, digging further and further for specifics.  Ultimately she said something along the lines of “oh my, where has a handsome single man like you been?”  To which Phil replied, deadpan I am sure, “Federal Prison”.  She thought for a moment and then inquired “what for?” We assume this was to determine whether he was still an eligible catch, depending on the severity of his crimes.  He responded “Gun smuggling and money laundering” which ended the conversation.

Feel free to leave me a comment for any recipe that sounds good to you and I will post it.  and I obviously need help learning to upload photos to WordPress!