Sunday, May 31, 2009

"I'm late, I'm late! For a very important date!"

"Oh dear, oh dear, I shall be too late." So says the White Rabbit in the early pages of Alice in Wonderland. And so is my life - of late! For weeks, I have known full well what my May Cover-Girl-May-Bon-Appetit dinner would be. The ingredients have been duly collected. And sitting placidly on the shelf wondering if they will ever be utilized. I finally looked at the calendar and realized, "This is the weekend. No matter how busy everyone is." And everyone was. There's a garden now to tend, new sod to water, prep for my summer freelance gig, a tech/dress week coming up for Lakeshore Players Ten Minute Play Festival (where I am directing), appointments, meetings, and squeezed in - all the "real-life" stuff that make up a day in the life.
The Bon Appetit May cover recipe is not for someone short of time. While much of it can be made ahead - you still need to search out the hours and put in your hours. It did take forty minutes of prep time and three hours of cooking. That said - it is delicious and especially pleased the carnivores in the house.
Knowing I had a lot of cooking ahead of me - I opted for easy sides. The dinner was heavy enough, so appetizers consisted of Sicilian olives and Asiago cheese from Morellis Market and some "French" marinated olives from Kowalskis. (Both local markets.)

By the time all was ready, I was quite grateful to dump things in a bowl and serve! Not having devised and cooked my appetizer, I was pleased that since I neither grow olive trees or make Asiago cheese, at least I had chosen to serve something that I could not have prepared myself!

The salad was from Farmer's Market. I picked out some green leaf lettuce and sweet pea shoots and added a little watercress and arugula from my home. Found feta cheese lurking in the fridge and dried cranberries singing in the cabinets - threw some on and had a green salad.
Because the meal was a ragu, I settled on making some foccacia. Katherine Aucoin at Smoky Mountain Cafe had an herb and cheese foccacia that comes together in a snap. It was ready for the oven by the time the guests arrived.

And baked while the guests were muching on olives and cheese. Check out her recipe here. You'll never buy foccacia again.

It cooks in fifteen minutes! My family likes their cheeses browned (I beg to differ). But you can adjust it and serve how it pleases you.
Now we come to the Cover Girl recipe:
Serves 12
*You will note that it calls for 1-1/2 pounds of spaghetti. I do not live in a world where 1-1/2 pounds of spaghetti can remotely feed twelve. The sauce absolutely does. But for twelve - you need two pounds of the pasta
The recipe can be found here. I will note that although the cooking time is lengthy, the recipe is straight forward and easy. You do not need special gadgets or odd ingredients.

You just need time. The recipe had it braise in the oven. I did it on top of the stove. I was cooking the foccacia and brownies in the stove and also wanted to keep an eye on the pot!

The result was a winning combination of fresh flavors melded together - your tomatoes, onion, two meats and spices. Happily, we had a cool weekend. I have it in my head that ragus are wintery meals - designed to warm hearth and home in the cold months. It is not a meal I would choose to make if the temps went much above 70 degrees F.
Now to the dessert portion. I will preface this with saying, the dessert was luscious. Wonderful. Rich. Filling. Chocolate heaven. Creamy, gooey, soul-satisfying, fit for the gods. I will end this paragraph with the question, "What was I thinking? Serving the richest chocolate brownie dessert on top of a hearty Ragu at the end of May?" I may second guess, but the brownies were devoured. Topped with vanilla ice cream. No conversation went on when it came to the serious business of enjoying dessert. And for a reason I have yet to fathom, my husband decided to cut the brownies with his trusty chef's knife. I mustn't give him enough opportunity to use it.
Ready for dessert!

Yes. This oozed chocolate. This is from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook and I found it on Foodie With a Little Thyme blog. Again, it's very easy. I made sure I was a slave to only one portion of the meal.

This says it all. If you read between the brownie-lines, you will note that after devouring these, you will need:
to work out
to work out
to work out
The litmus test for most desserts in my family has always been: "Is it worth the calories?" And these have a lot of calories. And they are worth it.
On to June! And back to the busyness of life. After five months of cover recipe dinners from Bon Appetit and Tastes of Italia , I can be pleased with two things:
- I have actually stuck with a New Year's resolution
- Even when stressed, I find warm joys in being able to plan, prep and cook a special dinner once a month and lose myself in the process.


Penny said...

Thanks for visiting. I love your blog and will be following along. The dishes all look wonderful.

Teresa Cordero Cordell said...

Claudia, eat out tomorrow. That's my motto. Your dinner looks fantastic. I love Ina's brownies. As for the foccacia, I will definitely be making that sometime soon. Looks wonderful.

Selba said...

The dinner looks good :)

Nutmeg Nanny said...

I love that you make the cover recipe from Bon Appetit. That is one of my favorite magazines and have made many of their recipes with great success.

petitechef said...

WOW That sounds incredible! Thanks for the recipe! :)

Jamie said...

This is great, making a whole dinner like this. Everything looks great but man-oh-man those brownies would be the first thing I grab for! Your husband looks like great fun!

Dimah said...

wow, your dinner looks fabulous :)
Thanks for the recipe!

Mar said...

I love your blog, I´m from Spain, and my english is not good, I hope you undestand me well...
A kiss