I’ve read somewhere that the fewer ingredients food has, the better. The healthier, too. Nothing could be less healthy than the overprocessed stuff supermarkets sell in these shiny, poorly designed, ever so colourful boxes, one might think. Reflecting on this, I was asking myself what I could possibly have for lunch that consisted of not more than one or maybe two things. Hmpf. I gave up immediately and made my notoriously famous risotto. It’s really yummy. And truth be told, I am still convinced that my risotto is not only yummy, but also quite healthy despite the fact it has way more than two ingredients in it. There’s rice in it, obviously. And then there’s chicken broth, broccoli, graped parmigiano reggiano, salt, white and black pepper, white wine, Italian Chardonnay, to be quite precise, butter, and olive oil. That’s an awful lot of stuff, isn’t it? Still healthy, though. I think it’s not the number but the quality and origin of the stuff one puts together for a meal. So, don’t you listen to what you learn on the internet! In order to stay healthy, just follow my advice: eat more risotto!
Some days ago, we cooked some pears in red wine, in some Rioja, just to be overly precise, but it doesn’t really matter, I think, the minute you put in the cinnamon stick and the cloves, it would be a little casting-pearls-before-swine-ish if you had opened a bottle of Château Pétrus especially. Not having one of these fancy bottles in the cellar anyway, I was quite secure not to spoil the swines I don’t own either. Anyway, whichever red wine you use, let the pears simmer at an almost boil for quite some time, just to make sure not only the aromas are allowed enough time to infuse properly but also the red wine’s red colour. I’m sure, these red parts are especially high in flavonoids and antioxidants so you can tell yourself poires au vin rouge is a very healthy dessert. Works with me. Maybe too well. Health and dessert appears so very contradictory a combination… Maybe that’s why I completely forgot about the pears twice: first on the oven, I only thought of them when it was way too late for dessert and by then most of the red wine had diffused into thin air (or rather rich air, the whole kitchen smelled of wine and spices), I had to add some fresh Rioja, and then a second time in the fridge, where subsequently the wine was allowed three whole days to infuse ever so completely. They tasted divinely! And as far as I’m concerned, it’s one more recipe to make it to 100. By the way, you don’t need a steak knife to cut them like in the photo, they’re ever so mellow and soft. It was just the only knife of our household not yet in the dishwasher… Anyway, Bon appétit, or rather Santé!
When you’re on Instagram, you learn that every day is a very special day, there’s a day to remember everything and anything, the earth, cats, mothers, turtles, France, tattoos, allergies, beer, butterflies, and bamboo. Today, however, should be World Fruit Salad Day as I made one of my chaotic fruit mixes, consisting mostly of a giant ananas, two pears, a banana, an orange, rum raisins, walnuts, and some defrosted blueberries from the freezer that turned everything not-blue blue. For dressing, I consequently chose a blue one: a blend of Cointreau and crème de cassis, which turned out a strange chemical experiment. The blue blackcurrant liqueur just wouldn’t mix with the orange liqueur, just like oil and vinegar they stayed apart, and when I tried this bi-phase-mélange, it didn’t taste like neither of the liqueurs but like some old school cough sirup from some very secluded pharmacy somewhere high in the mountains, run by some old bearded fellow with a bow tie, like Breinmeier’s Est. 1543, do you know what I mean? Anyway, maybe today isn’t World Fruit Salad Day but World Bi-Phase Day…
The Swedes are very happy people. They have Abba and Anders Celsius, great people as Donald Trump would call them, without them we would know nothing about Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo and if we should put on a pullover when leaving the house or not, then there’s Queen Silvia, a very politically interested queen, she does a lot of charity work for underprivileged children, for the elderly and people suffering from dementia, there’s IKEA, too, I could not live without my BILLY book shelves, there’s Ingrid Bergman and Ingmar Bergman, Greta Garbo and Sofia Helin, one doesn’t need much more on one’s screen, there’s Stockholm and all these beautiful lakes to swim in naked, there’s Stieg Larsson and Arne Dahl to prevent one from sleep, then they know all about goals in life, as there are Pippi Långstrump aka Pippi Longstocking and the Nobel Prize, the most prestigious prize ever, if I ever got one, I would no longer talk to you just out of sheer arrogance (I’m kidding, of course I would still talk to you, I’d tell you all about my Nobel Prize, the night I got it, why I got it, how much I deserved it, and where I keep it, maybe on the mantelpiece), and last but not least (at all!), there’s gravad lax! If I were a salmon, I’d be deeply honoured to end up with sweet mustard and dill sauce on my toast, believe you me. Nothing is yummier!
One is supposed to eat all kind of colours on a daily basis to remain fit and healthy and quite good looking, green, red, orange, yellow, and whatever colours there are in vegetables and fruit. With red, I don’t have the slightest problem (see previous post), but sometimes I wonder whether my supply of anything green might in any way be questionable. For instance, I hate Granny Smith apples. Horrid specimen of green little helpers! They look like they came right out of a chemical lab from outer space, just the kind of apple Mr. Spock would love to have for a snack. But I keep digressing, anyway, just to kill two birds with one stone, I put all my eggs in one basket, meaning I made a stew out of some fine ever so organic beef bouillon, green peas, even greener beans, red peppers, orange carrots, and as I didn’t have anything yellow to add, I had to substitute some colourless cabbage for the health benefits any kind of yellow stuff would have let one profit from. Poor me. However, it tasted so fine that I ate it all up and should survive to a hundred and five.
Today, just by chance when shopping for Turkish chestnut honey at my Turkish grocer’s (despite the Turkish invasion in Syria, I decided not to take it out on the Turkish bees and chestnut trees, I cherish both of them way too much), I came along some dorados that were fresher than any other dorado I had ever met, and my life’s plans changed instantly—tonight’s originally planned linguine surely wouldn’t mind taking a rain check, and so I carried two of these wonderful, bright-eyed dorados home. Not realizing of course, that they were so fresh that I would have to remove all of the scales first, tricky job, and then open their bellies and operate on them to extract all of their intestines before I could finally put them in a pan, oh what lucky people all these vegetarians are… It was kind of a survival trip, rather challenging, no filleted stuff served on fancy plates by some blasé waiter, no, these guys I almost hunted down myself like a lion would an antilope… We had them with potatoes and some parsley, quite à la Hemingway, I understand lions like them best this way…
For family dinners, I’m always in charge of dessert. Today, it’s going to be raspberries with cream. It’s easily prepared, I open the fridge for the cream and the freezer for the raspberries, and I’m done. And then, all while sipping Chardonnay, I witness the rest of the meal being prepared, artichokes are being cooked, a vinaigrette is being composed, lots of French mustard and Italian olive oil form a beautiful entente cordiale, parsley from the garden is being “haché-menu”-ed, ever so fresh chanterelles are being cut, not from the garden but from the grocer, the table is being set, by whom actually, my father, I suppose, gee, that Chardonnay is really drinkable, and all of a sudden, I’m the last one missing at the table, I better join them, hey, they’re are having red wine, okay, fine with me, bon appétit.
Normally, for a nut cake, I need lots and lots of grounded almonds and some chopped walnuts, but yesterday I only had a tiny sachet of grounded almonds, just a mere 100 gramms, some bitter joke of an amount, so to speak, and if I weren’t as stress-resilient as I am, I might have burst out into tears. But then, out of hunting destiny down and kicking its ass, I decided to replace the grounded almonds with caramelized hazelnuts, the brittle priorly reserved for the glaze, and, while I was at it, use whole pine nuts as a substitute for the chopped walnuts, lots and lots of whole pine nuts. The result? Best nut cake ever! Unchanged recipes are for losers!
The minute temperatures start rising, our dining table falls into some kind of hibernation – is there actually a term for hibernating in summer? It can’t be summernation, that sounds like a Tommy Hilfiger fragrance. Anyway, we declare the sombre mahogany totally useless, and adjust ourselves to teak. From then on, we not only have breakfast, lunch and dinner in the garden, we also prepare the meals outside, at least any part of the dish whose prepping doesn’t require gas or running water and allows us to enjoy a cup of tea or a glass of wine alongside cutting, peeling, trimming, snapping, or whatever you do with it. Asparagus, green and white, but the white ones especially, is the best example, peeling those bastards is such a pesky business, it makes you want to employ a cook, for my sake even with a staff of her own, but since nobody can no longer afford servants, we have to blame socialism, no doubt about that, we have do to such things ourselves, however tedious. But when sitting in an apple tree’s shade and sipping some red wine, the whole undertaking suddenly makes you feel blessed. And while I’m peeling away another spear’s tough outer layer, I hope autumn will come late this year, a week before Christmas will do.
Instead of posting another yummy dish or even yummier dessert, I give you the place where I cook and eat: my kitchen. Don’t get fooled by the current cleanliness, it’s just because the maid has just left (the maid being me…) and I’m off for some days, normally you find the place filled with pots, bowls, vegetables, cereals, flour, nuts, fruit, spices, herbs (sage, rosemary, and basil), bottles (olive oil, vinegar, wine, Coke Zero, and Evian) and lots and lots of coffee mugs, tea cups, glasses of all kind, candles (not scented, never in the kitchen), plates and tureens, and some Italian opera going on on iTunes (a cliché from the 1980s that just keeps sticking…). Anyway, this is my kitchen and I hope you like it.