This is a lovely but illegible photo of the bottle of wine we drank last night with dinner. It was delicious, and should you wish to check it out yourself, it’s a Grüner Veltliner called H&M Hofer.
Last night, we had some friends over for dinner. I am sick of the logistics of going out to dinner, finding sitters, debating the merits of driving vs. taxi vs. subway and then freaking out (for no reason, mind you) about parking, etc etc. Lets just have them come over, I say to my husband. It’ll be so much easier.
Unless your name is Brooke Williams, which is, unfortunately, my current situation.
So instead of planning way ahead, buying food in advance, maybe even cooking something that involves short prep time and isn’t too complex, and outsourcing some of the meal (you guys bring desert!) I basically worked from 6 am to 6 pm straight to make it happen. Not, mind you, because I chose to do/make anything really complicated, but because my name (as mentioned before) is Brooke Williams, and I have a rare gift for figuring out how to make even the simplest tasks exceedingly time consuming.
So today’s links are all about the construction of yesterday’s meal. Please enjoy and rest easy in the knowledge that, if I had it to do over again, I would in an instant. We had a great time and it was worth every minute of preparation.
So I rise at 6 am, in order to get the Long Island cheese pumpkin (that we picked a couple of weeks ago at our favorite pumpkin spot in Bridgehampton) into the oven. Because we are making pumpkin pie and GOD FORBID we use canned pumpkin. (Did I mention what my name was?) And it’s not just any pumpkin pie, this one is from Florence Fabricant via the NY Times and has applesauce in it. Which means we get to use the sauce my father made from the apples that my daughter and I picked from the tree in my parents’ backyard. This is insanely satisfying and makes the whole thing worth it.
Kid gets dropped off at school, pumpkin comes out of the oven, scooped out and placed in a strainer for 2 hours to drain out the excess water. I followed this recipe for the roast pumpkin, but turned elsewhere when it came to the actual pie, because who can compete with Florence Fabricant, when it comes to these kinds of things?
I then look around and realize that the house is a bit of a mess, and that cleaning up is gonna involve vacuuming. So off I go!
Next stop is Union Square, where I get to take advantage of the Greenmarket, and Whole Foods at once. I am, of course, overwhelmed by the choices of sweet potatoes and spend far too long trying to decide which type to get. Oh if only I’d had the Saveur Guide to Sweet Potatoes with me… Luckily, you can’t really lose in this dept. I went with the sweet and nutty Japanese variety.
Then into Whole Foods, which for some reason was INSANELY CROWDED for a Monday late morning. I might have made up for the excess time I spent outside thinking about sweet potatoes but for two elusive products. One was evaporated milk (for the pie) which I don’t think I’ve ever even thought about before, much less bought. It took me ages to finally find the cans, which live way down on a lower shelf in the baking area, in case you were wondering.
The other was pomegranate molasses, which I needed to dress my kale salad. I saw the recipe on Bon Apétit and was determined to make it happen. Despite being listed in the Whole Foods website, there was none of the evidently-common-in-the-middle-east-but-I’ve-never-heard-of-it-before sweetener in the store. A desperate web search on my phone uncovers the fact that I can make it myself. Problem solved. All I need is some juice, sugar, lemon and 70 minutes on the stove.
Ok so now we rush home (clock is ticking!) make the molasses, stick the butter in the freezer so it stays nice and cold for the crust and then go pick up my daughter from school.
We get home, after stopping by Bakeri on Wythe, which makes, hands down, the best baguettes in this neck of the woods, if not the entire city.
Next we make the crust for the pie (which is gonna need to sit in the fridge for at least an hour before we roll it out). This recipe comes from the indomitable Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen, whose crust has no equal, as far as I’m concerned. We cheated and used a food processor (much to my daughter’s dismay) but only because we don’t own a pastry blender and there wasn’t time to go buy one. The clock was ticking.
By the way, doing any cooking with a kid under the age of 10 or so is going to take you twice as long. Just keep that in mind.
Dinner centered around a roast chicken, and I’d been given very precise directions by my best-cook-ever husband, which I chose to ignore, because my name is Brooke Williams. Instead, I panicked, searched online and came up with this version of the “perfect roast chicken” from the good people over at the Kitchn (aka Apt Therapy’s cooking site). Chicken goes into the oven, along with the peeled and cut potatoes and we’re off to the races!
Then we mix up the filling for the pumpkin pie, realize we don’t have ground cloves (text husband who is on his way home at this point), take the chicken out, panic internally about whether it is done while maintaining an outwardly calm exterior, make salad, roll out the dough (a task completed entirely by my daughter, which makes me incredibly proud), receive guests and cloves, get pie in the oven, instruct husband to carve chicken, drink wine, sit down and have lovely dinner with friends.
Phew. Now you know why I didn’t get to posting yesterday…