Years ago, my sister gave my mother a vase as a gift. Both of them passed away some time ago, and that vase has great meaning for me. I always try to fill it with flowers or some kind of greenery, and I feel a unique sense of grief and peace when I look at it.
I missed last month's Centerpiece Of The Month, hosted by Janelle at Talk Of Tomatoes. Here is my mother's vase, filled with love and flowers. You will see other centerpieces at Janelle's site, each one with a different story to tell.
I was wondering what to fix for dinner, and then I saw the Copper River Salmon at the store. If you are lucky enough to see this magnificent fish for sale, take out a second mortgage and buy some. The flavor and texture are like no other salmon I've tasted, due to the arduous journey the fish make in frigid waters. The journey is so long and difficult the fish have a higher fat and oil content, which gives them a better taste. I didn't want to mask the flavor by being heavy handed with the fish, and chose to pan roast it and prepare a simple relish made with thyme, olives and orange juice and zest to serve with it. As I was making the relish, I wasn't sure if it would taste good. However, the finished dish was terrific. I could taste all the different ingredients--sweet, acidic, floral, and salty. It was perfect with the salmon, but it would work with other fish too.
Many years ago when I first moved to California, I was invited to lunch in Sacramento. I don't remember the name of the restaurant, but the dish of pasta that I ordered remains a favorite memory. It was a very simple dish of angel hair pasta, with a touch of cream and tiny, perfect cubes of fresh tomatoes. I'd never had such a dish, and thought it one of the most delightful ways to prepare pasta that I'd ever seen. Each year, when the summer tomatoes are available, I make my version of that memorable dish. It's fast and tastes very good. It's still not as perfect as that long ago lunch, but it will do.
Last month I wasn't able to do the Daring Bakers Challenge, so I was determined not to miss it this month. And I was excited by the gauntlet thrown by Freya at Writing At The Kitchen Table and Jenny at All Things Edible : Real Jewish bagels, made by hand, not with a machine. These would not be puffy, soft specimens with strange colors and textures. This recipe seemed like it would result in the honest, chewy orbs that have sustained people since they were invented in Poland eons ago. Or was it Vienna? (There is confusion over the bagel's true origins.)
Little did I know how dramatic it would be making these bagels. I would
suffer. I would cry out in pain. I almost wept--such was my agony.
But, soon, I was rewarded by the ecstasy of biting into a delicious tasting bagel with a wonderful chewy crust. The pain was worth it.
Lis at La Mia Cucina and Kelly at Sass And Veracity hatched the idea of a Salad Stravaganza for this month and I promised to submit something before the deadline of June 25th, and it appears I have managed to make it just in time. Lis and Kelly are on a quest to acquire smaller hips, a very noble idea, don't you think? This is an extremely easy salad, but getting the right ingredient may or may not be easy for people. It's a tomato salad that must be made with the best quality fruits (or you can call them vegetables, if you like). If you're lucky enough to grow your own, by all means use those. But, excellent specimens are starting to appear on the market. And for those still waiting--your time will come. Really, it will. The waiting period for vine ripened tomatoes makes them all the more delicious when you finally taste them. So just keep telling yourself that, as you wait impatiently for them to finally arrive in all their perfection.
OK, we're not cats. We're squirrels, but keep your pants on and we'll give you one of those cat pictures you all are so crazy about. Right now we're seizing control to tell everyone that we're leaving for bigger digs in Citrus Heights, CA on Sunday. So long Davis, where we were born and discovered by two gorgeous sorority girls back in February, when we fell out of a tree at their feet.
This is what we looked like back then when we were given to mom.
Mission Control, we have cake! Yes, it arrived all the way from Springfield, Mo. As you may remember, my wonderful friend Glenna of A Fridge Full Of Food...But Nothing To Eat baked a cake and sent it overnight delivery to moi. The picture doesn't do it justice, and it's really tragic that you can't taste the tender white cake and lucious coconut buttercream. Glenna always tells me that she learned from her mother how to cook a proper white cake, so that it's light as a cloud. Now I understand what she was talking about. It's the best white cake I've ever tasted. And coconut cake is not something I ever make, but I will now. This recipe will become a standard for me.
Feel free to sign me up for the Cake Of The Month Club, Glenna. Thanks a million times over. By the way folks, go see Glenna's cake shaped like a a loaf of bread. People at her party thought it really was a loaf of bread--until they discovered it was a dreamy coconut cake.
There are times when I simply can't bear to cook anything complicated. I don't think I'm alone on this. So, it's good to discover a very fast, and delicious recipe. And there it was, in The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, often thought way too complicated for ordinary people. I've found amazingly easy recipes, and great reading in it, and this is one of them. Actually, this is a simplified recipe, suggested by the author of the cookbook, Judy Rodgers. I would love to fix a confit of preserved bluefin tuna and toss it with pasta as she did. And some day I will. But, I took the author's recommendation for an easier version and used excellent Italian canned tuna packed in oil. It was combined with a "sludge" of pine nuts, bay leaf, lemon zest, capers, garlic, fennel and cumin seed steeped in olive oil, then tossed with my favorite pasta--gemelli. It was a marvelous dish. Each mouthful had a slightly different taste. One minute it was the fennel, then it was garlic and capers. And it was so simple, not taxing at all. So, if you are of faint spirits lately, here is a nice dish for you. It's also perfect for Presto Pasta Night, which was created by the lovely Ruth at Once Upon A Feast. Check out all the pasta dishes at her site.
I'm very impatient! Imagine my shock and delight when I read my great friend Glenna's post today at A Fridge Full Of Food .....But Nothing To Eat. Just how great a friend is Glenna? Well, she made this fabulous cake for me, and sent it next day delivery!!!! Holy cow! Read her post and be amazed. But, don't anyone think you can take her away from me, so that you can get fancy cakes sent to you! HA! You'd be looking for a fight.
The cake hasn't arrived and I'm bouncing off the walls with impatience. I'll let you know as soon as it's delivered! I really appreciate this from Glenna because I've been feeling down lately. I just discovered that a specially made fancy cake that you would expect to buy from the likes of Dean & Delucca picks up your spirits amazingly fast.
I guess I don't have any more excuses for not making that jam I promised to send her?