Monday, March 31, 2008

Dinner for five

Saturday morning: cars whoosh through the rain-soaked street, tyres sending up small waves of water, as welcome a sound to these ears as the velvet voice of Ella Fitzgerald as she filters into the kitchen. The downpour washed away the dust and crept inside, trickling through holes in the roof at first, then wending its way through flickering light-fittings and finally caving in the laundry ceiling. Not even the mad rush for buckets and pots and pans to catch the stuff daunted us. A rare task this and, as such, undertaken with some joy. We’ve been deluged and it’s delightful.

I dawdle through the recipe, lingering over the eggplant, playing with the light that falls on the glossy, oiled cherry tomatoes. We will we be five for dinner, this deliciously grey autumn evening. Golden rounds of eggplant sandwiched with herb-, pistachio- and olive-laced mounds of fresh ricotta; a heap of cherry toms, the yellow ones from the front garden, roasted until their skins split; a gratin of thinly sliced potatoes layered with red onions, sliced to a similar papery-thinness, cooked in a mixture of stock, lemon juice and olive oil. Show-off stuff.

Cooler days, curiously, have made me ravenously hungry for dairy produce. Yoghurt, cheese and sour cream. Standing at the deli counter, armed with a quickly scribbled list that simply read:

Cracked green olives (the ones flecked with red chillies)
Turkish bread (2?)

I came home with things that were definitely not on the list:

A very large piece of unpasturised French Basque blue cheese
Another, larger still, of aged cheddar
A small(ish) triangle of chalky Manchego

A trembling wedge of fresh ricotta, snowy white, also snuck its way into the basket. Like a child unleashed in a sweet shop, I couldn’t stop. Unusual behaviour, this. Wary of the effect on my digestive system and the uncanny ability dairy has to make my nose drip not unlike our leaking home (utterly charmless two days later, I must add) it’s difficult to imagine what, exactly, came over me.

Time to re-think; time to re-adjust. An overhaul in the kitchen is due. There will be some changes around here over the next few weeks as this blog quietly enters its third year. Subtle changes perhaps, but just the shift in thinking that’s required. The world does not need another recipe for roasted cherry tomatoes; instead, all I can offer today is a bunch of glistening baubles, anointed with olive oil and ready to roast to bursting perfection. Not much, I know, but their brightness cheered me no end.

Recipes, and developments, as they come.


cmoore said...

I really like this post, and not just because of your accolades for Ella. I've struggled with similar developments, although my posting are much younger, as I don't want a recipe blog but I'm not quite just a food writer (not yet anyways). In any case, this was a beautiful post, even for the spring weather up here.l

Suganya said...

Those tomatoes are bursting with goodness. All I want to do is toss it with some pasta, with a bit of lemon zest and basil. But thats summery :)

Callipygia said...

I am quite happy to putter about in your head & kitchen and fawn over the glorious produce. Perhaps dinner for six? Seems to me that you posted the perfect recipe for contentment.

Simona said...

The changing season is a time of readjustment. I like how you describe your shopping expedition. I usually don't write down what I need, with the expected consequences. Love the photos of the bite-size tomatoes.

winedeb said...

I am impressed and glad you presented your perfect cherry tomatoes to us! And I am even more thrilled to know that they came from YOUR garden! Hope your roof has been repaired! It is kind of tuff doing laundry with an umbrella!

kitchen hand said...

Great tomato shots. I just harvested the last of ours - in the rain.

Johanna said...

beautiful gleaming rosy tomatoes! It is indeed weather for roasting vegetables and feeling introspective. Thanks for the reminder that I should be throwing some tomatoes in my roasting pan!

Wendy said...

Stunning photos, Lucy. Love those little spheres

Lisa said...

How cruel of you to describe your dinner for five without providing the recipe :) But then, sometimes the idea is just the thing to inspire a cook to create their own meal.

Lovely writing and photography Lucy. You never disappoint.

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

I always prefer the sultry sounds of jazz to put me into the meditative mood that I feel cooking and baking requires.

Your eggplant sandwich sounds divine! Pistachio and olive laced ricotta...the thought alone is mouthwatering!

Liz said...

I love some cooking with Ella - I've always thought that she helps with the lingering.

Take as many pictures of the tomatoes as you want. You make these gentle orbs even more beautiful.

Lucy said...

I think it's an interesting balance to aim for, cmoore - good food writing and true passion for it will always drive us toward being 'better' writers. Your blog is coming along beautifully. Isn't Ella great to cook with?

Perfect, Suganya - a combination that suits the transition from summer to autumn as the tomatoes just keep on coming!

Dinner for six? Callipygia, you're on, love! Yes, contentment...perhaps more important than food itself.

Simona, I do find a basic list helps, but boy, do I stray...seaonal adjustment will be accompanied by a dairy-free adjustment around here, too.

You know Deb, they popped up unannounced those yellow toms, remnants from last year's crop. The other fancier heirloom ones we planted were not nearly as prolific! Laundry will be fixed, but it's the roof that seems to be the real problem. I'll keep you updated.

Ah, kitchenhand, the rain has been utterly beautiful. Can you believe our toms are still growing? I'm dumbfounded by their bounty.

Johanna, don't you love handfuls of them roasting away, making their own sauce all the while? The weather has made me introspective and will for some time to come, I suspect.

Thanks, Wendy - they're cheerful little beasts.

Lisa, I started the post with the recipe anchored to the end but realised that I'd pretty much explained the process in the body of the text ;-) Inspiration via description has been getting my attention a lot more of idea why. Thanks!

Mari, it's a great combination, well worth exploring. Layered in a gratin, rolled into stuff!

Liz, thanks! I took more than 200 shots, can you believe, of the tomatoes alone. I must have been feeling self-indulgent...

Christina said...

I can't wait to see what you do next. Whatever it will be, it will be Lucy-licious. (Yes, I'm still around. I don't actually leave for New Mexico until Friday.)

Madhavi said...

Hi..those tomatoes looks so wonderful, excellent click :))

plz do visit @

Lucy said...

Christina - just a shift back to wholefood. Should be good. My waistline will thank me for it, I can tell you...I hope you have a great day. Photos, in some form or another, please.

Hi madhavi - when I get a moment, I shall.

Susan said...

Those yellow cherubs all glistening in oil-rich light! Your fall looks very much indeed like summer.

That opening passage, of the finest I have ever read. Pure joy.

Anonymous said...

What sexy tomatoes!

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous photos!

Lore said...

Fantastic photos and dinner inspiration ;)!

Rosa said...

Congratulations on entering your third year, and on being so philosophical about your flood! Ah, tomatoes... only two more months to go here.

Lucy said...

Susan, our autumn is a beautiful, warm creature most of the time. Funny, isn't it, but the rest of the stuff in here I laboured over...but that opening paragraph? Just fell out of me. Reckon I need to let go more often. Thanks.

Cute little baubles, aren't they Vegeyum?

Thanks, Tina!

Hi Lore, and welcome - thank you!

Rosa, you're the only one who picked up on it...can't believe it's been up and running for so long!

Ricki said...

What a joy to come back to the blogosphere and read beautiful writing, and see those astonishing photos! Loved reading this. Hard to imagine welcoming a flood (and I see that the novelty wore off pretty quickly!), but you make it sound gorgeous.

True, I can roast tomatoes on my own, but how about the recipes for both the eggplant and the potatoes?? Sounds fabulous. Hope you all had a marvelous dinner party. You've got me thinking about entertaining, even in our tiny kitchen and table that seats only four!

Lucy said...

Ricki, darls, I'm thrilled that you're 'back'. Rain seems to bypass us in Melbourne even though we all cling to the coast in Aust, hiding from the encroaching desert and hoping for it - it's reaching a critical stage here, the lack of water, so any rain, any at all is welcomed with open arms. The dinner was good. And I didn't drink enough to embarass myself, which is always good.