Sunday, November 21, 2010

This dinner brought to you by Google.

As you well know, we had a snowpocalypse last night, which meant that there was serious doubt about whether the historian and I would make it home from our movie double-header downtown in one piece. The odds were more significantly stacked against us because we were in two separate cars. That's because I spent some artistic time at the Roasting Company. I swore to myself that I would draft the current poem I've been working on, or know the reason why. That's because I had my writing group today, at my house, and that's why the snowpocalypse had especial significance: because what if I couldn't arise at the crack of dawn to go buy special ingredients for things I had never made? because what if my writing group food were just ordinary stuff that I already had? The Horror.

I know that was a lot of becauses, but sometimes there happens to be a long chain of causality, okay? a chain which led me to the inevitable conclusion that I should be sensible for just about the first time in my entire life, and figure out something to make out of the bountiful ingredients already in my well-stocked house.

So, the assessment of possible already-there ingredients included:
  • arugula
  • pears
  • a soft persimmon
  • a suspiciously soft blood orange
  • broccoli
  • potato chips
  • a shocking amount of 2 liter bottles of various caffeinated soft drinks
  • granola bars
  • pasta of all kinds, including those pasta side dishes in a bag
  • (in case you can't tell, college-running-post-missionary son and I went to the store on Friday)
  • various legumes
  • a bunch of cheese
  • some smoked salmon
  • chocolate
At first, when I thought I might run to the store at the crack of dawn, I was thinking I might make a version of this delicious Thai soup I had at Cafe Trang this week. Alas, no time for lemongrass. So I thought perhaps I would invent some kind of fancy chowder that used smoked salmon? But then I thought, I know: I will Google Orangette to see what she has to say about all of this. And that's how I ran smack into the best idea for a day when your trees are laden with snow and you feel lucky not to have spiraled off the road into a wintry death: red lentil soup.

Did I have red lentils? I did. So I made this soup and commend it to you for your wintry hours.

Then, I took the arugula and some mint I had, washed and tore it up into a bowl, then slivered up a teeny sweet orange pepper I had languishing in the fridge, and two pears for sweetness. A vinaigrette, with sherry vinegar in the vinegar slot and a little garlic and a little mustard to sharpen it up, and that was a good salad. I also put some delicious crackers on a plate with Point Reyes blue cheese and the smoked salmon.

For dessert, I made chocolate cake. While I had Orangette doing my research for me, I used Orangette and chocolate cake as search terms, and came up with this recipe. And of course I made adjustments. For the flour, I used a little bit of organic unbleached white, some white-wheat, and some delicious unbleached cake flour. Instead of canola oil, which I did not have, I melted some butter, and why not? Also, I happened to have some full-fat buttermilk which was thick and gorgeous and made this cake a champion. Finally, I did not have any cream so ganache was not possible. Instead, I had the teeniest amount of vanilla ice cream, so I put a spoonful of that and a spoonful of blackberry jam (mine) next to the little cupcake, unwrapped on a plate. And those three flavors--the dark dark of the chocolate, the milky ice cream, and the purple fruit--were divine.

So after the writing group friends left, singing son gave me a call. "Are the Jazz playing tonight?" he asked. I told him they weren't. "Well, what are you having for dinner?" Soup, I told him. And so he and his little family came over, and my writing group repast did a second stint, and it was just as good the second time.


  1. You know, you don't HAVE to wait for a writing group I usually can't attend to cook for me.

  2. I am feeling the shine of this blog posting every day! That salad sounds to die for. Promise you will make me delicious salads like this upon your visit to Scotland!!!!

  3. Why doesn't my writing group have a person who whips up fab soups? WHY? Life is just so damn unfair.

  4. All of this I have been missing?! A post every day? This was delicious - and I just tasted the words! Lucky writing group, lucky son and little family.



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