Factors in my favor:
- I had all the shopping done.
- The historian had swept the floors and otherwise tidied up.
- I had previously cleaned off the kitchen table.
- The menu was straightforward: green salads with lots of things to put on it, including steak, and bread and butter, and peach crisp for dessert.
Here's how it went:
(3:50) 1. I put fingerling potatoes and Romano beans into the oven to roast, with olive oil, salt and pepper, at 375.
(3:55) 2. I put a flank steak into a baking dish, covered with slivered garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper.
(4:00) 3. Peeled and cut up eight peaches into a dish. I tossed the peaches with a little flour and some sugar and cinnamon and cardamom. I grated nutmeg over that. Then I made a crisp topping: flour, cold butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and cardamom, all cut together so that the texture was pebbly, even sandy. Put that all over the top.
(4:15) 4. Made a cheese and cracker plate. Put it on the table.
(4:20) 5. Got out the mandoline, and sliced some Persian cucumbers and a yellow pepper into very thin slices. Put each into its tidy bowl. Put the bowls on the table.
(4:25) 6. Put a gorgeous rainbow of heirloom cherry tomatoes into a bowl, and on the table. Ditto kalamata and sundried olives, and ditto the last few marinated artichoke hearts--sliced, in a bowl, on the table.
(4:35) 7. Washed three beautiful heads of farmer's market lettuce. Spun it dry. Heaped into a bowl. Made my vinaigrette.
(4:45) 8. Moved the roast potatoes and green beans to the lower rack in the oven. Heated up the broiler to grill the steak.
(4:50) 9. Took out two balls of burrata and sliced them onto a plate. On the table.
(5:00) 10. Checked the steak. Still pretty pink. Lowered the temperature back to 375; put in the crisp, put the steak back in on the lower rack.
My daughter arrived with homemade rolls. I greeted the kids, put the potatoes and green beans into bowls, dressed the lettuce, sliced the steak, and put everything remaining on the table while the crisp baked.
Also, somewhere in there a dozen ears of corn got shucked and cooked.
This was some of my finest fast-dinner work, I must say. I love cooking a dinner where I can linger over the preparation and where things take loads of planning and days to execute. I'm glad, though, for a dinner like this. It was fresh and abundant, and everyone liked it, just about, and while it took planning, it came together quickly. The adults could sit and talk, and I could hold Naomi while she smiled at me. Meanwhile the kids played with legos and sidewalk chalk, and Bruiser hoped, but not too obnoxiously, at the table.
When it was over, and everyone who was leaving had gone home, and we'd put everything away, we watched Arthur & George, and Sherlock. And there is leftover crisp.