Cooking beautiful food does not require a degree or years of experience. Nature has provided plenty of enchanting and gorgeous foodstuffs. To start, a trip to a farm, market or grocery store can be an inspiring adventure. Each vegetable has a unique personality, formed by a specific combination of water, soil, sun and even moonlight. Just as every person is unique, each vegetable has an individual fingerprint. Other ingredients have enticing characteristics as well. The greenish hue of extra virgin olive oil, a bin of grains like rice, wheat berries, barley or millet; Spices like the reddish hue of black mustard seeds, green cardamom pods, bright red of paprika, smooth bark of cinnamon, shocking yellow of turmeric and pellet shaped perfection of whole coriander; Herbs such as the crisp edges of fresh mint leaves, the evergreen woodsy rosemary, the delicate strands of fresh dill and the sensual leaves of fresh Genovese basil. Food entices the mind to imagine possibilities of cooking and eating. The attraction can be almost carnal, evoking emotions and desires from deep within the psyche. This is why it is prudent to shop without the presence of hunger pangs!
A lenten tradition. The kitchen fills with aromas of cinnamon and toasted sesame and the sweet nutty flavor is irresistible.
“[Breadbaking is] one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world’s sweetest smells…there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel. that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.”
M. F. K. Fisher, The Art of Eating
“Cooking something delicious is really much more satisfactory than painting pictures or making pottery. At least for most of us. Food has the tact to disappear, leaving room and opportunity for masterpieces to come. The mistakes don’t hang on the wall or on shelves to reproach you forever. It follows from this that the kitchen should be thought of as the center of the house. It needs above all space for talking, playing, bringing up children, sewing having a meal, reading, sitting, and thinking. It’s in this kind of place that good food has flourished. It’s from this secure retreat that the exploration of man’s curious relationship with food, beyond the point of nourishment, can start.”
Jan Grigson, Good Things
This is a recently published book written by the illustrious food editor at Knopf publishing house. She was the muse behind gastonomical luminaries such as Julia Child, James Beard, Maddhur Jaffrey, Edna Lewis and many others. More than editing, she coaxed the intimate voices out of cooks whose lives have been intertwined some of worlds greatest culinary traditions. The wonderfully enticing stories of meeting people, cooking with them and sharing delicious results are a beautiful framework for the life she lives and shares, exemplified by her tales of learning and aligning with earth’s seasonal rhythms. The stories of her life in Vermont are particularly fascinating and I felt as if I knew her. A great read whether one is vegetarian or not and is inspiration to someone like myself who is cooking and writing.
The farmers I have come to know over the last 25 years at the Royal Oak Farmers Market are some of the hardest working people I know. The market is the gem of Royal Oak, a rare community centric event that defines the city for the thousands of customers who struggle to find parking every week. Hopefully this will be rectifiedÂ as most of the people I speak with go elsewhere because of the parking issue. The city allows their employees to take up over 25% of the parking spaces available, yet they struggle to figure out how to increase revenue. It does not take a business degree to figure out the problem that is obvious to anyone who spends the 20 to 30 minutes it takes to find a space.
Pardon the time lapse. We have been pretty busy scurrying around, workng on real estate, writing and taking care of family. The fall is passing and the market has had a good run for the season. The dry season took a toll on volume, but harvest ran a month longer because of a mild October. I have been taking pictures of the market and have placed them in a photo album on my website. (http://georges-table.com/_wsn/page5.html)
Our latest restoration project has been completed and we are making test recipes for the cookbook in the fabulous marble countered kitchen. (http://georges-table.com/_wsn/page3.html). Sara and I have been entertaining in between showing the house. The menus are relatively simple and quick. Most of the energy goes into prepping the fresh organic produce from the Farmer’s Market in Royal Oak. Here is the menu last Friday:
Tamarind, Date and Mint Chutney
Fresh Tuscan Focaccia
With onion, black olives and tomato
Panzanella Salad with arugula and heirloom tomato
Buttercup Cashew Soup
Fresh Chanterelle, Shallot Au Gratin
With cherries and smoked pecans
Venezuelan Corn Tart
Red Pepper Sauce
Toasted Pepita Garnish
ChocolateÂ Cream Pie with Hot Fudge Sauce and Michigan Raspberry Sauce
A simple and easy to prepare recipe.
8 ounces tofu cut into thick juliennes
¼ cup tamari
1 ½ cups water
1 one inch piece of kombu, crumbled
¼ cup ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
½ cup scallions, julienne
½ cup carrots, julienne
6 drops toasted sesame oil
Simmer tofu, tamari, kombu and water for 20 minutes. Add scallions and ginger, simmer for 1 minute. Serve immediately.
I started making a variation of this recipe about 20 years ago at Inn Season Cafe. It may be served cold or hot, works well for picnics, or as one of a few dishes in an antipasti spread.
Ligurian Pasta Salad
1 clove garlic
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes-blanched
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 calamata olives
1/2 cup pitted California olives
2 sweet red peppers-roasted, peeled and diced
2 (8 ounce) packages Udon noodles, cooked al dente
1 bunch fresh basil stemmed and chopped 1/2 bunch parsley chopped fine
optional: 1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
salt to taste
Prepare #1 in food processor with a steel blade. Prepare #2 “ Roast peppers over a gas flame or under a broiler. Place in an air tight container for 10 minutes. Peel under slowly running water or with a bowl of water. Prepare #3“ Cook the Udon noodles until al dente with salted lightly oiled water. Strain and cool with cold water. Mix all the ingredients and add #4.