Monday, April 27, 2009

a night to remember

my first homegrown strawberry in Point Reyes

It was a hot sunny day in San Francisco and this is not a place where hot sunny days come along often. I was hoping it would be one of those hot sunny days followed by a comfortably warm evening, the type I grew up with in Chicago. An evening without a light jacket is something almost unheard of around here. I really wanted to make the most of this surprise heat wave and prepare a dinner that fit the mood, something simple, beautiful, and light.

I'd been reading a lovely new book written by Molly Wizenberg, the creator of the blog Orangette, and thinking of making her bouchons au thon. I'm not sure if I was truly interested in her recipe or just charmed by her story, but decided that it didn't really matter. I forged ahead.

I rarely follow recipes, but Molly particularly noted that she always did, so I thought I'd try and practice restraint. I was almost 100% successful with the only exception being a substitute of sour cream for the crème fraîche I'd forgotten to purchase during my trip to the market.

The recipe turned out wonderfully and my only complaint is that the bottoms of the bouchons stuck to the well greased cups of my muffin tin. I'm not sure if it was my tin, if I did not use enough oil on the cups, if using butter would have made things less sticky, or if it is simply the nature of the beast. It was so minor I probably shouldn't even be referring to it as a complaint.

When Molly refers to the bouchons as odd and homely, my guess is that she does so lovingly. I think the little puffs are darling. I served the bouchons, two small puffs per person, atop a bed of ancho cress and sliced strawberries.

Ancho cress is a cress I had not yet met, before our Tuesday visit to the farmers market. If you too are unfamiliar with this cress you can see a photo of an ancho cress and scarlet runner bean salad on the Rancho Gordo site. This salad made me miss our beautiful scarlet runner bean and christmas lima bean tepees. They were really fantastic!

bean tepees we built from a type of flax growing on our neighbor's property (thanks Ruth!)

The ancho cress called out to me that day at the market. So did the pencil thin asparagus, Yerena Farms strawberries, and some small pale yellow carrots. It really was a perfect day.

The first bite into a leaf of ancho cr
ess tricks you into thinking it is a tame green, but it is quickly followed by a peppery bite. I tamed the bite by tossing it with a light dressing of olive oil, fresh orange juice, a very small squeeze from the honey bear, and a little s&p. I decorated the top of the cress with sliced strawberries, lemon zest, and some thin shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano.

Petite plates of crisp green decorated with red, creamy white, and tiny flecks of yellow--all topped with golden puffs. A small round table for two in front of a large window on a warm night, the city humming below, and sharing it all with someone you love. A night to remember... Sigh. Smile.

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