Saturday, May 15, 2010

No Reservations

So I came home last evening from having a manicure, because my life has reached a point where if I don't schedule meaningless appointments for myself each day, I stay home baking things I never eat or finding ways to cook up small feasts for my son, Adam, and his never-ending supply of endlessly hungry friends.

As luck would have it, I discover our family room is full of large, hairy, sunglass-wearing adolescent males, aka, Adam's gang.

The air is heavy with the scent of boiling oil. Adam is experimenting with my Mother's Day gift, an electric deep-fryer. A Krups, to be exact. It is large and stainless steel, with a nifty window on top, that I'm hoping will add another window of opportunity to expand my culinary horizons thus helping to bring a kind of fulfillment to the next phase of my life.

So far,we've used it to deep-fry pork dumplings and southern-style okra. Adam is presently working on another batch of dumplings, having already emptied our freezer of our store-bought boutique pizza stash, Costco-sized Cheese Balls from the pantry, and a case of Coca-Cola. It is now 5:00 and the group is set to leave for a party of some kind; instead, they decide they are still hungry and are planning to stay for dinner.

Normally, this would thrill me to no end and provide hours of creative activity and entertainment for me, but on this one occasion, I had already planned and shopped for a special dinner for Adam and his older-just-returned-home-from-his-first-year-of-college brother, Zachary.

If you haven't guessed by now, I am a dyed-in-the-wool foodie, passionate about all things F-O-O-D. And with the impending Empty Nest Syndrome of my own (after 20 years of being a stay-at-home mom), I find myself in the midst of starting a small culinary business, although "business" is something I know nothing about. To sharpen my chops, so to speak, I'm taking advantage of all opportunities to cook for anyone who is hungry, and will be offering a 'home cooked meal delivered to your door' as my new mission. (I've just finished a season of cooking for Adam's high school volleyball team, their coach, managers, and staff. That's 20 people, 3 times a week. More on that adventure in another post.)

The recipe I had planned for my sons for dinner was excerpted from A Twist of the Wrist by uber-mistress of all things bread & mozzarella, Nancy Silverton (with Carolynn Carreno), called Egg Pappardelle with Bagna Cauda, Wilted Radicchio, and an Olive Oil-Fried Egg. I hadn't tried making it yet, but skimming thru the directions, knew I was capable of assembling--whether or not it would turn out like Nancy's was another matter.

But my new motto is "Into the Storm"---or face your fears for once in your life. So I was up for the challenge.

Oh, did I mention that one of the young friends sprawled on our sofa and glued to yet another episode featuring Peter & Stewie Griffin, was the offspring of said uber-mistress?

Am I intimidated? Only a little.

I shoo the pack to the back patio to take up a ping-pong tourney under the glowing patio lights, amidst the hordes of mosquitoes swarming 'round our backyard pond, and get to work.

Now I don't know about you, but I have always found that actually using the contents of my freezer, as opposed to letting them crystallize into hard rocks of indistinguishable snow, is deeply gratifying and fills me with a sense of virtue. Last night was such a night....

Throwing together some butter lettuce leftover from a volleyball dinner earlier in the week, with some crumbled up goat cheese and a quickly whisked tarragon vinaigrette, kept the boys at bay while I pondered what was hidden within the crusty, iced-over baggies of protein on my freezer shelves....

While the pasta water boiled and the anchovies, garlic and butter simmered on the stove, I chopped more garlic, whirred fresh bread crumbs in the processor, pounded out veal cutlets, and called for my husband to light the grill for the rib eye steak. Thankfully, the Lakers were not playing, so he actually responded and leaped into action. Okay, he didn't exactly 'leap', but he didn't roll over and snore either.

Calling the hungry herd into the kitchen, we dished out silky pappardelle with a piquant, salty bagna cauda, made even more savory by the perfectly poached organic egg atop each serving, slices of incredibly juicy medium-rare steak with garlic, and crispy, parmesan veal cutlets with melting mozzarella cheese......everyone's hunger was satisfied, and all were content, including your's truly. As for heading "into the storm" and facing my fears, at home, in public, and on this blog, I have no reservations.....


  1. Perfect - I can just imagine the scene at Chateau Ferleger!
    Can't wait for your next post!

  2. First of all, I take issue with calling a manicure a mindless appointment. Don't underestimate the importance of beautifully shaped and polished nails- especially IN THE KITCHEN!!
    Next, if I skip my waxing appointment and don a pair of dark sunglasses and drape myself on your sofa, do you think I'd pass as "one of the boys". I know,I know-I'd be a dead ringer except for the fact that the glass in my well- manicured hand is filled with wine not coke.
    What time are left-overs being served??

  3. I want to be part of the "gang" - anything to get you to cook for me.
    I am available any time to partake in either leftovers, new creations, copy cat recipes, favorites, crystallized frozen food made into mouth watering dishes by you or any little baking experience you want to share. You even make Costco food sound great!!!!
    Keep this posting going so my mouth can continue to water.

  4. Fantastically entertaining! Looking forward to the next post...hurry up! xx

  5. BAGNA Cauda is something I only recently read about in Mary-Anne Tirone Smith's memoir Girls of Tender Years.

  6. I like this! I felt like I was watching and experiencing the start of something wonderful! You are a natural, girl! You know, Oprah is looking for someone special to host their own new television show...Why not YOU!?

  7. Sounds almost as good as being there!!!


  8. Damn, I want some of that pasta, right now!!

  9. Did you post your very first professional blog at 4:27 on purpose??! Must be a good omen.....

  10. Congratulations on your new business! I'm so excited for you and look forward to reading your blog! I know you'll be a huge success!
    with love, Malinda

  11. Love No Reservations! A fine mix of food and chatter. I come away amused, entertained --- and starving!!!! What's for dinner?

  12. I thought I smelled something good from across the street! Anytime you need some test palates, just holler...Your blog is great! xo

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