Thursday, October 23, 2014

What's for Dinner Tonight?

Dear Reader,

There are some days spent in Brooklyn where everything seems to just make sense. Work. All is well. Like putting that last piece of a puzzle together and looking with sudden clarity at the “big picture” – ohhh, so that’s what I spent hours upon hours sifting through cardboard cutouts for! All the good and bad had and to be had makes sense on this very day. 

I’m so very thankful for such days because it’s when I feel most grateful for my life and I certainly do count my blessings. This week, E and I went for a long walk through our neighborhood, hobbling through cobblestone streets and maneuvering through tourists admiring the NYC skyline (a picture never does it justice, does it?) and our conversations tend to always center around the same vibe. We are so blessed. Even when facing the worst of circumstances, I am so thankful to E for keeping my mind in a high spirited place filled with gratitude instead of resentment or disturbances of my peace. It’s in these moments where we are often overwhelmed with joy and with a real need to celebrate life.
And I have a tendency of celebrating such said life by throwing dinner parties.


Menu
Appetizer
* Fresh Ricotta Cheese – adapted from Ina Garten
* Bruschetta with heirloom tomatoes set on top of such fresh ricotta cheese and glazed balsamic vinaigrette  

Entree
* Mussels in white wine sauce – adapted from Ina Garten and Martha Stewart
* Well-marbled London broil
* Grilled asparagus

I won’t bore you with a long list of cooking instructions and recipes; instead I have posted the links above. But I will delve into the food shopping adventure we had, which, if it didn’t happen to me I’d be inclined to not believe it to be true.

E and I woke up early on Sunday morning, rolled around in bed for a few minutes since it’s just so hard to get out of bed on a weekend morning. After some diddly daddling, we got dressed and headed off to shop for our Sunday dinner and that is when our adventures began.

As we were driving around, we noticed a butcher shop on Atlantic Ave. and decided to take a look at the meats. At this point, we weren’t planning on grilling any steaks, but I am always game to check out a specialty store and so off we went. It was beautiful. The space was large and cavernous, lined with wooden panels and you feel like you went back in time to … I don’t really even know when there was ever even a time of such butcher shop d├ęcor… but it felt good and it felt clean and it felt like what I imagined a beautiful butcher shop to look like only I never knew it til that moment. Our butcher, and all the butchers for that matter, was dressed in a plaid button down down shirt, butcher’s apron, perfectly coiffed hair, parted, and properly gelled. We asked to see the skirt steak, but he insisted on the London broil given how well marbled it was. And it certainly was. Speckled with the whites of fat from top to bottom, our mouths were watering just looking at this piece of art. His first question to us: “What are you cooking for dinner tonight?” Me: “Mussels in white wine sauce.” Him: “Sounds amazing. Don’t forget the parsley.” Then with a flurry of instructions on how to cook this particular cut he recommended that we head on next door to get Maldon salt. What? “Maldon. The salt crystals are like snowflakes. Put it on either side of your steak and the heat will melt the salt into a casing, preserving your juices and flavoring your meat.” How can we say no? So with one piece of gorgeous London broil slapped on and wrapped in butcher’s paper, off we went to Cook’s Companion (our 2nd visit) where we requested the ever so important Maldon salt. “Where’d you get your meat….Dellapietras?” “Yes.” “Awesome meat.”  We nodded our heads in affirmation.

Next we ventured to Fish Tales, probably the cleanest and most well organized fish market in existence and ordered 8 lbs of Prince Edwards Island Mussels. When we saw what 8lbs looks like, we went down to 6, then to 5.5. Still too much but more is better and so we said “Yes!” Fish monger: “What are you cooking for dinner tonight?” “Mussels in white wine sauce”.  Fish monger: “Oh, you’ve gotta get your bread at Caputos.” Gasp! Yet another must have recommendation for our now very elaborate and ever growing Sunday night dinner. And like the eager and obedient students of this Brooklyn cooking excursion we were, off we went to Caputos with a bounce in our step, hands held together and kisses all around. Caputos looks like any other old NYC bakery, slightly yellowed and warm with naked loaves of bread and crispy crusts on shelves that have been around for decades. “Rustic, yes rustic bread”! Cut into thick slices to soak up the wine sauce….and we were done!

Back at home I struggled with draining the ricotta, my counter was overflowing with plates and tools and oh yes, did I mention the milk bread? Chop, and mix, and boil and knead, stir and whirl and grill and oil, a sip of wine here, a sip of wine there, friends come, we put them to work, and we come to the table, ready to eat, ready to laugh and ready to do exactly what we had come to do in life, here, and now. Celebrate life, celebrate friendships. Thankful for this day.


Dinner table.
London Broil from Butcher at Dellapietras
  1. 1.3lb cut of well-marbled London Broil
  2. Brush on good quality olive oil
  3. Sprinkle generously with freshly ground pepper
  4. Sprinkle generously with Maldon sea salt
  5. Repeat to other side
  6. Take a cast iron skillet or grill and leave on high heat for 8-10 minutes. Be very very careful as if this skillet slides off your stove or if you touch it, it will burn your flesh into oblivion. 
  7. Grill for 3 minutes each side
  8. Grill for 1 minute each side
  9. Take the steak off from the grill and leave it on a cool surface to rest for 10 minutes
  10. Slice and serve.

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