Yes, we are adjusting to life as it is now where we are staying at home and not doing many of the things that we enjoy doing. That is a good thing because it keeps us and others safe and healthy. It is nonetheless difficult because the days seem to meld into each other and soon a new routine has been established where we forget that each and every day is still special and you do not need a reason to celebrate that even at home. If we cannot do these things for ourselves and people we love for whom should we do it?
I love cooking and I love entertaining, so I decided to make this evening a little different from most of the others these past few months and dine out at home. It was a good reason to ditch the leggings and wear something dressier and use a little makeup that has been languishing because it just does not go with a mask.
I prepared a couple of our favorite dishes including an appetizer consisting of Compari tomatoes stuffed with crab salad (fresh crab, parsley, greek yogurt, Old Bay Seasoning, salt & pepper,juice and zest of 1/2 lemon) with a simply dressed arugula salad. Tip No.1 – when juicing a fresh lemon, microwave it for about 30 seconds before juicing. It softens the lemon and you get more juice. Tip No. 2 – I got this one from my brother-in-law, Patrick. Before juicing any citrus fruit (e.g., lemons, oranges, limes) zest the entire fruit onto parchment paper and set aside to dry. You can later put the dried zest in a container to use.
Main course consisted of grilled sweet potato rounds (brushed with a mixture of fresh ground nutmeg, cinnamon, olive oil and salt and pepper) accompanied by grilled herb-stuffed Bronzino. Just stuff it with a few of your favorite herbs and a few lemon slices – I used rosemary and parsley. Baste fish inside and outside with a marinade of olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, capers, salt and pepper. Grill at 425 degrees until skin begins to crisp. Tip – soak the cord for tying the fish in water before using to avoid burning and make it easier to remove.
As an extra special treat, I made my husband’s favorite – a rustic peach tart (small one – about the size of a dessert plate). I used 4 sliced, fresh peaches (tossed in mixture of 1 TSP cornstarch, sugar, 1 TSP cinnamon, 1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg, 1 tsp lemon juice). Place in center of pie dough, dot with cold butter and just fold the edges up to almost closing the tart. Brush with beaten egg and dust with sugar. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes or until browned and bubbly in center.
Whether your special is a picnic dinner in the backyard with your favorite burgers and hot dogs or chilli with cornbread or fillet mignon – what makes it special is attention, love and passion for making it so. Whatever you prepare – bon appetit!