In which Malgorzata provides a day-long feast for my 81st birthday--GMD
It began with breakfast.
First, I made fragrant banana and rose-water-scented scones, which were accompanied by an exquisite pear marmalade, purchased recently from a woman in Prince Edward County who employs the fruits she grows on her own property in her marmalades and jams.
It is very easy to make the scones. I do it all in the food processor where I mix, on low speed, 1 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour, one stick of unsalted butter, one small ripe banana--mashed previously with 1 to 2 tbsp of rose-water--1/3 cup of vanilla-scented organic yogurt (or any yogurt), 1 tbsp baking powder and 2 tbsps of sugar. The dough should be soft. Spread it on a floured cutting-board and sprinkle the sugar on it, pressing it lightly into the dough. Cut the dough into rounds and bake for 15 minutes at 3 75 F.
To accompany the scones, I made us cardamom-scented coffee. Simply grind the coffee beans with 2 or 3 cardamom pods. Then brew it in the usual way. Voila!
For lunch we toasted bagels and spread them with cream cheese, adding slices of wild smoked salmon, rounds of red onion, cucumber slices and capers.
Then I eased myself towards dinner. Which is going to be squash gnocchi in a mushroom cream sauce, accompanied by a warm red cabbage salad.
First I constructed the gnocchi. On a large platter, I mixed 1 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour with a pinch of salt, 1 egg, 2 tbsps olive oil to which I added 1/2 cup of the squash I had baked and pureed the day before. I then mashed everything with a fork into a very soft dough, adding if necessary more squash to make the mixture very tender (the more tender the dough you make, the softer the gnocchi will be when you eat them). Roll the dough into a ball and put it on a floured cutting-board, dividing the mixture into 6 or 7 pieces which you then roll into thin, cigar-like shapes. Each "cigar" is to be cut into small lengths which are then pressed with a fork into the remaining flour on the cutting-board. Arrange them on a floured platter where they are now ready to be boiled.
In the meantime, make the red cabbage salad. In a large skillet, saute in olive oil 1 small red onion, sliced. Add some turmeric, chili powder, paprika and some ground cloves. Add 2 cups of shredded red cabbage, one diced apple, salt and pepper, a little water and cook until the cabbage is tender. At the end, add 2 tbsps of apple cider vinegar and a dollop of honey. Cover and keep warm.
The mushroom cream sauce is very easy to make and is ridiculously delicious. In a large skillet, saute in olive oil 2 white onions, chopped, sliced mushrooms (I will be using both cremini and shitake mushrooms), 5 or 6 sundried tomatoes, chopped, and some salt, lots of pepper, some thyme and tarragon and, when the vegetables are cooked through, 1 1/2 cups of half-and-half cream. Let the sauce simmer and reduce slightly (but not too much).
In a large pot of salted water, boil the gnocchi. They will very quickly rise to the top, at which time you must scoop them out and put them into the hot mushroom sauce. Transfer to warm plates and serve with lots of grated parmesan cheese, accompanied by the warm cabbage salad.
We then poured ourselves generous flagons of chilled sparkling rose wine (Louis Bouillot) and finished the meal with pears poached in spiced pomegranate juice.
The Raw and the Cooked, MYTHOLOGIQUES is a new column on the culture of eating and cooking, with contributions by various authors. The column name is borrowed from the title of a book by Claude Levi-Strauss. It is spontaneous, a little amusing but serious at the same time.