Early Spring Dinner: A Day in the Kitchen Part 2
I walked into the kitchen to find Charlotte staring, somewhat apathetically, at a pile of artichokes next to the stove. “That’s a s***load of artichokes.” she sighed, apparently realizing for the first time that – as it was her recipe – she was the one that was going to have to peel them. I remained however happy as a clam, or rather three bags full of clams. Being the last one in the loop on the whole dinner plan had, to my surprise, made for a relatively easy afternoon so far. Taking a break from my bartending duties, I decided to pop down to the stream with Carlie to pick watercress for the salad. It was my most strenuous excercise of the day, at least since I carried in the groceries a couple of hours ago. Since the group of kids tagged along (water + mud = frolicking children every time) I was spared having to actually exert any effort at all, my whole creek side experience being relegated to “Look, there’s some over there!” while gesturing in a vague direction towards a patch of green near where the kiddos were currently splashing. We picked mint too for the braised artichokes (this time I was the one using the royal “we”, in truth “they” picked the mint as well). We trudged back up the hill to the house, our bag of freshly picked watercress and mint from a spring fed stream carried in tiny little hands. The field labor unfastened their boots and washed mud off equally tiny little feet and toes, Charlotte was turning her attention from the now peeled artichokes to the beets, which would have to be roasted. Carlie was setting about work on the two salads: Avocado and Watercress Salad with a Green Apple Vinaigrette, along with a Potato and Fennel Salad. More roasting to be done, I silently mused. I realized that during my outdoor foray away from my bartending post the ice had melted in my glass. Having nothing better to do at the moment, I though to myself Time for a refill. All in all, I was having a hell of a fun time.
Carlie set about cleaning the watercress and mint, a more time-consuming experience than I expected given the apparent plethora of tiny little snails clinging to the leaves. “Don’t want to munch on any of those!” she exclaimed from her station over a colander in the sink. Why not, I wonder, what’s one more dish? Relaxing in a chair, I propped my feet up and mused on various iterations of escargot in my mind. Presently I was jolted out of my garlic butter drenched daydream by the sound – well that’s not entirely correct as there was no sound made. But through my closed eyes I could sense a … presence. Hard to tell at the time whether it benevolent or intent on some evil, but there was definitely an aura of, let’s call it menace. Reluctantly I opened my eyes to find Charlotte staring at me. “Would you like to help?” she asked, except the way she said it didn’t exactly sound like a question. More like an implied threat if one failed to comply. “Sure!” I lied.
Glancing over the list of courses, I decided to make the dressing for the watercress salad. With only six ingredients included grated onion and Gala apple, I figured I could milk that process until time to prepare the clams. I was still determined to do as little as possible, a plan that so far had worked largely to my advantage. Before I started, we took a moment to drink a toast to Charlotte who had just celebrated her birthday a few days prior. I had brought some Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava, something I have absolutely fallen in love with over the previous months not just for its taste, but it’s price point as well. A few raspberries and blackberries in a glass, and we toasted to Charlotte and the forthcoming dinner.
Clams in Habanero Chive Broth
Lemon Mint Braised Artichokes
Merguez Lamb Patties With Golden Raisin Couscous
Avocado and Watercress Salad
Roasted Potato and Fennel Salad