Yesterday was a big day. For one thing, it was my first day of school. Hooray for school! I’m feeling more educated already.
However, yesterday was also my third wedding anniversary. Yes, three years ago this morning Rachel and I were jumping in a lake. Three years might not seem that long, but since we’d been dating for seven years before we got married, 2007 is in some senses our tenth anniversary, which seems like a biggish deal. Just like last year, we decided to have a nice dinner in rather than a nice dinner out, and so I turned to my fanciest cookbook, The Elements of Taste by Gray Kunz and Peter Kaminsky.
(This is a really cool book, by the way. I picked it up for a song at a used bookstore in Northampton, and every recipe in it is guaranteed to impress the hell out of your guests. Last night was my second time making a recipe from the book: about a year ago I made the Braised Short Ribs of Beef with an Aromatic Barbecue Sauce. I’m kicking myself that there are no pictures of that meal, since the recipe is four damn pages long and people seemed to like it.)
We got another ridiculous haul of incredible tomatoes from Ledge Ends, so it was clear they’d be involved. I happened to flip the book open to:
Two-Tomato Coulis with Three Basils
Except here’s the thing: I couldn’t find purple basil, or basil flowers, but I did have a bag of fresh Ledge Ends green basil, so I just made:
Two-Tomato Coulis with One Rather Delicious Basil
The recipe for this is pretty ludicrously simple. Just chuck a whole bunch of red cherry tomatoes in a blender, and puree the crap out of them. Then do the same with some yellow tomatoes, and put both purees in a bowl with some basil, white pepper, and kosher salt.
The recipe called for 2 pounds each of red and yellow cherry tomatoes, which is ridiculous, so as I was only trying to make two servings I used a pound each, and supplemented the cherry tomatoes with some fabulous heirloom globe tomatoes. I also left out the sugar because, uh, I forgot it, but it didn’t need any. Delicious, sweet, and garden-y.
This was by far the most visually striking thing I’ve ever prepared. So cool. When we started eating, we discovered that the colors stay separate even as you move them around a bit, so if I ever make this again I might go for swirlier patterns instead of just the yin-yang.
When we were in Maine a few weeks ago, Rachel reminded me how much she loves lobster so it seemed clear that would be in the main course. Kunz and Kaminsky provided:
Lobster in Syrah Reduction with Aromatic Grits
I mean, delicious, right? Not even too difficult to make.
The sauce is a piece of cake: sautÃ© onions, garlic, shallots, carrots, and celery until soft, and then pour in a bottle of red wine. Reduce, strain out the vegetables, and reduce again until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Whisk in some butter at the end, and you’re good to go.
The grits were also easy and delicious. I couldn’t find the quick-cooking grits the recipe calls for, but a pretty standard 4:1 milk and water to cornmeal ratio produced what I wanted. A little nutmeg and white pepper and butter go in at the end.
Finally the lobster: the hardest part was buying them, since Whole Foods apparently doesn’t sell live lobsters any more. However, I was pleased to discover Captain’s Catch in North Providence, which does, and has a pretty good looking seafood selection. Once I got the doomed fellows home, they were blanched in boiling water for 5 minutes, shocked in ice water, and relieved of their shells. (I now have a Ziploc back full of lobster parts ready for the stockpot.) Five to ten minutes in a 350 degree oven (with butter, of course) finished the cooking.
‘Twas damn good, and we even had room left over for dessert:
I’d bookmarked this recipe for Lemon-basil vodka gimlets as they looked delicious and refreshing, and indeed they were, but the fact is I don’t drink anywhere near enough vodka to use up all that syrup. As soon as I tasted it, though, I said: sorbet. Now, the syrup is way too sweet to make a sorbet on its own (and yes, I went through the trouble of making a batch to find that out) but with the juice of about four lemons added to it, it because perfect. Light, tart, with a subtle herbitude.
So, that’s three years. Believe it or not, Rachel just gets better and better. Don’t think for a second I fail to realize how lucky I am to have a wife willing to support us while I quit my job and
sleep in every morning go back to grad school. A plate of lobster and a song are the least I can do.