Meals have been a bit hit and miss around here lately; you may have noticed a certain quiet in this space. Time has become quite precious and while moments standing at the stove stirring, or at the bench chopping are always enjoyed, there have been other things to do.
Three meals a day – three opportunities to sit and eat – have not necessarily been on the cards for me. Breakfast and lunch blur, not so much in the form of pancakes or eggs benedict as one might expect of the blurring of breakfast and lunch, but I tend to find myself looking for crusts of toast with peanut butter at one in the afternoon. Dinner, I confess, has sometimes been more about the bourbon or Pinot than vegetables and protein.The term “fridge-raid supper” has taken on a new meaning in recent weeks, and from these scrape-together-meals have come some lovely things – roasted celery for one. The celery from our garden is nearing its use-by date and has taken on a strong, bitter, grassy flavour. Now it is best roasted for 20-30 minutes with oil, salt, pepper and a half teaspoon of smoked paprika. In the last few minutes throw in a handful of chopped almonds and a knob of butter. Braised celery, I have discovered, is also very good with lots of butter, salt, plus a sliced shallot and a peeled, diced pear, all slowly cooked until tender. This combination of flavours and textures would make a tasty risotto, too. But the stand out here, an accidental discovery that may very well slip into my “fridge-raid supper” repertoire, is a toasted open sandwich. An occasion where the choice of toppings lends itself more to a pizza than a sandwich. This past week there was a large brown paper bag containing a basketball sized loaf of bread on our kitchen bench and written on the side, “Please eat me.” I did so, happily.
One evening I began slowly cooking leeks in butter with a splash of white wine. I toasted the bread and thinly spread on some Dijon mustard, topped with the soft and slippery leeks and grated cheese, then under the grill until bubbling and golden. The sharp mustard and sweet buttered leeks made for a delicious supper. Caramelised onions, perhaps a few anchovies or crumbles of blue cheese could be equally as good – a sort of pissaladiere tartine.
Butter and salt seem to be a trend here. Long may that continue.