My parents recently came out to California to visit us, and what this meant--what this always means--is lots and lots of Tartine. I snapped this picture while developing my new theory that the most seductive thing about good croissants is the variety of textures they offer--the shattering top, the substantial bottom, the almost gooey interior. I have heard some people say that Tartine's croissants are too big and too buttery. Some people have no sense of pleasure!
I spent a day or two before my parents' arrival "hanging art," which at my house is done with masking tape. Before visitors arrive, I always do some emergency cleaning and decorating. I've often thought that we should have company once a week if only for the positive effect such a schedule would have on our housekeeping, but it never pans out.
The Cavallini carrot poster is in Bee's room, right over her little Ikea bookcases full of toys. The flower pictures are from a learn-to-paint workbook from the 1960s, which I bought years ago at John Derian. Obviously, they didn't make the decoupage cut, so to speak, but I thought them quite decorative. Besides, I couldn't resist some of the commentary. I don't know if you can read the caption above, so I'll type it out:
WALL CORSAGE. I attended an art demonstration once and the artist said, "The first thing we need when we start to paint is enthusiasm." I would like to go even a step farther and say, "If we lack enthusiasm and become discouraged, go ahead and try anyway, and as you paint you will enjoy it and forget your troubles. Perhaps you will end up being enthusiastic in spite of yourself. You don't have to be a good artist to have fun painting." I know this works for I have tried it. We all tend to procrastinate--it is very easy to do.
I mean, truer words were never, right? I need to have this tattooed on my forearm. ("Carpe diem" would be more concise, yes, but I always hear it in Cher's voice from Clueless: "Carpe diem, okay? You looked hot!")
On Saturday, Andrew had a surprise day off, and for once we did seize it, driving up to Healdsburg for lunch and a splash of wine. Despite a grueling bout of traffic at the bridge, we made it home just in time for baby's dinner and bedtime, after which I made Marcella Hazan's asparagus risotto. I am scared of Marcella Hazan (so stern!) and risotto (which, as far as I can tell, comes out however it want to--I've had successes and failures), but this week the stars aligned for me. Marvelous.
MARCELLA HAZAN'S ASPARAGUS RISOTTO
Rinse 1 pound asparagus and break off the woody bottoms. Put the asparagus in a saucepan or skillet that will hold it in a single layer and add water to cover by about an inch. Remove the asparagus, add 2 teaspoons salt to the water, and bring to a simmer; when simmering, slip the asparagus back into the water, cover the pot, and simmer for 4-5 minutes, until the asparagus is tender. Remove with tongs--do not discard water--and when cool enough to handle, chop the asparagus into bite-size pieces, setting aside the tips.
Put the asparagus water in a saucepan and add enough broth to make 6 cups of liquid altogether. (Marcella says chicken broth will not do--but that's what I had. I had about 3 cups asparagus cooking liquid and 3 cups chicken broth.) Bring to a simmer. In your risotto pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons minced onion and cook until translucent. Add 2 cups arborio rice and the chopped asparagus stems and cook, stirring, until the rice is glisteningly well coated. Start adding the simmering stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring almost constantly and keeping the heat high. When one ladle of broth has disappeared, add another. Keep at it until the rice is plump but still firm. This will take about 25 minutes, but you should start tasting at 20, and it might take as long as 30. You may or may not use all of your broth; I had less than 1/2 cup left at the end. If you run out of broth, start adding water.
When the risotto is finished, stir in 2 tablespoons butter, the asparagus tips, some freshly ground pepper, and a big handful of grated parmesan. Taste for salt and pepper and serve. And if you think this does not make tasty leftovers, I think you are a real stick in the mud. You probably want croissants to be smaller and less buttery, don't you?
- 4.26 twice baked potatoes with kale, cauliflower salad (everyone loved this meal)
- 4.27 quinoa, black beans, queso fresco, broccoli
- 4.28 quinoa, roasted carrots and turnips
- 4.29 hanger steak, asparagus, fried egg
- 4.30 refried black beans, steak and chard quesadillas
- 5.1 asparagus risotto
- 5.2 refried beans, tortillas