Has it been a week? King Cake, pasta, salad, Nutmeg

It has just occurred to me that I've not slept through the night since January 19, and even then, I was tired. Politics, the March, our kitchen, Nutmeg, various ailments racing through our house and community...I am so tired that today I watched a hilarious skit featuring Seth Meyers (SNL, The Late Show, and a former college-mate of mine) and Kelly Clarkson day-drinking and immediately wondered if I was drunk without my own knowledge.

I am that tired.

So, I have little for you except some recent kitchen wins and a kitchen update and an enormous spot of gratitude for hot tea and the fact that my in-laws have the boys tonight. Praise whomever for local grandparents being a fact of my life.

It's Mardi Gras season, y'all, and so, King Cake. This one was for Jack's family culture evening at school. Although we will have no kitchen starting Tuesday, I have promised cakes for both boys' classes on Mardi Gras Day. Hmm. As usual, I use Southern Living's Traditional King Cake recipe but I do NOT add the lemon juice to the icing. 


Last night: pasta with Brussels sprouts, speck, and parm. Amen for good carbs on cold nights. Also, it has a distinctly Mardi Gras feel, which I love. 


Lastly, a gorgeous winter salad of shaved fennel, avocado, pomelo, roasted and salted pistachios, shaved manchego, salt, pepper, basil olive oil, and blackberry balsamic. Is this not just glorious? It tasted as good!


The Nut acts as if he were never injured, and mercifully, our kitchen renovation finally commences on Tuesday with demolition day 1. If I could take the first swipe at it all, I would. Maybe I'll ask. I mean, this stupid Nunes memo nonsense has made my blood boil, so perhaps the crew wants a lady eager to crank through some cortisol via sledge hammer?!

Our new range -a stunning charcoal gray beauty from Lacanche via France- arrived last Monday. I have nicknamed her Gal Gadot because she is not only stunning but also strong and charismatic. She will anchor our new kitchen, but many other beautiful treasures will complete the room. I'll keep you posted, but here's a sneak peek of Gal. 

As an aside, why is not all language written in the beautiful scripts of Europe? Just look at those handwritten letters and numbers on the crate. Mon dieu. 

Squash love, smart people

Today has been as calm as Wednesday was busy. Both wonderful, and three cheers for balance!

I found this morning that a recipe of mine, Roasted Delicata Squash with Bacon-Shallots, Pomegranate, and Yogurt Sauce, was chosen as a community pick on Food52. I adore this new photo of it. Thank you F52 and Mark Weinberg. 

As awful as this election has been, I have to say that there are some very.funny.very.smart.people out there making hilarious lemonade out of the preponderance of lemons DT is throwing at us. Observe, should you need/want a laugh.

Pretty much everything Alexandra Petri has written for the Washington Post.

And, the fact that someone purchased the URL nastywomengetshitdone.com which links DIRECTLY to hillaryclinton.com. GENIUS!

The evolution of a great salad: heirloom tomatoes, peaches, herbs and chèvre.

Inspired by both my Boulud Sud salad and the fact that we are thick in the middle of tomato season, I made this beauty last night.

Heirloom tomato, peach, herb and chevre salad with shallots and apple vinaigrette.

Heirloom tomato, peach, herb and chevre salad with shallots and apple vinaigrette.

Heirloom tomatoes that were so tomatoey I hardly knew what to do (because how rare in this hybridized age is a tomatoey purchased tomato?!), paired magically with peeled and sliced peaches, young chèvre, a handful of chopped herbs from my garden and a lovely apple vinaigrette that I made with a Granny Smith Apple Balsamic I bought at Williams-Sonoma just yesterday. Diced shallots provided a bit of kick. 

If you want to test the freshness and piquancy of your shallots, slice one. If it makes you cry, you're in great shape for kick. If not, you'll have a much tamer but still lovely flavor.

Aren't those tomato hearts surreal?

Using fresh herbs is such an underrated means of boosting the flavor and beauty of most any dish. And do they ever love tomatoes. In my scrumptious Herby Tomato Tart, I use equal parts parsley, basil and chives. Last night I used a similar blend: two types of basil, thyme and chives.

This salad is definitely best when no part of it beyond the cheese has ever been cold. Please, please, I beseech you: DO NOT store your tomatoes in the fridge. You will kill all flavor and texture and make me feel so sad. 

I used a very young chèvre that is creamy, tangy and just solid enough to maintain itself at room temperature. I also let it sit on the counter for a good half-hour before serving. 

You want to use peaches that are definitely ripe but not mushy. They need to have the slightest hint of crunch so that they stand up to the soft tomato flesh and cheese. Overripe peaches tend to lose not only their marvelous texture but also their flavor. Blech- mealy peaches are as awful as mealy apples.

As far as vinaigrettes go, I like to keep mine simple: equal parts oil and vinegar, salt and pepper. If you have an especially strong vinegar or want to include mustard, you'll likely want to use a higher ratio of oil to the tangy elements: 60/40 or so. But keep things basic, use good quality stuff and let the fruits and veggies shine. 

The Granny Smith Apple Balsamic is really delicious, and I highly recommend it. If you don't want to buy any because you don't get misty-eyed over new vinegars as do I, substitute white Balsamic or Champagne vinegar or maybe a blend of those. 

This recipe will be posted momentarily in Salads.