Red Velvet Cupcakes
Croquetas (with leftover Easter ham)
I love Easter Sunday supper. Or at leas the idea of it. I'm not religious. But every spring, I look forward to this harbinger of spring and it makes me want to get into the kitchen. Ham may be preserved, but asparagus means spring. There are unbelievable flowers in the markets that always delight me. Years ago I bought a terra cotta rabbit with three baby rabbits at Pier One across the street from my New York apartment. Like other holiday rituals, this spring tableau would emerge from storage and be placed on my dining table or on the sideboard. This spring, my first in Portland has been particularly special. As I walk the neighborhood with Beau, admiring the flowers, trees and shrubs with all the intensity of colors--so much different from fall colors--I can only marvel at what a special time of year this is. And that means a great Easter Sunday supper.
I only had four around the table for dinner but we had a big glazed ham, scalloped potatoes, roasted asparagus, a big green salad and Red Velvet Cupcakes. Good dinner. Of course it rained, and rained, this is Portland, after all. But all was good inside.
My Portland kitchen has made me a very ambitious cook. I made bread in fits and starts in New York. Now I'm making bread every week, both by hand and by machine. I never made gnocchi in New York and I've done so twice now with unbelievably good results. Saturday I had leftover ham from Easter I wanted to use and so settled on classic Spanish croquetas, which combine minced ham, turkey, onions, and a bechamel sauce, which was then refrigerated for at least three hours before tablespoonfuls were formed into ovals, rolled in flour, egg and panko crumbs before being fried. Fantastic! And for that same meal, I saw rhubarb in the market, brilliantly colored and on sale. I grabbed a pound's worth and baked it with vanilla bean, sugar and a small amount of corn syrup. I had only cooked rhubarb once before in frozen form for a rhubarb/strawberry pie. This rhubarb was tart, sweet and addictive.
Elephant Foot Palm
My friend Kent dumped twelve giant ruby red grapefruits on me, along with a huge knob of fresh ginger and a big bag of brown sugar. He wanted more grapefruit marmalade. So Sunday I made a double batch while watching the Master's tournament. Four hours later I had six full pints of Pink Grapefruit-Ginger Marmalade. And I have eight more grapefruits to transform!
Mailed off the tax payments from the sale of my New York co-op. Ouch. But it's done and quarterly taxes are paid. That's a huge load off my mind. Now I can concentrate on the back yard. Looked at pavers for the new patio. So many to choose from. Still refining the plan with a small gazebo-like structure to put the table under with a kind of barbecue barn for the grill. While looking at pavers, I found the ornamental cherry tree (it's a weeping cherry) I've been searching for and grabbed it. Right now it is in a pot at the front of the entryway to the house. Will need to dig a big hole for this in a few weeks.
Last week I did a third stint guest lecturing for Kent's publishing marketing class at Portland State University and I had a really great time. I've done a lot of these talks at NYU, CCNY and various professional groups, but Kent's class is smaller this semester--only seven in my class, and instead of hiding behind a lectern, I thought it would more comfortable to address the class at a desk facing the students. Now that's teaching. There was a level of directness with the class that was exhilarating.
What to do with leftover Easter Ham? This salad has ham, hard cooked eggs, cucumber, asparagus, avocado, roasted red peppers and a creamy vinaigrette with sherry wine vinegar.
Next week the food community will descend on Portland for the annual meeting the International Association of Cooking Professionals. I have meeting with clients, and will meet with friends and colleagues in the publishing field who have contributed to much to helping me with my www.stovetopreadings.com blog. Will have some fun meals around town and will report on the experiences. I also have to shop for a small doggie crate, doggie gates and doggie pads in anticipation of Walden's arrival at the end of the month.
Gotta call for some promising new business this morning. It's been this way since January.
Does this man the recession is over?
Oh god, Kate Gosselin just survived a fourth week on DANCING WITH THE STARS. I gotta go back to literary fiction.
The Cherry Tree