I assessed the damage from the previous days Sunday Lunch. 7 people. 7 bottles of wine. 2 half finished bottles of homemade infused vodka. 13 wineglasses, 7 cognac glasses and countless dirty dishes, bowls and spoons. Not too bad. There have been worse. A good hour and some hot soapy water and all traces of spilled wine, stray pickled bits and crusty noodles would be gone. It was a good one, a most enjoyable afternoon filled with stories, laughter, general catching up and good-natured ribbing. Two years ago I vowed to have regular monthly Sunday lunches with a particular group of friends and had fallen behind this year. I missed my friends and was catching up. This was a good one.
Archive for the ‘sunday lunch’ Category
Posted in appetizers/first courses, sunday lunch, tagged fried chicken lunch, pimento cheese, pimento cheese spread, southern appetizers, southern cheese spread, Southern Sunday Lunch, sunday lunch on August 13, 2013 | 2 Comments »
I’ll admit it. I have no problem doing so. When I’m wrong, I’m wrong. You see, I had some pretty heavy preconceived notions about this Southern thing called “pimento cheese”. Generally not a fan of mayonnaise in great quantities, the thought of mixing shredded cheese and mayo together did not sound tasty. Or delicious. Or possibly good in any way. Friends with Southern backgrounds would swoon at the mere mention but I lumped it into the category of Southern things I don’t really understand, right next to sweet tea and soupy double crust cobblers that are not pie.
There were two holidays in my house growing up where we went full on Polish – Christmas and Easter, the later much more so than the former. Easter was when we had a table groaning under the weight of food – several kinds of pierogies, sausage, sauerkraut, a butter lamb, potato casseroles, and always kolacky and a lamb cake for dessert. Sour cream usually featured heavily in there too. A Chicago-Polish friend once told me that it wasn’t a proper meal at her house unless someone was passing the tub of sour cream. For my clan, it wasn’t a proper Easter without three things: pierogies, garlicky sausage and kolacky. Wait. Four things. Pierogies, garlicky sausage, kolacky AND polka music. The night just cannot end without a rousing rendition or six of “Who Stole the Kiska”. You should try it.
Sunday was a strange day, weather wise, in Chicago. While the day prior was relatively mild for late January, Sunday started out meek but ended with a roar as a fierce torrent of freezing rain and thundersnow quickly descended. It was cold, wet, icy and altogether unpleasant and this mess started at the exact moment the first batch of friends arrived for Sunday Lunch. If there was ever a time to serve warm, filling comfort food, this was it. Cassoulet Sunday had met its match.
This time of year, New Years resolutions or not, I yearn for things that are warm, cozy and comforting. Big fuzzy blankets. Fleece jackets. Warming cups of tea and spicy hot chocolate. Meals that feed your soul like pot pies, hearty soups and long simmered things in heavy pots pushed to a back burner that make the house smell divine. A few months back, I invited some friends over for lunch, just as the weather was starting turn and made such a thing. It was wonderful.
‘Tis the season for all things delicious and a fine time for wonderful classics like gingerbread, though I’m on heavy-duty gingerbread overload right now. I’ve made more than a dozen gingerbread houses for both professional and personal projects, a few types of cookies for gifts and taught a fancy decorated ornament class. The house smells permanently of molasses and spice. It’s rather festive and beats a Yankee Candle any day.
I’ve been a little busy of late, traipsing around the French countryside the last few weeks but before I left, I had friends over for a really great Sunday lunch. A little over a month ago, July 15th in fact, it was Bastille Day. Admittedly not one of the bigger holidays in the States, but it holds a special place in my heart. Last year, on Bastille Day, I exactly where I’m sitting at this very moment: at the kitchen table of my friend Kate’s lovely home in Southwest France.
Some friends came over for lunch last week, the latest installment in my Sunday Lunch series. This time it was tapas. The whole kit and kaboodle: small plates of this and that, paella, a few desserts of course, and plenty of icy wine. After a few of these lunches where I’ve completely overdone it, I promised I would take it easy. I meant to, I really did. But I did not. There were far too many things I wanted to make. Maybe another time I’ll bring it down a notch. Ha.
I was in a bit of a funk at the start of the year as I came off the frenetic holiday season. My ever-intuitive friend Caroline invited me over for dinner, correctly assessing that I needed a little lift. When you cook for a living, having someone else prepare a meal for you is a gift, a wonderful pleasure to be savored. I don’t care what it is – hot dogs off the grill or fine French cuisine – as long as I don’t have to make it. The mark of a true friend is knowing when you need this.
France was in the air this weekend. I had friends over for the latest Sunday Lunch and this time, I paid homage to my French friends with a big beautiful cassoulet in the very special Not Freres Poterie terra cotta cassole I lugged through three airports on my return home. I also took the opportunity to serve some of the luscious tinned duck tidbits I purchased this summer in the heart of canard country. While traveling through Southwest France, I amassed a large collection of bits and pieces preserved in duck fat in the trunk of my rented Renault. Part edible souvenirs and part fascination, they were simply things I couldn’t pass up – cans of confit duck gizzards, foie gras stuffed duck hearts, duck confit, duck rillettes. Tasty stuff and the single reason I paid an exorbitant overweight baggage fee at Charles de Galle. No time like the present to use them and this was a crowd of happy and eager eaters. It was a fabulous afternoon/evening of good food, laughter and many, many bottles of wine. Exactly what I envisioned this lunches to be when I started.