I have been savoring a wonderful book over the past week, A Homemade Life, by Molly Wizenberg, she of the fabulous foodie blog Orangette. I have been reading slowly, but I’ll be finished soon and I hope to offer a review next week. But before that, I must say that Molly’s book has reminded me that sometimes the very best, and often the most meaningful recipes are the simplest. One can create great dishes out of complicated, startling and unusual combinations of ingredients. But sometimes, one or two perfect, quality ingredients are all you need to create a masterpiece.
My mother used to can her homegrown tomatoes, which were so wonderful that we often made a light summer supper out of a bowl of canned tomatoes. The chili that my grandmother served in her cafe consisted of nothing more than ground beef and chili powder. I love chili of all kinds, but I have never had anything as good as my grandma's.
My husband's favorite birthday cake is simple white cake with white icing and sliced bananas between the layers.
There is a very simple and very European desert I learned from Jacque Pepin which consists of sliced apples accompanied by walnut halves, water crackers, and a nice wedge of Stilton. The touch that makes this fruit and cheese plate special is that Jacque squeezes half a lemon over the apple slices, then sprinkles them with cracked black pepper.
Another simple and delicious fruit concoction is poached pears. Any way you poach pears is good, but here is a quick idea:
Halve and core two firm pears and poach them in grape juice (I like sweet purple grape juice, like Welches), then serve them hot with a dollop of marscapone. Or how about poaching the pears in a lovely dry red wine, filling the hollow with sour cream, and a dash of ground clove?