This post is going out to fellow blogger John "Rev" Tynes, whose joyously gluttonous foodie dispatches remind me of my salad days in the kitchen when I was courting my to-be wife with night after night of homecooked goodness. Allez Cuisine, Rev. Allez Cuisine!
So this afternoon my wife and I finally had a chance to entertain my best friend Mark and his lovely wife Cinda for the first time since they were married in late May earlier this year, which meant I had a legitimate excuse to go to the grocery store and spend on one blowout meal what I normally do to feed the household for a week. And this one was indeed a blowout: orange and celery salad with walnuts, Sicilian cracked olives, chicken sausages with roasted garlic (the only thing I didn't prepare from scratch myself), a fresh fava bean frittata, and baked tuna steaks with shredded potato and red onion. The overall theme was the cuisine of Sicily, as I'd acquired this wonderful cookbook about Sicilian food a couple of years ago and never had an occasion to cook out of it... until now. Its recipes and beautiful full-color photographs are finally spattered with just enough olive oil and lemon juice to consider the tome "used" as far as cookbooks go!
I also made some hummus, a tradition that goes way back when having my best friend - another amateur gourmet and first-class gourmand - over for dinner or vice versa. At the time we were both on a hummus kick and thus always began our meals with a plate of pita wedges and a batch of homemade hummus, usually with enough garlic in it to alter one's state of consciousness. Over the years I guess the tradition just stuck, and some ten years or so later we're still chugging along with it: while Mark has been more or less refining his hummus down to one perfect strain, I tend to experiment as wildly with the form as I can get away with, swapping the chickpeas for black beans or cannellini for instance or tossing in all manners of tasty additives. Today's hummus was the classic garbanzo-and-sesame tahini variety, only with a roasted habanero chile thrown in for kick. And kick it did, though there was just enough raw garlic in there to provide a counterpoint to the incendiary little hot pepper that is one of the hottest naturally-occurring ingredients known to Man.
The beverage of choice was a six-pack of Sam Adams' Hefeweizen, which is quite good this year and actually met with the approval of Mark, who is not only German but takes his Hefeweizens in particular very, very seriously. There was a bottle of Sicilian white wine chilling in the fridge, but we never got to it; instead, I brewed up some coffee and Mark and Cinda shared with us some of their homemade strawberry ice cream, which was as delicious as it sounds. A delightful meal! I love having an excuse to pull out all of the stops, even if it means having to wash every pot, pan, dish, bowl, and spoon in the house - not to mention eating ramen noodles for the rest of the week...