July 27, 2011

Desperate Times Call for Inspiring Menus

When I’m stressed, I usually look for a cooking project. Something to keep me occupied and something that will comfort me.

So, this weekend when I was feeling a bit frazzled, I decided that I was going to tackle Kinfolk Mag’s Menu for 2 (adjusted for 3 so that my brother could also partake).

I came across Kinfolk recently, a new pub that prides itself on being all about intimate gatherings. The timing was ironic, arriving in the midst of me feeling the need for more food magazines in my rotation. Only problem is that Kinfolk is bi-annual and currently sold out in print. But, you can still read it on your iPad (or online), a solid back-up option.

I immediately fell hard for Kinfolk, gradually getting more and more giddy and excited while scrolling through its pages. It’s exactly what gets my mind racing and heart thumping: inspiring menus, heavy detail on the aesthetics, suggestive of a simpler life in which people have the time to make said inspired menus. During the week. If I could pull off this Menu for 2 during the week, it would be a miracle. So, Kinfolk is truly an aspirational magazine for me. But I think that’s why I love it.

So, Sunday was going to be the day that I made the Menu for 2. It gave me something to focus on and plan all weekend.

It started Saturday, when I gathered all of my ingredients, making a special stop at Lucia’s to make sure I had the perfect bread. That night, I also started the Overnight Tomatoes for the sandwich. You half cherry tomatoes, mix them with olive oil, garlic cloves, salt, pepper, and thyme, and put them in a 425 degree oven for 10 minutes. Then you turn the oven off, leave the tomatoes in there, and let them cook in the leftover heat overnight. And you try to fall asleep upstairs while you know the oven is still blazing hot. If you’re anything like me, you will understand the unease of going to bed while the oven is coming down from 425 degrees. 

However, in the morning, I woke up to perfectly roasted, very tasty Overnight Tomatoes. (I will find other uses for these tomatoes; they are keepers.)

Sunday morning was spent making the rest of the menu:

Darn Good Sandwiches
Best Berry Salad
Cocoa Nib Shortbread Rounds
Freshly-Squeezed Grapefruit Juice (made sparkling)

How good does that sound? I think in my next life I want to be a menu writer.

The sandwiches were intriguing layers of grilled bread, thick-cut bacon, manchego, a fried egg, frisee, overnight tomatoes—all slathered with a crème fraiche vinaigrette. They were quite tasty. There was a lot going on in those sandwiches.

The Best Berry Salad was pretty. All shiny with its blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries. All doused with a vanilla bean simple syrup. All sprinkled with lemon zest.

The Cocoa Nib Shortbread Rounds were totally not my usual baking project. I usually opt for something more decadent and sinful. But they were quite nice: buttery, crisp, sensible, and dotted with just enough cocoa.

In true Kinfolk fashion, I decided we would eat this meal outside, away from the TV, away from our iPhones. I set the table. I put a vase of flowers out. I even used an accent plate, my Italian glass water bottle, and our glasses that have to be washed by hand. 

And we ate.

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