Saturday, October 31, 2015

Chipotle Surprise

Monday 26 October

Tonight was Erich Gruen's lecture in memory of our old Classics colleague Getzel Cohen.  We shared many memories of Getzel with our guest and with the Cohen family, who had sponsored the lecture and a catered reception to be held in the Classics library afterwards.
Little did we know, as we heard about the lost Hellenistic historians who wrote about non-Greek populations, what was happening at the back of the room.
Our stalwart financial officer, Joe, had ordered the reception well in advance from UC's required in-house caterers, the so-called "Classic Fare."  When there was still no sign of their staff setting up by the time they had promised, he called them, got no answer, called their director's cell phone, and found that they had totally forgotten our reception.  (Note that we do not link their webpage.  It probably wouldn't work any better than they do.)
But Joe did not panic.  In the hour that the lecture went on, he lined up the library staff to assist him, made a dash to Kroger's to get wine, beer, glasses, plates, and even a corkscrew, then went to the local Chipotle (note link) and got a full catered spread of chicken, steak, barbacoa, rice, beans, guacamole, salsas, cheese, and tortillas, enough for the sixty or so people in attendance.

Thus, within ten minutes of the end of the lecture, we had a complete reception that the hosts and the department could be proud of, all thanks to Joe.  In fact, the food was so abundant - and probably superior to what "Classic Fare" could have done - that we actually ate a full and rather tasty dinner and had some rather nice wine right in the Classics Library, a place where even bottled water is usually forbidden.  
So thanks again to Joe, to Erich Gruen, and to the Cohen family - and a hearty "boo" to UC's unprofessional catering services.

Fauré Frittata

Sunday 25 October
Tonight our dear friend and former librarian Jean was sponsoring a performance of the Fauré requiem at the Episcopal Church, in honor of her late husband Donald.  The performance, by the superb Cincinnati Fusion Ensemble and Chamber Orchestra, was followed by wine, cheese, and sweets, so we didn't need much dinner when we got home.
For such situations, we go to our standard frittata.  It fills any gaps, adds protein, and with a glass of wine, aids the digestion as well.

Chicken with Creamed Mushrooms

Saturday 24 October
Saturdays are perfect for long-simmering, and we decided to devote this one to replenishing our stock of chicken... stock.  
So we got a Charles Bare chicken at the market, boned out the breast for this evening, froze the legs and thighs for another day, and devoted the back and other parts (plus the miscellaneous poultry bits we've been saving up in the freezer) to the classic green-gold broth. 

In the evening, just browned the chicken breasts in butter and oil, set them aside, and sautéed a pound of mushrooms in the same pan.  Doused them with cream, re-added the chicken, and showered with abundant garden tarragon.  
Good French farmhouse food.

Eggplant Lasagna Parmegiana

Friday 23 October
When we got home from Bloomington, we had few plans for dinner, but were inspired by a bagful of Asian eggplants we found in the vegetable crisper.  
We also had a packet of scamorza from JJ's, so we settled on a sort of compromise between eggplant parmegiana and a lasagna with eggplant instead of noodles, more or less like this.  We even found some resprouted basil leaves in the garden to scatter on top.

We overdid the sauce a bit, but it's just as good sloppy.

Farm, Bloomington

Thursday 22 October
We drove up to Bloomington, Indiana, through vibrant fall colors and uncommonly balmy weather, so that Holt could give a talk on Antinous and other Teen Angels for the Classical Studies department.  As a reward for his ephebic efforts, Matt, Adam, and Noah took us out to dinner at Farm.

It's a funky place with the usual eclectic decor, and by its name signals its allegiance of farm-to-table cuisine.  Of course, farm-to-table in Bloomington is not that long a distance. 
While we were considering our choices, we got a giant bowl of "farmfamous" garlic fries, addictive little fritters made with parmesan, chili flakes, lemon zest, chopped herbs, garlic, and turmeric aioli, to be washed down with the tasty and cleverly-labeled Writer's Block pinot noir.
One of our mains was a chewy but well-seasoned bison strip sirloin, served with chimichurri, heirloom tomatoes, and a grilled baguette.  

The other was a two-tentacle portion of Spanish octopus (from the octopus farm?) braised in white wine and oregano and dabbed with smoky romesco, floating elegantly among red potatoes and sweet corn in saffron broth.  Both were strong enough to stand up to the Durigutti Malbec we had progressed to.
At the end we split two desserts among the five of us: succulent Indiana sweet potato pie with caramel and ice cream, and a clever cheddar cheesecake with sauteed apples and more ice cream.  

So thanks, Bloomingtonians, for a more than pleasant visit!

Chiles Rellenos with Tomatillo Salsa

Wednesday 21 October
More cooking with Barbara's Jungle finds, in this case, six perfectly good poblano chiles marked down at the end of the week. 

Holt roasted and stuffed them with coljack and a little goat cheese, in his usual manner, and served them with tomatillo salsa.
Luckily, we are still able to find a few unbolted cilantro fronds out in the garden.

Meatloaf and Mash

Tuesday 20 October

Part of the reason for making meatloaf is to have abundant leftovers.  So we did.  
Reheated and served with mashed potatoes.