Nectarines for Brunch
The other night, the Frenchman and I biked to the river. We dismounted at the promenade, parked the bikes against the railing, and sat down on one of the benches facing Governor’s Island, the Statue of Liberty, and lower Manhattan. The sun set over the water, and he asked me what was for dinner.
“Well, I made a stock from pork and chicken bones, an onion, celery, garlic, peppercorns, thyme, bay leaves, and a little ginger. Then I caramelized some onions, which I’ll swirl into the broth, after I add two eggs for poaching. Then I’ll pour the broth, the onions, and the poached eggs over that last nub of stale baguette I found in the bread bowl.
Also, I made a kind of ratatouille with zucchini and tomatoes from this week’s CSA box, plus thyme, garlic, and shallots. I cooked it down with red wine and olive oil, a pinch of sugar, salt, and pepper. Then I stirred in the croutons leftover from the weekend. I spooned it into individual ramekins, dotted the top with goat cheese and shaved Parmesan, and I’ll put them in the oven until the tops are bubbling.”
There was a pause. “So.. we’re having soup?”
“Soup that I made from pork and chicken–”
“Cris,” he said gently, “You know, you don’t have to go through the whole cooking process. You can just say that we’re having soup.”
Sometimes I forget that no one I know personally is as interested in mundane cooking processes as me. Sometimes I forget that, while my family and friends are happy to eat whatever I’ve prepared, they could do without a lecture. So, in the spirit of self-editing and without further ado, please enjoy the following two mini recipes.
Nectarines on Toast: Toast a few slices of good bread. Cut up a ball of burrata (you could also use regular mozzarella), and spread them between the toast slices. Slice a nectarine or two, and lay a few slices on each piece of toast. Use the base of a mug, or a mortar and pestle, to crush up some Marcona almonds or hazelnuts. Scatter the nuts on the toast. Finish with a sprinkling of oregano or basil.
Puff Pastry Nectarine Wheels: Heat the oven to 425F. Put a baking sheet in the oven to heat as you prepare the ingredients. Lay a sheet of puff pastry on a floured surface. (You can use puff pastry from the freezer section of the grocery store.) Use a circular cookie cutter (or a sharp-rimmed cup) to cut out as many circles as you can. “Score” (or make shallow cuts) a circle on each pasty wheel, about 3/4″ from the edge. Fill the center of each pastry circle with a small piece of ham, a dollop of goat cheese, and a slice of nectarine. Move the wheels to the hot baking sheet, and cook in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until the pastries turn golden. Finish with thyme. These can be made a few hours in advance, and work well for a party.
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