Would chocolat do the trick?
This sign was in the ladies room at the Newseum in DC. I have never threatened to behead a 7th grader. Honestly, I haven't. (And yes, I always have my camera with me. You just never know...)
Or how about a bowl of Teresa Lust's Polenta Stew that I finally got around to making?
Or maybe a pain au chocolat given to me by Arles Lucy as a please-forgive-me-for-forgetting-the-meeting gift?
Ann McDaniel at the Washington Post. We had a chance to tour the newsroom, ask her questions, and have lunch in the board room. I sat where Melinda Gates sits during meetings, by the way. Ann provided a fabulous lunch of salad, pizza, fruit salad, cookies, and cupcakes. (I managed to spew my lemonade all over me and the lovely board room table by disregarding the fact that it was carbonated and slightly shaking it right before opening. And then I dropped my camera while photographing the cupcake middle. What a klutz I am. What's the French word for that, I wonder?)
Ah oui, this time next week we shall be roaming the streets of Paris... with Arles Lucy, Thierry, and our 20 eighth graders. Are we packed yet? Of course not, but we will be Wednesday morning.
Okay, then, my last idea for today... a glass of champagne?
Am I forgiven yet?
S'il te plaît?
I promise to be better and not ignore you for so long in the future. D'accord?
Stew and Polenta
(from Pass the Polenta by Teresa Lust)
For the stew:
2 pounds chuck roast or other stewing meat, trimmed and cut into chunks
2-3 Tbsp oil or rendered fat from the meat
1 large onion, cut into thick crescents
4-5 small cloves garlic, peeled and slivered
1 bay leaf
1 good pinch each of oregano, thyme, and rosemary (I used my herbes de provence)
1 glass of red wine (I was sipping from a California Zinfandel while cooking so I used that)
16-ounce jar of canned tomatoes, roughly cut, including their liquid
2-3 stalks of celery, including their leaves, sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
Quartered mushrooms, 1 cup or so, optional
1 turnip, peeled and sliced, optional
Salt and pepper to taste
**Note: It's best to make sure everything is cut bite-sized and will fit in a spoon. It's easier for the eaters this way.
Dredge the pieces of meat in flour. Heat the oil or fat in a heavy stewpot. Add the meat and cook over medium heat until the pieces are browned on all sides. Stir in the onion, garlic, bay leaf, and herbs, and continue cooking until the onion is translucent. Add the wine and tomatoes, and let the stew simmer slowly, covered, for about two hours. Check the pot occasionally and add water if the liquid has evaporated. Toward the end of the cooking time, stir in the remaining vegetables and continue braising gently until the vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Can be made ahead and reheated.
For the polenta:
1 cup polenta (coarsely ground cornmeal)
4 cups cold water (you can substitute 1 cup stock or milk for part of the water)
Salt and pepper
A few handfuls freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Stir water, polenta, and 1 teaspoon salt together in a heavy saucepan. Place over a low flame and stir slowly with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom and sides of the pot to keep the polenta from sticking. Cook until the mixture thickens and pulls cleanly away from the sides of the pot, and the cornmeal feels tender on the tongue, 30-40 minutes. Stir in the cheese. Add freshly ground pepper and more salt, if needed, to taste.
To assemble and serve at table:
Put thin slices of mozzarella, provolone, and Gorgonzola cheeses on a serving plate-- 8 ounces of cheese, total, is ample. Gruyère, fontina or Roquefort work well in this dish, too. Place the cheese plate on the table, along with the pot of stew and the dish of polenta. Diners serve themselves by spooning a mound of polenta onto their plate, followed by slices of the assorted cheeses and spoonfuls of stew.
Bon appétit, Sabbatical Chef Blog!