I’m home for a few days. I like looking out at the trees in our backyard, some with curving leaves still hanging from branches, rusty hooks suspended against the bleak sky. On the ground the leaves look chalky, shivering and scattering when the wind blows. It feels like fall, but Hi, spring. You’ve finally arrived. On a walk I spotted tiny nubs on branches, dark knots framed by gray, soon to unfurl glossy new leaves.
Last weekend we cooked for a few hours for a late lunch party, climbing out on the fire escape in between dishes to breathe. The sun was throwing gold on us and our forbidden jungle of a backyard.
We made an Onion Tart with Mustard and Fennel that turned out surprisingly well. I was worried that the dough wouldn’t rise- it was my first time working solo with yeast- but I placed the bowl in a sunny spot and in a little over an hour, a smooth, shiny balloon had formed. In that hour, we slow-cooked three pounds of onions until brown and sticky-sweet, brightened by fragrant fennel seeds. I punched out the dough on a baking sheet and spread a spoonful of mustard across it, then heaped on the onions and sprinkled the Parmesan, dry and sharp.
After around 30 minutes in the oven, the crust had baked to a crisp, tender, pizza-like dough. The various elements melded together beautifully. The sweet, fennel-speckled onions sitting atop the spicy mustard and covered with a layer of bumpy, browned Parmesan formed a tart that exploded with possibilities of the nutty, the sweet and the heat. It tasted like a new season.
We also made Sauteed Swiss Chard with Sliced Garlic, gorgeous and juicy (and healthy), a bowl of savory flowers. We added lemon and hot chile flakes to the original recipe to give it an edge.
We served the swiss chards and the onion tart with L’s excellent turmeric-tinged breakfast potatoes and an Algerian Fennel and Carrot Slaw with Olive Dressing. We had made the salad a couple days back and as the sweet fennel and crunchy carrot sat marinating in the warm oils from the olives and sundried tomatoes, it evolved into a full-bodied cold entree.
Many more Saturday lazy lunches to come!