Friday, April 17, 2009

Paternal Visit From Paris

My father is visiting this week from Paris and I am thrilled to be able to continue with my recent familial vibe. I spent last weekend upstate at my mother’s farm for the Easter holiday and it is nice to be able to spend another week with my kin. My father periodically comes to the States, either to Los Angeles for business or to New York to wine and dine around town. It is always good eating when he comes to town at some of the best places and I relish the opportunity to try them. As I have mentioned in numerous previous posts, my father is a huge gastronomic influence in my life. He represents the French side of my dual nationality and has been teaching me about French cooking and eating for years. He is an amazing cook and I love to join him in the kitchen with a nice bottle of red churning out delicious meal after delicious meal. For his first night in New York I decided to serve cold barbecued lamb that I brought back from upstate with a few chutneys and mustards. I also prepared a couple of vegetable side dishes to make for a more substantial meal.

The first of the side dishes I whipped up for the dinner in honor of my father’s arrival was stewed lentils. I love lentils of all shapes, sizes, and points of origin and my preferred cooking method is to stew them with onions and fresh herbs. Sometimes I finish the lentils with a mustard-based vinaigrette served warm as a lunch salad or even vegetable main but in this case I served them plain. Lentils are super easy to make and are full of the proteins, fats, and vitamins that legumes have in spades. I sautéed cubed white onion and garlic in olive oil before adding the lentils and some warm beef stock. After about a half hour they were ready to be drained and dressed with olive oil, salt, and pepper. The cold lamb and hot lentils needed a crunchy vegetable to soften their flavors and round out the meal so I thought radish salad.

I prepared a roasted lamb dish a few weeks back paired with black radish slaw and thought that I would give this flavor combination another shot. I sliced a bunch of red radishes with my mandolin to a transparent thinness and tossed them with minced chives, olive oil, and cider vinegar to add acidity and bring out their mustardy flavor. The salad was a hit and went excellently with the cold lamb which to my delight was entirely eaten up. I think my father enjoyed staying in for the first night of his visit exhausted as he was from the long flight from France and welcomed the opportunity to taste some of my recent experiments in the kitchen. As always, I encourage you to enjoy and share delicious food and home cooked meals with yourself and others!

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