Sunday Supper revival.

Between getting ready to leave my former job and hometown, and then settling into my new job and unpacking the mountain of boxes we moved 400 miles, my Sunday Supper routine has been interrupted for months. It really gets a girl out of sorts, you know?

But I got my groove back this weekend with one word of inspiration: goat cheese.

Okay, so that’s two words, but one ingredient.  While eating out Saturday night, I announced to my family that I was itching to resume my weekend ritual and I asked what they were hungry for.  While the others contemplated, my son rushed in: “Make something with goat cheese” he said. “I love it!”

A few hours later, I had a pasta recipe in hand (thanks, Martha). From there I added a salad, grilled corn (because it’s summer and I can’t get enough), and berry tarts. After a quick trip to the grocer’s Sunday morning, I was all set to go.

I arranged the simplest of tables this week. Inspired by my new (vintage) gingham tablecloth, I was going for farmhouse chic. Sometimes a girl wants to go elegant, and sometimes she just wants to feel like she’s at home. This week it was the latter.

I tied the napkin around the silverware with a bit of twine and added a paper initial for each of us. It was as simple as you can get, but thoughtful enough to feel special.

White carnations from the grocer’s and yellow wildflowers from our acreage were the perfect compliment for yellow braided placemats and my favorite white stoneware.

Sunday Supper Menu

Fettuccine with Asparagus and Goat Cheese

Panzanella (Bread Salad)

Grilled Corn on the Cob

Mixed Berry Cream Tarts

Let’s roll up our sleeves and get cooking, shall we?

Fettuccine with Asparagus and Goat Cheese

(from Martha Stewart’s “Great Food Fast”)

1 pound fettuccine

1/4 cup pine nuts

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into thirds

4 ounces goat cheese, broken into pieces

2 TBLS grainy mustard (I prefer Grey Poupon)

2 TBLS snipped fresh dill

Olive oil

Grated fresh Parmesan cheese

In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the pine nuts, stirring often, until golden, 2-3 minutes.

Put goat cheese, dill, mustard and pine nuts in a large serving bowl and set aside.

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the fettuccine until al dente, adding the asparagus during the last 3-4 minutes of cooking. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

Put pasta and asparagus in bowl with cheese mixture and toss, adding pasta water as necessary to thin sauce. A few dashes of olive oil will help, too.  Toss until well combined. Serve with grated cheese for topping.

Serves 6-8.

Panzanella

(adapted from Martha Stewart’s “Great Food Fast”)

1 loaf (or a little less if large) rustic country bread, sliced thick

1/4 cup plus 2 TBLS olive oil

3 large tomatoes, chopped

1 cucumber, peeled, sliced and chopped into quarters

1/2 small to medium purple onion, chopped into large pieces and separated

3 TBLS chopped fresh basil

1 TBLS red wine vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

Mix basil, vinegar, garlic, and 1/4 cup olive oil in large serving bowl. Set aside.

Brush bread slices with 2 TBLS olive oil and grill in skillet or on charcoal grill until golden brown and well toasted. Slice toasted bread into bite-sized pieces.

Add bread and all other ingredients to bowl and toss well.  Serve immediately.

Serves 6-8.

Grilled Summer Corn

Fully submerge ears of corn with husks on in a pan water for 1 hour or more. Put wet corn on grill and turn occasionally.  Cook for a half hour or so, until all sides are well charred.  Using oven mitts, strip ears of husks and silk. (This part is messy, so we like to do it outside by the grill.) Serve immediately.

Mixed Berry Tarts

8 pre-made tart shells

1 cup mixed berries

1 cup whipped cream

I was short on time today so this recipe couldn’t be easier. Simply fill pre-made tart shells (I bought the frozen kind and baked them for 8 minutes) with whipped cream and your choice of berries. I used blueberries and raspberries today because they were on sale. Since the raspberries were especially tart, I added a little extra sugar to my cream while whipping it. After filling, I chilled the tarts for 2 hours, but you could eat them right away if you like. You might have a little berries and cream left over after you fill your tart shells. If so, feel free to eat both while you cook supper. I did.

Serves 8.

This Sunday Supper was just what the doctor ordered. Mr. Mom and the kids ate until miserable and declared the menu superb. I felt at home again, for the first time in months.

Isn’t it funny how a simple table and a lovely meal will right the ship?

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Lemony risotto with shrimp. And chardonnay.

Tonight’s supper was a one-dish wonder . . . full of spring’s brightest colors (lemons and asparagus) and topped with buttery shrimp.  My family ate it up in a snap and asked why there’s never anything that good on the menus of the restaurants they frequent.

There’s nothing that warms the heart of a Domestic Dilettante more than hearing her children wonder about the state of the world’s culinary  achievement.  “Yes, my sweet ones,” she murmured, “your mother feeds you right.” Or maybe she thought it, in between sips of wine.

A fine Chardonnay is a must for this dish.  The cook must pop the cork and pour a generous glass before preparation begins.  How else is one to summon the patience for risotto?  All that stirring is much more pleasant in between sips.

A glass of wine and a bouquet of flowers are lovely additions to supper.

And a few splashes in the pot are de rigueur.

Lemony Risotto with Shrimp

5 cups chicken broth, heated to a low simmer

1 pound peeled uncooked shrimp

1 bunch asparagus

1/ 2 cup minced onion

6 TBLS butter, divided

1 TBLS olive oil

1 1/4 cup Arborio rice

2/3 cup dry white wine, divided

1 TBLS lemon zest

2 TBLS lemon juice

3/4 cup grated cheese, Parmesan and Asiago mixed in equal proportions

2 TBLS chopped parsley

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 tsp salt

Cracked pepper to taste

Shrimp preparation: Melt 2 TBLS butter with olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until foamy.   Saute shrimp, adding 1/3 cup wine after shrimp begins to turn pink.  Continue to toss shrimp until fully cooked, then toss with lemon juice.  Cover and keep warm.

Risotto preparation: Bring chicken broth to a low boil in a medium saucepan.  Cut asparagus stalks in half and add to pot.  Cook until barely tender, about four minutes.  Remove asparagus from pot and plunge into an ice bath to stop cooking. Keep broth simmering, transfer asparagus to a platter and drain.  Chop into one-inch pieces and set aside.

Heat 2 TBLS butter in a large saucepan until foamy.  Add minced onion and saute until tender, 3-4 minutes.  Add rice to pot and stir until well-toasted, about 2-3 minutes. Add salt and 1/3 cup wine and stir until wine is absorbed, about a minute.

Begin adding broth, one-half cup at a time, and stir constantly until all liquid is absorbed.  This will take quite some time and requires a glass of wine patience.  After successive additions of broth, you will begin to see the rice plump up and turn whiter.  You can taste it after each addition of broth if you like in order to become familiar with its “bite.” After a minimum of 20 minutes and several additions of broth, your risotto will be ready.  I like mine very soft, with little noticeable bite, but I know many people like it al dente.  Stop adding broth whenever you find its consistency to your liking.

Add 2 TBLS butter, lemon zest, chopped asparagus, parsley, cheese and cream.  Stir well. Spoon into a bowl or on a plate and top with several shrimp and cracked pepper.

Serves 4.

A perfect spring supper.

Because you can never get too close to risotto.

For those of you who know the Magpie for her tablescapes, you’ll forgive me for today’s omission.  I built a blog this afternoon and had little time for setting the table.  There’s some wine left if that will make you feel better.