Neil and I have been watching Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee on Netflix lately, as our guilty pleasure laundry folding entertainment. In one episode, Jerry Seinfeld takes Ali Wentworth out for coffee. They talk about the friendship they share with their spouses as couple-friends, and how rare it is to find another couple who enjoys spending time together, and how nice it is when that happens.
What’s even more rare is an entire family that gets along. We have a few of these friend-families in Houston, and we always have a good time when we’re together. When the kids are happily playing with one another and the adults can talk, evenings pass quickly, especially when we’re sharing good food. One of these family friends came over last weekend, and we made this salmon from the New York Times. We’ve made it twice now, and it’s an instant dinner party hit.
We were in a dinner deficit with another friend-family, and invited them over this weekend. I had a whole St. Patrick’s Day menu planned, and went to the farmers’ market, Whole Foods, and Costco for Irish cheddar and butter, fresh carrots and turnips, lamb for stewing, and even Guinness. But about an hour before our guests were set to arrive, Ben came down with a fever. We had to cancel at the last minute, which made me feel horrible, but not as horrible as I would have felt if we had gotten their whole family sick. I had already made all of the food, so this is what we enjoyed in their absence. (And we’re grateful they’ll take a rain check!)
From Cooking for Jeffrey, I made Irish Guinness Brown Bread, Lamb Stew with Spring Vegetables, and Kale Salad with Pecorino and Pancetta. The brown bread was delicious, but not Neil’s and Ben’s favorite. If you need a quick bread recipe that doesn’t call for eggs, this is for you. It uses mostly whole wheat flour, but it doesn’t taste too dense or boring. Neil and I both devoured the lamb stew. I’ve learned with Ina’s stew recipes to cook them longer for more tender meat. I doubled her 1.5-hour cooking time, and it was just about perfect. I accidentally left out the pearl onions, which aren’t our favorite anyway, and it didn’t taste like anything was lacking. I had to split it up among two pots because it made a huge batch. If Ina were in a more creative naming mood when she wrote the kale salad recipe, she could have called it “Kale, Caesar!” It was deliciously garlicky and lemony, and gave us a nice green touch for the holiday. To finish, I made the Smitten Kitchen’s chocolate stout cake, which might be (no kidding) the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made, and we didn’t even need the ganache.
Here’s hoping that next year, the Luck o’ the Irish will keep everybody healthy so we don’t have to cancel any plans!