Sunday, July 12, 2009

Of Pancakes and Patios

It started with pancakes.Specifically, these pancakes.

Jaimeson and I were presented with a beautiful, office-free Chicago morning and no plans to speak of. I clearly love making plans so I have very little explanation for why this feels so incredible. Our conversations first thing sound like an extended word association game where onomatopoeic sounds count. One of those words? Buttermilk. I giddily remembered that I had some in the fridge. Buttermilk in the morning only means the good kind of pancakes.

Alas...we've no real fruit to speak of.

Time to text these two.

You see Molly (right) has been my best friend since high school and frequent co-adventurer. And in a coup that can only be described as Napoleonic (with much larger hair), she has moved to Wicked Park. To the only other apartment in my building. Directly across the hall. The mirror image of mine. I could get into other aspects of best case scenarioism but I think that will reveal itself. She and her Jaime were playing a similar game of mumbled Good Mornings across the hall and she confirmed that she was in possession of...a banana.

Thusly, banana pancakes with syrup and blueberry compote were born. The four of us sat around with bedhead as I flipped pancakes onto plates as each was released from its buttery cast iron haven. Even Ala, landlord extraordinaire, came by for a couple of "whatever smells so good." At this point we were all wondering about what the day might bring...maybe grilling out later?

As the day meandered (lazily), it became abundantly clear that a cookout was in order. The previous weekend yielded Jaimeson running back and forth from the grill with lambchops in the middle of a thunderstorm so we were abundantly grateful for a warm, dry evening. Enter, Bon Appetit, August 2009.

I am not a current subscriber to Bon Appetit but a coworker had received two extra copies and offered me one so I greedily accepted...and proceeded to read cover to cover. One recipe, one photo essay after the next...I was enthralled and craving. You know the term "food porn" exists because photos of ingestibles can be an incredibly sensual experience, yes? Welcome to a 1977 Playboy.

The piece on peaches was particularly inviting but we were nothing short of inspired from cover to cover. We chose some must-haves and set about to the Mexican market and Jewel. First course is pictured above. Melon and prosciutto has been a long time favorite but a fresh basil leaf into the mix? It just works (inspired by p 56). I did the full recipe of sorts on Tumblr.

Smoky corn salsa. I hate to start with what could have been a standout of the whole night but I'm feeling especially chrono-sensitive. We grilled it all. Thanks to Jaime, we grill our corn husk-on which is not what the recipe calls for but I refuse to eat corn any other way now so there it is. When it comes in from the Coleman (as on the far left) it smells so sweet, earthy. And then you peel back the husk and you've got nothing but gold with little spots of light char on the kernels. From the corn to the peppers to the green onion it was all perfectly toasted. With sauteed cumin and garlic? Hot chipotle sauce? It sang. It sang ballads. Page 48. Trust.

Jaimeson going in for the corn salsa. Our guests are starting to look like a wine advertorial. If it weren't for all the beer bottles.

Speaking of beautiful grilled things, welcome to Jaimeson-burgers. 1 lb ground sirloin, 1 lb ground chuck, six cloves of garlic. Yes, six. They are incredible. And don't take my word for it, take the word of our friends still outside who didn't know we could hear them RAVING about the burgers with aged cheddar draped over the tops, raving with pungent garlic breath in each other's faces and joy in their eyes.

Beer bucket.

Now would be a good time to say that just because it now appears I'm skipping to dessert doesn't mean that we didn't have something other than burgers. We also managed Horseradish Potato Salad (page 44) with fresh asparagus tips added in. It was good but my shots and interactions were a touch blurry at that point so let's just leave it there.

Back to peaches. I know I already mentioned the sexy involved with this peace but talk to me about roasting high-season peaches with Italian almond cookies and butter. Talk to me and notice the glazed, open-mouth response you get. It was an easy recipe that allowed for me to prep the amaretti crumble ahead of time but roast the peaches on the spot, leaving lots of time for friends and merriment. Low-maintenance and smoking kind of dessert.

I urge you to click the picture for the close-up but it was prett-straightforward. Pit the peaches, sprinkle crumble generously and bake till glory (page 89). Serve with a generous helping of vanilla bean ice cream and a kiss of amaretto over the top.

The terrible twosome after another fabulous co-hosting job. I am not jaded into thinking I'm anything but a pawn on these nights. All the charm is with these two. I just chop things up and keep pouring cold red wine on top on my sangria fruit.


Any Little Reason said...

Want. All. Of. It.

Why can't we live closer?

alexa - cleveland's a plum said...

and that ladies and gentleman is how you entertain.

Chelsea Talks Smack said...

Ok, im jsut in love with you. I need to come to one of your bbqs. move here. lol.

resveratrol said...
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Molly McGuffin said...

Jummy ... Jummy ... all of it. You know it's gonna be a good day when you start with buttermilk & banana :) And we continue with the wicked history of pancakes chez toi heheeh ...