London, Paris + Capri: We kinda went all over Europe today. Join us if you can!
Our day was a bit normal - coffee, crossword, exercise - and a few phone calls with our real estate agent. (Nothing new to report. We have not made an offer on a house. It will happen, or it will not happen.)
Two recipes popped-up on the interweb this week that seemed interesting and the ingredients were in our larder. Win-win! The first was Roast Chicken with Caramelized Shallots (re-hashed by David Leibovitz from an old recipe by Susan Herrmann Loomis). This very French (even with a tablespoon of soy sauce!) recipe couldn’t be easier: mince shallots, add them to olive oil, red wine vinegar and soy sauce, toss it all together with chicken (with skin and bones), and roast until the chicken is browned and the shallots are caramelized. Nothing could be easier, or less hands-on, right?
It was a very easy recipe, and an inexpensive trip to France, but even at 425-degrees, the chicken did not brown and the shallots did not caramelize. I needed to resort to the broiler.
No matter, the other recipe I tried tonight made-up for any chicken failure (and let’s face it, even a chicken failure, is still a pretty-decent chicken dinner).
The second recipe I tried tonight was Emily Blunt’s English Roasted Potatoes. This recipe will be included in Ina Garten’s new cookbook, Modern Comfort Food, and when The Barefoot Contessa previewed the recipe in an Instagram video - showing Ina and Emily making the potatoes in Ina’s kitchen - it absolutely shut-down the Barefoot Contessa website.
There are a few steps, but nothing a complete novice cook can not accomplish. Boil water, add salt, add peeled yellow potatoes cut into 1-or-2-inches chunks. Boil for 8 minutes. Drain potatoes, then return the cooked potatoes to the pan, replace the lid, and give them a good shake to break-up the edges. Pour the drained-and-shaken potatoes on a rack (think cookie cooling rack) and let them dry for quite a while. Pour a nice coating of oil on a rimmed baking sheet and heat it in a 425-degree oven until it it smoking hot (7 minutes). Carefully add drained potato cubes to the hot fat, toss to coat, and roast for 45 minutes, turning the taters every 15 minutes. After 45 minutes, the potatoes will be crispy- crunchy on the outside and pillow-soft on the inside. Add salt, toss-in a bit of parsley to garnish, and serve to very happy diners.
There was also a Caprese salad as a side dish - a quick trip to Italy after our tour through England and France.
All-in-all, we had a nice dinner this evening... except it was marred by one thing: Mary and Captain are pointing their RV north in a few days. Something about 114-degree temperatures predicted and wanting to see their grandchildren. We used to see Jim and Mary several times a week - dinners, lunches, boat rides - but with the pandemic, they only drive-by in their golf cart and say hello or sit 10 feet away from us for “cocktail” while they bring their own drinks in their own glasses and I offer not even a peanut. Better safe, but will miss our fellow Ducks so much.
Dave and I are watching The English Game, recommended to us by Colleen and Rick. This show, on Netflix, is about the beginnings of soccer/football in England. The short series was developed by Jeremy Fellowes, the genius behind Downton Abbey. Highly recommended (by me).
Until my next update, I remain, your European correspondent.
NOTE: Having technical issues with photos this evening. Sorry!