apéritif hour lifestyle (and menu)
plus: grilled nectarines with gorgonzola and hazelnuts
Monday, August 15, 2022
The dinner tab has soared. Here are all the reasons. (NYTimes, an unlocked article)
Lately I’ve been wondering why my life doesn’t include an aperitif/aperitivo (depending on if you feel French or Italian today) hour, and I think it’s all Wishbone Kitchen’s fault. Have you seen her Reels/TikToks? Meredith Hayden is a private chef in the Hamptons that walks us through what she cooks for the family and their guests each day and a very reasonable reaction to watching her videos is lifestyle envy.
Some people want the house. Some people want the private chef. Me? I want to live in a world where everyone agrees that a day has four meals and one is apéritif hour. It should also be understood that nobody should be working after 3 or 4pm on a summer day. We close our laptops, turn off our ring lights, and go outside and have amazing snacks and something icy clinking in our glass. Perhaps the snacks become dinner, or escalate into something heavier, honestly, I don’t know what happens after apéritif hour because I don’t have a summer house, I work well past 4pm, and I am both (my own) private and (an internet) public chef. But a girl can dream! Cook for the life you want, right?
And so below is a menu for an apéritif lifestyle, no matter where you take in your golden hour. Maybe this menu goes to a vacation rental home with you this summer. Maybe you make it in your small apartment and it shifts the everyday vibe into something glowy. Maybe this is an elaborate way of passing off snacks for dinner again. Whatever it is, I’m ready and hope you are too.
A back-to-school side project: In the US, a tremendous amount of teachers don't get the funding they need to set their classrooms up for success. Most will end up paying out of their own pockets to buy educational materials, which feels all wrong and makes me sad. Many will make wishlists to ask for helping purchasing what they cannot. I asked teachers to send me their wishlists so I could share as many as possible to a wider audience that might be able to help clear them. I know how good it feels to be able to buy kids crayons and books. Help out if you feel you're able -- you will unquestionably make a teacher's (and their students) day. More lists will be added this week as they have not all been logged yet. [Smitten Kitchen Teacher Wishlists, or click the screenshot below]
New! From a wonderful new cookbook from Jess Damuck called Salad Freak, an aperitif hour [or dessert, or brunch] salad that feels vacationy right now, even if we are not. The grilled nectarines take on a pie-like fragrance even before you put anything on top, but the crumbled blue cheese, honey, mint leaves, toasted hazelnuts, and flaky sea salt coordinate blissfully into something so good, I wanted to eat the plate.
✨ My third cookbook, Smitten Kitchen Keepers, will be out in just over three months and I cannot wait to share it with you because I’m very bad at keeping secrets and am absolutely restless for you to be able to the most summery lasagna and the meatloaf (yes, meatloaf!) that converts skeptics (spoiler: I am the skeptic). I hope you will consider preordering it so it’s deposited at your doorstep the moment it’s out in the world and you can dive in right away. Details here! ✨
A small-diced salad heaped on a great swirl of hummus to be scooped with grilled pita wedges is the only thing I want to eat for the rest of the summer. Fine, with a few chocolate ice cream sandwich intermissions, for balance and stuff.
A great caponata -- the kind that's like a tangy, garlicky eggplant jam -- can be prepped once and used in infinite ways but my favorite is dolloped on grainy bread over a thick slice of mozzarella, repeated as needed, which will be often.
Perfectly smoky/charred, deeply flavorful baba ganoush/mouttabal, no open fire pit or outdoor grill required. Blended with tahini, garlic, lemon juice and seasonings, served with pita wedges and a giant tomato-cucumber salad, this is summer dinner bliss.
A love letter to homemade ricotta and my favorite way to serve it in the summer, that is with whatever vegetables and bread look good, grilled. It's great for potlucks, host gifts, and it's also the warm-weather light meal of my dreams.
I always thought succotash was one of those dishes parents made to trick kids into eating lima beans until I tried the late Gourmet's version. In it, shell beans, sweet corn, spicy arugula, crisp salty bacon, croutons and a glug of sherry vinegar transform into a sweet, crunchy, salty, zingy, blissful bold bowl of summer.
Small, sweet clams steamed open in wine, butter and garlic with a tumbler of cold wine and a side of grilled bread. It feels like you're in a restaurant overlooking a beach sunset, even if this isn't your current reality.
The most refreshing thing since lemonade.
This is the kind of fizzy that gently mists your face as you lean in for a sip, which would be annoying in, say, November but is exactly what I always hope for in August. A refreshing update of a classic, the color alone gets everyone talking.
Sometimes we need a rainbow-confetti-ed and fudge-swirled chocolate cake and nothing else will do. Good news: There is almost instant gratification ahead. Need further encouragement? You can watch me make this cake on the Smitten Kitchen YouTube channel.
I've created a page on Smitten Kitchen with links to some of my favorite kitchen items, the ones I'm asked about the most. For each item, I've attempted to provide a range of shopping links so we're not just focusing on one giant retailer. Let me know if there’s anything I’ve left off that you need.
See you next week!
Thanks for reading the smitten kitchen digest!