Monday, October 24, 2011

dinner in doggieland

So there’s a new guest at our table. Well, under our table, I guess. Or sometimes on the couch when she is good.

Dan and I adopted Mabel about three weeks ago and I have to say I haven’t given all that much thought to cooking. I’ve baked a few loaves of pumpkin bread, tested some recipes in the great new Jamie Oliver cookbook, made many cups of coffee and tea. We’ve eaten, and eaten well, but I’ve got my eye on that adorably scruffy face, not on what's on my plate.

All we can do is talk about this little dog. Was she good on her walk? How many pees? Did she eat her supper? All of it? How did she act around the dog walker? Did she sit on command, or did she dig in her little heels and refuse? Oh, having a dog is so wonderful. Especially after almost a year of (sometimes) desperate searching at (sometimes) sketchy New York City animal shelters.

When you get a dog, you feel very popular. People want to come by and meet it. Nice people, anyway. (Ahem.) But like I said, my mind hasn’t been oriented toward dinner parties. So when our friend Martha came over for dinner a few Sunday nights ago I went for old reliable: roasted chicken, the little black dress of dinner parties.

Like a black dress, you can accessorize a roasted bird in countless ways – a bread salad, some roasted or mashed vegetables, with pesto or harissa or gravy. I served mine with a fall-inspired farro salad that is equally tasty on its own. We happily ate the leftovers for lunch.
After dinner, we cleared the table and stood around the kitchen counter, picking the remaining meat off the chicken carcass. It was not my most elegant dinner party moment  but there was something that felt perfectly right about it. Mabel was at our heels, looking up hopefully. I licked the chicken grease off my fingers as I searched for the wishbone, although I felt about as lucky as a person can feel. After months and months of searching, this little dog -- quite possibly the little dog I've always wanted -- is a part of our family.

Fall farro salad
You can easily switch up the ingredients in this salad. Roasted beets, cauliflower, carrots and even crunchy diced apples would be nice.
(Serves 4 to 6 people)

12 oz. farro
4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus extra
1 small butternut squash, peeled, sliced and cut into 1-inch cubes.
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bunch Swiss chard (or rainbow chard), washed and sliced into 1-inch strips (leave the chard slightly damp)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 1/2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. Red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cook the farro according to package directions (in salted, boiling water for about 20 minutes). While the farro is cooking, place the squash on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and roast for about 25 minutes, or until tender. 

When the farro is tender but still slightly chewy, drain it into a colander and rinse with cold water. Set aside. 
In a large saute pan over medium heat, add 1 Tbsp. of olive oil, and cook the garlic until golden. Add the chard and saute, stirring often, until it is tender. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the parsley, mustard, red wine vinegar. Whisk in the 3 Tbsp. olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the farro, squash, walnuts and chard. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve at room temperature.


Julie said...

Such a sweet looking pup! Congratulations on finding Mabel!

Martha said...

I am here to tell you that a) Mabel is SUPER CUTE. b) That farro salad is delicious and I will be making it soon. and C) Lisa, polite as ever, is fudging the truth a bit: the only person licking grease and picking bones was, sadly, me.

Thanks for a great meal, you three!

Lisa said...

Julie: Thank you! :)

Martha: Um, perhaps I fudged the truth a tiny bit in that i picked the carcass when you left. ha!

Casey@Good. Food. Stories. said...

O HAI, adorable Mabel on the couch. I gotta get over there and meet her!

Daniel said...

There's nothing like picking apart a chicken carcass when a pair of big, sincere, pleading eyes is looking up at you from the floor.

Judy said...

Dogs are the ultimate guilt trip

Best Food in Edmonton said...

looks great, just like you! i love your recipes and the way you talk, i think you could make it on food network, you are so unique! best of luck to you, keep up the good work!

Unknown said...

So cute! Congratulations on the new addition.

lulu said...

adorable dog peeking past the couch! mmm always looking for ways to dress up a roast chicken!


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