Help? Last minute guests, no time, what to do?

June 3, 2007

We were planning on going out to the hot new sushi bar with Robin and Mitch last night, but at 4 o’clock there were… complications. We had to stay home.  I was still at work, but I asked them if they’d come over for dinner instead.  I couldn’t leave the office until 5:30, they were going to show up at 7:30 (with some of their Manfred Krankl wine), and there was no food in the house.  What to do?

I decided that a tenderloin of beef was the perfect solution.  Ran to the butcher, bought one, along with a couple of bunches of  fat, beautiful asparagus, and some lovely little cherry tomatoes that smiled up at me.  Then I sniffed out some mint and rosemary, and found some very pretty, very small potatoes and threw them into the cart as well.  A ripe Robiola caught my eye; how could I resist?   A loaf of bread, a few cherries…. My final purchase was a couple of pounds of apricots. I’m so happy they’re in season. And a bunch of flowers.

I got home and, still in my high heels and work clothes threw a quick apricot cobbler into the oven.  Apricots are the best – you don’t need to cut or peel them, just pull them apart and put them in the pan.  I scrubbed the potatoes, rubbed the tenderloin with olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper, surrounded it with rosemary and let it sit for a while.  I tossed the cherry tomatoes with olive oil and salt as well, and chopped up some mint to mix with it later.  I put the asparagus into the sink to soak and went to set the table.

In my mind, when I envisioned dinner, I suddenly saw hollandaise sauce sitting next to the beef.  It would be good with the asparagus too.  And all of a sudden, I just needed to make some to round out the meal.  I don’t know where that came from – I haven’t made it in years- but it seemed right.  So I began separating the eggs and melting the butter.

The meat smelled wonderful, roasting in the oven, and just beneath its round, brown aroma was the gentle scent of the potatoes and the fruity scent of the roasting tomatoes.  The hollandaise came together without a hitch. It was a great meal.  The meat was rare and incredibly tender. The potatoes, roasted in the same pan, were fluffy and tender.  The little tomatoes came alive with the mint (and it was so much easier than washing salad), and the asparagus just lapped up the hollandaise sauce. Manfred’s Pinot Noir was terrific too. 

Total time from walking into the house to putting dinner on the table: 1 hour 12 minutes. Who says good food has to be time consuming?  (The recipes are almost all from the Gourmet Cookbook.)

For dessert we ate the cobbler, still warm from the oven, with vanilla ice cream melting across the top. 

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  • I know you wrote this several years ago, but I had to go back and check out your blog. I’m an avid cook, a former subscriber to Gourmet, owner of the big yellow and big green Gourmet cookbooks, a fan of your autobiographical books, and a blogger myself.
    This meal sounds so lovely! Simple, yet WONDERFUL! I can just picture you choosing your groceries, and assembling the meal.
    I’m so glad I found your blog!!!

  • hannah says:

    Turned on to you by David L. this morning, this is just one of the many things I’ve read either by you, or about you.

    Will definitely be buying some of your books on my next city trip.
    This post about last minute guests, (June 3, 2007) clinched that decision for me – I saw myself, running through the market to “see what’s for dinner,” and the thing about the hollandaise was ‘so me,’ (and now that I think of it, this is the exact MO of my best friends, instinctive cooks all).

    How have I not discovered you until now!