Day into night at home / 13

A dose of celebration for cooking at home!

I love all seasons, each with its own day-to-day life rhythm and style of eating. This year, of course, there is more buzz in the air than usual as the world (hopefully) begins to open again. I'm feeling three-quarters excited with an eighth each of social anxiety and apprehension. Do you feel that way too? Cooking or organizing almost always soothes anxiety for me. Anything that I can do with my hands that is engaging and focused but doesn't require intense thinking. 

 

As our social calendars fill up again, I hope that we don’t stop cooking for pleasure. I hope the dinners we've been cooking for ourselves expand to welcome in our friends, for there are many things a beautiful home-cooked dinner gives us that a restaurant cannot—the pleasure, accomplishment, and pride we feel when we’ve cooked something delicious and offered it to others, and the nurturing, delight, and ease of eating a meal cooked for us by someone we know, to name a few. These feelings can be conjured by something as grand as a lavish dinner party or as simple and humble as a bowl

of soup. They are often subtle but they are always there to lean into.

 

I also hope that soon we can meet up with those we haven’t seen in a while at our favorite restaurants. That we order a cocktail before dinner and eat warm bread slathered in butter as soon as it arrives at the table.

 

In reality, I’ll be having my version of that moment sitting at the bar, because that’s my favorite place to eat in a restaurant. Eating at the bar feels to me more laidback and chic, because at the bar, you’re instantly a regular. 

 

When I was in my twenties, there was a restaurant in Old San Juan called Amadeus. Their kitchen was one of the first in Puerto Rico to play with tropical ingredients in inventive ways. I loved nothing more than to sit at their bar with my cousin or sister sharing food and drinking Bellinis. The main course this week—cilantro & garlic shrimp with mashed semi-ripe plantains—is inspired by an appetizer from their menu. 

 

To start, a simple salad of butter lettuce and avocado with a quick-pickle onion vinaigrette, because a simple salad is a thing of beauty, and also because the dessert this week—a guava curd tart—is a little more labor intensive. 

 

The tart is one that I’ve been wanting to share with you for some time. It's a beloved recipe that I hope you enjoy both making and eating. The crust is pate sucrée, one of the three classic pastry crusts. It is as tender as a shortbread. The filling is made with guava paste and cream cheese—two ingredients I don't often use in my baking, but which after much trial and error yielded the best result. My favorite brand of guava paste is Guayeco. It’s minimally processed and can be ordered online.

 

The pate sucrée needs to rest twice— once when it is mixed and the other when it is pressed into the pan. One or both of these resting steps can be done the night before. 

 

You will need a rolling pin and a fluted 9" tart pan with a removable bottom for the tart— both are basic kitchen tools in my book. If you don't have them I encourage you to get them. Once you become a tart pro, something that will happen around your fourth or fifth tart,  you will want to make one often. They make a great treat to gift as they transport well and are delicious, and regardless of the season they are always on point with a cup of tea or a nightcap.    

 

¡Buen provecho! xx Ana

 

 

Here’s your breakdown of the steps to make the menu:

 

  • make your pate sucrée 

  • clean up

  • after the sucrée has been in the fridge a minimum of 1 hour roll it out and press it into the fluted pan, dock it (explained in the instructions), and freeze it for an hour.

  • quick pickle your onions and make the vinaigrette

  • clean up (all the steps above can be done the night before)

  • par bake the tart shell

  • make the curd

  • bake the tart 

  • clean up

  • toss the shrimp with the salt and baking soda and refrigerate

  • peel and boil your plantains

  • mince the garlic and chop the cilantro

  • mash your plantains

  • cook the shrimp

  • make the salad

The Menu

Moodboard

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