Roasted red bell pepper soup, crostini with chicken pate and plums, arugula and Parmesan salad
Sometimes you're in the mood for a color. Today it was red. I roasted four bell peppers my usual way (over gas flame), kept the peppers in a paper bag for a few minutes, and then skinned them under cold water. Then I pureed the peppers with two cloves of garlic. Meanwhile I made a broth from some roasted chicken bones, a bay leaf, and some fresh thyme. When I added the pepper puree the soup was too watery, so I strained it down to three cups and added one cup of buttermilk for richness. The buttermilk simultaneously enhanced the pepper flavor while adding a mellowness. And if you didn't know I'd added buttermilk you'd never be able to tell. Magic!
By the way, buttermilk is actually low in fat. It gets its texture from cultures, like yogurt.
I toasted some stale sourdough and slathered it with Trois Cornichon Mediterranean chicken pate (with roasted peppers and olives, topped with a silky layer of aspic) and slices of fresh plum. Plums are usually a lackluster fruit, in my opinion, especially compared with peaches. I prefer them in their unnatural state, as jam or in tarts. But this is a nice use for them, atop rich, salty pate.
I lightly steamed some arugula and shaved Parmesan over it. I don't recommend this, actually. Arugula is good wilted in a pan with a little olive oil or just plain raw, but steaming it rendered it soggy. The cheese improved it, though.
This afternoon I had some intense, and surprisingly luscious chocolate sorbet from Maison du Chocolat. Ordinarily I consider sorbet the dessert you get when you really want ice cream but wish to avoid the fat. But lately I'm becoming a convert to sorbet's own virtues. We also recently had some peach habanero by Ciao Bella that's fantastic -- warm and peppery, but in the right proportion to the sweet peach. By the way, this was the Maison du Chocolate at Rockefeller Center, where L'Occitaine is having a lavender harvest celebration marketing event. It's all just a big commercial for their lavender line, but it's worth surrounding yourself with fragrant lavender. And if you're lucky, you can snag yourself a sample vial of essential oil and a little soap.