I am happy to report that the man and I can still do it: have fun while living under one roof. For two weeks I worked from Amsterdam and he was the first I saw in the morning and the one I cooked for at night. We put away the holiday stuff together, and took care of quite an astounding pile of laundry. We shopped for blinds for the new Paris shoebox and took turns telling each other how we “really have to start getting ready” for the 4-mile run we are doing in September.
It felt right. Living in two countries has many exciting sides, but we miss out on doing the day-to-day stuff together. And while I don´t miss the mess we are so great at creating (24 hours after we walked through the door into a house-guest-cleaned paradise every flat surface in sight was once again covered in stuff), there are quite a few good things our Paris-Amsterdam life doesn’t have enough of. Cooking for two, rambling face-to-face chats, someone else to do the dishes. Also, dinner with friends. The Paris shoebox was simply too small for guests (I have high hopes for the new shoebox, though) and when we have just a weekend in Amsterdam, guests don’t end up on the To Do list often enough. Now it was us, Amsterdam, two whole weeks and no excuse not to throw at least one dinner.
Given that a good dinner party opportunity doesn’t come around often, I invited a bunch of people to a barbecue. Then I promptly panicked because we might not all fit on the shoebox’s balcony (more than two guests is enough to create this problem). Problem quickly solved, though, when the parents offered up the use of their house, plus garden. The weather gods also obliged, threatening just enough rain to give the man an excuse to put up his party tent (one of the great joys of his life, in no small part because I think it is ug-ly and he likes mocking my “elitist” taste) but not enough to make outside roasting impossible. And off we were, to put a whole lotta food on the table.
Of course there was meat (lamb chops marinated with garlic and lemon were my favorite), and bread and sauce. Salads and Jell-O, because there has to be Jell-O at a barbecue. My childhood memories say so. And there were potatoes. Mostly because the picture looked pretty in the cookbook (Arabia, by Merijn Tol and Nadia Zerouali) and it seemed like a low-maintenance way to add some carbohydrates to the table. I did not really expect them to get eaten all that much. I mean, they are potatoes. Who’s going to eat those when there is all this other stuff to pick from?
Everyone, that’s who. Well, everyone who was in time. The potatoes went at such an alarming rate that people arriving a little late never saw them. Huh. Who knew. If it is this easy to make a table full of people happy, I might just have to do it more often.
Garlicky citrus potatoes
Based on a recipe in Arabia, Merijn Tol and Nadia Zerouali
Feeds six as a side
- 8 large potatoes
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- about 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 lemon
- 1 orange
- small bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
Pre-heat oven to 240 degrees Celsius. Scrub the potatoes and boil until flesh feels firm-tender. Mine took about ten minutes to get to that stage, but much depends on the size of your potatoes. Cut into small cubes (the recipe says you are free to peel them, but I like the rustic look of bits of peel) and transfer to a baking dish that can hold the potatoes in a thin layer.
Mix the garlic with the oil and a good pinch of salt. Drizzle the garlic oil over the potatoes and mix thoroughly. Put the potatoes in the hot oven and bake for about 30 minutes, checking often for color. If the potatoes on top start looking crunchy, take them out to mix well, so that as many cubes as possible get some crunching time on top.
When your potato cubes all have some nice crunch and are soft on the inside, take them out of the oven and grate the peel of the lemon and the orange over them. Mix well. Taste, and add more salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature, scattered with the chopped cilantro.