It has rained everyday this week and even the early blooming cherry trees, so vibrant not too long ago in the unseasonably warm weather, droop down as if ashamed to have burst into life too soon. Nevertheless, I am not letting the storms keep me indoors. I still go to yoga everyday, meet girlfriends for lunch and to wander around Clement Street hunting for donabe pots and silkie chicken, and head out to my favorite cafe in the Fillmore district to work on my novel. One of the blessing of rain and wind is the chance to feel cozy in winter wear and to walk into the Grove, glance thankfully at the fireplace and those hovered around it with laptops and newspapers, then breathe in the spicy warmth of fresh-made hot apple cider.
Soup is on my mind. Last night's oven-braised short ribs (with wild mushrooms, fresh oregano, canned San Marzano tomatoes and Prather Ranch ground beef) that I used as sauce for bucatini pasta, will be skimmed of extra fat and re-repurposed tonight as some type of soupy stew made with collard greens and soaked crusty Italian bread. To counter the richness of the soup, I found beautiful butter lettuce, thin-skinned baby red potatoes and blue lake green beans from my corner organic green grocer, Village Market, that I will combine with nicoise olives and imported Italian tuna for a salad nicoise. The dressing will be made from Dijon mustard, macerated garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and patis, a staple of the Philippine pantry and is the equivalent of other fish sauce from Vietnam and Thailand. Patis is my substitute for anchovies and will add that pungent, salt component to cut through the heat of mustard and raw garlic and acidity from the lemon juice. Salad dressing made from scratch is always a delicate balance of flavors.
Tomorrow I plan to make ginataan, a warm Filipino dessert soup made with coconut milk, cassava, yams, plantains, mochi balls and palm sugar. This is labor intensive and it is at times like this that I wished I lived in a household much like my mother used to run in Manila, lively with her sisters, relatives and our maids, so many extra hands to form the mochi balls, peel the cassava, dice the yams, grate the fresh coconut and squeeze it out of cheesecloth for kakang gata, that first and ultra rich yield of pure coconut milk.
But for tonight there is an equally comforting soup to make for my own household for two. My husband will come home from the stormy weather to an apartment made warm and fragrant will the scent of homemade soup.