A Meal in Memory of Edward

I am currently hosting our bimonthly edition of Cook the Books Club, Dinner with Edward: A Story of an Unexpected Friendship, by Isabel Vincent. This was a book I read last year, and at my re-reading had to wonder -  how does one compose a proper tribute for a guy like Edward?  However, our author has totally nailed it.  I feel as though I was graced to know a wonderful man, just a bit, through her poignant memoir, She brought him to life for us.  Though it was also about her, and what she was going through at the time, that story served as a fine contrast and underscore to Edward's own character, his concern, compassion, ability to love, and enjoyment of life, which he is able to gradually regain after the death of his great love and wife, Paula.

 Isabel's old friend, Valerie, is worried about her grieving father, as as she and her sister are both out of the country. Valerie asks that Isabel look in on him occasionally.   When she does, he invites her to dinner. The book serves as a chronicle of their developing friendship and the dinners he prepared for her, with menus heading up each chapter.

Something Edward told Isabel early on, sums up his attitude toward entertaining, and hospitality:
"The secret is treating family like guests and guests like family,"  And she continues, " No matter how terrible I felt in the moments before I knocked on his door, I always left Edward's apartment with a smile on my face, a sensation that I had just experienced some kind of pure joy."

There was so much to inspire as far as food, lots that I eventually want to prepare.  The meal I finally chose came from near the end of the book, a dinner celebrating the anniversary of Edward and Paula's wedding.  His menu reads:

                         Chicken Liver Pate, Crackers
                          Flounder alla Francese over Steamed spinach
                          Grilled Sweet Potatoes
                           Chocolate Cake

Well, I have made chicken liver pate, but not right at this point in time.  I'm attaching a photo of it though.  Mine has cognac included as well, and is from Elizabeth David's recipe.

Next adjustment - the flounder - which I couldn't source, but changed out for cod, and instead of Riesling, there was my Carambola wine.  Nonetheless it all came together wonderfully.  I am doing things in a more relaxed mode these days, thanks to a terrific cookbook, Food52 A New Way to Dinner, by preparing parts of a meal ahead of time.

Vincent did not give any exact, detailed recipes, though she does say: "He spent hours writing out recipes for me" which he then mailed to her.  But the descriptions were enough, with occasional help from Google. I steamed the sweet potatoes, cut in quarters, let them cool, then sliced into further into wedges, tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper before grilling briefly.  The spinach was steamed at the last minute in the same pot.   I just followed Vincent's report of what Edward did with the fish.  Basically, breaded the fillets, then sizzled about 3 minutes, and set aside in a warm oven while the sauce was prepared.  I used a cup of bouillon with 1/3 cup vermouth, fresh thyme and a squeeze of lemon juice, reduced down to about half.

The fish sort of fell apart, but was sure delicious with that sauce.  Be sure to stop by Cook the Books for our Roundup, now posted, of wonderful dishes and reviews.  I'm also linking this post to Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking event, and with the March Foodie Reads Challenge.


Deb in Hawaii said...

Mmm... this looks like a dinner I would love. That fish looks so good--sometimes the best fish dishes are ones where the fish falls apart a bit. ;-) I like the sound of the sauce with the fish and spinach and you got some great grill marks on the potatoes.

Thanks for a great book pick Claudia. I enjoyed getting to know Edward too and it certainly inspired some delicious cooking!

Mae Travels said...

Your reinterpretation of the book's dinner is very imaginative. I'll have to look at that Elizabeth David recipe!

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Katherine P said...

I love the sound of this dinner and this book is on my TBR. It sounds absolutely lovely though I do wish she would have shared the actual recipes.

Debra Eliotseats said...

Thanks again for hosting this book. It's a new favorite. I wish I had an Edward!

Carole said...

I've got this book out from the library and will be reading it soon. Cheers from Carole's chatter

Beth F said...

Loved that book and as Debra said, I too wish I had an Edward in my life. Your interpretation came out great. And I LOVE that Food52 book too.

A Day in the Life on the Farm said...

A Feast that would make Edward proud. Thanks for hosting this month. I enjoyed the memoir and posted about it but somehow didn't make the roundup. I'm not sure what happened but it was probably my screw up. I left a message on the CTB page as well. Thanks.

Claudia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Claudia said...

I'm sorry Wendy, I didn't get an email or comment at CTB, but have added it into the roundup.

Amy said...

What a great Edward menu!

Tina said...

That cookbook sounds like one I'd like to look over. By the way, I substitute ingredients all the time. Recipiare like guide, I'll bet the cod was great!