Riverhead Table: I’M SUPPOSED TO PROTECT YOU FROM ALL THIS

Eating isn’t always a group activity. Why grab a friend every time you’re hungry when you can just eat and run? But there is no denying the comforting intimacy of sharing a meal. The act of gathering around a table, of cooking with and of feeding others, has existed for centuries as a way of demonstrating the utmost care and generosity toward one’s community. So while almost everyone is capable of cooking nowadays (microwaved baked potatoes, anyone?) we tend to look back on the dishes our mothers, grandmothers and aunts prepared for us when we were growing up as the gold standard to which we compare all other meals. 

Which is why we were beyond excited when Nadja Spiegelman, author of the new memoir I’M SUPPOSED TO PROTECT YOU FROM ALL THIS, said she would recreate an entire homemade supper for us using some of her mother and grandmother’s classic recipes. We arrived at her cozy Brooklyn apartment armed with fresh ingredients from upstate New York (kudos to editor extraordinaire Rebecca Saletan for procuring the gooood stuff) and proceeded to whip up a little taste of Paris. 

As always we hope you’ll try preparing our #RiverheadTable menus for your friends and sharing your photos on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr or Facebook using our hashtag!

THE MENU (NOTE: All of the recipes we used made enough food for a party of 10) 

Ratatouille

Fig and Goat Cheese Salad

Roasted Rack of Lamb

Gougeres

Lemon Tart

Carla, one of our publicity team members, chopping vegetables for the ratatouille.

Ratatouille 

1 red onion

5 zucchinis (green and yellow)

3 heads of garlic

1 eggplant

1 pound unpitted green olives or Kalamata olives (with a bit of the liquid the olives marinate in)

fresh thyme

5 tomatoes

1 can peeled tomatoes

Olive oil

Red wine vinegar

Sea salt 

Preheat oven to 375. 

Chop eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes into big, hearty chunks.Dice red onion and ¾ cloves garlic. Add chopped eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, red onion and diced garlic to a baking dish. Add olives and any juice from the olives. Add a generous helping of olive oil, salt and a splash of red wine vinegar. Toss the ingredients thoroughly. Pour in the liquid from the canned tomatoes, break the peeled tomatoes apart with your hands as you add them in. Generously top with sprigs of fresh thyme.

Take the two heads of garlic and peel as much of the paper away from the garlic as you can without peeling the individual cloves. Chop off the tops. (NOTE FROM NADJA: I use a good sharp knife to decapitate the shorter cloves individually, but its ok if not all are decapitated.) Rub the tops with some olive oil and wrap each head in aluminum foil. Place the tray of vegetables and the aluminum-wrapped garlic heads in the oven. Cook for 1 hour, stirring midway through.

Remove the garlic and the vegetable tray from the oven. Unwrap the garlic and let it cool. They should be golden brown! (NOTE FROM NADJA: But even if it is not toasty looking it should still taste awesome and soft and nutty and delicious.) Squeeze the cloves out into the ratatouille and mix it around. Serve immediately.

Nadja Spiegelman.

Fig and Goat Cheese Salad

7-8 fresh figs

one long log of fresh goat cheese

1 package slivered almonds

1 tbsp butter

¾ cup sugar

2 tsp salt (or try a splash of soy sauce…it’s delicious!)

2 containers or bags of arugula

1 shallot

2 tbsp dijon mustard

balsamic vinegar

olive oil 

Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Pour in the slivered almonds and stir constantly. Add the sugar and the salt. Continue to heat, stirring constantly, until the almonds begin to brown. Remove them from the heat as soon as they do - they burn quickly. Set aside. 

Cut the figs length-wise so that the pieces are circular. Cut the log of goat cheese into circular pieces as well. Dice the shallots. Mix into the salad, reserving slices of fig and goat cheese with which to decorate the top of the bowl. Pour the candied almond slices on top. 

For the vinaigrette:

Mix the mustard with a splash of balsamic vinegar and combine with a fork. Taste it. If it tastes more of either mustard or vinegar, counterbalance with the opposite flavor, until the quantities taste equal. Pour in a slow steady stream of olive oil, whisking constantly. Once finished you can pour the entire amount of vinaigrette over the salad and toss before serving, or you can allow guests to serve themselves.

Roasted Rack of Lamb (2 chops per guest)

Rack of lamb

1 head of garlic

Fresh rosemary

Olive oil

Salt and pepper 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

Place the rack in a roasting pan. Chop a handful of the garlic cloves into large chunks and insert the pieces into the meat of the lamb. Make sure the garlic is spread out evenly, and chop more pieces if you need to. Rub the racks with olive oil then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with a generous number of fresh rosemary sprigs. Put the rack in the oven for about 20-25 minutes for medium doneness (the top should be golden brown). Or for a more accurate doneness use a meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature is 130-135 degrees. Remove from the oven and let the meat rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Nadja on cheese grating duty.

Gougeres (makes 28 pieces)

Recipe from Food & Wine

½ cup water

½ cup milk

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons

Coarse salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 large eggs

1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese, plus more for sprinkling

Ground pepper

Grated nutmeg 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets or one large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium saucepan, combine the water, milk, butter and salt and bring to a boil. Add the flour and stir it in with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough forms; stir over low heat until it dries out and pulls away from the pan, about 2 minutes.

Scrape the dough into a bowl; let cool for a minute. Beat the eggs into the dough, one at a time, beating thoroughly between each one. Add the cheese and a pinch each of pepper and nutmeg.

Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch round tip (or just cut a small hole at the end) and pipe tablespoon-size mounds onto the baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with more cheese and bake for 22 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Serve hot.

Lemon Tart

Recipe from DavidLebovitz.com

For the tart shell

3 ounces unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

5.5oz or 1 rounded cup flour 

Preheat the oven to 410 degrees.

In a medium-sized ovenproof bowl, such as a Pyrex bowl, combine the butter, oil, water, sugar, and salt. Place the bowl in the oven for 15 minutes, until the butter is bubbling and starts to brown just around the edges. When done, remove the bowl from oven, dump in the flour and stir it in quickly, until it comes together and forms a ball which pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch tart mold with a removable bottom and spread it a bit with a spatula. Once the dough is cool enough to handle, pat it into the shell with the heel of your hand, and use your fingers to press it up the sides of the tart mold. Reserve a small piece of dough, about the size of a raspberry, for patching any cracks.

Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork about ten times, then bake the tart shell in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown. Remove from the oven and if there are any sizable cracks, use the bits of reserved dough to fill in and patch them. Let the shell cool before filling.

For the filling

1 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice

grated zest of two lemons, preferably unsprayed

¾ cup sugar

12 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted, cut into cubes

4 large eggs

4 large egg yolks 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium-sized non-reactive saucepan, heat the lemon juice, zest, sugar, butter, eggs and egg yolks. Have a mesh strainer on hand. Stir until the butter is melted, then whisk the mixture continuously until the mixture thickens and holds its shape when you lift some of it up with the whisk and it visibly mounds up when dropped back down over the rest of the mixture in the saucepan. It should just take a few minutes. Pour the warm lemon curd through a strainer into a bowl, scraping with a rubber spatula to press it through. 

Smooth the lemon filling in the cooked and cooled tart shell, then pop it in the oven until the curd is just set, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool before slicing and serving.

Keep scrolling for more images from our French supper with Nadja Spiegelman!

Publicity staffer, Jennifer, serves cocktails just before dinner.

Nadja and her good friend Kate, who flew in all the way from Paris!

Lemon tart slice with home made cream. Yes, it was as delicious as it looks.

Perfectly cooked lamb chops.

Musician and writer Jonathan Meiburg (Shearwater), editor Rebecca Saletan and Nadja.

Publicity staffer Abigail and editorial assistant Michelle at the table. 

Publicity Director Jynne.

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Manuel Neuer’s interview with SonntagsBlick about the Paris terror attack

I figured some of you haven’t read this yet because an anon asked me for the link to the interview, but since it’s in German, I wanted to translate it for you.

In the interview, Manu talks about his experience in the night of the Paris terror attack. It went down during the match of Germany against France, you could hear the bombs go off in the stadium because it’s close to the actual crime scene.

SonntagsBlick: Manuel, what is it like standing in the goal while a bomb goes off?

Manuel Neuer: I had no idea what happened. The people who were watching TV at home were eventually informed about the incident, but we who were on the pitch had no clue at all. When I heard the bang, I immediately knew it hadn’t just been a Chinese firecracker, but I didn’t know what the actual reason was.

What was the feeling like on the pitch?

I was standing still in that moment, so I felt a slight quake, but I would’ve never guessed that it was a terror attack.

When did you learn about it and realised what happened?

It was quite late. Most of the players went straight to the cabins after the match. I was one of three players that walked over to the fans before leaving the pitch. Everyone was frantic, but we still wanted to say goodbye to them. There was something written in French on the big screen, but unfortunately I can’t speak that language, so I didn’t understand any of it. Maybe I would’ve reacted differently if I had known what it said. I noticed the true scale of the incident when they told us about it in the cabins.

What were your thoughts when you heard that someone wanted to blow themselves up in the stadium?

We didn’t know about that yet in the cabins, we were only told to stay in there and keep calm. We knew that our security team and the crew in the stadium would take good care of us and simply awaited further news.

What was the atmosphere in the cabins like?

Some experts talked to us and told us that we have to wait. Everything was well-organized.

Didn’t you have thousands of messages on your phone?

Of course our people at home were worried about us. They didn’t know how to react, it was a shock for everyone. A lot of people got in touch with us, especially family members. We were quite relaxed because we didn’t really have a choice. While the people in Germany had already seen all the horrible pictures, we weren’t up to date with the incident. We didn’t have any infromation or any facts. The TV in the cabins wasn’t on.

Didn’t you read anything on your phone?

Of course I did. But you only bring the most important things to the stadium, things you need for the match or for taking a shower afterwards. All the other stuff was stored in our hotel, so we didn’t have any chargers for our phones either. We had to go easy with the batteries because we stayed in the cabins all night without sleeping properly.

Were you happy when you could finally leave France?

I was relieved. The next morning, we flew back to Frankfurt and were finally allowed to go home to our families to get some peace.

Did you look at any pictures after that?

You couldn’t get around that. They were present at every end-of-year review. We were very lucky.

[The interview goes on, but they talk about other topics from here]