Last week I blogged about one of the weird feelings that comes as a side effect of spending so much time in the blog community – produce-induced jealousy. Now it’s time to talk about another – no-cook-night guilt. By that I mean, on the nights when takeout seems more appealing than turning on the stove, and leftovers more inviting than a trip to the grocery store, I feel bad. I feel like I’m wasting the opportunity to try out a new recipe or invent a great dish. Thankfully both Jessica of How Sweet It Is and Jessica of The Novice Chef, two bloggers I admire and adore, mentioned this week how sometimes they run out of things to make or don’t feel the desire to cook. Reading this I felt like I huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I had more permission to be a bit more human. So there. I’m admitting it. Sometimes I don’t feel like cooking.
Like yesterday. But I’m not sure you could blame me. After a very soggy April, we finally got a sunny and unseasonably warm May day. And I’m not talking just a little bit warmer, but shed the spring jacket for your shortest skirt, pull out the sorbet warmer. And I certainly wasn’t going to miss a single ray of sunshine being inside in front of the stove.
And so I traded my previously well planned out dinner (which I promise will be shared soon anyway) for something that required significantly less prep time. I went for my much beloved combo of cheese + condiment + crusty French bread. Yes, it’s getting a wee bit dangerous that Pastoral‘s Loop location is on the walk between my office and the EL. I’d have to walk out of my way to miss it.
So I picked up a truly divine spread.
Seriously. It was so good that I actually bought the exact same array of goodies a week ago when we had yet another sunny day. And when the sun came out again I didn’t have the willpower to resist a repeat.
The stars of the plate were two goat’s milk cheeses. The Pantaleo (pictured in the back in the above picture next to the jar) is actually a repeat on this blog as I featured it over the summer as part of my Fromage Friday: Beyond Chevre, a Goat Cheese Tasting. A hard cheese, it has a firm and crumbly texture with lovely floral notes and a strong taste of pistachio that I find appealing. I also find it a great contrast to the second cheese I included…
Little Bloom on the Prairie from Prairie Fruits Farm. If the cute name doesn’t lure you in, the taste and texture will. Made at Illinois’ first farmstead cheese making facility, Little Bloom is a bloomy rind cheese that is vaguely comparable to a rich creamy Brie, but with a noticeably pleasant tang from the goat’s milk and a slightly sharper flavor that reminded me of a less pungent Camembert . Mine was quite ripe and as such as incredibly runny by the time I got it home. I personally love it this way. I find the texture to be creamier and the flavor more pungent than the same cheese at a less ripe stage.
Of course, when you have such an amazing cheese at the center of the plate it practically begs for an equally stellar condiment. At the recommendation of the cheese monger at Pastoral, I paired this with a jar of apples in sparkling wine from Quince & Apple, a fantastic artisan producer out of Wisconsin known for its small batch preserves.
This condiment won me over immediately because the flavors were clear and pronounced. It was unabashedly apple-y, but with a pleasant zing and sweetness to it from the wine. I also liked that the apples were soft, but still had a good bit of structure to them, yielding the softest of crunches. All in all, it contrasted well with the tanginess of the goat cheese, but I also ate it gladly all on its on spread atop crusty bread. It’s definitely made me excited about trying other varieties in their line and perhaps one day, trying my hand at making something almost as lovely in my own kitchen.
And according to the cheesemonger, it’s also fantastic as a cocktail ingredient, though I have yet to try out that suggestion. All and all it made for a fantastic meal and I have to admit, that once my plate was licked clean and my tummy satisfied, I didn’t feel that guilty about leaving the stove turned off after all.
What about you? Do you have any go-to foods or meals when you’re not in the mood to cook?