I didn't do anything I was supposed to do today.
I didn't go to Bar Method this morning.
I didn't go to church this evening.
I didn't bleach the kitchen sink or go Christmas shopping or even bother putting on a bra.
Instead, I cloaked myself in sweats, put weird things on my face in an attempt to get rid of the scars that have suddenly taken up residency on my left cheek, and rented Friends with Benefits OnDemand. It was horrible. And by "horrible" I of course mean, I really enjoyed it and am currently considering rewatching it so I can pause the screen whenever Justin Timberlake takes his shirt off.
It was glorious. Not just JT's abs and his "these" muscles (Ashley will know what I mean by "these"), but the day. The laziness. The freedom I gave myself to be totally antisocial and ugly and weird.
And in the midst of all this inactivity and aloe vera face-painting (one of the home remedies for facial scars I found on a site I googled this morning), I made cookie batter. I folded laundry that I purposely scorched in the dryer so I could bury myself under a hot pile of it. And I spent an hour and a half standing over the stove making caramels while I listened to Coldplay's "Paradise" on repeat.
I love doing these types of things on Sundays. Things I don't need to do; things that I'm doing mostly for the pleasure of the slow, methodical process it takes to do them. Obsessively folding my underwear into neat little stacks. Refolding them if they aren't perfectly smooth and identical in shape and size to the one underneath it. This is the kind of stuff that fills me with that warm, glowy feeling of contentment. The kind of thing that recharges me for the impending week of tasks I actually have to accomplish.
A few Sundays ago I spent an entire afternoon preparing my dinner. I braised a portobello mushroom. I roasted and mashed a sweet potato. I made a port wine reduction. I simmered a farro risotto in broth I made with dried porcinis and vegetable stock. Then I put it all together in dramatic, restaurant-esque fashion.
It was complicated, time-consuming and completely unnecessary for a solo Sunday supper. But it was exactly what I needed -- because I didn't need to do it.
Farro Risotto-Stuffed Portobello Mushroom with Sweet Potato Puree
Adapted from recipe from Chef Scott Zwiezen of Elf Cafe
For Braised Portobellos
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 large portobello mushrooms, stems removed
1/4 cup port wine
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1/4 onion, coursely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons Better than Boullion Vegetable Base
Freshly ground pepper
Heat large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the teaspoon of oil, swirling to coat the base of the pan. Place the portobellos face down, and let cook until they just start to release their liquid, approximately 5 minutes. Add the wine, letting it cook off almost completely. Add a cup or so of water, the vegetable base, carrot, celery, onion, thyme, and a few good shakes of freshly ground pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until mushrooms are braised through, approximately 45 minutes to an hour. Remove mushrooms from broth and set aside. Strain broth into a separate saucepan.
For Sweet Potato Mash
2 large sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup milk, give or take a little
While mushrooms are braising, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pierce the sweet potatoes with a fork and roast until tender, approximately 40-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
Once cool enough to handle, peel off the skins and dump potato into a bowl. Add butter, milk, salt and pepper, then mash using either a handheld electric mixer or an immersion blender. Add more milk as needed.
For Farro Risotto
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 teaspoon olive oil
2-3 large shallots, minced
1 large carrot, minced
3/4 cup farro
Pinch of thyme
2 tablespoons goat cheese
2-3 tablespoons grated parmesan
Place dried porcini mushrooms in a heat-safe bowl. Bring two cups of water to a boil. Pour over porcini mushrooms and let sit for 30 or so minutes. Using a fine sieve, strain the liquid into the saucepan with the reserved portobello braising broth. Bring to a low simmer.
Chop rehydrated porcinis and set aside.
Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the teaspoon of olive oil, swirling to coat the pan. Add the shallots and carrot and saute until tender and lightly caramelized, approximately 5 minutes. Add the farro, and cook for a few more minutes to lightly toast the kernels. Season with pepper and thyme. Add a half cup of the hot broth to the pan, and let simmer over medium-low heat until the broth evaporates. Keep adding broth as needed, a 1/2 cup or so at a time until the farro is cooked through, approximately 30 minutes. Stir in the goat cheese and rehydrated porcinis, and turn off the heat. Let rest for 10 minutes so it thickens up enough to be stuffed into the mushroom caps.
For Port Reduction
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup Port wine
Pour balsamic vinegar and Port wine into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, keeping at a slow simmer until it reduces into a thick, syrup-like consistency, approximately 45 minutes.
Bring oven back to 400 degrees.
Place portobellos in a lightly greased glass baking dish. Stuff with farro risotto, then sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake in the oven until completely heated through and parmesan has lightly browned, approximately 15 minutes.
Reheat sweet potatoes in the microwave until piping hot. Divide evenly between four plates. Top with stuffed mushrooms, then drizzle with port reduction. Serve immediately, optionally with braised kale or green of choice.