I know this is hard to believe, but I don’t always cook for two. Even harder to believe: I have friends! Real life friends. (of the non-internet variety!!).
And since my real-life friends have to hear about my internet friends and pretend it’s not weird, I cook for them. Quite frequently, actually. I made this stunning tray of grilled stone fruit with almond mascarpone dipping sauce and candied almonds last weekend. Even though it doesn’t serve two, it was insisted that I share it here.
I’m not sure why some of my friends say they’re too nervous to cook for me since I cook for a living. Truth be told, if anybody makes ANYTHING for me, I love it. I love it because: I didn’t have to cook it and I don’t have to clean up afterwards.
Make me a bowl of microwave macaroni and cheese, and seriously, I think it’s the sweetest most delicious thing ever. That’s the thing about food people: we understand the energy and thought behind feeding someone. No one appreciates your efforts in the kitchen more than us. We want to be cooked for.
If you have a friend that loves cooking, please, do not avoid having him or her over for dinner because you’re worried they will spend the car ride home laughing at your store-bought marinades and your cooking skills. We won’t. I always spend the car ride home thinking about how wonderful the evening was with a big smile on my face.
I like to be fed.
Along the same line, please don’t expect everything you eat at my house to be chock full of hard-to-find fancy ingredients.
Not everything I make is laborious and exotic. In fact, hardly anything is. I keep a slightly more well-stocked fridge and pantry than the average non-cook, but that doesn’t mean it’s anything fancy and unattainable.
For example, you might stock cream cheese in your fridge. I hoard mascarpone instead. It’s like cream cheese that’s already been sweetened and smoothed out. It just makes it easier for me to whip up a quick dipping sauce. I’m all about easy and quick. Effortlessly impressive is my melody in life.
So, if you come to my house expecting a 4-layer chocolate cake stuffed with 3 different kinds of mousse and topped with home-spun sugar, you will be disappointed. Well, if you catch me on a weird day when I get the gumption to make something so ridiculous, yes, I’ll have that cake in my house.
But, most often, I’ll slice open half a dozen local peaches, plums, and apricots, and stir together mascarpone, almond extract and honey and serve. If I have an extra 5 minutes, I will candy some sliced almonds in sugar in a skillet. You might think it’s gourmet, but it’s so not. You’ll definitely think it’s scrumptious.
- 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- assorted stone fruit: peaches, plums, apricots, and pluots
- In a small bowl, stir together the mascarpone, almond extract and 2 tablespoons of the honey. Scoop into a serving bowl.
- In a small skillet, add the sliced almonds and granulated sugar. Cook over medium heat until the sugar caramelizes and the almonds clump together. Scrape the sticky mixture onto a non-stick sheet of parchment paper and let cool. Break into pieces when cool.
- Meanwhile, slice the stone fruits in half, and pre-heat a grill or grill pan to high. Place the fruit cut-side down in a non-stick grill pan. If you're using a regular grill, place a sheet of non-stick foil on the surface of the grates before grilling the fruit.
- Grill on each side until nice grill marks appear, about 2-3 minutes per side.
- Move the fruit to a serving platter, place the dip on the plate, sprinkle with almonds and extra honey.