We spent a gloriously beautiful Saturday morning moving and stacking firewood a few weeks back. Nothing feels more fall to me than a smart stack of freshly cut and stacked firewood. We’re officially ready for cool nights and warm fires in the fireplace.
Even the boys, grumbling over helping with said task, couldn’t diminish my enthusiasm. The sky was crisply blue with big white puffy clouds floating along. Mount Adams was reaching for the sky, sharper and more clearly outlined than we’ve seen in months. The sprinkle of rain the night before gave the grass and trees a bit of a shimmer in the morning sunshine and the apple orchard next to us, heavy with crunchy Golden Delicious apples, was sweetly fragrant in the morning air.
I’m not sure there’s a more picturesque fall scene other than if red and orange leaves magically fell around us. Alas, no leaves, but I couldn’t resist picking a few orange pumpkins from the garden and tucking them into flower pots and at the front door. Fall is here and I’m welcoming it with wide open arms.
With pumpkins and stacked firewood comes cozy food and a desire to savor the season. The holidays with all their stress and obligations will be here before we know it. Now is the time to just be for a moment.
I read a quote a friend sent along the other day that said something along the lines of how lucky we are to find joy in the ordinary and beauty in the small things. That a quiet life, filled with small acts of goodness is a profoundly blessed life. I’ve been thinking on that for days now. What a lovely season, right this very moment, to slow down a bit and enjoy it.
And if I’m going to pause, or savor or slow down or whatever you want to call it, I can guarantee it’s going to be with good food and the people I love most. And if I’m taking my time and don’t give in to the urge to rush and overfill my time, I have a few extra moments to set a lovely table to welcome my guests.
I pick the last of the basil, rosemary and final blooms off the honeysuckle bush to tie in a simple sprig with bakers twine and lay it on the napkin at each table setting. I don’t mess with complicated floral arrangements or worry about ironing a napkin. Strips of butcher paper become a makeshift runner and the gorgeous fruit from the fruit bowl becomes the centerpiece at the table. Instead of worrying over matching napkins, I chose all my favorites and didn’t worry too much about whether they were coordinated. I uncorked the wine and added a slice of orange to each water glass. None of it took more than a minute to put together and the end result felt special and cozy and so welcoming.
And as for the food, don’t let this complicated-sounding name deter you. Tartine is just a fancy term for an open-faced sandwich. I love this recipe and combination of flavors because it makes for an easy appetizer or can quite easily become the main course with a few minor adaptations.
Mushrooms caramelize in a pan with fresh thyme, a little garlic and a splash of balsamic vinegar until savory and rich. The mushrooms combined with salty prosciutto and creamy hearty cheese and a bright peppery arugula salad make for an out-of-this-world concoction — one I can promise you’ll return to again and again. Perfect for a cold night with a fire in the fireplace, a glass of wine in hand and your people gathered at the table.
1 loaf french or sourdough baguette
1 package prosciutto
1 4-ounce Boursin cheese
10 ounces sliced crimini or shiitake mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon salted butter
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tablespoon fresh chives minced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2-3 cups arugula
Juice of half a lemon
Preheat oven to broil. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a large sauté pan, combine the tablespoon of butter with one tablespoon olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the mushrooms and thyme and give a good stir to evenly coat the mushrooms. Turn heat to low and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the balsamic vinegar and minced garlic, stirring constantly. Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. Continue to cook an additional 5 to 8 minutes until the mushrooms have reduced in size by about half and the balsamic vinegar is completely absorbed. When the mushrooms are tender but still slightly chewy, they are done. Turn the heat off to the pan and set aside.
Slice baguette in 1/2 inch slices or for a main course, cut loaf in half and then into 6 larger pieces. Smear each piece of bread with a thick layer of Boursin cheese. Tear or slice the prosciutto and evenly layer the meat over the Boursin. For larger portions, use one full slice. For the appetizer size, use about half a piece of prosciutto. Line the pieces of bread with the cheese and meat on the prepared baking sheet and broil in the oven for about 3 minutes or until the edges of the prosciutto begin to crisp and the bread turns a golden brown along the edges.
While the bread toasts in the oven, combine the arugula with the remaining tablespoon olive oil, juice of half a lemon and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper.
To serve the tartine, scoop mushrooms onto each piece of toasted bread. Garnish the mushrooms with fresh parsley and chives. Top the tartine with a few leaves of the arugula salad. Serve immediately alongside the remaining arugula salad. Best served with a knife and fork if serving as a main course.