Ethan Stowell's New Italian Kitchen recipe #1: bruschetta with fresh ricotta and salsa verde.
You whip the homemade ricotta with a little olive oil, spread it on your baguette toast, then top with a zesty sauce of parsley, anchovies, lemon peel, and pine nuts. Easy and great.
To go with the burgers, I fried a pile of potatoes that ended up looking like something you'd find in a coral reef.
I'd dog-eared the recipe in Aquavit years ago because I'd hoped it would make something like tater tots. You fry potato sticks as for french fries, then roll them in cornflakes and fry again, but since we didn't have corn flakes I rolled them in Total. Could that have been the problem? In any case, they were leaden and dry, altogether bad and not at all like tater tots.
I also made a variety of ketchups. Clockwise from top: Cindy Pawlcyn's ketchup from Mustards, River Cottage ketchup, Heinz, and some old-fashioned banana ketchup I canned over the summer.
I have concluded that homemade ketchup is a fool's errand. The homemade ketchup tasted "better" than Heinz -- less cloying, less synthetically smooth -- but none of it was ketchup. It was like dipping your onion ring in delicious sweet-tart marinara sauce. The banana ketchup was spicy and different enough that it was worth making and I would serve it in sandwiches, with roast pork, with pretty much anything, but Heinz defines tomato ketchup. It's a waste of time to try to replicate it when you could spend your time more profitably making things people will really appreciate, like bruschetta with fresh ricotta and green sauce. Or going to see The Social Network. Go see The Social Network!
Also at the party: my grandmother and her great grandson, born 97 years, 9 months, and 16 days apart.