Forty Days, Forty Nights and Forty Cloves.

Good gracious. Where have I been? I promise I haven’t forgotten about you. I only hope you haven’t forgotten about me. I guess the past month has been filled with curve balls. But mostly my Time appears to have changed. Again.

I’ve talked about Time a lot on here over the years. How intrigued I am by how it passes away and how it moves forward - the memories we create from our past, the things we look toward in our future, and most of all, how, at different times, it has the uncanny power to expand and/or contract. How does the same twenty-four hours have the ability to feel like more or less than what it actually is?

As a kid I thought a year was like forever. I would make a point to tell people I was six and three quarters years old, because that quarter of a year was a significant chunk of Time. A significant chunk of Time that I earned to be exactly that old. Yet over the past few years I have felt that Time has been whirling past me at dizzying speeds. Where did that day go? Where did that week go? Where did that month go? How did a year just happen?

But very recently it feels that Time has changed yet again. Now it feels like it’s on double duty; it feels like it’s both whipping past and inching along. Last week feels like both a second and a month ago, I can hardly hold onto the now and next month feels like it’s taking for forever to be the now.

The really cool thing is that yesterday, today and tomorrow all feel pretty awesome.

This past weekend we had our monthly Dinner at Eight. To be honest, none of us were up for this one. Said curve balls and whatnot. I had also personally wanted a month off to recoup from The Holidays. But we had committed to doing the dinner for a private group, and committed we were. I had even conceived of the menu back in October when the group’s host and I were in the initial talks of the evening. She picked the theme: Garlic.

In the spirit of the way Time is behaving at present, the period leading up to this dinner party ambled relaxingly along while sneakily creeping right on up on us. We were seemingly unprepared, yet at the same time we were disarmed by how smooth everything was going. Maggie had her cocktail set; a classic gin martini garnished with okra that she pickled in garlic and dill (interestingly, this was the only element of the meal that had even a speck of our Southern theme peppered in). 

Nastassia and Esi were to put their sweet minds together to materialize my brain flower of dessert: a honey-garlic mousse with pinenut-garlic brittle. My mom was going to bake the bread. Me, I had the rest covered. And even though each and every one of these dinners has had one *&%%@# ingredient that gives me issues, I even found my elusive green garlic at the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers’Market. This was for the creamy green garlic soup garnished with black garlic chips and bacon.

Then the day was upon us. Forty-three days since the last dinner and an unknown number of days until the next dinner. Mom sliced her finger open the day before and had to get five stitches. Not only was she unable to bake the bread for the dinner, she was unable to attend at all.


The girls weren’t going to be able to show up to the house until about four-thirty to help – and to bring their dessert.

No problem.

Maggie was in the (tiny) kitchen pickling onions (always a hit) as take-away gifts for the guests (in her union suit!) until late-morning, until she worked her magic on The Room (see picture below).

That’s totally cool.

But you know what? It was OK, and not a problem and totally cool. It all worked out. It always does.

It seems like forever ago, now. But it has only been forty-eight hours.

The main course of this particular dinner (of which you can see the full menu here) was a riff on a famous recipe I first heard about many years ago when I worked in a video store in Atlanta. It was mentioned in the Les Blank documentary, Garlic Is As Good as Ten Mothers. It’s called Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic.

Forty-three days, forty-eight hours, forty cloves. Well, I used a few more…

By the by, all photographs in this post are credited to Fred. The reason for my Time being what it presently is can probably also be credited to Fred.

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
(Recipe from Ina Garten)

--> 3 whole heads garlic, about 40 cloves
2 (3 1/2-pound) chickens, cut into eighths
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 Tablespoons Madeira, divided
1 ½ Tablespoons Sherry, divided
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
A bunch of Italian parsley, chopped


Separate the cloves of garlic and drop them into a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds. Drain the garlic and peel. Set aside.

Dry the chicken with paper towels. Season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the butter and oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. In batches, sauté the chicken in the fat, skin side down first, until nicely browned, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Turn with tongs or a spatula; you don't want to pierce the skin with a fork. If the fat is burning, turn the heat down to medium. When a batch is done, transfer it to a plate and continue to sauté all the chicken in batches. Remove the last chicken to the plate and add all of the garlic to the pot. Lower the heat and sauté for 5 to 10 minutes, turning often, until evenly browned. Add 1 tablespoon of the Madeira, 1 tablespoon of the Sherry and the wine, return to a boil, and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pot with the juices and sprinkle with the thyme leaves. Cover and simmer over the lowest heat for about 30 minutes, until all the chicken is done.

Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the sauce and the flour and then whisk it back into the sauce in the pot. Raise the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of both the Madeira and the Sherry and the cream, and boil for 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste; it should be very flavorful because chicken tends to be bland. Pour the sauce and the garlic over the chicken and serve hot.

Garnish with parsley.

One year ago: Mercantile


  1. i loved the whole menu! garlic every which freakin way and all so amazing! i heart dinner at eight so much <3