Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Pretty Picture

Day 3: Tonight we ate chili. It was delicious, but who needs another picture of chili?

Instead, this is a photo of the lovely tomato salad I served at dinner last Saturday night. There are four types of tomato on the plate: Taxi (yellow), Pink Brandywine (sorta red), Big Boy (red) and some unknown purple cherry tomato.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Day 2 : Gazpacho

No, you didn't miss a day. Day 1 of my "I couldn't make it to the supermarket, oh God I hope the farmstand has nice stuff this week" week (ICMITTSOGIHTFHNSTW for short - ha!) involved a dinner made of sausage from the fridge and corn from the farmstand. Yummy, but not blog-worthy.

Today was Day 2 and was more interesting. I came home and made gazpacho. Easy and fast. We had it with toast (bread from the freezer) and goat cheese (from the fridge).

Super-Quick Gazpacho
  • 3-4 large tomatoes, cored and cut into large chunks
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded and cut into large pieces
  • 1 clove garlic
  • handful of almonds or a small handful of almond meal
  • squeeze of lemon or lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
Put everything into the blender (you may need to do this in 2 batches) and blend until pureed. Check seasoning. Serve drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

If you have time and have planned ahead: Garnish with chopped tomatoes, herbs, cooked shrimp or chicken, etc.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Week of August 26

Ouch. I woke up yesterday and felt like someone was stabbing me in the neck. Serious muscle pain. But, I soldiered on, and I did feel much better by the end of the day. Then something happened (or didn't happen) overnight and I woke up feeling like someone was stabbing me in the neck and in the back too. With a hot poker. (I need remedial sleep training, clearly.)

As a result, today has been pretty much of a wash: a scintillating day of lying on the couch and reading the NY Times, alternated with small snack and stretch breaks (this sounds like more fun than it was).

So, this Sunday:
  • I pulled a container of chili out of the freezer.
Yup, that's it.

Dave went to Farmer Bob's for some vegetables. So I will be cobbling together dinner with those vegetables and what's left in the fridge from the past week. I will keep y'all posted. We should see some pretty creative cooking this week. (I am sure you are all on the edge of your collective seat.)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Drink of the Week: Chervil Martini

Chervil is an under-appreciated herb. It's hard to find in markets and is pretty lousy dried, so most people, if they think of it all, think of chervil as green, tasteless confetti.

Fresh chervil has a green, sweet, anise flavor, plus it's beautiful - all feathery and ferny lookin'. Before the licorice-haters of the world turn away: it's not super strong in flavor and works wonderfully with shellfish, mild fish (like salmon, sole or cod) and fresh cheeses (would also be great with cream cheese on a bagel).

I have some in our garden (it grows easily in cool, shady spots) and had harvested a handful to toss in a salad. Once in the kitchen, however, it called out to me "Hey wouldn't I be wonderful with Plymouth gin?" And my goodness, it was.

Chervil Martini

In a shaker filled with ice, combine:
  • 5-10 sprigs chervil
  • 3 parts Plymouth gin
  • 1/2 part Noilly Prat dry vermouth
Shake well (the chervil will break up a little and little green flecks in your drink). Pour into a well-chilled martini glass. Garnish with a wee sprig of chervil.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Easy, Cheesy

This is cheating, as this is barely a recipe. But, it's delicious, so I'll share the idea.

The next time you're grilling a Mediterranean-inspired meal, add Grilled Feta to your menu. Putting the feta cheese over heat (you can also do this in the oven, but it's not as fun) causes it to firm up and makes the edges get all brown and crunchy. It's really nice on bread or grilled vegetables.

Grilled Feta Cheese
I use Mt. Vikos Feta when I can find it - in my stores, I can find it in a sealed package in the deli cheese area. It's usually expensive (about $6-7 for an 8 oz. package), but the flavor is more authentic (to my taste) and in this case that's a good thing. All that said, this works well with "regular" feta too (like Athena brand).

Put 4 ounces (for 2-3 people) of feta in a heat-proof pan or baking dish (I like my wee iron skillet). Sprinkle pepper flakes, dried Greek oregano and/or ground black pepper over the cheese. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the top. (See Before picture to the right.)

Put the pan on the cooler side of your grill - let it sit there for 15-20 minutes. The cheese will sizzle and spit at first and then it will calm down. When the cheese looks browned and a little crispy on the edges, it's done.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Week of August 19

Hello everyone, we are back from vacation. A trip report is forthcoming, but a nutshell review: Montreal is a fabulous place to eat. C'est vrai, bien sur.

We got back in enough time to do all those post-vacation things: laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning up any cat-related mishaps, etc. This week's menu is designed to be easy and flexible. I have no idea what my work week will be like, so I need to make sure that the meals are simple and quick to pull together.

This Sunday I will:
  • Make oven-roasted tomato sauce (I am taking lots of pictures of this so I can post the method for you)
  • Make ricotta (yes, I am a little insane - but it was so good last time)
  • Prep the lamb mixture for lamb kabobs
  • Grill some zucchini for the gnocchi salad (I will do this while we're cooking Sunday dinner, since the grill will already be on)
  • Make Sunday dinner
Menu for the week


"Sliders" (mini hamburgers)
Nepalese potato salad
Cole slaw (inspired by Deb Perelman's great article at NPR.org)
Corn on the cob
Peach tart

Pasta with ricotta and oven-roasted tomato sauce
Sauteed green beans

Lamb kabobs
Grilled eggplant with mint
Grilled feta
Tomato salad

Gnocchi salad

Stuffed grilled pizza

Franks and beans
Corn on the cob

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Drink of the Week: Briar Patch

This drink is from the September 2007 issue of Gourmet. It's an example of a style of drink I (and others) would call a "cooler": it's a tall drink topped off with seltzer, so it's refreshing and a little fizzy.

First, you make a chile-blackberry syrup (drop those raised eyebrows; it tastes very nice, really). The syrup is sweet and berry-ish, and has a smoky, spicy note, but it's not hot at all.

I think the chile-blackberry syrup recipe will be up shortly on epicurious.com so I'm not going to post it now (I will post it if they don't get it up there).

The recipe called for bourbon or rye. In the spirit of doing complete investigatons for our readers (ah, is there anything we won't do for you?), we made both versions and preferred the one with rye.

Briar Patch
Mix together in a shaker or glass:
  • 3 parts bourbon or rye
  • 1 part chile-blackberry syrup
  • squeeze lemon juice
Pour over ice in a highball or iced tea glass. Add club soda or seltzer to taste (The recipe tells you to use an 8 oz. glass and fill with club soda - I thought that was a little too fizzy.).

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Corn and Zucchini Saute

Sorry kids, no menu this week. I'll be back online soon with some very exciting posts.

To keep you sated until my return, here's a great way to use the bumper crops of zucchini and corn that are coming in now.

Corn and Zucchini Saute with Mint (inspired by Fine Cooking magazine)

For two:
  • 3 ears of corn, shucked
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 2 small or 1 large zucchini, cut into medium dice (about 1/2")
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • handful of mint, chopped
Cut the corn kernels off the cobs. (There is no way to do this neatly: I have tried the deep bowl, cobs cut in half, and mandoline methods. Just commit yourself to cleaning corn juice off your cabinets.)

In a large skillet (at least 10" - if you double this recipe, use a big big skillet, 14" or so), heat some olive oil over high heat. Saute the shallots until starting to brown. Add the zucchini and continue to saute until browned (this part is to your taste - depending on the night and the timing of the rest of the meal I may saute the zucchini to dark golden brown. Other nights, a light blond is all I'll do.). In general, the smaller the cubes of zucchini, the faster the cooking time.

Once the zucchini is done to your liking, add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add the corn. Continue to cook until the corn is heated through - you aren't cooking, so much as warming the corn: it should stay a little crunchy.

Stir in the mint and season with salt and pepper to taste. This is best freshly made, but the leftovers are nice too.

Note: You can tart this up a bit by adding hot peppers (with the zucchini), goat cheese (at the end), lime or lemon juice and/or changing the herbs. You can make this with leftover cooked corn on the cob, but you won't get the nice crunchy/cooked counterpoint with the zucchini.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Welcome Foodie Blogrollers!

You'll notice a new link on the sidebar: it's for the Foodie Blogroll. I found the Blogroll on another site and have asked to become a member.

Click around, you never know what you'll find. I am enjoying Jaden's Steamy Kitchen, Nirmala's Cooking Corner, and Bong Mom's Cookbook (not what you think).


Welcome fellow Blogrollers. For more information about the Foodie Blogroll, click here.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Tartines of Tomato and Cucumber with Avocado

A tartine is simply an open-faced sandwich. You can put just about anything on a tartine. This was what we ate for lunch on Sunday and it was so good I had to share it with you.

You could mix the cucumber and tomato together, but I really liked alternating bites between the two styles of sandwich.

Tartine of Tomato and Cucumber with Avocado

You will need for two servings:
  • Slices of artisan or country-style bread (this should be a sturdy loaf, but whether it's white, wheat, cheese, etc. is up to you): 4 large slices or 6-8 small slices, depending on the size/style of the loaf
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 of a medium cucumber, sliced
  • 1 medium tomato, sliced or 8-10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 lime
  • salt and pepper
Brush the bread with a little olive oil and grill or toast it until lightly golden. Cut open the avocado and remove it from the peel. Mash it a little with a fork. Spread the avocado on the toast slices. Sprinkle with lime juice and salt and pepper.

Top each toast with cucumber and/or tomato. Sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper. Serve.

These would make a nice cocktail nibble if you made mini tartines (tartinettes?) with a baguette. Just don't hold them too long as the avocado will turn brown.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Week of August 5

We went fishing this weekend. I was hoping we'd come back with many fillets of smokeable fish like mackerel and bluefish, plus a couple striped bass of course. The mate on our boat must have chuckled to himself when he saw two large coolers (TWO!) in our trunk. Talk about optimism. We caught four striped bass, but none were keepers, and we came home empty-handed.

All that said, we had a great time on the water and we did agree that since we weren't going to spend the rest of the weekend cleaning, smoking and freezing fish we now had oodles of free time.

I'll be traveling next week and won't be home to cook at all next weekend. I'm also pretty busy planning for my trip, so I am taking advantage of all the great produce I can find to take care of this week.

On Sunday I will:
  • Roast red peppers and grill eggplant & zucchini to use in various dishes later this week.
  • Make a carrot and beet salad.
  • Make yogurt cheese - will post on this soon.
  • Hard-boil a few eggs.
  • Make Sunday dinner.
Menu for the week
Grilled shrimp
Roasted potato salad (the potatoes are home-grown, yay me)
Corn and zucchini saute (inspired by Fine Cooking)

Angel hair with grilled zucchini, tomatoes, parsley and lemon zest
Green salad

Millet salad with eggplant and red peppers
Beet and carrot salad with tarragon and chives
Hard-boiled eggs
Yogurt cheese

Grilled chicken with herbs de Provence
Grilled corn on the cob
Radish and turnip "carpaccio" (this is just very thinly sliced radishes and turnips sprinkled with salt and olive oil - don't get too dazzled by the lingo)
Green salad

Italian cold cut and roasted vegetable sandwiches

On the road!
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