Monday, August 31, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Then I got fancy with the leftovers. The next night I added chopped Al Fresco All Natural chicken sausage and made a heartier soup that way. It was good.
The final installment, there being not much left, took another tack. I sauteed 1/2 lb pork sausage and added the remaining soup, minus the broth (it went down the sink...). I whirled 2 fist-sized pieces of fresh baguette and a couple ounces white cheddar in the food processor. I stuck 2 cleaned halves of an acorn squash and 2 hollowed-out red peppers in the oven to pre-cook at 400 degrees (oiled and salted) about 10 minutes. I combined the sausage/soup and the bread/cheese, mixed in an egg and some extra oregano and thyme, and pushed the mixture into the squash halves and peppers. Baked them 40 minutes at 375. Cooked some broccoli rabe in olive oil. All good...the squash, fresh from the greenmarket, was awesome meaty tasty wonderful, the stuffing bold and chewy. But we still have leftovers. Spouse will take them to work for lunch.
I had different plans for tonight's dinner: I had a couple bottles of beer chilling too. Because dinner was spicy black beans with sun-dried tomato chicken sausage, served with a polenta casserole.* Spicy black beans with Suavignon Blanc?!? Horrors! The wine could never withstand such an assault! Never!
Well, duh. Spouse was entirely right. The wine was delicious with the food. Better than even a lighter less tannic red wine would have been. Better than a Riesling or Gewurtztraminer? Dunno. Maybe. This is a rich, complex Suav Blanc: fruity, dry, flinty, but also spicy, nearly as aggressive as an unoaked Chardonnay. Sipping it alone it's just plain delicious. I'm impressed.
*Spicy black beans: saute chopped onion, chopped red pepper, chopped zucchini, sliced chicken sausage (Al Fresco All Natural brand, from the supermarket); add 1 can black beans, 1 chopped beefsteak tomato, 1 ear corn sliced off the cob; add spices salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, oregano, thyme, Penzey's Chili 9000 blend. Cook about 20 minutes total.
Polenta casserole (based on a 1997 Food & Wine Magazine recipe): chop & saute (in grapeseed oil) 1 small onion, 1 small red pepper, 1 yellow or green zucchini; cool slightly. Beat 2 eggs with 1-1/2 cup milk; add 3/4 cup cornmeal/polenta, 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, salt, 1 tsp dry thyme. Combine with cooled veg. Pour into casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes. Makes 4-5 servings.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Orchid people buy hybrid seedlings rather than clones because it's exciting to be the first on your block to see the results from a good hybrid. Sometimes all we ever see from a hybrid cross is one clone, maybe two, that hits the mass market because the original grower decided to bloom out the seedlings and pick the best early bloomers for themselves. Sometimes only a few plants from a cross are any good, and they never get cloned at all; we see them in the award pages, and none others.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Chop about 1 cup yellow onion, 1/2 cup of sweet red pepper, mince a clove of garlic, saute in 2 tbsp olive oil with salt and pepper. Chop 1 or 2 zucchini into dice (depends how much you like zucchini), add to the pot. Chop about 3 fist-sized beefsteak tomatoes, coarsely, and add to the pot before the zucchini is quite cooked. Slice the kernels from 3-4 ears of corn (depending on size); bicolor or yellow corn is best, being more flavorful. Add to the pot. The mixture is likely a bit thick, even though the tomatoes are yielding their juice, so add water til it looks "soupy" to your liking. Add seasonings at this point: more salt and pepper, and whatever fresh summer herbs you like...basil, thyme, rosemary, parsley, diced scallions, dill...in whatever quantity suits your taste. Cover and cook over very low heat about 10 minutes.
Serve with crusty dunkable bread, and plenty of sharp white cheddar cheese. Hot sauce optional. Chilled rose, vinho verde, suavignon blanc or reisling go great with this.
Makes 4 servings
My lazy-ass version of boulliabaise. Make the above recipe but make several additions: finely chopped fresh fennel bulb to taste; fish and/or seafood; and instead of water use white wine, clam juice or mild fish stock.
The fish can be any firm white fish that won't fall apart into mushy bits: cod, scrod, halibut, hake, rockfish, tilapia, catfish, baja, snapper, grouper...see, anything! Oily fish like bluefish or salmon aren't to my taste, but you can try. Be my guest. Cut the fillets in bite-size pieces, keeping in mind that some pieces will flake apart, and add them to the pot so they get cooked no more than 10 minutes. Small shrimp, cut-up squid and whole live mussels are also very good additions. They need only about 5 minutes cooking.
Feel free to season this version liberally with pepper and herbs. Add a splash of dry white wine if you didn't use fish stock or clam juice. A splash of Pernod or other anise liqueur just before the tomatoes go in, will add to that mock-bouilliabaise sensation.
Serve with crusty bread. Hot sauces are optional, but we really like Outerbridge Sherry Peppers Sauce with this -- the real stuff from Bermuda. We might have to take another cruise there to stock up again. White or rose wine, or Belgian or German-style wit (white or wheat) beer are excellent accompaniment.
Indian Tomato-Corn-Lentil Chowder
Makes 4 servings
This takes the whole concept to a new level. It's slightly more complicated, but in the end just as flexible to adjust to your tastes.
After the onion, garlic and red pepper are sauteeing in a neutral oil (like grapeseed), add a tablespoon of yellow or black whole mustard seeds. Stir well. Add at least a teaspoon each of ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric and (horrors!) commercial curry powder you like. Cayenne pepper or fresh hot peppers are optional. Add the zucchini and the tomatoes. Immediately add 1 cup of cleaned rinsed red split lentils, and at least 1 cup of water. The red lentils need at least 15 minutes to become soft. Add the corn as they're softening. Add chopped spinach, or purslane, if available. Also add a generous cup of chopped coriander/cilantro before turning off the heat.
Serve with crusty bread or naan, plenty of thick strained yogurt, and chilled lager or pilsener. Riesling or Gewurtztraminer are also good.
Purslane is easy to find in the Union Square Greenmarket in summer, especially on Saturdays. It's commonly used in Turkish and Indian cooking as a green vegetable, and a lovely person I know from Ravelry who owns a farm also adds it to salads. It adds quite a nutritional punch to this soup, making it a real one-bowl meal.