Monday, July 31, 2006

It’s not a Democracy at this Table

Yesterday it was Norton and Kramden. Abbott and Costello. Combinations that work well seemingly because their components are so different.

Today, it’s more along the lines of combinations that we’ve just never tried before. Nothing exotic. Just common ingredients. Ones that we’d not put together yet.



With some interesting tasting results.

A warning – it’s apparently not for everyone. The vote was split two for and two against.

I liked it, as did TeenGirl, for whatever that is worth.

The combination is watermelon, tomatoes and balsamic. With basil and mint. Fairly ordinary summer ingredients. We came across this idea in a variety of different recipes on the Internet, and sort of pieced together what seemed to be an interesting recipe from them.

The tomato / balsamic / herb combination is common enough.

For the naysayers, the surprising combination was not so much the watermelon / tomato pairing, although the acidy tomatoes contrasted sharply with the sweet watermelon. The surprise was more the watermelon / balsamic combination.

Apparently the watermelon and balsamic vinegar combined to be somehow ‘too sweet’ for some. Since I liked it, I can’t really explain first hand how this was a problem. The flavor was certainly intense. A little bit along the lines of the well known strawberry balsamic combination – which oddly enough everyone likes.

I liked it. The balsamic seemed to add a lot more depth to the watermelon flavor. That touch of acid adding some balance to the one dimensional watermelon flavor.

To me, the more surprising flavor contrast was exactly the tomato / watermelon. Without the basil and mint to ease the transition, I don’t think it would have worked too well. The acid in the tomatoes was just to sharp a contrast to the simple sweetness of the watermelon. But the addition of the basil and mint helped ease these two sharply distinct flavors into a flavorful harmony.



When you got a taste of everything at once – watermelon, tomato, basil, mint and balsamic – it was vibrant. There was a lot going on in your mouth at once. As said, to me it was great. Others were less enthused. But hey! More for me, right?

But I can say that the presentation is dramatic and beautiful (apparently hard to capture in a photo though). It’s a real centerpiece dish. Whether you like the taste or not, you’re sure to love the look.

Well, the dinner table is not much of a democracy. If half the group is not eating, no matter how good I think it is, this one will have to go into that list of recipes that get made only on the rare occasions when ‘certain people’ are not present. We just have to figure out how to organize this in the next few days so we can use the other half of the watermelon!

But give it a try! It’s easy to make, and you may find yourself on the side that likes it!



Watermelon, Tomato and Balsamic Salad
Recipe by surfindaave
Serves 4 as a side dish

Ingredients:
½ of a large seedless watermelon
1 ½ pints grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half or quarters
1 cup loosely packed chiffonade cut fresh basil leaves
1 cup loosely packed chiffonade cut fresh mint leaves
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Salt, pepper

Cut watermelon in half again lengthwise, such that you have two quarters. Slice each quarter into fairly thin (1/4 to ½ inch thick) slices. Remove rind, and reserve.

In a bowl, toss tomatoes, basil and mint with some balsamic, salt and pepper. Drizzle in a little olive oil and toss.

Arrange the watermelon slices in concentric overlapping rings on a large platter. Splash lightly with balsamic vinegar (not too much – just a taste). Heap the tomato mixture on top. Serve. Enjoy!


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Sunday, July 30, 2006

A Tense Harmony - WHB

Like Laurel and Hardy. Norton and Kramden. Abbott and Costello. .Lucy and Ricky.



Some things would never seem to go together. Opposites. Unending friction. The ever sought after harmony seemingly completely absent

Then you see them together.

And somehow the chemistry is there. It works. It works because they are opposites. They complement each other. The friction between them bonds them stronger than it pulls them apart.

Yin and Yang.

Alone, there would always be something missing.

But it’s not a passive harmony. It’s a dynamic one. It’s not peaches and cream. More oil and vinegar. Bristling with a tension that it the root of the attraction.



I’ve always seen dill and garlic as strong flavors that don’t mix. Two things to be enjoyed separately. Not together.

They would clash. One would subsume the other. The result would be terrible.

So I kept them apart for the most part. Maybe they mixed accidentally in a pre-packaged chip dip at some collage party. But who would have known anyways?

But I had a real dilemma on my hands. Corn and dill. Growing older by the minute. And corn generally doesn’t last forever. With some scapes we had bought a few days ago. The scapes are actually chive stalks and buds, but still from the same family. I figured they would have to go somehow in different dishes on different days.

But then I came back to my senses.



There’s lots of examples of corn and dill and garlic together. Just takes a little imagination.

So we invented a simple dish. A pasta sauce. Something for the height of summer. With corn, dill, tomatoes, garlic, scapes and a touch of cream. Putting a few things together that we had read about in the various WHB posts from others. For , sponsored by .

The result was wonderful. You could really taste the cool clean dill shining through. It helped highlight the sweetness of the corn. The scapes, with their slightly peppery chivy taste combined with the garlic to provide the exciting dynamic to the dish. Everything held together by the creamy tomato-y sauce. Delicious!



Pasta with Corn, Dill and Scapes
Recipe by surfindaave
Serves 4

Ingredients:
Kernels from 6 ears corn
Olive oil
6 tomatoes, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cream
3-4 sprigs fresh dill
1 bunch chive scapes
1 pound pasta
1 cup pasta water, reserved from cooking pasta
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt, pepper to taste

Heat salted water in a large kettle. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, but do not rinse. Reserve and keep warm.

While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion. Sautee until softened. Add garlic, corn kernels and scapes, and season with salt and pepper. Sautee over medium high heat until kernels are softened and browned in places. Remove scapes, reserving, and add tomatoes, and sauté until liquid is reduced. Adjust salt and pepper as needed. Add cream and dill. Heat through.

Toss pasta gently with sauce and grated cheese. Add a little reserved pasta water as necessary if the pasta is too dry.

Place pasta with sauce into heated bowls. Place one or two scapes decoratively on top of each plate. Serve. Enjoy!


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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Pirates of the Panzanella

Swashbuckling flavors? Treasure-seeking flavors? Flavors worthy of Johnny Depp playing the lead for them?



I guess not. There seems to be no way to tie the movie in to today’s food. Seemed like a funny, clever title at the time. Maybe good for some product tie-ins and eventual royalty payments.

But not to be. So back to the real world. Todays’ post:

We wanted some bold flavors. Ripe flavors. Summer flavors.

We were willing to put in some effort to create them. But not too much effort. After all, we don’t want to add to the 150 people who have died from the heat in the last two weeks here in California. A realistic fear if you’ve been inside my hot kitchen lately.

We just want to be able to sit back afterwards and make comments about how we pulled off another one, and how we’re glad to take a load off, and how we’re a little tired, but not too tired. Things like that.

Naturally food tastes that much better when you’ve worked a bit for it. The appetite, somewhat lacking in our unusually hot and humid weather, might make a return appearance. You never know.

So we were looking to put in just a bit of effort before sitting back.

And enjoying some bold, ripe summer flavors. Preferably something cool.

There are naturally a lot of choices here. Soups. Salads. But we were looking for something a little different. Something we hadn’t tried in a while.



And while looking around at the various raw materials in the kitchen, especially the day old baguette and the tomatoes, a classic panzanella came to mind.

Basically a tomato and bread salad. With bold basil and garlic flavors. And a hint of fresh summer tarragon and lemon.

And best of all, a cool dish. Served room temperature. A perfect companion for enjoying with a big bold red wine to start the dinner while sitting in the evening breeze.



Tomato Panzanella
Recipe courtesy Michael Chiarello, FoodNetwork

2 pounds ripe roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
1/4 cup minced red onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 teaspoon sea salt, preferably gray salt
Several grinds black pepper
Panzanella Croutons, recipe follows
2 cups trimmed arugula
Wedge Parmesan, for shaving

Drain the tomatoes in a sieve to remove excess liquid while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, basil, tarragon, salt, and pepper. Add the croutons and toss well.
Divide tomato mixture among 4 plates. Top each serving with an equal amount of the arugula. With a vegetable peeler, shave the Parmesan over the salad. Serve immediately.
Michael's Notes: I've used basil and tarragon here, but you can use any herbs you like. Parsley and marjoram come to mind as good alternatives.


Panzanella Croutons

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
6 cups crustless cubed day-old bread (1/2-inch cubes)
Sea salt, preferably gray salt, and freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and preheat a cookie sheet in it.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and cook until it foams. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the bread cubes and toss to coat with the butter. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the bread to a baking sheet. Immediately sprinkle with the cheese and toss again while warm to melt the cheese.
Bake, stirring once or twice, until the croutons are crisp and lightly colored on the outside but still soft within, about 8 or 9 minutes. Let cool. Store in an airtight container.
Michael's Notes: I use a serrated knife to remove the crust from day-old bread, then switch to a chef's knife to cut the cubes because it doesn't tear the bread. Also note that I recommend grating the Parmesan finely so that it will stick to the bread better.
Yield: about 6 cups


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Friday, July 28, 2006

Ice Ice Baby SHF

Yo Sarah let's kick it



Ice ice baby
Ice ice baby




All right stop collaborate and listen
Surfindaave is back with my brand new creation

Something grabs a hold of me tightly
Chill like the Brazilian Girls daily and nightly

Will it ever stop yo I don't know
Turn off the heat and let the frost flow

To the extreme I cool like a dead soul
Ice up a palate and freeze it like the north pole

Anglaise go dash to the chiller that gush
I'm hurtin’ your brain like a ice cream rush

Deadly when I concoct a dope gastronomy
Anything less than the best is a felony

Love it or leave it you better gain weight
With Sugar High Friday it’s time to plate

If there was a problem yo I'll solve it
Check out the book while my McGee resolves it

CHORUS
Ice ice baby Sarah’s SHF (x4)

Now that the party is jumping
With the cooler kicked in and the freezers are pumpin'

Quick to the point to the point no faking
I'm icin’ fruit an veggies like a root beer float shakin’

Burning them if you ain't quick and nimble
I go crazy when I taste a cold edible

And a sorbet with a souped up kick
I'm on a roll and I’m goin’ solo quick

Rollin' in my Sub-Zero
With my hood up full so my hair can blow

The girlies at the counter waving just to say hi
Did you stop no I just cooked on by

Kept on pursuing to the next cold source
I busted a dish and I'm heading to the next course

The stove was dead
Yo so I continued to Sarah’s Delicious Life

Girls were hot wearing less than bikinis
Rockman lovers driving Lamborghinis

Jealous 'cause I'm stuck here cookin’ like mad
TeenGirl with a KitchenAid and SurfinDaave with my All-Clad

Sautee-in for the chumps at the cafe
The chumps acting ill because they're so full of the buffet

Timers rang out like a bell
Grabbed my digital camera I could feel the cold spell

Falling on the Web-Sphere real fast
Jumped in my Blog slammed on the gas

Photo to photo Flicker’s been hacked
I'm trying to get away before the Food Porn’s packed

Sarah’s on the scene you know what I mean
She passed me up confronted all the sugar fiends

If there was a problem yo Sarah’ll solve it
Check out the SHF while Sarah resolves it

CHORUS
Ice ice baby Sarah’s SHF (x4)

Take heed 'cause I'm a lyrical chef poet
SoCal’s on the scene just in case you didn't know it

My town that created all the Serendipitous food
Enough to feed a ever growin’ teenage hood

'Cause my style's like a chemical spill
Feasible dishes that you can vision and feel

Concocted and formed
This is a hell of a concept

We make it sizzle you want to bite with this
TeenGirl plays on the mandolin slice like a ninja

Cut like a razor blade so fast other chefs say damn
If my blog was a drug I'd sell it by the gram

Keep my composure when it's time to get loose
Magnetized by the flavor while I kick my menus

If there was a problem yo I'll solve it
Check out the SHF blog while Sarah resolves it

Ice ice baby Sarah
Ice ice baby (oh-oh) Sarah
Ice ice baby Sarah
Ice ice baby
Sarah’s SHF
Yo man let's get out of here
Word to your mother
Ice ice baby too cold
Ice ice baby too cold too cold (x2)
Ice ice baby





Sweet Gazpacho Sorbet with Frozen Vodka
Recipe by surfindaave

Ingredients:
Bottle of Vodka, left in freezer for a few days
Tomato Essence Ice Bowls (recipe follows)
Basil and Chili Tomato Sorbet (recipe Follows)
Cucumber Lime Sorbet (recipe follows)
Red Pepper Cumin Sorbet (recipe follows)
Red Wine Vinegar Red Onion Sorbet (recipe follows)
Frozen cilantro leaves for garnish, if desired

Arrange variety of sorbet balls (based on personal taste preference) in each ice bowl set into a large decorative bowl. Garnish with frozen cilantro. Serve on a super super super hot day (like every one has been for the last tree weeks!). Enjoy many sips of frozen Vodka while soup slowly melts in front of your eyes into a wonderfully cold, lightly sweet summer gazpacho. Enjoy!


Tomato Essence Ice Bowls
Recipe by surfindaave

Ingredients:
5 pounds tomatoes, chopped
Cheese cloth

Wrap tomatoes in two layers of cheese cloth. Hang over a bowl overnight in the refrigerator. There should be several cups of tomato essence water in the bowl in the morning.

Tape two identically shaped soup bowls together with a 1/3 inch thick spacer between them so that there is a gap between the bowls. Fill this gap with the tomato essence water. Freeze until solid. Repeat to make as many bowls as needed, or if you have a lot of identical bowls, make as many bowl pairs as needed and freeze all at once.


Basil and Chili Tomato Sorbet
Recipe by surfindaave

Ingredients:
1 32 ounce can peeled roma tomatoes, drained
1 serrano chili (seeds removed)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
8 basil leaves
juice from ½ lemon
1/3 cup simple syrup

Add all ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth.

Freeze in an ice cream machine, or place in a shallow pan in freezer, and stir every hour for three hours, then let freeze.

Form frozen sorbet into balls. Let refreeze on a plate.


Cucumber Lime Sorbet
Recipe by surfindaave

Ingredients:
1 large cucumber, seeds removed, cut into pieces
juice of 2 limes
1/3 cup simple syrup
1 tsp finely chopped lime peel

Add all ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth.

Freeze in an ice cream machine, or place in a shallow pan in freezer, and stir every hour for three hours, then let freeze.

Form frozen sorbet into balls. Let refreeze on a plate.



Red Pepper Cumin Sorbet
Recipe by surfindaave

2 large red peppers, seeded, and white membrane removed, cut into pieces
1-2 tbsp cumin powder (to taste)

Add all ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth.

Freeze in an ice cream machine, or place in a shallow pan in freezer, and stir every hour for three hours, then let freeze.

Form frozen sorbet into balls. Let refreeze on a plate.


Red Wine Vinegar and Red Onion Sorbet
Recipe by surfindaave

Ingredients:
½ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup simple syrup
¼ red onion, minced

Combine all ingredients. Freeze in an ice cream machine, or place in a shallow pan in freezer, and stir every hour for three hours, then let freeze.

Form frozen sorbet into balls. Let refreeze on a plate.



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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Humble Pie

I’ve tried to make pies. But it is just not in my blood somehow. And I just don’t care. Plenty of others make great pies. I’m happy to eat theirs.



It’s not that I haven’t tried. I’ve had bursts of craziness in which I was determined to make some sort of pie. Never had success. Not once. Mainly because of the crusts.

I’ve had them crumble in my hand.

I’ve burned the crusts beyond recognition.

I’ve had the dough fall to a million pieces on the floor as I tried to transfer it from the board to the pie pan by draping it over the rolling pin. Which was funny only in retrospect. After we had cleaned up all the pieces of dough stuck to the walls and ceiling and floor. After we had thrown it all around the room in disgust and frustration. After it had hit the deck. For like the third time in as many tries.

I’ve had pie crusts so hard they shattered when I tried to cut them.

I’ve had pie crusts that just never cooked.

I’ve tried traditional crust recipes, butter crusts, cookie crumb crusts, nut crusts, I’ve tried margarine and lard and butter and who knows what all, crusts with baking powder, and those without, crusts that you bake first with weights, lots of crusts.

But they never turned out. And to be honest, I’m glad.

Because I eventually found something I like better. Better than pie. Better, even, than apple pie.



I found Pâte Brisée. A wonderful dough.

And I make galettes with it.

Pâte Brisée has just three basic ingredients. Flour, butter and water. I add some sugar for sweet galettes, and leave it out for savory galettes.

Just to be clear, I am not referring to the specialty from Brittany that is made with buckwheat flour and is in essence a savory crêpe, although they are also called galettes and I make those as well, and they are good too.

I am referring to basically a free form pie, made with a Pâte Brisée crust, and filled generally with fresh seasonal fruit.



The beauty is in the simplicity. A rich butter dough, baked till crisp, filled with fresh fruit. Maybe served with a dollop of Crème Fraîche or unsweetened whipped cream.

I actually served this one with the Goat Cheese Ice Cream I had made a few days ago.

The filling is fresh and clean tasting, being that it’s just fresh fruit, not glopped up with unnecessary sugar or starch. The crust is similarly fresh and clean tasting.



And, for some reason, it turns out nearly perfect every time I make it. Whether filled with apples, cherries, figs, apricots, whatever.

So I’ve eaten my humble pie. And I leave the real pie making to those who can pull it off. I’m happy with my galettes. A dollop of something creamy on top, and maybe a sip of Calvados on the side. Enjoy!




The recipe for Galettes and Pâte Brisée are found here:
http://serendipitouschef.blogspot.com/2006/03/sweet-sixteens-all-grown-up.html
http://serendipitouschef.blogspot.com/2006/07/for-taking.html

The recipe for Brittany style buckwheat galettes can be found here:
http://serendipitouschef.blogspot.com/2006/04/signs-didnt-point-to-galettes.html


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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Bring on the Heat!

In one of my first jobs, in the Bay Area (i.e. near San Jose, CA), I worked with a number of guys who had somehow gotten out of what was back then still known as Red China (they all had horrific stories of the cultural revolution – first hand – though many no longer had parents because of it). Most of them came from a very hot region of China. High temps. High humidity. I believe they came from central China, maybe Sichuan – it is so long ago, I can’t remember exactly. But it was brutally hot there in the summer.

And naturally, they ate food so hot I couldn’t even withstand the smell of it. They put down hot chili peppers, raw, like they were carrot sticks. Hot peppers that caused my eyes to burn and my mouth to hurt for an hour after just a tiny nibble.



Hot regions favor spicy hot foods. Often smokin’ spicy hot foods. Up in northern Europe, Copenhagen, or Hamburg, or Amsterdam, or Liverpool, we got mild things, with dill and cream and vinegar. Down here near the deserts, we eat hot – as in spicy, even when it’s hot outside. ‘Cause we’re all masochistic nuts.

It’s like some testosterone fueled contest: ‘Who can stand the Heat’. “You think that’s hot? Watch this!” we gasp at each other, faces flushed, sweat streaming down our brows.

So we made some soothing cool cucumber yogurt soup.

Other then just climbing right in the freezer, what could be better? Cold yogurt. Cold cucumbers. Cool, cool dill. Chilled for hours before consuming.

But, of course, being that it’s hot here, we couldn’t leave things at that.

So we added some heat. To the cool, cool yogurt cucumber soup.

Chili peppers. Cayenne pepper. And chili powder.

We are masochistic nuts.



But it was wonderful. The cool, soothing flavors of the yogurt and cucumbers still predominated. But those flavors were backed up by a smokin’ hot symphony of fiery chili.

Since we’re gonna’ sweat anyways, we might as well enjoy it!


Fiery Cool Cucumber Soup
Recipe by surfindaave
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
2 pounds cucumbers (seeded), peeled and cut into pieces
1 red pepper, seeded and cut into pieces
2 green onions, chopped
3 cups non-fat yogurt
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 tbsp fresh chopped dill
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 serrano chili, (seeded if you want less heat)
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp paprika
½ tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp rice wine viengar
Additional yogurt, for garnish, if desired
Additional chopped red pepper, for garnish, if desired
Additional sprigs of mint, for garnish, if desired

Add all ingredients, except those for the garnish, to a food processor. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Chill the soup for several hours before serving. Ladle the soup into chilled bowls, garnish with a scoop of yogurt, a sprinkle of chopped red peppers and a sprig of mint, if desired. Serve. Enjoy!


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Monday, July 24, 2006

Just try to stay cool

It’s like in that movie, Rear Window.

Unbearable heat, humidity, weeks on end. And people start doing more and more crazy bad things. All over the world.

Around here, we aren’t so much killing each other as the heat is doing the job for us. Although there’s still plenty of drive-bys to go around.

But this is just the food blog. So we’ll stick to the food.



So we are spending most of our time just trying to stay cool. In all dimensions – thermally, psychically, inner-ly, as many ways as possible.

Did you know that you can put frozen watermelon cubes into almost anything and it will taste better on a hot steamy day? Juice, cereal, yogurt, salads, soups, whatever.

Plus, TeenGirl found what seems to be a quintessential summer salad.

Cucumbers. Practically the definition of cool. Combined with radishes. Which scream summer with their bright red outer and their pure white inner. And parsley. Fresh. Calming. Soothing.

This one is a little different, though, as the cucs and radishes are sort of blanched in a spicy brine before tossing them in a vinaigrette and chilling them. The brine bath has the effect of taking some of the punch out of the radishes, softening everything just a bit, and infusing everything with a garlic and peppercorn background heat.

The result is subtle. Not a slap-in-the-face style flavor so common these days. Instead, a subtle, nuanced taste. At once cool, pleasant, but still vibrant.

She made this one for us while we sat outside trying to catch whatever tiny wisp of breeze we could on an unbearably hot summer evening.



Cucumber and Radish Salad
Recipe from Gourmet magazine, July 2004
Serves 4 as side dish

Ingredients:
6 cups water
1 tsp sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced
10 black peppercorns
3 tbsp salt
several Persian (seedless) cucumbers, about 1 pound, peeled, and cut into 1/3 inch slices
1 bunch radishes, trimmed, and quartered
1 cup loosely packed parsley leaves, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
Ice cubes for ice water bath

In a large pot, bring water, sugar, garlic, peppercorns and salt to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes, uncovered, to infuse water with garlic and peppercorn. Remove the brine from heat, and add the cucumber and radish pieces. Let stand, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Transfer cucumbers and radishes to a bowl of ice water, cool thoroughly, then drain well. Toss cucumbers and radishes with parsley, olive oil, and season with additional salt to taste. Chill, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Serve. Enjoy!


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Saturday, July 22, 2006

More than just Friends - WHB

Somehow, in the culinary part of my mind, tarragon has gotten all tangled up with tomatoes.

It’s a steamy hot affair. A sensual meshing of perfectly complementary parts in a passionate embrace, forming a seamless whole. A bond that would seem to last forever.



But you know those naughty herbs. Tarragon just can’t stay true. It’s always sneaking off into some other dish. Even if the chemistry is not perfect. Then scurrying back before its one true love is destroyed.

But not to fear, the tomato will always be there waiting, ever the patient unjudgmental Gump.

I have to admit to being the catalyst for this latest tarragonal tryst. It’s mid-summer, and we are awash with fresh tarragon and tomatoes. Now we even have a source for tasty heirloom tomatoes (still great!). So you would think that the tarragon tomato romance would last forever, like Paul and Holly, or Benjamin and Elaine (Romeo and Juliet have nothing on Paul and Holly!).



But we’re also drowning in corn. And it’s pretty good this year. We almost always get white corn, less from choice so much than because that is all there is to buy. And find different ways to roast the kernels to bring out the natural sweetness and enhance it with some intense caramelization. Sometimes in the husk over coals. Sometimes cut from the cob and set under the broiler. Or tossed in olive oil and sautéed in a pan.

The corn we are getting is sold as white corn. All corn sold now days is what is known as sweet corn (as opposed to feed corn, intended for livestock). This is artificially bred corn that is controlled to enhance genes that promote sweetness. Corn used to be sweet. Then came enhanced sweet corn. Now we are on to super sweet corn. Which some seem to feel has left the corn taste behind in favor of additional sweetness. In addition, the corn is being bred to migrate from yellow, which used to predominate, to a more white color. I was not sure if the white color sort of came along with the enhanced sweetness, but that was implied.

Just like with tomatoes, and a host of other things, heirloom corn is available. And, as implied, the corn is allowed to pollinate and geminate in an uncontrolled environment, with all the associated genetic diversity. Such corn will never be nearly as sweet as current super sweet corn. But it may have other benefits, such as tasting like actual corn, and promoting a more sustainable farming eco-cycle. Here are a few links to follow on corn:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweetcorn
http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/Garden/07607.html
There are additional links on heirloom corn seeds, but since these are mainly commercial sites, you can search for these yourselves.

I’ve written about tarragon before. And indicated we are likely getting what is known as Mexican tarragon. Which is sweeter in general than the ‘traditional’ variety known from French classic cooking.

And I do like the corn tarragon combination. Not as much as tarragon tomato. This is not an intense love relationship, but they are certainly more than just friends.

So I thrust them together. After hiding my tomatoes in a brown paper bag. Of course, I always keep them in a paper bag till they’re ripe, but whatever!



And made a Roasted Corn and Tarragon Risotto. With a spicy fresh tomato salsa to go on top. For this edition of , sponsored this week by Paz of .

And that was very good. Sweet. The tarragon taste, because I added it at the very end, infused the entire dish with that wonderful, lightly licorice aroma.

But then we decided to go further.



This looked just like some of the batters for fritters, or even crab cakes.

So I chilled the risotto. And cut it out into rounds. And breaded it lightly with corn meal. And fried it up.

And we ate the rest of it as crispy cakes.

This is a carb bomb. Unusual for us. But delicious. And, unbelievably, it held together. Crisp, sweet little cakes. Set in a spicy tomato sauce. Outstanding!



Roasted Corn and Tarragon Risotto with Fresh Tomato Salsa
And
Roasted Corn and Tarragon Risotto Cakes on Fresh Tomato Salsa
Recipes by surfindaave
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
6 ears fresh corn, cut from cob, cobs reserved
8 cups chicken broth, heated to a boil with the reserved cobs, then kept hot
1 onion, chopped
700 grams arborio rice
olive oil
2-3 tbsp rice vinegar or white wine
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
¼ cup fresh tarragon leaves
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
salt, pepper
Fresh tomato salsa (recipe follows)
Additional parsley, chopped, for garnish, if desired

For the cakes:
½ cup flour
1 egg, mixed with 1 tbsp water
1 cup corn meal

Place the corn kernels on a large baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Toss the kernels with some olive oil, and spread them in a single layer as much as possible. Roast the kernels under the broiler, stirring occasionally, until they are well browned in many places. Remove from broiler and reserve.

Keep the chicken broth at a bare simmer.

In a large heavy pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened. Add the rice and turn up the heat. Cook the rice, stirring, until it begins to turn translucent. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the rice vinegar, stirring. Add 1 cup of broth, stirring. As the broth is absorbed, add additional broth ½ to 1 cup at a time, stirring. When ¾ of the broth has been added, add the corn kernels and any liquid in the roasting pan. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring, and adding broth as necessary. When the rice is al dente, remove from heat. Stir in the grated cheese, tarragon and fresh parsley. Season with salt and pepper as necessary, and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

You can serve this one as risotto, with the tomato salsa spooned on top.

Or, you can chill the finished risotto in a baking pan lined with wax paper (will take an hour or so, or do this the next day if you have leftovers). When chilled, cut into rounds or squares.

You can try to fry them as is in some olive oil. I floured them lightly, dipped them carefully in an egg wash, and then into corn meal. I chilled them for a half hour before frying to firm the up, then fried them in some olive oil. Not one fell apart! And then you have roasted corn risotto cakes. Serve the cakes on top of some of the tomato salsa, with some chopped parsley sprinkled on top. Delicious! Enjoy!



Fresh Tomato Salsa
Recipe by surfindaave
Serves 4 to 6 as garnish

Ingredients:
8 roma tomatoes, pips and skins removed, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 serrano chili, minced (with seeds is hotter)
a splash of red wine
1 pinch of sugar
olive oil

In a heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sautee the garlic for 1 minute, stirring (don’t let it burn). Add chopped tomatoes, chili, wine and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up the tomatoes with the spoon, over medium heat until the sauce is reduced and thickened. Set aside to cool and reserve.


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Friday, July 21, 2006

Crispy Green Chicken

I’m not adverse to trying new things.

But new things have a certain inertia to overcome before they have a chance of dislodging the tried and true. They have to prove their worth under fire, so to speak.

This is not because I am so much a tradition-based person, which I’m not. It has much more to do with the fact that I usually have less time to prepare meals than I would like, so it’s just easier, and quicker, to turn off the brain and go with the usual.



None the less, I’d seen everyone stuffing herbs under the skins of their chickens before roasting for some time now. Usually basil. Then roasting it. And swooning about the wonderful results.

Whereas I usually stuff the cavity with fresh lemons, thyme and parsley. And swoon about my results.

But today, I had a few minutes more than usual on my hands. And a pile of fresh basil as well. Two distinctly unusual circumstances. Time to tinker.

Another thing I wanted to try was a technique I’d seen from Alton Brown’s ‘Good Eats’ FoodNetwork show. He does not roast the Chicken whole, but instead cuts it open along the back and roasts it flattened out. So that it roasts faster, resulting in less drying out of the chicken, especially the breast meat.

To me, you loose a nice pocket for holding your lemons. And I love the flavor of the lemon in both the chicken and in the resulting pan gravy. But hey – I can give it a try once!

So I cut the beast. Right along the backbone. And, with another small cut or two along the sides, opened it up and got it pretty flat. It was connected between the breasts. I set it on top of some celery stalks in a roasting pan. You naturally need a larger roasting pan for this trick.

Then came the basil part. I gingerly felt around the junction of the skin and the raw flesh. With some manipulations, the skin loosened, and I was able to stick a few fingers beneath the skin. I continued to work my fingers deeper and deeper along the skin, until I had pretty much the whole skin loosened like a big pocket, but still attached to the bird. Working my fingers back and forth under the skin, I now know what it must be like to perform a liposuction. Distinctly not so pleasant as you might imagine.

Lots of room for basil, though. So I pushed as much in as possible, trying to get it to the far corners of the bird.

An olive oil rub on top, and into a hot oven. 425ºF.

While it was roasting, it occurred to me that the next time, I want to make a sort of gremolata, maybe from chopped basil, parsley, garlic and lemon zest, maybe a little lemon juice, and possibly some minced anchovies as well, and stuff that under the skin before roasting. See how that works.

Anyways, the results were good. The skin, having been loosened from the meat, and rubbed with olive oil, was super crispy. Of course, no one eats skin anymore but the dog (cursed cholesterol!). Plus, you could certainly both smell and taste the basil, as it had really infused the entire roasted chicken. And, of course, the basil went right onto everyone’s plate as part of the chicken, instead of being thrown away as when stuffed in the cavity. So that all seemed good.

The cooking time was obviously less than if I had roasted the bird whole, maybe 2/3s as long. I can’t say that the meat was any juicier. Seemed about the same to me.



But you do have to get over the fact that your roast chicken is now green. Quite a bright green in some places (despite my poor pictures). This caught some off guard. Green meat seems to be flagged on a genetic level as something to avoid.

I think this one is worth trying again, despite the green. Especially with the gremolata stuffed under the skin.


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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Semi-Freddo Tutti-Melted

I had seen some interesting ice creams over the last few years. Made from ingredients you wouldn’t usually associate with ice cream. Savory things, salty things, etc.

For example, olive oil ice cream. Sounds both interesting and a little odd. I guess you can make almost anything into an ice cream, with enough imagination.



But the one that caught my eye was a recipe for goat cheese ice cream.

‘Cause I really like goat cheese. Because of the tang combined with the creamy texture.

Ice cream made from goat cheese may seem odd at first glance, but it’s really nothing more than frozen cheese cake. With goat cheese instead of cream cheese. Suddenly not so very odd.

Plus, it’s fig season. And figs go pretty well with goat cheese, as evidenced a few days ago when I got figgy with it.

This time, to balance some really hot weather, I decided the time was right to try making some goat cheese ice cream.

The time was right, but nothing else was. So what do you do when life gives you an ice cream maker with the freezing tub left in the cupboard instead of stored in the freezer?

Well, you make semi-freddo. Which does not require an ice cream maker. Semi-freddo, as he name implies, does not freeze solid like ice cream. And it’s a bit lighter in texture, as less fat is used to make it. Because of this, semi-freddo it only gets semi-hard, and you have to serve it quickly or it will become tutti-melted molto velocemente (real fast!).

Naturally, there was no recipe for semi-freddo made from goat cheese, at least that I could find. But there were plenty for mascarpone, and even one for blue cheese. So I mixed and matched a bit, and came up with one that we all agree tastes pretty damn good. Like a cheese cake, frozen, with that sharp tang of goat cheese running through it.



The original dessert I saw was for roasted figs with port, served with the ice cream, and some decoration sprinkled around. A recipe by Charlie Trotter. Very creative.

I followed the roasting of the fig part of the recipe, then added a scoop of the goat cheese semi-freddo, and garnished.

The flavor was very nice. The port and fig sort of roast together, fusing flavors a bit. And the cold, tangy semi-freddo slowly (actually quickly – if your taking pictures!) melts over the roasted fig. I sprinkled some crushed pistachios and a little thyme (with tiny flowers) around for garnish.

While taking the initial set of photos with one fig, I froze the other figs, hoping that the frozen fig would help keep the scoop of semi-freddo cold a little longer during the picture taking.

And decided that the frozen fig with the port frozen right inside, sitting under the semi-freddo, while different in texture, was an improvement in some ways. I think I would serve the figs frozen in the summer, and room temperature in the winter. And to be honest (aren’t I always honest?) I liked the semi-freddo better than I think I would have liked the ice cream.



Port Roasted Figs with Goat Cheese Semi-Freddo
Based on an idea by Charlie Trotter
Recipe by surfindaave
Serves 4, with lots of semi-freddo extra

Ingredients:
4 ripe fresh figs
¼ cup port
½ cup sugar
¼ cup water
Goat Cheese Semi-Freddo (recipe follows)
Pistachios, for garnish, if desired
Fresh thyme sprigs, for garnish, if desired

Pre-heat oven to 350ºF.

Slice the stems off of the four figs. With a knife tip, carefully open up the pocket of the figs from the stem end, creating a little cup. If the hole at the flower end it too large, you can plug it up with a small piece of the trimmed stem.

In a small heavy saucepan, heat the sugar with the water, swirling, until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Toss the figs in the simple syrup, spooning it all around the outside and into the inside. Let all the excess syrup drip off and out. Fill the figs carefully with a few teaspoons of port. Place the figs on a baking tray, and bake for about 20 minutes, until just bubbling, but not mushy. Remove the figs to a plate and let cool completely, reserving all juices on the plates and pans. Note – at this point, you can place the figs in the freezer for 20 minutes, if desired.

Place one fig on each of four serving plates. Place a few drops of the baked fig juices decoratively around the plate. Sprinkle the plate with the pistachios.

Form four quenelles from the goat cheese semi-freddo using two teaspoons. Carefully place one quenelle on top of each fig. Garish the plates with the thyme sprigs, if desired. Serve immediately. Enjoy!


Goat Cheese Semi-Freddo
Recipe by surfindaave
Serves many!

Ingredients:
4 large fresh eggs, separated, and at room temperature
8 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature, cut into chunks
¾ cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup water
¼ tsp cream of tartar
pinch of salt
½ cup fresh heavy cream, well chilled

Oil a 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan, and line it completely with plastic wrap, ensuring enough extra plastic wrap overhangs the edges so the pan can be covered after filling. Set aside.

Beat the egg yolks with the 2 tbsp sugar until they become light yellow and creamy. Mix the goat cheese into the mixture, and beat until well combined, scraping down the sides as necessary. Reserve.

In a small heavy saucepan, heat the ¾ cup sugar with the 1/3 cup water, swirling, until the sugar melts. Continue to cook until the syrup thickens and starts to bubble up.

While the syrup is cooking, with cleaned beaters, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and salt until soft peaks form. Carefully drizzle the syrup slowly into the egg whites while beating and turning the bowl. Continue to beat the egg whites after all the syrup is added until the egg whites are completely cooled, and the meringue is shiny and holds firm peaks.

With cleaned beaters, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form.

Fold ¼ of the meringue into the egg yolk mixture. Carefully fold the egg yolk mixture and the whipped cream into the meringue. Gently scoop the mixture into the prepared loaf pan, smooth off the top, fold over the extra plastic to cover, and place in freezer for at least 2 hours.


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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Al Fresco-ing the Night Away

Nothing says summer like plastic tableware. Maybe flies and bees buzzing around the food, but plastic tableware practically screams the need to Al Fresco (OK, small child’s birthday parties too, but hey!).



Iridescent lime green plastic plates. Matching forks and knives. Garish paper napkins. All laid out evenly on a somewhat wobbly, not too clean, wooden table set under shady trees.

With a touch of breeze now and then to puff away some of the heat and give a chill to that damp streak dripping down your back.

The keys to success are to avoid super thermally hot foods (plastic meltdown, plus possible guest meltdown), avoid soupy or overly sauced foods (unless you have those plastic plates with the little raised compartments, like frozen TV dinners come on), and avoid hard to cut foods (those little plastic knives have their limits).

Some simple guidelines that leave a lot of room for the chef.

We Al Fresco-ed the other night (it is a verb, isn’t it?). Just in the back yard. After working up an appetite in the pool (did I mention that the food should be pool water compatible as well, i.e. chlorine tolerant?).

We turned off the virtually non-stop reruns of Seinfeld for a few hours (TeenBoy can recite entire episodes on cue). Turned off some lights and the fan. Saved some electricity. Brushed off the leaves and spider webs from the old wood table and plastic chairs.

And we Al Fresco-ed the night away. At a loss for things to do between bites of food, we broke down and actually talked on occasion. To each other (who are these people?! Yikes?!).

We could hear some of the TVs from the neighbors (Seinfeld), plus a few different types of music, wafting over the fence. So it was really almost like a normal evening, just a little quieter. TeenBoy recited a few lines from George or Jerry as we recognized which Seinfeld episode we could hear. And songs were alternately diss-ed or lauded as we were able to make out the tunes and lyrics from the jumble of sounds. Some hard house tunes from an upstairs window, and something more from the early 70s (?!) from the neighbors (chortle).

To Al Fresco is one of those terms that sounds a bit more haughty than it is. Al Fresco is really just a fancy way of saying to picnic, as in I Al Fresco, he Al Frescos, we are all Al Fresco-ing (see? simple! you just have to know how to use it), with an implication of chilled white wine instead of Kool-Aid.

We made a few things earlier in the morning. Let the flavors fuse while chilling in the fridge. And just had the salmon to cook that evening. That left a stress-free evening with minimal clean-up. Optimal for enjoying the height of summer!

And, of course, we saved the plastic plates and tableware for the next time - gotta’ recycle! Plus, who knows when we would ever find such hideously wonderful Al Fresco accoutrements again!

The following recipes are based on recipes from the July 2006 issues of Gourmet magazine, with liberal modifications by me, and make a great Al Fresco menu!


Pan Roasted Salmon with Compound Lime Butter
Recipe by surfindaave
Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 pounds salmon fillet, divided into 4 equal pieces
olive oil
compound lime butter
Lime slices, for garnish, if desired

Pre-heat oven to 250ºF.

In an ovenproof iron skillet, heat olive oil until hot. Sautee salmon fillets skin side up until lightly browned. Turn, and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Place skillet in oven for 5 to 10 minutes, until cooked to desired degree of doneness. Serve with a tablespoon of lime butter, and a fer slices of lime for garnish, if desired. Enjoy!

Compound Lime Butter

Ingredients:
1 stick unsalted butter
¼ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
salt, pepper

Melt butter. In a blender or food processor, add garlic, lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. With motor running, add melted butter in a stream, processing until emulsified. Remove to a small bowl, and chill.

Roasted Corn Salad with Summer Herbs
Recipe by surfindaave
Serves 4

Ingredients:
6 ears of corn
olive oil
1 cup mixed chopped herbs (basil, thyme, sage, savory, parsley, etc.)
3-4 tbsp lime butter

Cut kernels of corn from cob. Toss kernels in a little olive oil and spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast corn under broiler, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t burn, until many of the kernels are well browned, and the corn is softened. Remove to a large bowl, and let cool somewhat. Toss corn with butter and herbs. Serve. Enjoy!


French Beans and Arugula Salad
Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 pounds French green beans, trimmed
olive oil
2 coves garlic, sliced thin
1 large bunch fresh arugula
zest from one lemon

Toss the beans and garlic with the olive oil. Place the beans on a baking pan in a single layer. Roast in a hot oven (400ºF) for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until just tender. Add arugula and lemon zest, stir well, and roast an additional 2-3 minutes, or until arugula is just wilted. Remove to a bowl, and season with salt and pepper.


Capellini Pasta with Salsa Fresca
Recipe by surfindaave
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 pound dried capellini pasta
3 pounds assorted tomatoes (roma, cherry, etc.), chopped roughly
juice from ½ a lemon
1 tsp sugar
2 cloves garlic, mashed to a paste with 1 tsp salt
½ cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
salt, pepper

In a large bowl, toss together the tomatoes, lemon juice, sugar, garlic and salt paste. Let marinate together for ½ hour.

Cook pasta according to package directions until just al dente. Drain pasta, and add directly to tomato mixture. Toss gently but thoroughly. Add basil and toss gently to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

You can eat this warm, but I liked it better after it had chilled for a few hours and the flavors had combined. Plus the tomatoes gave up some of their liquid, which the pasta immediately soaked up, again enhancing the entire dish.


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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Getting’ Figgy with it

The star chef enters his (or her) domain. Shiny pots, pans and utensils hang neatly from hooks. Stoves and ovens gleam. Wide expanses of uncluttered tile counter and wooden cutting boards await the imminent cooking frenzy.

And most importantly, the ingredients, the raw foodstuffs, sit, unmolested, fresh, chilled or frozen. But most importantly, still there. As in not yet pilfered. Not yet eaten. Scarfed down while no one was looking.



Then there is my kitchen. Where the hapless wanna-be chef surveys the heaps of dirty dishes piled on counter tops and in sinks by the hordes from breakfast, lunch and assorted snacks. Where no pot or pan is left unsoiled. Where no spoon or plate is left in the cupboard. No glass (how many glasses can a few people use a day!!?) waiting unsullied for the call of duty.

And most distressing, the special foodstuffs, carefully tucked away in the fridge, or freezer, or hidden a bit in the fruit basket under the older, less appealing fruit which is supposed to be eaten first, these foodstuffs are gone. Just empty containers, some with the bandits spoons still in them, freezing and chilling away. Giving the impression that all is OK. Until that critical moment, when it is too late to do anything about it, and the empty container is discovered by the more and more incoherent and babbling kitchen figure, whose FoodNetwork star has crashed, as usual, because he has been played for the chump once again.

I bet Thomas Keller never has this problem. Or maybe he had it one time, and never again.

So the dessert planned for the other day never arrived (their loss, let me tell ya!). The figs were still there, but the raspberry coulis? Gone. Just an empty container in the freezer, with a spoon in it. The plain yogurt? Well, there was one discernable white molecule still left in the giant plastic tub in the fridge. But not really enough for a photo, let alone a dessert. And the other options? Other fresh fruit? All gone. I guess I should be happy everyone is all the sudden so health conscious.

But, there were two old oranges left, still fresh enough, but maybe not as visually appealing from the outside as the other fruits had been. And some goat cheese. And mint. And, as mentioned, the figs.

So the planned dessert took a detour. And in retrospect, for the better.



It became caramelized figs on goat cheese with mint orange syrup.

Looks stunning. Tastes even better.

The orange juice mixed with a little turbinado sugar, reduced, and infused with some mint flavor.

The figs brushed with butter, sprinkled with the brown sugar and broiled until caramelized and bubbly. In the pictures, that's sugary butter filling the centers of the figs. Whew!

With some fresh goat cheese to create a counterpoint and tie it together.

A wonderful dessert.



Caramelized Figs on Goat Cheese with Mint Orange Syrup
Recipe by surfindaave
Serves 4

Ingredients:
8 ripe figs, tips removed, and cut in half
2-3 tbsp butter
1-2 tbsp turbinado sugar
4 oranges, juiced (I used 2 oranges, plus a little orange juice)
½ cup turbinado sugar (or brown sugar)
several sprigs of mint
4 ounces creamy goat cheese, cut into 4 slices
Additional sprigs of mint, for garnish, if desired

In a small, heavy sauce pan, bring the orange juice and sugar to a boil, and reduce over medium heat until about 1/3 of original volume and thickened. Remove from heat. Crush some of the mint between your fingers, and stir into the syrup. Let steep for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, then strain out mint, and reserve syrup.

Place the fig halves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place a thin slice of butter on each half. Sprinkle the halves lightly with the sugar. Broil the figs until they are lightly browned and just getting bubbly. Carefully remove from broiler (don't spill out all the butter!) and reserve.

Spoon some of the orange syrup onto 4 dessert plates. Place one goat cheese slice in the center of each plate. Arrange 4 fig halves decoratively around each goat cheese slice. Garnish with the additional sprigs of mint, if desired. Serve. Enjoy!


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Monday, July 17, 2006

Pesto and Rosso take the Sub

On the weekend, we stumbled upon an Asian stand at the Farmer’s Market selling enormous bunches of basil. Usually we get basil in modest little plastic wrapped assortments of leaves, hardly enough to do any serious cooking with. But these were big bunches of fresh basil, heaped up in giant pile of fragrant freshness. Maybe they were a tad past baby basil sized, but still in their prime. My mind locked into pesto.



Pesto, if not originally from Genoa, in the Liguria region of Italy, certainly has strong roots there.

We couldn’t find a nice Rossese di Dolceacqua. Or some other wine from the Ligurian region. But we did have a nice Rosso di Montepulciano on hand, which is from right around the corner in Tuscany.

So I was pondering how to work in the pesto, and the wine from almost the same region, into a meal that most people here would actually eat. After the heirloom salad yesterday, I was inclined today to lean towards TeenBoy’s interests, i.e. meat.

We though initially of hamburgers. With some of the heirloom tomatoes and some pesto on top. Pesto burgers. But that didn’t involve the wine. And also seemed a bit heavy for our oppressively hot weather lately. Just a lot of fried meat.

When the idea initially hit me, I rejected it out off hand. Too odd. No one would eat it. And I was not even sure it would be as tasty to eat as the images in my mind might suggest.

But I floated the idea, and to my surprise, everyone was into it. Seemed good all the way around. TeenBoy even offered to do most of the work.

So off we went, inventing the Pesto Rosso Meatball Sub.



Fresh French baguettes. Because you can only get French bread here, not Italian. Whatever the difference might be. Split down the middle, brushed with olive oil, and toasted.

Fresh pesto sauce, with some of that nice basil, toasted pine nuts, lots of fresh grated Pecorino Romano cheese, and my personal special touch of lemon juice. Along with a ton of garlic.

Plus heirloom tomatoes. ‘Nuff said!

And meatballs, laden with fresh oregano and some ground fennel seed. Not fried. As TeenGirl would launch an automatic protest (like at the UN Security Council). Plus it was too hot for heavy fried food. And not broiled, as I was concerned they would be too dry.

But basically poached in the red wine. Letting the meatballs soak up all that nice red wine flavor. And get super moist and juicy in the process.

We laid it all out on the toasted breads. First a layer of tomato slices. Then a layer of pesto, to act as a glue for the meatballs. Then the meatballs themselves. With some additional basil sprinkled on top. And other half of the bread as a lid.

The smoky wine and oregano infused meatballs were fantastic against the powerful garlicky basil pesto. With the super sweet heirloom tomatoes adding a bright sparkle of flavor on top.



The Pesto Rosso Sub
Recipe by surfindaave
Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 fresh baguettes
4 pounds fresh ground turkey
2-3 tbsp fresh oregano leaves, lightly chopped
1 tbsp onion powder
salt, pepper to taste
1 bottle full bodied red wine
4 ripe red tomatoes, sliced
basil, chopped

For the pesto:
2-3 cups loosely packed basil leaves
1 cup grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
¼ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
Juice from one lemon
3-4 cloves garlic
olive oil

Make the pesto: combine all ingredients, except olive oil, in a food processor. Pulse several times, scrape down sides, and pulse several more times. Scrape down sides again. With the motor running, drizzle in olive oil just until a smooth paste is formed. Remove pesto to a bowl, and reserve in refrigerator.

In a bowl, combine the ground meat, oregano, onion powder, salt and pepper. Form into 32 equal sized balls.

To one or two skillets large enough to hold all the meatballs in a single layer, add about 1 inch of wine. Bring the wine to a boil, and turn down heat. Add meatballs, and cook at a bare simmer, covered, turning occasionally, for 15 minutes. Turn off heat, and reserve.

Cut the baguettes in half lengthwise. Brush the insides with olive oil. Toast the halves under the broiler until lightly browned. Remove and reserve.

To assemble, layer the bottom halves of the baguettes with tomato slices. Spread (or pipe) the pesto over the tomatoes. Place a row of drained meatballs down the center of the breads on top of the pesto. Sprinkle the meatballs with the chopped basil. Set the top halves of the bread on top. Cut each sub into 2 or 3 pieces. Serve. Enjoy!


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