Summer/Fall 2014

Look!  Pictures as promised!

There are probably more pictures I should upload but this is all I remember.

grilled chicken and stewed okra at Kareem's (Watertown, MA)

grilled chicken and stewed okra at Kareem’s (Watertown, MA)

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tuscano kale in my garden

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red kale in my garden

lobster and peach dish  at Kareem's (Watertown, MA)

lobster and peach dish at Kareem’s (Watertown, MA)

Kareem’s is a place in Watertown that serves dinner on the weekends (otherwise, it’s dedicated for catering and cooking classes).  An entree is typically around $25, but the food is fresh and lovely.  Chef Ahmad is very talented.  He also makes delicious desserts.  Expect the menu to rotate with the season.

let's talk about food festival swag

let’s talk about food festival swag

let's talk about food 2014

let’s talk about food 2014

let's talk about food 2014

let’s talk about food 2014.

I meandered through the Let’s Talk About Food festival by myself this year.  It’s not as fun when you’re alone.  It was smaller this year, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.  I found that having two demo locations last year to be overwhelming.  So, I’m glad that there was only one demo location, but the down side is that it meant fewer demos this year.

I had a lot of homework looming over my head that weekend, so I didn’t stick around for too long.

Farmstead board at the Salty Pig

Farmstead board at the Salty Pig

Salty board at the Salty Pig

Salty board at the Salty Pig

I still love the Salty Pig.  I was there on a Saturday with some friends for lunch.  Menu set up is a little different on lunch, than dinner or Sundays.  We ordered sampler boards instead of the normal charcuterie/cheese a la carte.   The Salty Pig board came with (I think):

Porchetta, SP Kitchen, MA Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder, Fennel Pollen, Rosemary
Stracciatella, SP Kitchen, MA Mozzarella Style Pulled Cheese Marinated Olives
N’duja Rillette, SP Kitchen, MA Smoked Pork, Calabrian Chili, Sea Salt

While I think our Farmstead board was:
Manchego de Corcuera, SPA Sheep, Aged 3 Months, Rich & Buttery
Pont L’Evêque, Normandy, FRA Cow, Washed Rind, Soft & Strong
Vermont Wildflower Honey
Marcona Almonds
Stravecchio, Veneto, ITA 
Cow, Aged 12 Months, Sweet & Nutty

I also ate a Broccoli Rabe pizza with Ricotta Salata, Lemon, Garlic, Chili.  No pictures because we devoured it so quickly, but it was delicious.  Definitely different, but no less awesome.  If you ever have a chance to visit the Salty Pig, I highly recommend it.

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And when a hurricane comes along…

I did a little bit of tidying up in the backyard on Saturday (but I realize now it was not enough) – things like moving the grill into the garage in preparation of a hurricane. While I was out there, I realized that my cherry tomato plant still had fruit. I plucked everything that was red or starting to change color, but I initially left all the tomatoes that were green. Further storm warnings encouraged me to pluck all the green tomatoes or risk losing them altogether. I ended up with one pound of green cherry tomatoes, more than I thought I was going to end up with.

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summer pasta salad, for one

It’s that time of year when I start fretting over my container garden. So far, I don’t have much planted. I have two pots of rosemary, one pot of sage, one pot of mint, one pot of thyme, and one pot of tarragon – all plants from last year. My shiso plant from last year seeded unexpected well on its own. So, I’ve got baby shiso in a pot… and in a couple of other pots too. Not to mention, I found some growing on around the porch. haha!  I pulled the ninja seedlings, but I’ve left alone all the ones in the pots. They are growing very slowly. Hopefully, I’ll have more luck with these than the ones I was trying to grow from seed last year. Last week, I bought some parsley, basil, and two cherry tomato plants. Today, I put some seeds down for cultivated purslane, zucchini, and salad greens in dirt.

Going back to the basil plants, I thought the taller growth needed some pinching back already. And then with my small handful of herbs, I decided that it was time to make lunch.

What follows isn’t a caprese salad. There’s no mozzarella cheese, no olive oil. This isn’t a pesto salad either. It was heavier on the pine nut flavor, and I skipped the Parmesan cheese and the garlic completely. And, to reiterate, it had no olive oil.

I chopped up some toasted pine nuts with my bits of basil (smelled so lovely), and then I had the gall to mush it with 1/2 of an avocado (and a tiny pinch of kosher salt).

To this, I mixed in some halved cherry tomatoes and some cooked multi-grain pasta. It was good and it was just enough for one person. I wish I had some baked chicken or grilled steak to go along with it. Oh well, maybe next time. It’s ok. I followed my pasta course with strawberries and yogurt.  A happy tummy is of the utmost importance!  (^_^)b

Harvard SEAS lecture 11/7/11, Dan Barber

Subject – Reclaiming Flavor.

Much to my surprise, Harold McGee was around to introduce Dan Barber to the audience.

  • Flavor molecules are actually a defense mechanism. Believe it or not, the flavor molecules are toxic to small insects and mold. It doesn’t seem toxic to humans, because we essentially dilute herbs by cooking. Physical/environmental stress to plants will cause the plants to boost flavor and antioxidants as a coping mechanism.
  • You can take advantage of this.  For example, a component of mold cell walls is chitin.  Chitin also exists in the exoskeletons of insects and crustaceans.  You can pulverize lobster shells and introduce it to plants, purposely tricking them into stress mode and make the plants increase flavor and antioxidants.

That pretty much ended Harold’s bit, and Dan’s presentation started. Continue reading

roasted eggplant puree for pasta

Early in the summer, I had experimented with a batch of garlic scape pesto only to find myself terribly disappointed.

Today’s pasta sauce was the antithesis of that.

I was home from work by 6pm, and I’m away from the office for the rest of the week. I went to visit the plants in the garden before heading inside, and saw that some of the eggplant my mother planted was ready to be picked. I had three pretty eggplants in my greedy hands, and didn’t know what to do with them. I knew I wanted to roast them in some manner, but not much more than that.

Then, I remembered seeing an eggplant puree recipe in one of my library books. On page 130 of Giada’s Kitchen by Giada De Laurentiis was a recipe for “penne with eggplant puree.” I used the method but didn’t follow the ingredients  exactly, and still I was very pleased with the end results.

Roasted Eggplant Puree for Pasta
inspired by Giada De Laurentiis

3 small eggplants, unpeeled, cut into one inch pieces
a large handful of sweet grape tomatoes (from the market… I wish I hadn’t eaten all my tomatoes. I pop ’em like candy if they’re sweet)
2 small onions, quartered (from my CSA)
1 small bell pepper, cut into medium slices (I had a purple one from the CSA)
garlic powder (I’m out of fresh garlic cloves)
salt
red pepper flakes
olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup basil leaves, torn

Heat your oven to 400F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a separate baking dish or sheet, spread out the pine nuts and set aside.

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a simple summer lunch

I don’t have anything of interest from the CSA this time around – some greens, a tomato (my sister took the other tomatoes), onions, beets, and parsley. I trimmed the parsley and put it in a cup of water, but it’s not doing so well. I guess I should have stored it in the fridge.

But yeah, nothing for making a great meal. On the other hand, the basil in my yard needed pruning, and a couple of small tomatoes were picked. My shiso plant is insane. I need to prune that too. I’ve learned that shiso works pretty well in salad. However, it’s a tougher leaf than something like basil so I think next time I’ll blanch it before adding it to a salad.

But really, this post is about the basil and the tomatoes. It made for an amazing salad for lunch.

Two slices of whole wheat bread were toasted and then torn.
A large handful of basil was cut into small pieces.
Three smallish tomatoes were diced.
A small serving of turkey deli meat was shredded.
A handful of pine nuts were toasted.
Some vinaigrette was drizzled into a bowl. (My vinaigrette was made from about two parts extra virgin olive oil and one part Trader Joe’s orange champagne vinegar.)

Mix everything together gently with your hands or some salad spoons.

Serve.

The pine nuts, I think, is what really makes this salad go from “boring” to “yum!” I would have put mozzarella cheese in it if I had any, but now that the salad has been made and devoured, I think the salad was probably better without it.