Sunday, July 29, 2007

Tomato Sandwiches

This is the season where it is hard for me to eat anything outside of tomato sandwiches. I love tomatoes in season. I can't get enough of them. I eat them absolutely obsessively. I don't want to go out to dinner. I just want to eat the gorgeous tomatoes that I get from the greenmarket. They are bursting with flavors. They are intense, sometimes smokey, hyper-summer tasting.

The ugly tomatoes, the heirlooms are really diverse in their flavors. I dont know all their names. The green striped guys: Green Zebras are sort of citrusy. Black Brandywines, the deep brown red ones with tinges of green are smokey. The Peach tomatoes have slight fuzz on them and are delicately flavored.

I get crusty fresh bread, I slather on some wonderful real mayonaise, (Delouis fils fresh mayonnaise is rich and eggy)
I take a practically bursting, farm stand, often organic, heirloom tomato and I slice it into barbaric thick slabs.
I sprinkle the open sandwiches with sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and little bits of bush basil and sometimes a bit of sharp extra virgin olive oil.

Then I try to take a snapshot of each of them before I need to devour them.


Inky Misty Darkness

Inky Misty Darkness Punch
makes 2

This is a great summer fruit punch. It's really black purply. Try to use the flesh from the center of the melon, where it is sweetest and most perfumy.

2/3 cup Campari
1 cup Black Currant Juice ("Currant C" is my favorite brand right now)
2 tablespoons finely chopped ripe ripe cantalope

Fill a cocktail shaker half way with ice. Add all ingredients and shake until your hand starts to numb. Divide evenly between two cocktail glasses, adding more ice if you need it.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Beet, Peach, Blue Cheese and Lamb's Quarter Lettuce Sandwich

Makes sandwiches for 2, with leftover beets for salad

Lamb's Quarter is a green that grows wildly in the New York area and it' s an easy thing to forage for, but I bought these.

1 large beet, about 6 ounces, sliced super thin (I did mine on a Japanese mandoline)
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 loosely packed cups Lamb's Quarter leaves
2 ounces high quality blue cheese, such as Cabrales
1 ripe peach, sliced

In a medium saucepot bring vinegar and 1 cup of water, salt and bay leaf to a boil. Add beets, Bring back to a boil, cover, remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat a small saucepan over medium low heat. Add olive oil and Lamb's Quarters, sauté until Lamb's Quarters have wilted. Remove from heat, squeeze out the liquid, and coarsely chop.

Toast 8 slices of hallah or 4 slices of brioche like bread. While the bread is still hot, crumble the blue cheese on the four slices. Spread the softened cheese (the heat will soften it) across the pieces of bread. Divide the greens, beet, and peach evenly among half the bread slices. Grind a bit of fresh pepper on top. Top with blue cheese spread bread.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Summer Salad Composee

I always thought, when I was a student at French culinary school, that the Salad Composee was overtaught. I thought it merited a nodd. But, now I see that it teaches a very clear culinary lesson. When you cut anything to be eaten, how you cut it determines (with other factors) how you will taste it. The Salad Composee is interesting because it serves its' components separately, amassed on a plate. Traditionally each part of the salad is dressed individually, before the plate is arranged.

Whenever you make a dish, particularly a salad, the larger chunks will spend more time in your mouth, on your tongue. They'll get more "air time". So, in this salad my melon was very pungent and ripe, it would take over the more subtle flavors of say, the cucumbers, so I sliced them super thinly. You always want to consider what will make the perfect bite. What do you want to taste the most? Make it bigger. If every element plays against the other in proportion, things should work out quite well.

One thing to remember: if you are cooking something, different rules apply. Things like root vegetables generally can be mixed when cooked and cut to the same size for even cooking… more on chopping at some later time…

1 cup cucumber, cut in 1 inch slices
1/2 cups super finely sliced melon
1 small endive, thinly sliced into rounds
1/4 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup finely sliced raw beets
3 mint leaves, minced
juice of 1/2 lime
2 teaspoons olive oil
coarse flakey sea salt and pepper, to taste

Place all the vegetables in sections inside a large salad bowl. Scatter the mint leaves, salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil.

Labels: , , , ,

Tomato Dressing

13 grape tomatoes, sliced in half
2 tablespoons fine salted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Melt butter over low heat. Add tomatoes, cut side down to pan, tomatoes will barely simmer. Once tomatoes have begun to wither and wrinkle, about 10 minutes Remove from heat to a blender. Add red wine vinegar and puree until smooth. Season with salt.

Labels: , ,

Sweet Potato with Salad and Dirty Cowboy Dressing

Serves 2

Dirty Cowboy Dressing
The yam was so sweet smelling while it cooked, that I knew it needed several bitter flavor counterpoints: coffee and endives.

1 tablespoon fresh mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
5 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon finely minced red onion or shallot
1 teaspoon freshly ground coffee
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon fresh chopped cilantro leaves
2 leaves lemon basil, finely chopped

1 large garnet yam, cut in 1 1/2 inch pieces
2 Belgian endives, chopped into 1" rounds
1 small head red leaf lettuce, torn
1 avocado, pitted and cut in 1 inch pieces

In a large bowl, whisk together the first ten ingredients until uniform and smooth, set aside. Place the yam in a small saucepot with enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Remove when yams are easily pierced with a paring knife, drain. Set hot yams in dressing, toss to coat. Divide greens between two plates, top with yam salad and avocado.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Tomato Melon Soup

Do you know the moment where you open a really ready squash or melon, where the pungency of this dark cave freshly opened, suddenly unconcentrated, where that hits you? Where you feel like you may gag because you are so struck in the nose by the fecund aroma, you're not sure whether to run and puke or sniff deeper to feel the scent open down your throat?
I just had that moment.

A really ripe melon mixed with some sautéed tomato and red onion, give you a different kind of umami, one you might think you'd find at a whorehouse. I think I originally made a recipe from Jean Georges that was quite similar.. This soup will depend entirely on the quality of your ingredients and their ripeness, so be sure you choose really fragrant ingredients at the farm stand or market.

Tomato Melon Soup
This soup can be served warm or cold. I prefer it cold. This soup sometimes ends up tasting, not unpleasantly, like lipstick. Once puréed, give it a taste Thin it with water, more lime juice and salt to season as desired. When you are making a dish that will be cold, season it at the end of cooking, however don't be surprised if you need to season it more once it has chilled. Cold things always need much louder flavors than hot food.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 red onion, diced in 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 pint lovely ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 small ripe pungent melon, seeded, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
3 leaves lemon basil, shredded
juice 1/2 lime
salt to taste

Heat a medium sautee pan over medium heat, add olive oil and butter. Once butter begins to sizzle, add red onion. Sautee until onions are transluscent. Add tomatoes, cook until they begin to give up their juice, add cantalope, cook 2 minutes more. Transfer to a blender, add in shredded lemon basil, puree until smooth. Blend in salt and lime juice to taste.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Corn with Lavender

This corn was quite nice, though not dreamy. It needed a little fresh lavender, lime, butter and salt.

Labels: , , , , ,

Farm Stand Goodness

These strawberries taste like someone grew them in powdered sugar instead of dirt. They told me to eat them or make them directly into jam. I've gobbled the whole quart. I think these were picked today and never refrigerated. Some things get strange in the fridge. I think even a few hours and the berries would have lost some strength in their perfume. I was looking for that farm stand experience. I'm really having it. It's not thin, not pretty and perfect. My fingers are stained and I'll probably get the runs later, it's a lot of strawberry for one girl! Apparently this can still be done. I am always wondering if the things that tasted good when I was young tasted that way because my taste buds were so keen, if the new experience of life was so vibrant, or if my memory improved the taste of things. I also sometimes think that the way farming and genetic engineering has changed flavors, they are somehow forever lost.

I wished for edible things to be growing around my house. I swear a magic raspberry bush appeared and this other bush suddenly sprouted red currants! Oops. On checking with my foraging book, not currants at all. Haven't eaten any, guess it's best to look.

Labels: , ,