Archive for July, 2012

green coriander

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

When the plant has gone to seed, because cilantro always bolts and goes to seed, there is one more use for it before it dries into those delicious little orbs. Our friend Peter Smith turned us on to green coriander last year, and now I wait eagerly for the pods to appear. The flavor is, as one expects, half way between the grassy greenness of cilantro and the sweet spiciness of dried coriander. Last night I sauteed six ears of fresh Maine corn kernels with a green pepper, a sliced Vidalia onion and a handful of the green coriander pods that I had crushed with the flat of my knife. Lovely. If you have a garden and you grow cilantro I bet you’ve got these little beauties waiting for you out there, go check it out!  They pop right off the stems with little resistance. We’ve also crushed them into a vinaigrette, but I was thinking this morning that would make a great compound butter, maybe with a little minced shallot. Spread on a piece of grilled fish or chicken. Ooooh. Coriander has become one of my go-to dried herbs along with whole cumin seed.  I grind the two in my mortar and pestle and then sprinkle over chopped cauliflower on a sheet tray with some olive oil, s&p and chopped garlic.  Into a 400 degree oven until the cauliflower crisps up. Fab.

 

What’s in your garden?

food with friends

Friday, July 27th, 2012

dirty dishes

 

So many times I find myself wishing I had taken photos of that meal. Not necessarily because I want picture perfect images of things I’ve made (or am about to eat), but just because each meal has some little story that goes along with it, and sometimes I don’t remember them as well without the visual cue. But instead I have pictures of the dirty dishes. I inherited a habit from my Mother of rarely doing the dishes until the next morning (sometime even the next afternoon). I’m sure you are now shocked and horrified with us, but what can I say. The better the meal the less likely I am to want to clean right up after it. I get to it eventually, and we’re never actually unsanitary. Rdishes in the sinkight now our dishwasher is broken so it’s even slower than usual. I have to wash all those dishes by hand. sigh.

 

Yesterday we had our friends Rob and Nancy over for a leisurely meal on the patio. Yes, it was wet, but the actual rain held off until after we had finished our meal. We have a tent set up in the back and it works well to keep us dry as long as it’s not too windy. Dinner was a long drawn out affair. Just the way we like it. And yes, if you clicked through on the link you know that we cooked for Rob, a James Beard award winner. Phew, he was an easy diner.  They have always said to us, if there’s salt on the table they’re happy. So I made sure there was salt on the table.  And he did reach for it once.  I think I would have been much happier if he hadn’t felt the need for salt, but I do know that my taste for salt has calmed in the last little bit. Don almost always adds salt to my food, so I’m not hurt or anything.  Other than that, cooking for them was a dream. They eat everything and enjoy, without making a big deal out of it.  We finished a couple of bottles of wine and the conversation was lively and engaged.  The menu included popcorn (an appetizer staple at our house), grilled squid, grilled halibut skewers with bailah (a chickpea dish the morning afterfrom the new Ottolenghi book, Jerusalem), a chopped tomato and cucumber salad, flatbread and a raspberry, brown sugar lightning cake to finish.  It began raining about the time we were ready for cake. Don had lit a fire, so we moved the tent to the patio corner near (but not too) the fire and we happily ate cake, continued the conversation and watched the fire, while the rain came down.

I could probably title about a million posts ‘food with friends’.  A marvelous summer meal.

 

Samantha

 

cooking over a fire

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

 

We went camping last week. Yes, camping. Hard for us to believe. Don was an Eagle Scout and my parents used to take my sister and I on various backpacking trips when we were too small to protest. So there is camping in both of our backgrounds. There has, however, been no camping in our lives in the past, what, 30 years? So it was a bit of a leap-of-faith for us.  This was car camping, so I can already hear some of you scoffing – that’s not camping! For us, it was camping. Sleeping on the lumpy ground in a sleeping bag and tent is camping.  Going in the car does mean that you can bring things that you might not if you had to carry it in on your back.  Can you say cast iron? We took full advantage of this fact and loaded up the car. Don had his condiment carryall, which he carefully planned out for a week – Siracha, mustard, tahini etc. I channeled our meals on vacation in the Carribean where the resources are slim. I pre-cooked a batch of farro and brought it in a ziploc.  Same with a batch of chickpeas. Ditto a double batch of home made pancake mix. We froze various proteins (chicken thighs/drumsticks bathed in garlic/olive oil/sumac, ground lamb and various sausages from Rosemont) which did double duty keeping the cooler cold and allowing us to bring a couple days worth of proteins. By the time we were ready to cook the chicken it had defrosted, but never gotten warm. I baked a big batch of chocolate chip cookies. They were good, but so were the s’mores, which we had to add bacon to…. I know bacon gets added to everything, but bacon s’mores were quite tasty.  You know we were going to eat well on vacation. It was a fun challenge to cook with limited tools. Liberating in a way that I always find restrictions to be. Some of the best dishes happen when you don’t have much in the larder.

We were camping with friends, because it’s more fun that way, and they brought all sorts of more experienced camper gear. Included in that category was a wood fired toaster. This is just a little perforated disc with a couple of pieces of wire that hold your bread vertical. It was an ingenious little tool that I greatly enjoyed using. I’m sure it was part of a well-equipped camp-side kitchen in the 19th century. There were a couple of propane stoves and our friend David brought his self-fired coffee-maker. A little twist of the gizmo and his French Press coffee pot had a heating element built into the bottom. Very cool.  I felt very clever for bringing pint size canning jars for drinking, because we could use them for both hot and cold beverages.  But that’s about as clever as I got.  It is true that everything tastes better cooked over an open flame. We pushed the picnic tables together and had a great feast. Summer is good!

 

Samantha