Thursday, June 30, 2011

Current Culinariousness...

 even though we don't have a garden yet, we have the great fortune of living next to someone who does.  someone who recently went out of town, and who left me in charge of watering her about-to-totally-domino tomato plants.  JACKPOT!

seriously, one of the best things about summer is a texas tomato.  i can't wait to grow my own.  a summer tomato sums up why vegetables, gardening, and life in general is awesome: this plant sucks up water and sunlight and carbon dioxide and turns it into sugar and oxygen.  to reproduce, it makes a flower, and behind the flower begins to swell a green bead. sun and water create more sugar, and the bead fills with seeds and juice and tender flesh and grows red and sweet.  and pick it!  and eat it! and the plant just makes more and more. tomatoes are a summer eruption in my mouth.  I LOVE THEM.

my kitchen candy jar.

anyway, so we started to get a whole bunch of these awesome tomatoes, big and cherry, red and yellow.  i was determined to use them to their greatest potential, as well as the delicious organic meats and vegetables i had acquired from a recent grocery store adventure.  also, i had some ethical fish to deal with.  so let the foodblithers begin!

i have never been the biggest chili fan, but in recent years i have acquired a taste for it--especially now that i've learned how to use a slowcooker thing.  d. loves chili and devotes a lot of time and attention when he makes it, and his techniques inform my own chilimaking.  it seems more like a winter food, in some ways; however, chili made with a slew of fresh tomatoes and onion is a revelation. we don't do chili with beans--just diced tomatoes, onion, browned ground buffalo, chili powder, cayenne, cumin, salt, garlic.  slow-cookered on low for 6 hours.  i used about 5 smallish whole tomatoes this time, coarsely chopped. the skins slipped off during cooking and i just fished them out, but that was super time i'll actually peel them.  right.

i did squeeze out their seeds and keep the remaining 1/2 cup of juice, to which i added 1/2 cup lone star beer. and dumped that in there too, right at the beginning.  YUM!

then, just to be silly, i made cheese popovers from a recipe straight out of The Joy of Cooking (p. 637, 75th Anniversary Edition) to go with the chili.  now granted, i've had a lot of time and eggs lately for such silliness.  but it was a leisurely 45 minutes well spent.

so, we ended up having tasty chili and popovers for dinner, and there was way too much, so i stuck the leftovers in the out-of-town neighbor's freezer.  i figure, gotta pay up, you know?

rainbow trout is on the Super Green List from the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch, and it was also on sale the other day.  i have had great luck with trout whether i sautée or grill it, and this was going to be a sautée kind of day.  after rinsing it off and drying it thoroughly, i dunked each filet in a mixture of 1 (silkie-sized) egg and 1/4 cup milk, then in a flour/breadcrumb/dried spice combo (i know tarragon and basil and garlic powder were in there). 
after getting the fish happily sauteeing in some pre-heated, pretty hot butter and olive oil (skinside up first!  let it brown! then skinside down), i started steaming some spinach.  i had already been boiling some red potatoes.  i love when 3/4ths of the stovetop tops are occupied by deliciousness.
in the time it took the spinach to wilt to perfection, the fish was ready to go.  i love me some rainbow trout...the fillets are long and thin and get just a bit crispety!
if you eat meat, specifically pork: i suggest you get some good pork.  not just because it's more ethical if it's from happy pigs who are raised naturally and humanely and killed with respect; it is SO MUCH MORE DELICIOUS. it's like you can taste that the pig independently foraged for, and ate, flowers for breakfast. in this particular case, dan grilled these pork loin chops, seasoned with salt/garlic/olive oil/paprika, for around 6 minutes a side.  and we had it with rice and salad with tomatoes/fresh mozzerella.  i accidentally started eating it before i could take a picture of it.
so i have all these millions of cherry tomatoes now, may of them the golden pear kind, and i'm like, i can't eat all these.  not for lack of trying, either, but there are only so many sunbombs you can eat in one day!  there is only one thing to do.  make tomato soup.  not just any tomato soup, i thought...golden cherry tomato BISQUE, because that sounds fancier and more summery.  and i decided to have it with these colorado mountain lamb chops i had nabbed, with a side of simple parmesan noodles. yum. yum.

 so i chopped up ALL those cherry tomatoes and three big ones (i squeezed out the seeds but didn't peel anything....again), and the other half of the onion, and like 5 garlic cloves (we REALLY LIKE GARLIC) and i threw it all in a biggish pot with some butter/olive oil (per usual), and started cookin' it. i added a few glugs of chicken broth, and i threw the spice cabinet at it.  after letting it all melt and sizzle and stir together for about 20 minutes, i added about one glug (1/4 cup maybe?) of heavy cream.  after letting it simmer for one minute more (gently!), i blended it up and returned it to the pot.
now, it was time to grill up the lambchops. not much to that, i seasoned them with salt/garlic/paprika (my favorite combo!) and massaged them with a little olive oil.  as we are rare meat eaters, i did them on a pre-heated gas grill on med-high heat for 4 minutes a side.
the parmesan noodles were a simple matter of breaking up spaghetti noodles, boiling until al-dente and adding a bit of butter and parmesan. BAM.
lamb is one of my favorites, and this was delicious...however, i have to say, i like the lamb from the austin farmer's market a bit better than this colorado lamb.  something about texas grass maybe? the soup was definitely the best part of this meal, in my time i make tomato soup, i will DEFINITELY peel the tomatoes though.  i PROMISE.  really!  again, we gave the leftover golden cherry tomato bisque as a tithing to our tomato-bearing neighbor, and i hope she enjoys it as much as i did.  tomatoes are so bleeping good.

i sure love cooking and food, and i feel deeply lucky that i get to eat dinners like these.  thank you for your attention, dear reader...more news from the 'farm', and further adventures in baking, are coming soon! stay tuned!

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