Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Szechuan Smoky Eggplant

Monday 29 June
Three sizeable Chinese eggplants from the Farmers' Market led to a hankering for this favorite, whose recipe is still under development.
Last time we did it with Anaheim peppers, because we had some.  This time, with two zucchini, because we had them.  We held them back from the broiler until the last five minutes, but amazingly, they didn't brown at all, probably because of their water content.  Nonetheless, the dish worked very well, though Holt wants it even smokier.  Maybe next time we'll try brining the eggplant, as in the discursive but more genuine recipe here.

Albacore Steaks and Beet Salad

Sunday 28 June
Kroger's had a sale on albacore tuna steaks, so Barbara asked the fish guys to put a couple on ice for her until the end of the day.  They did, so thoroughly that the steaks were still frozen solid, and had to be defrosted under water before we could grill them with oil and lemon.

We had roasted some beets from the farmers' market a few days before, and for tonight we made a salad by chopping and tossing them with some crumbled blue cheese, toasted walnuts, and a mustard vinaigrette.
Amazingly, we skipped the lettuce for one night.

Pulled Pork and Mash

Saturday 27 June
We spent a happy afternoon wandering around the art museum with Julie.  Luckily we'd planned an easy dinner for all of us after, as we know that a day of museum-going tends to make our legs wobbly.
In fact, as soon as we got home we were able to plop down in comfy chairs and enjoy the bottle of prosecco Julie provided, while noshing on a mixed plate of (blue, swiss, goat) cheeses with crackers and olives.  (Don't you love those blue Swiss goats?)
In the meantime, it didn't take much effort to reheat a potful of last Thursday's pulled pork butt in its own juices, or boil potatoes to mash with cream and more goat cheese.
Oh, and did we mention we still have enough lettuce to choke even a blue Swiss goat?  (Yes, every day.)  So we picked and spun a salad (again), and dressed it with olive oil and balsamic (again).

Dessert was Graeter's peach ice cream on top of fresh sliced southern peaches.  The best of summer, and again, almost no effort.

Cakes and Cakes

Friday 26 June
We had carefully conserved our leftovers from risotto on Monday and salmon on Wednesday.  Time to make cakes out of both! 
There was only enough salmon to make one classic salmon cake for each of us, now using the secret of omitting celery to keep crab or salmon cakes from crumbling. 
The smoked chicken risotto, on the other hand, was abundant enough to make two mega-cakes apiece. 
As we didn't time to let either of them sit in the fridge and set, it was easier to fry them in two separate pans, rather than risk them crumbling by transfer or overcrowding.
And since there is still plenty of lettuce not yet bolted in the garden, our cakefest was served on a bed of salad, dressed simply with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Smoked Trout and Asparagus Pasta

Thursday 25 June
When we have asparagus on hand, our default tends to be pasta alla Saffi.  But we had that only last week, and as we said then, it's not as easy to get Schad's ham as it used to be. 
Fortunately, we had purchased some smoked trout at Trader Joe's, and found a recipe online that suited it and the asparagus.  We did have a few doubts about the recommended techniques, though.  
We don't like our asparagus that near raw, so we did our normal thing of boiling the sliced pieces (stems first, then tender tips) in the pasta pot separately, then scooping them out and using the same water to boil the penne. 
We also cooked the garlic and cream and tossed it all together in a separate skillet, as we think garlic would burn in a flash if you tried to sauté it at the bottom of a starchy pasta pot.  
And finally, combining any or all of the fresh herbs (dill, basil, tarragon, chives, mint and thyme) as it suggested would end up as a confusing flavor mashup, with mint overpowering them all.  We confined ourselves to garden tarragon and dill, both of which work well with cream and fish, and we were happy we did.    

Salmon and Fennel Curry

Wednesday 24 June
We loved Padma Lakshmi's recipe for fish curry every time we made it back in 2007, but then for some reason it fell off our radar.  As we now actually have its required fennel bulb, curry leaves, and kaffir lime leaves (the latter two frozen), it is time to bring it back.

Kroger's still had silverbrite salmon on sale, so we substituted that for mahi-mahi, using a pound and a half so we could have leftovers for salmon cakes (see risotto, below, for our policy on that front).  Though the recipe is for eight, we only halved the rest of the ingredients, so as to use just one can of coconut milk.  You want abundant vegetables and lots of delicious sauce, even if you need a spoon to clean your plate.

Pulled Pork with Potatoes

Tuesday 23 June
There's still a boatload (to be polite) of Thursday's pork butt in its crockpot in the fridge.  Tonight we were going to a movie, so we just set it slow-cooking again, with some quartered Yukon gold potatoes shoved down in the liquid underneath.

Over two hours later, the meat was hot and tender enough to be pulled from the bone, but the potatoes were still crunchy.  We had to fish them out and boil them (in pork juices, of course) on the stove to get them tender.  
So remember: for fresh roots, two hours in the slow cooker is like ten minutes in the pot.

Smoked Chicken Risotto

Monday 22 June
Remember our weeklong smoked chicken festival?  
The culminating event was boiling down the two carcasses to produce savory broth (plus scraps) for making risotto.
We used two cups of arborio rice, in order to have plenty left over for risotto cakes (as our reader knows, we love making leftovers into leftovers for future leftovers).  
There was not much fat on the top of the broth, but it imparted its smoky flavors to the onions that got sweated in it.  Then we toasted the rice and began the slow process of ladling in the hot broth, stirring, and (patiently) repeating. 

At the end, we tossed in some fresh chopped thyme, parsley, and chives, plus of course the smoked chicken scraps, for a complete and savory meal.