Saturday, August 29, 2015

Rigatoni alla Norma

Monday 24 August

We had a big eggplant from the Farmers' Market, and lots of basil from the garden.  So we made pasta alla Norma, just as Jamie Oliver directed.

Unctuous and delicious, with plenty of basil and extra pecorino romano on top.

Grilled Watermelon and Swordfish Steaks

Sunday 23 August
We bought a watermelon at Findlay Market a while ago, and though we ate some for a lunch of the classic watermelon and feta salad, even a small watermelon takes a lot of using to get used up.
So we decided to grill it as if it were a steak; teh intertubes described several ways of doing it, but we thought that the grill-pan would hold in the juices, and we wouldn't need to salt it, as opinions on that were divided.
In this case, the meat was chosen to suit the vegetable (fruit, actually): steak for steak.  We got out a couple of thick swordfish steaks and marinated them for about 15 minutes with lemon juice, sumak, and dried thyme.  The thyme burned a little on the grill pan, but the rest made it savory and moist.

We scraped the pan and, while the fish rested, grilled thick slabs of watermelon, as you see.  It had a big, meaty flavor, less sweet on the outside, but holding its sugar on the inside.  And you could put together a big circle out of watermelon wedges and swordfish wedges, which was almost conceptual art.

Opening party at Kathleen and Steve's

Saturday 22 August
We hate to admit it, but classes begin on Monday.  Kathleen alleviated the angst (slightly) by throwing a party for the whole department and its friends and connections at her and Steve's house, where we could sit out on the back deck, chat, sip wine, watch the sun set, and pretend that summer wasn't over.
Food was provided by Funky's catering, a rather unfortunate name for a solid service.  There were brimming platters of grilled vegetables, salads, hummus, Israeli couscous, "South African ratatouille" (with cinnamon, apparently), a chafing-dishful of chicken breasts, and good sliced flank steak in tomatoey sauce.

There were desserts, too, but we mainly missed them.  It was that good a sunset.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Chinese Pork and Beans

Friday 21 August
This title will definitely give you the wrong idea of the dish, though it's absolutely true.  The beans were the garden Romanos and purple Carminats that are still burgeoning in our garden, the pork was a setup of scaloppine sliced into strips, and it was a stir-fry, with no tomato sauce involved.
We marinated the pork as usual in soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and a touch of sugar and white pepper.  Then we minced some garlic (which went into the pork marinade) and some ginger, sliced up a big onion, and cut the beans into suitable stirfry bits - long for the thinner purple beans, to match the pork strips, but small for the thicker Romanos.

First, we stir-fried the onions for a minute or two, added the ginger for a few stirs, then the Romanos, and finally the purple beans, adding salt to each.  When the vedge darkened, we turned down the heat, added a splash of chicken broth, covered, and let it simmer until even the toughest bit was tender.   

Having set that aside, we reheated the wok to high, stir-fried the pork, then dumped the vedge back in and added a big sploosh of oyster sauce, tossing to coat and reheat everything.  
Nicely balanced, which is just what you want in a Chinese dish.

Spanish Tuna Salad

Thursday 20 August
Back when Barbara was on excavation in Mallorca, the lunch place would occasionally serve tuna salad.  Unlike our American mayonnaise version, it was simply made of crisp lettuce, a couple of wedges of tomato, lots of sliced sweet onion, and big chunks of oil-soaked canned tuna, dressed with good olive oil and vinegar.  That Spanish simplicity was our ideal for this evening.
We drained the water from a can of chunky tuna for Dora's benefit (Lea used to call Dora "the grey streak" whenever a tuna can opened), and poured in good olive oil to soak in.  But as well as red onion and red and yellow tomatoes, we threw in garden arugula, New Zealand spinach, whatever resprouted lettuce we could find, a chopped Zephyr squash, plus Kalamata olives and artichoke hearts, and tossed with vigor.  Okay, we slutted it up - we are American, after all.
On a crisp evening, it made a perfect outdoor summer meal.

Pesto Pasta with Smoked Salmon

Wednesday 19 August
Holt used some of our last year's crop of pesto to make his prizewinning red and green bread wreath.  So we used the dregs, plus the leftover smoked salmon from Sunday's pizza, for this unusual combination. 

Just swirled the spaghetti in the pesto, moistened with a little pasta water, and twirled the sliced smoked salmon on top.  
Italians might be scandalized, but it was delicious.