Wednesday, November 10, 2010

august cookery

Time to catch up with the old 52 Weeks of Food project.  I have 14 weeks worth of food to cover, and I don't even want to know how far behind Steve is with the blogging.  I'm mostly just glad that he's kept up with the cooking part each week.

When last I blogged about our cooking endeavors, I left off with the broccoli cheddar soup of week 24.  That was the very end of July.  August began with another recipe from another food blog: La Tartine Gourmand.

stuffed zucchini

I sent the link to Steve one day, because I thought the pictures were pretty.  It wasn't so much that I wanted him to try to make it.  Nevertheless, he came home from the farmers market not long after with a few globe zucchini—the very same kind that were used in this recipe.  So of course, we had to try it once we had them.  The squash were filled with a mixture of the zucchini innards, sweet potato, prosciutto, parmesan, celery, garlic, shallots, thyme, and marjoram.  We ate it with some plain white rice and opened a bottle of Kuleto Estate Chardonnay.  It was a good meal, and it was different from many of our usual recipes.

Right before our anniversary trip, we took care of week 25 in the form of a Saturday lunch: Summertime Tagliarini from Jamie Oliver's website.

summertime linguini

We strayed slightly from the website version.  First, we used linguini, which is similar but easier to find than tagliarini.  Second, I requested a change from the parsley in the original to basil, which I much prefer.  I didn't feel too badly about that, since Jamie mentions a basil version at the River Cafe in the introduction.

The recipe for this pasta is really easy, especially if you skip the step of warming the bowl of sauce over the pasta water.  Steve determined that it wasn't necessary anyway, since the sauce heats up and melts the cheese just fine when you mix it with the cooked pasta at the end.  If you heat it too much or too fast, which you risk doing with the double boiler method, the sauce tends to seize up.  Anyway, it's so easy that I've made it a couple times for lunch recently.  (A quarter recipe gives me two servings.)  And it has so many things I like: pasta, cheese, basil, lemon, and pinenuts.  Win-win.

After all of the good eating on the Napa trip, we got back to the project with another easy Jamie Oliver recipe.  This one was the creatively titled Easiest, Sexiest Salad in the World.
fig salad

It was the beginning of my fall fig obsession.  There were figs of two kinds—I now know that I prefer the black ones—along with prosciutto, mozzarella, basil, and a dressing of olive oil and lemon juice.  It was a little like the Grilled Peach Salad that we often eat in the summer, but I think I prefer the grilled peaches.  I suppose this is a good option for the post-peach season, however.

We stuck with the online sources for one more week after that, switching from Jamie Oliver to 101 Cookbooks.  I had gone through Heidi's archives and looked for recipes that looked good to bookmark, paying attention to the dates on her blog entries to keep the seasonality correct.  While the cherry tomatoes were still had the farmers market, Steve made the Red Pesto Ravioli.

red pesto ravioli

Luckily, Heidi's recipe had pinenuts as an option, because the walnuts that she used for her pesto would not have worked out so well for me.  Our result didn't have quite the rustic look of hers, but it was more important that I live.  The "optional" oven-roasted cherry tomatoes for topping were also a very good idea.  Since Steve is Steve, he insisted on making his own ravioli, rather than buying some as the recipe suggests.  His goat cheese and ricotta ravioli turned out really well; he seems to be getting better at rolling out fresh pasta.  In the end, the only change I'd make is to use less garlic in the pesto or cook it a bit first.  It was pretty intense, and I don't like tasting garlic for several hours after dinner.  But other than that, I'm looking forward to next summer so we can have it again.
The next weekend, we hit the (cook)books once more, namely David Tannis' A Platter of Figs.  We had done the Shaved Summer Squash with Squash Blossoms several weeks before, but it was time to try the rest of the "Yellow Hunger" menu.  The main course of that menu was Halibut with Indian Spices, Yogurt Sauce, and Yellow Tomatoes.

yellow fish

I've found that while I love crudo fish dishes, cooked fish isn't generally my favorite.  I enjoy a nice fillet of salmon occasionally, probably because it's a good excuse to eat the cheesy polenta that Steve serves with it, but I usually don't order cooked fish in restaurants.  I'm willing to try just about anything, though.  This halibut was yellow from an Indian spice rub and served with yogurt sauce, which sounded interesting.  The yogurt had various spices in it as well, but I think I wanted something more akin to raita, with mint actually in it and not just on top.  Lemon juice might have helped too, although the sauce was already pretty thin.  Overall, I wasn't wild about it.

For dessert, a simple pairing of peaches—yellow, of course—soaked in white wine.

peaches in wine

Steve made some whipped cream to go with it, and I suggested adding cardamom for interest.  We had had cardamom whipped cream on a plum tart at Contigo last year, and I remembered loving it.  It was a good move.  As a dessert, it wasn't as elaborate as the sauternes cake with peaches that I was craving from our dinner at Redd, but it was delicious and summery anyway.
Next up: my obsession with figs gets a workout.  Plus, the end of the late San Francisco summer.

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