Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Once and Future Meal

What with seedlings reaching (almost) sky high and herbs in full leaf, fresh from the garden and farmstand food is starting to seem like a real possibility again.  But we haven't quite hit the bottom of the freezer bin and if we don't get there soon, whatever's left will get buried and lost for ever.  This sounds like the makings for some profound reflection on the nature of time or the shared qualities of Fall and Spring, but all we got to really was a good meal. 

Green Rice Pilaf

1 cup blanched frozen chopped kale or other greens
1 cup stock
3 cups water
1 cup rice 
1 ounce (1/3 cup) "sundried" tomatoes (these were actually done in a dehydrator), sliced into thin strips
2 large onions
1 tsp. salt
1 T olive oil

Cut the onions in half and then slice into 1/8-1/4" strips.  Saute in olive oil until just beginning to soften, then turn down to a very low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for about an hour.  The onions will caramelize, turning sweet and brown.  This can be done up to 2 days in advance and the caramelized onions can be refrigerated.

Blend the kale, with about 1/4 cup of the stock or water, until smooth.  Bring the remaining water and stock to a boil, add the rice and return to a boil.  Add the blended kale, sundried tomatoes, and salt.  Cover and simmer, on medium-low heat, for about 30 minutes.  Remove lid, fluff rice and add in onions.  Cover and let sit for another 5 minutes or so. 

Roasted Cauliflower

Spread 1 head cauliflower (any color), florets broken or cut into 1-2" pieces, on a baking pan.  Drizzle with 4 T olive oil.  Sprinkle with 1 tsp. each salt, pepper, and paprika.  Roast at 350 for about 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes.

Fresh Herb Spread

Chop finely: 2 lg. bunches chives; 1 bunch parsley; 4 sprigs mint; 1/2 bunch watercress
Mix with: Juice of 2 limes; 2-3 tsp. coarse sea salt (I love salt, and use 1 T here quite happily)
Put into a small serving bowl and set on table to be spooned over the fish.

Butter Fish

We meant to use butterfish, a flakey mild fish of my childhood.  But when Renee went to buy fish, she was told butterfish was an oily anchovy-like thing and not in anyway.  The sole that she got worked perfectly.  Cod or flounder would be good too, but if you use those, double the cooking time as they tend to be thicker.

Melt 2 T salted butter in pan until it stops bubbling.  Add in about 1/2 lb. of the sole.  Cook for two minutes on each side.  Repeat with another 2 T butter and the other 1/2 lb. sole.  Serve immediately, topped with the Fresh Herb Spread.

Raspberry Clafouti

1/2-1lb frozen raspberries (a traditional clafouti is dappled with fruit, which a 1/2 lb would do; a full pound makes for a very berry-filled dessert, but the clafouti holds it well).
1/4 cup vanilla vodka (or 1 tsp. vanilla)
4 eggs
1 cup cream or 1/2 and 1/2
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup flour

Whisk eggs, cream, milk, and vodka.  Add sugar and keep whisking.  Add flour and keep whisking.  Butter a 9x13 dish.  Spread the raspberries over the dish.  Pour the batter over the berries.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. 

Vanilla Vodka

When I lived with the Vexliards in France, I learned many a wonderful kitchen trick.  But I only watched from a distance as they concocted alcoholic delights like vin de noix (walnut wine) and cherry eau de vie.  Still, the memory has been sitting somewhere waiting to be reactivated, and when Marx's sent us a free sample of vanilla beans, the fusion occured.  Well, actually, I first thought of making our own vanilla, which Renee already does, and then she suggested vanilla alcohol, and then I remembered. 

Fall a mason jar with vodka
Add 5 whole vanilla beans (do not split)
Let set at least two weeks.    

Vanilla Vodka Creme

Since we've started making liquours, we clearly need to start making drinks.  Dave is our cocktail mixologist, but Renee and I are full of dessert drink ideas.  This one is not only delicious, it changes delightfully as you drink, starting out strong on the vanilla and slowly sweetening into the caramel.

Set a spoon holding a heap of burnt caramel sauce in a brandy snifter.  Pour over the spoon 2 oz. vanilla vodka and 1 oz. heavy cream or 1/2 and 1/2.