Sunday, August 8, 2010

Creamy dessert, drink, and dinner

You can't get much farther from Somerville than China, so someone who knows will have to explain why while I was there the past few weeks sure I found plenty of fantastically delicious vegetables that don't even have names in English, but also in season the very same things that Renee was picking up at the CSA.  In fact, when you walk by a market in Chengdu in late July and early August, what wafts out are not the odd odor of unmentionable fowel parts that I expected, but the sweet sweet smell of ripe peaches.  And Liz who most generously hosted us has the simplest and most scrumptious way to turn peaches into ice cream.  She is also responsible for adding the little kick to my version of the Cucumber Margarita. 

Peach Ice Cream

6 large peaches (or the equivalent in small)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 pint cream

Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil and drop the peaches in for 3-5 minutes.  Remove and let cool until you can handle them.  Slip off the skins and cut in half to remove pits.  Drop peaches, cream, and sugar into a blender and blend until smooth.  Pour into an ice cream maker and follow directions. 

Ice Creamy Cucumber Margaritas
serves 4

4 cucumbers
1 cup tequila
4 T cointreau
4 T lime juice
Rock salt
1 jalapeno

Peel the cucumbers, cut four slices and set aside, then roughly chop the rest.  Put them in a blender and pulse until smooth.  Mix in with the tequila, cointreau, and lime juice.  Pour into an ice cream maker and follow directions, stopping when the mixture just begins to freeze and has the creamy consistency of a blended margarita (about 15 minutes).  Meanwhile, rub the rims of four (ideally, chilled) margarita glasses first with a cucumber slice, then with the inside of the jalapeno.  Pour about 2 T of rock salt into a plate and dip the rims into the salt. 

Creamy Totally Homemade Tomato Sauce

Up until last week, I considered my tomatoe sauce homemade if I cooked and blended it myself.  But I didn't look at the origin on the cans of diced tomatoes, knowing somewhere not so deep down that New England does not have a tomato canning industry.  Somehow, canned tomatoes had become such a regular part of my tomato sauces that I didn't even really consider it an option to use fresh instead.  But tomato season is finally in such full swing that between the CSA and my garden I had more tomatoes than I could possibly consume raw, and then these gorgeous romas were on sale that Farmers Market for $1.50 a pound, and I piled 16 of them into my bag.  The resulting totally homemade tomato sauce has me prepping and planning so I never used canned again.

This recipe makes about 24 cups or one big soup pot's worth of tomatoe sauce.  I freeze it in 2- and 4-cup containers since I use about 1 cup of sauce per person in most pasta with tomato sauce dishes.  This sauce also works wonderfully on pizza and in lasagna.

4 onions, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
16 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
4 zucchini, cut in rounds
8 sprigs oregano, leaves and flowers, if they're out, only
(and if you have them, 4 carrotts roughly chopped)
2 T olive oil
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper

In a soup pot, saute the onions until translucent in the olive oil. Add the garlic and saute for another 3-5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, zucchini, carrotts if you have them, oregano, salt, and pepper and stir well.  Cover, bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook 30-45 minutes.  Remove cover and cook another 20 minutes, or until the liquid reduces enough that you'll get a creamy rather than a watery sauce (the liquid level should look like it comes up to about 3/4 of the pot height).  You can freeze and use it like this, but since I have a child who doesn't like to actually see as such the vegetables he's eating, I always blend the whole thing.  Also, blended in the zucchini gives the sauce a rich creamy flavor and texture.