Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hot Buttered Whiskey

Local and seasonal food in New England tends to be high on vegretables and fruits in the summer. Local grains are harder to find, although Sherman Market carries a nice selection of flours from Maine.  Local meats and cheeses tend to be lean and organic.  But eating local and seasonal is not a diet that aims directly for anything like wieight loss, and if you've been following our blog you've realized that Renee and I both love rich foods.  It is my strong belief that if you eat a well-balanced diet full of the fantastic local varriety of veggies, fruits, meats, grains, and dairy products that we do have, you will generally be a happy and a healthy person.  It is also my belief and practice that eating deliciously rich whole local foods in moderation and delight is integral to a healthy lifestyle.  This is a roundabout way of promoting my latest alcoholic invention: hot buttered whiskey.  One of my winter favorites is hot buttered rum: a cup of rum, warmed almost to boiling, served with a pat of butter melting on top.  The slight sweetness of the rum blends with the butter just perfectly.  This weekend I discovered that my wonderful and devotedly localovore aunt Jo loves butter as much as Renee and I, but not rum.  She suggested that if there we just hot buttered whiskey....  Well, it just so happens that Ryan & Wood, a Glaucester distillery, has just started selling its first batches of rye whiskey.  It's still a little young, most suitable to mixed drinks, cooking, and.... hot buttered whiskey.  This is really a wonderful drink.

Heat 6 oz rye whiskey almost to boiling.  Pout into a small mug.  Drop 1 pat butter on top.  Let the butter melt, then enjoy its smooth top to the wonderfully sharp and wide warm whiskey. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Humid Citrus Cocktail

It's hot. Sticky hot. Try this cooling cocktail to soothe sweaty moods. It is easily made into a non-alcoholic drink (see below).

Humid Citrus Cocktail

makes 3 single-sized drinks (perhaps not a typical amount but as I'm too hot to do math, you'll have to deal)

In a shaker filled halfway with ice mix:

2 oz lemon juice
2 oz. grapefruit juice
1/2 oz simple syrup (more can be added for those who prefer sweeter drinks)

Stir or cover and shake.

Pour into 3 single-sized cocktail glasses (a.k.a. martini glasses).

Add vodka until liquid is 1/2" from the top. Top with seltzer. Add a blackberry. Drink. Repeat.

For the non-alcoholic version, fill to top with seltzer.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Head and All

Strangely, it's whole fish that makes me most squeamish.  Maybe it's because it's so very whole and as-if-it-could-jump-back-into-the water looking.  But slaughtering the chickens last year only made me like chicken more, and thinking about their recent aliveness makes me feel better about eating them.  Maybe it's because I still really conceive of fish as a wild animal rather than something raised for eating.  But I have no problemwith wild game.  Maybe it's the eyes.  Whole fish is the only thing I cook or eat that has eyes on it.   Well, if you're still thinking about eating fish, let alone whole fish, then first of all you're on the right blog.  One of the keys to being a responsible eater in my mind is to think a lot about the whole life and death of the food we eat, not in order to obsessively freak out about it but to fully indulge in the kind of curiosity that leads to understanding and responsibility both about what we eat and about what we value.  So I take the slight discomfort of staring into the eyes of my meal as I prepare it as an opportunity to be thankful for the life of the fish, and really moreso as a moment to accept that I value the fantastic moist tenderness of whole grilled fish so much that it's worth the eyes.  The whole fish,  bones and head and all, never dries out or shrivels up, and it's never bland.

Whole Grilled Fish
Serves 4

Use a sturdy whole fish--this was done with Striped Bass but any kind of Bass works beautifully.  Ask the fishmonger to gut, clean, and scale it for you, but to leave on the head.

Marinate fish for one hour, turning halfway through, in:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
salt and pepper

Meanwhile, prepare charcoal grill.  You'll want a nice bed of hot coals.  Just before putting fish on grill, stuff with fresh herbs.  Fennell tops, the stems and feathery leaves that come on top of fennel bulbs, are a fantastic match for fish.  A combination of organo, mint, thyme, and lavendar is also wonderful.  To stuff, just gather the herbs, on stems, and push them into the cavity of the fish.  You don't need to tie it closed.  Just before you put the fish on the grill, toss a handfull of the same herbs onto the charcoal.  Put the fish onto the grill and cover. Cook for about 10 minutes per side.

Grilled Zucchini
Serves 4
This is so simple it's almost embarassing to write it up as a recipe.  But so good. 
Slice 4 medium zucchini lengthwise into 1/4" thick slices
sprinkle generously with sea salt and pepper and let sit for 20-30 minutes
Lay on medium-high grill and grill about 10 minutes per side, flipping once. If you make them with the fish, just lay them alongside the fish on the grill. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Yogurt Dressing

I have hoarded garlic scapes for the past few weeks. They last quite a while in the fridge and have been showing up daily in our dinners. My newest use for them is salad dressing.

Yogurt Dressing

Heat a small frying pan (I use my 6 inch cast iron) over low heat.
Add 1 teas. olive oil and 3 garlic scapes which have been cut into inch-long pieces (with my overabundance of scapes, I discard the flower since it is a bit tougher than the rest of the stalk, though definitely edible). Saute, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 10 minutes, until softened and starting to brown.

Meanwhile, mix the following:

1 cup yogurt (fat content of your choice)
1/2 teas. salt
1/2 teas. black pepper
2 TBSP chopped cilantro

Add in the scapes and stir. Adjust seasoning if needed.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cucumber-Brie Sandwiches

The fact that, in my tomato frenzy, I forgot to plant cucumber this Spring is being more than made up for by the abundance of cucumbers from the CSA. I don’t love pickles, so fresh cucumbers now feature prominently in just about everything I eat. But that does not mean all salad all the time – remember tea sandwiches? Yes, cuke pairs beautifully with bread, and also with brie. Cucumber-brie s a fantastically simple sandwich, and one that travels quite well on picnics or in lunchboxes.

Cucumber-brie sandwich

Slice one cucumber in half lengthwise, then into thin strips also lengthwise. In the summer, I usually keep the brie in the refrigerator, which in this case allows you to slice rather than to spread the brie. Lay brie on a slice of bread, layer cucumber on top, followed by one more layer of brie. Top with a second slice of bread. The brie keeps everything together, the cucumber adds moistness only when you bite it, and the flavors are, well, you should try. This also works with camembert.