Sunday, August 24, 2008
Now that the tomato wave has crested, I can take a moment to talk about everything else. Of course, there will still be fresh summer tomatoes for a while yet, but they will no longer be in every single menu item. Beverly Dixon's squash turned out to be delicious- sort of a cross between a spaghetti squash and a butternut. I split them, baked them, pureed them and then cooked the puree with chicken stock and cream. Next I added some chicken, some left over grilled corn and hot pepper flakes. The result was a light creamy soup that tasted exactly the way that raw yellow crookneck squash smells.
Figs come and go, but ultimately there promises to be a lot. I collect the ones that have become too ripe to use in salads. When I have two or three cups, I can make fig ice cream. This is easy because I almost always have vanilla ice cream base ready to churn somewhere in the fridge. I split them and toss with a little salt and enough sugar to lightly coat them. I let them sit out at room temperature for at least a half an hour to juice up. Then, I simmer them ever so quickly in this juice- you don't want them cooked you just want them to red up a little. This pasteurizes them so they don't discolor and makes them a little less icy when they are frozen. The pan is set on top of ice to speed its cooling, then I mash the figs with the back of a fork until they are both pulverized and chunky. Lastly I fold them into freshly churned vanilla ice cream. Two hours in the freezer will give you a perfect serving consistency but this ice cream is good for days. The flavor reminds me of those old fashioned horehound sticks.
All this tropical storm rain will probably finish off the tomato glut we've been enjoying, so the corn meal tart has to move on. Even I like this and my spine generally stiffens at the mention of anything deliberately vegetarian. It is being replaced by the yummy, if ugly skillet eggplant. This is a recipe that I stole years ago at a cover dish dinner. It's a sort of stew made of course with eggplant plus onions, olives, diced raw tomatoes and feta cheese. It sounds Mediterranean but the source is a grandmother in Asheville. Peaches have been stellar, so our cobbler will continue for a while before I start on layer cakes again. Right now it gets an assist from blueberries from Braken Brea Farms.
One last thing. This weeks marks the third anniversary of Katrina slamming into Louisiana and Mississippi. Someone on the radio this week remarked that their fifteen minutes were up and to stop whining, so I'm only going to remind everyone how nice a visit to New Orleans can be. People are saying that it's begun to feel normal- whatever that means down there- again. So to celebrate, to the left is a picture of Willie Mae Seaton, beset by media, frying chicken in her newly restored house last year.
posted by Bill Smith at 5:02 AM