Monday, June 29, 2009

On the Menu at Home

My sister and I went on a cooking spree today thanks to the ingredients heading past their peaks. This is what we created:

Cucumber burgers - slices of Armenian cucumber served in place of bread buns. After deseeding, they felt a sprinkle of salt and are then grilled on both sides. Grassfed, hormone-free hamburger patties from a Cochise, AZ rancher go on the griddle with a light touch of S&P. Sliced white onions from a local farmer are placed between the patties so that they can absorb their juices as the two are cooking. The meat enjoyed a rest with the brown, softened onions.

Notes: I ate these straight up while my sister added her condiments and fixings. You can eat these with knife and fork or with your hands. You can use the center of the cucumbers to hold the onions.

Warm purslane salad with red string beans and beets - With the exception of the garlic and the "dressing," all of the ingredients came from the CSA. The beets are peeled and cut until they're the size of your entire thumb. The string beans are cut to the same length. After heating a tablespoon of neutral tasting oil (vegetable or canola) in a wok, the beets are tossed in and stirred constantly for about 3-5 minutes. They took on a deeper red color. The string beans are thrown in and swirled around the wok for a few minutes. Minced garlic from one or two cloves is squeezed into the middle and mixed for about a minute or two just to take away some of that rawness. This is then placed on a bed of roughly chopped purslane. Pour some pickling juice (sweet, salty and spicy, with Vietnamese fish sauce as a base) over everything.

Notes: My sister felt a dominant flavor was missing. (Then again, she says that with everything made at home.) I liked how the flavors of every ingredient came through clearly without one element overpowering the others. It might even taste better after it has been sitting in the refrigerator for a day or two. My mom created the pickling juice based on what her co-worker had given her one day.

Sparkling cucumber cooler - There was a lot of cucumber left over (I still have one and a half sitting around) so I made this based on a recipe from a CSA member. Three parts of cucumber to one part of Granny Smith apple with a scant quarter cup of sugar, a pinch of salt, and the juice of one lime — all of this went into a food processor or blender until it took on the consistency of applesauce. This then went in a pitcher or serving bowl. A bottle of cold sparkling water or ginger ale is added. Sugar and/or salt was added according to taste. (I had ginger ale on hand so it needed a little salt and lime.)

Notes: I'm awaiting the results tomorrow.

Apple, cranberry & blueberry crisp or cobbler - My sister made the crisp, I made the cobbler. I added cinnamon sugar, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg to my apples (1/4 cup, 1/4 teaspoon, 1/8 teaspoon, 1/4 teaspoon respectively) whereas she didn't. She used a simple butter batter whereas I used oats mixed with creamed butter and brown sugar. She added more of the dried cranberries and blueberries than I did so the crisp didn't have as much syrup as mine did. In place of the cinnamon sugar, my sister used plain sugar.

Notes: Hers taste great. Not too sweet, which was surprising given the ingredients. It needed some spices in the apples or salt in the batter, though. I'll be tasting mine at the newsroom tomorrow.

Summary: With the exception of the apple crisp and cobbler, neither of us have made the dishes in this way before. And, in my opinion, they came out surprisingly well. My only regret was forgetting to take a photo of the food before eating. Que sera, sera.

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