Sweet corn polenta with broccoli pesto

August 19, 2012 § 27 Comments

Was I the one grumping up a storm and hemming and hawing over what to do with the sheer quantity of summer produce around?  Me?  Well, I take it all back!  Every word of it! It never happened.  I never said it.

Now I’m like all those guys in all those movies, running after the train as it pulls out of the station, crying, “waaaaaiiit!!!!”  Because my true love is on that train.  Except, the train is actually summer.  And my love?  Sweet corn polenta.

In a long line of obsessions, sweet corn polenta is my latest.  It has taken over our diet in the last couple of weeks, just as sweet corn season is winding down (sad face).  Kimchi tacos are still at the tippy top of my favorite things ever list for the moment, and a most exciting delivery of delicious treats from a friend in Hawaii has skyrocketed passion fruit ginger jam up to join the tacos in first place.  (I may become totally open to genetically modified foods if someone can figure out a way to create a passion fruit plant that will generate fruit in northern Minnesota.  Anyone?)  But, sweet corn polenta is breathing down their necks. « Read the rest of this entry »

Tomato and nectarine caprese

August 2, 2011 § 13 Comments

Oh, hello!  Are you there?  Because I’m not.  Ok, technically I am physically here.  But my mind appears to have vacated the premises.  Half of it is scurrying nervously around, dusting off specific aims and trying to make sure its hypotheses match (sort of like socks, those hypotheses, in fact, I think my dryer might have eaten one of them).  The other half has up and taken off for the Mediterranean.  It seems to be hanging out on terrazza somewhere along the coast between Nice and Portofino.

Obviously the latter half is much cleverer, and knows what’s up.  It watches the busy, blustering academic part with a shrug of ‘who knows what that’s about,’ and pours itself a glass of wine while sighing contentedly, “ah, la vita really es bella, isn’t it?”

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Corn and tomato salad with smoked trout

July 29, 2011 § 6 Comments

We were just talking about drinking, so I figured it was time to move on to smoking, right?  (And then we can talk about the really interesting vices…joke.)  There’s only one type of smoking I can get behind, and that is the smoking of meats.  Fish in particular.  I don’t know how to do it myself, and therefore I choose to picture it as an esoteric mystical practice, kind of like a druidic rite, in which slippery pieces of fresh fish are enveloped in wafting clouds of smoke, amidst some hand waving and muttered incantation, and then they come out rich and flakey and salty and as delicious as candy (if candy were rich and flakey and salty, which, perhaps, more of it ought to be).

I have met a man who owns a shop that sells smoked meat and fish, I’ll call him ‘Eric the smoker’, and he makes the most unbelievable smoked salmon and whitefish.  It’s pretty hard to believe anything that good could be legal.  (His pate is in a class of its own as well.  Mine is not bad, though.)  At his shop they also sell posters with heavy woodblock prints and funny slogans.  My favorite is “Fish: The healthy smoke.”  (My other favorite is “Cheese: the adult form of milk.”  I own both.)

Admittedly, some nutritionists may argue that smoked food is not good for you.  Smoking meat can produce some carcinogens that you then ingest.  But, allow me to go on a little scientific rampage tangent, and just point out that these carcinogens have only been shown to be carcinogenic in lab animals.  Now, if a chemical that you apply to skin or something of that sort is carcinogenic in lab animals, we should take it seriously.  And, we should take it seriously for food too, but with a caveat.  You see, these carcinogens are produced by the cooking process, and humans are the only animals that naturally eat their food cooked.  Growing evidence points to the possibility that we’ve been doing so for a loooooooong time.  In fact, it may be what allowed us to evolve into humans!

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Ricotta Gnocchi with Butter Braised Summer Squash

July 18, 2011 § 12 Comments

Some magical things are going on amidst the pots of vegetables on our porch.  One of our tomatoes turned red.  Suddenly.  One day everything was green, and then the next there was a startling splash of red beaming at us from under a leaf!  It looked like something out of a fairytale, as striking as a single red rose on a bush.

And the eggplant is suddenly dangling with tiny eggplants, like charms swinging from a bracelet.  I keep feeling like the plants should give some sort of proud cluck, like a laying hen, before they sprout a fruit seemingly out of nowhere.

But, instead it happens stealthily, in the night.

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