Sunday, August 26, 2007

Potatoes on the balcony

Last spring we had a small mesh bag of fingerling potatoes, and forgot about the last six or so in the pantry. By the time I found them, they had sprouted. For a kick, I planted them in one of the pots on the balcony (much as I did with an overripe tomato two years ago). Well, this afternoon I harvested enough new potatoes for dinner tonight! Purple, pink, and yellow potatoes. I'm just going to steam them and have them with lots of butter. Yum. Entree tonight is a very small beef filet roast rubbed with salt, pepper, herbs de provence, shallots, and olive oil. And some roasted zucchini, because the nice little ones are all over the farmers markets right now.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Summer tomatoes

I don't think I ever knew how different heirloom tomatoes taste until today. The local supermarket had a special on heirlooms, and I couldn't resist picking up a few:

They make a really pretty display, don't they? I tasted them and all have different flavor profiles, acid, sugar, and "tomatoey-ness" are pretty distinct. The ones that look orange, in the bottom left, are my favorites. They are really varigated orange, red and yellow. These are going to be served with a side of a vinaigrette made with fresh basil oil and sherry vinegar. But I think I'm just going to have them with a pinch of fleur de sel.


I ended up using the basil oil to make a basil lemon mayonnaise to go with the tomatoes, and it was absolutely perfect with them (if I do say so myself). Put two egg yolks, juice and zest of one lemon, and a big pinch of salt in the blender, then dribble in about 1 cup of basil oil while the blender runs. Taste for seasoning. (The basil oil was one cup of loosely packed basil blended with about a cup of olive oil (not EVOO) and strained.)

If I'm going to eat something sweet...

...these days, it's got to be incredible. The dried peach and pistachio baklava we made in "Peachy-Peachy Quack-Quack" class absolutely fell into that category. The theme of the class was combining duck and peaches in a full-course dinner. So for the baklava, we brushed the phyllo sheets with duck fat instead of butter, and duck stock formed the base for the sweet syrup that you pour over the baklava. Absolutely irresistible! I brought a piece home for Dave to try, and he seems to ask every day when I'm going to make it. Unfortunately, I won't make that unless we've got a crowd coming, because I know we'd eat it all and that's just not good for us, even if we weren't cutting out sugar and wheat. Maybe I'll have to add that to the Thanksgiving menu...

Chili on a low-carb diet?

Of course -- beans are very high in fiber, and have a low glycemic index (which means that they don't have a big effect on your blood sugar levels). I made the chili with black and white beans, with a high proportion of meat (nice lean sirloin, cut in 1/2" cubes). For those of you who say "real chili doesn't have beans," well, not all of us believe that :) I do believe that chili needs to have plenty of chiles, though. Fresh green chiles, dried red ancho chile powder, soaked New Mexico dried chiles blended to a puree -- I like a nice smorgasbord of flavors there, to mix culinary metaphors. I have quit thickening my chili with masa, because that is a no-no on our diet. And with the lean sirloin, and only a tablespoon or so of olive oil to saute the onions and other aromatics, it ends up being low-fat, too.