This was a lousy year for growing tomatoes: the summer started hot spurring a lot of plant growth, but turned cooler, meaning few fruit ripened on the vine, and the ones that did were all chomped by squirrels. All of them, I mean it. I got like four ripe tomatoes all season off of five plants. And then an early frost came, and I harvested all the green tomatoes over a reasonable size. Made fried green tomatoes, thought about making a green tomato curry… but then they started ripening in the basket. In past years, this has led to raised hopes being dashed as they rotted faster than they ripened, but I got at least six decent, juicy tomatoes in November and December from the early harvest. These weren’t even ‘breakers’ with a little red on them, they were grass-green when I pulled them in.
The pictured sandwich isn’t actually the last tomato, it was third-to-last, with the other two going into a salad, and another similar sandwich of twice-leftover curried turkey salad: there was a lot of meat on the carcass after making stock, so I pulsed that in the food processor with some of the onions and carrots, then added a big portion of S&B curry powder (the best for this sort of salad) and a dollop of mayo. The sandwich is on toasted sourdough, with scallions, jalapeno, and of course, sliced tomato.
I’m not going to say that “Guacamole is like sex, even when it’s bad, it’s good.” Because it isn’t. There’s lots of bad guac… but it’s pretty simple overall to make a pretty good guacamole, whether you like it smooth, or full of crunchy bits, rich, spicy…
I like mine pretty simple. Smooth, spicy, with lots of lime and cilantro.
For each 1 avocado juice of 1/2 lime pinch of salt (more if you’re using it on burgers, tacos, etc. but less if eating it with salted chips) several sprigs of cilantro 1 chipotle chile in adobo
With a large knife, make a cut from the top to the bottom, going all the way around the pit. Separate the two halves and scoop out the flesh with a large spoon. Removing the pit is a slippery job, I’m not going to recommend any method that could result in loss of fingers.
Mince the chile finely
Mince the cilantro finely
Mix everything together, mashing it until smooth as you like it.
No onion or garlic (they’re in the adobo sauce). No bell pepper (does nothing but add crunch: that’s what the chips are for), no sour cream (you get all your richness from a good avocado). No tomato (add salsa to what you’re eating, separately).
What do you do with the rest of the can of chipotle chiles? Spread each chile with some adobo on a sheet of waxed or parchment paper, then roll it up and stick it in a freezer bag in the freezer. They mince pretty well even when frozen.
I mince my cilantro and other sturdy herbs such as oregano in this Zyliss herb mill. I wouldn’t dare use it for basil.
Sorry, no pics of the finished product — it’s two days old, and pretty green (lime and cilantro each help in their own way), but it’s not that pretty anymore.
My Kaffir Lime tree (best xmas present ever) has gotten a little leggy, so it was time to prune it back. So what can I do with a few leaves on a weeknight? I feel like making a curry or tom yam soup, so I hit the Google. I have some frozen shrimp, and some about-to-bolt lettuce in the garden, so what could I do for a light meal with what I had?
I came up with two recipes: One from Ming Tsai which sounded simple but perhaps not very adventurous, and one from a spice company that added a couple more flavors in that sounded like they’d work together well. I then kicked it up a little bit (neither recipe used fish sauce? no garlic?), making the flavors closer to tom som (green papaya salad). This made a nice light meal for two, with a little left over for lunch.
Sorry, no photos today — we ate it too quickly.
Recipe: Shrimp with Turmeric and Kaffir Lime Leaves
12 oz (340g) frozen shrimp, thawed, peeled, deveined 1 large clove garlic, minced 1/2 medium onion, sliced 1/2 to 1 jalapeno chile, sliced into rings 2 full (double) kaffir lime leaves, center vein removed and shredded 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) turmeric a few grinds of black pepper juice of 2 limes 1 Tbs fish sauce
3 cups leaf lettuce, cleaned and cut into bite-sized pieces 1/2 cup shredded carrot 1/3 cup scallions, sliced into fine rings juice of 1.5 limes 2 Tbs (30ml) olive oil large pinch of sugar pinch of salt and a few more grinds of pepper 2 full (double) kaffir lime leaves, center vein removed and minced
Combine the shrimp, onion, chile, shredded leaves, turmeric, pepper, the juice of two limes and fish sauce in a nonreactive bowl and marinate for ten minutes.
While the shrimp marinate, prepare the salad using the rest of the ingredients. Toss to mix flavors
Heat a large nonstick pan on medium-high heat with the oil
Drain and discard any liquid from the marinading bowl, and add everything but the shrimp to the hot pan, stir fry until the onions have softened just a bit (a minute or so)
Add the shrimp and continue to stir fry until they are opaque
Remove from heat
Distribute the salad on plates, top with the cooked shrimp/onion/chile
Where has he been for the last month? Still eating, still cooking, just not taking pictures (my tablet was in the shop, there was a business trip, (“…a fire, a terrible flood, IT’S NOT MY FAULT!”). Anyway, after the disappointing Thai clams, I thought I’d go back to Cantonese basics. This recipe is based on Barbara Tropp’s “China Moon Cookbook.”
Sue was actually home by the time I made this, but she’d told me she had a big lunch and wouldn’t want dinner.
I had a leftover tandoori style lamb shoulder chop from two nights before (hardwood charcoal mmm), and most of a kabob of vegetables (onion bell pepper tomato). I found a slightly freezer burned garlic naan not much bigger than my hand (less than two thirds the size of a pre-made personal pizza crust) in the freezer. While I pre-heated the grill, I put down some sauce: a heaping teaspoon of coriander chutney and a scoop of plain Greek yogurt. Diced up the vegetables and lamb, dropped that over the sauce, added a small handful of shredded mozzarella, a slivered Serrano chile and a sprinkle of garam masala.
I turned off the front burner and let it bake with indirect heat, turning it a couple times until the cheese was all melted, less than ten minutes, under 30 counting the pre-heat.
Delicious, accompanied by a tall glass of ice water, The Clash’s “London Calling” and Ann Leckie’s “Ancillary Justice.”
I feel like I’m starting to get in a rut: Sue’s out for the evening, it’s time for Asian seafood. Clams with chile jam, egg noodles and basil, while tasty, did not come out quite as awesome as it sounded.
Last week, a beautiful new cookbook arrived, authored by fellow Chicago-area cook Leela Punyaratabandhu. You may know her better as “SheSimmers” – a blog on home Thai cooking. The day I received it, I made a batch of Panang (Phanaeng) Curry, which I didn’t photograph, and last night a batch of Tiger Cry Beef. There’s no doubt in my mind that this book is a winner. Continue reading →
And so we come to the end of the morel stash. It’s Mothers’ Day, and Sue has asked that we not go out to eat, but have a nice light dinner at home. Avgolemono Soup with morels, and fresh bread… lots of butter tonight.