We sliced the zucchini into 1/2-inch thick rounds. We seasoned the slices with salt and set them aside in a colander for 30 minutes to release some of their water content (optional). Then we patted them dry and sauteed them in flavorful olive oil. You could first fry slivers of garlic until golden brown to flavor the oil and then scatter them over the gratin. We drained the sauteed zucchini and layered it in a baking dish with slices of Comte. We broiled the zucchini and cheese until it was golden brown and everything had come together. Then we served it with with thick slices of sourdough bread that was toasted, rubbed with garlic, drizzled with olive oil, and topped with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and freshly ground black pepper. This was a simple lunch that emphasized the sweet flavor of the zucchini and made people happy.
I've been chasing the perfect stuffed pork chop recipe for years. Years ago in someone's home I was served the perfect stuffed pork chop, at least as I remember it. It was tender and flavorful and of course filled with a tasty stuffing. The other day I was flipping through an old cookbook and there was a recipe for stuffed pork chops that covered the chops with the stuffing and slow roasted them. The authors rhapsodized about how this method allowed the pork chops to stay moist and tender while the stuffing browned on top. It was genius. Alex just happened to come home with pork chops later that day. There was some rich pork gravy in the fridge leftover from another project so instead of slow-roasting, it could be said that my chops were braised, but no matter, because they were awesome. Stuffing on top, it's the only way to go.
We have prepared polenta topped with truffles. We had not upgraded our fresh polenta with truffles. Until yesterday. We used the corn scraper to convert the corn on the cob into a bowl of creamed corn. We seasoned the corn with salt and cooked it on the stove until it thickened. Once the creamed corn was at a gentle simmer we added heavy handfuls of sottocenere, a black truffle studded cheese. It's creamy, tangy flavor accentuated the corn's natural sweetness and the heady aroma of the truffles permeated the kitchen. Served alongside fresh sliced tomatoes and roasted chicken thighs it was a perfect summer meal.
We had scraped a dozen ears of corn for dinner. Aki had marinated chicken thighs with red wine, rice vinegar, tamari soy sauce, scallions, and sliced garlic. Instead of roasting the thighs on a bed of vegetables we roasted them on the scraped cobs. We added the marinade and some additional wine to the roasting pan. We arranged the thighs on the cobs and roasted them. When they were cooked we pulled the pan from the oven and let them rest on the cobs. The moisture from the liquids steamed the underside of the thighs. The skins browned and crisped. When we were ready to eat we had corn scented roasted thighs for dinner and a rich aromatic corn and chicken broth for tomorrow. The cobs proved to be a very useful ingredient in our kitchen, well before they were ready for the bin.
Usually we grind onions into our burger. Yesterday we decided to press the onion into the outside of the burger. The onion slice browned and softened. It stuck to the patty and flavored the fat in the pan. The burger gained a full onion flavor on the outside while retaining the meatiness of the ground beef on the inside. Trying something that we don't usually do changes our perspectives and provides fresh and different flavors.
Some recipes just come to you. I've been reading Anne Dimock's book Humble Pie and so I had a hankering to bake. Her special pie is rhubarb and I knew there was some in the refrigerator. It was not quite enough for her pie but there were local red plums in the drawer and Alex suggested that I combine the two. It was almost the perfect pie. sweet and tart, the filling somehow somehow creamy and tangy without a drop of dairy inside. Alex ate his with vanilla ice cream and Amaya and I enjoyed ours straight up.
Makes one 9-inch pie
The amount of fruit below is not exact, it depends on what you have on hand. You are going for 5 cups total and the ratio of plum to rhubarb is fluid. Ours was slightly more rhubarb, almost 3 cups so we had a pie that quivered on balance between sweet and tart but if you prefer a sweeter pie you can skew your ratio more towards the plums.
2 prepared piecrusts: we use an all butter crust, recipe in Maximum Flavor
2-3 cups sliced rhubarb
2-3 cups diced plums, use firm, tender plums, not ones that are overly soft and mealy
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) sugar
1/4 cup (28 grams) cornstarch
2 tablespoons (12 grams) tapioca starch
1/8 teaspoon (0.75 grams) fine sea salt
milk for brushing the top of the pie
1 1/2 tablespoons raw sugar for the top of the pie
Preheat oven to 425°F
Put the rhubarb and plums in a medium bowl and then add the sugar, cornstarch, tapioca starch, and salt. Mix gently with a rubber spatula to blend. Set aside while you roll out the piecrust.
Line the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan, preferably heatproof glass, with one pie crust. Gently stir the fruit again and pour it into the bottom crust being sure to get all of the juice as well. Roll out the second piecrust and lay it over the top. Trim the crust so that it has a 1 1/2-inch overhang and then fold it over the edges of the bottom crust and crimp it closed all the way around the circumference. Use a small, sharp knife to cut a few vent holes in the pie. Brush the top crust with milk and scatter the raw sugar evenly over it. Bake for 20 minutes and then, without opening the oven door, reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for another 50 minutes. The pie should be a deep golden brown on the top and on the bottom. (Here's where the glass pie pan is handy, it's how I learned that our pies need to cook for much longer than I thought.)
Thoughtful eaters often notice that the flavor of the fruit changes depending on where you take your bite. A fat, tender peach may be sweet on one side and tart on the other, depending on how it ripened on the tree. There's nothing like a juicy piece of fruit, that gives gently as you sink your teeth into it, and releases juice all over your tongue, many times leaving it dripping down your face. That's one of summer's true pleasures. It is the paying attention to the ingredient that is instrumental to understanding it. When we trim fruits an aesthetic plays a role. In the case of this melon, the aesthetic and the taste factor were in sync. The top and bottom of the melon were softer and not as flavorful as the center. The interior of the melon which holds the seeds was aromatic, but when eating it, the flavors fell short. The center cut of the melon was meaty, juicy and aromatic. Too often we trim without knowing why. We need to pause and taste what we are cooking. That way we will be better prepared to stop chasing, and actually indulge in that one perfect mouthful.
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