Monday, September 14, 2009

Ugly but Tasty

I had a lovely weekend couchsurfing in Ithaca. The highlights include: cooking my butt off in my hosts' kitchen; meeting three very cool and fabulous young women; checking out some of the Cayuga Wine trail and sampling some delicious wines; and relaxing! Ithaca is only an hour and a half from Norwich but quite a different world. It's a wonderfully progressive and artsy town with the Fingerlakes wineries a stone's throw away.

I returned a bit early to Norwich so I can prepare some meals for the coming week and to take some pictures on the farm, which if you have been following this blog, will notice are conspicuously missing!

Let me focus on food and more on the farm and livestock later.

The past few meals have not been very good looking but if you can get past the appearance, I assure you they have been tasty regardless.

Cauliflower with Indian Spices
I noticed my host Hannah had some tumeric and other Indian spices in her kitchen so I made some cauliflower in a style learned from my trip to India. Heat up oil and throw in some tumeric and let it cook a bit. Add finely chopped red onions and then tomatoes. There was no chili powder so I sliced a few fresh chilis which added a nice heat. Let it cook down for some time and then add the cauliflower with some ground cumin and coriander. I usually toast the seeds whole and grind but previously ground is fine. Cover and let it simmer until soft.

Fresh Cannelini Bean dip

This was the first time I got to use fresh Cannelini beans, very exciting! Shelling the beans was a pain but my ipod cranking house music was very helpful. The beans are quite beautiful and the nice thing about fresh beans is that they cook much faster than dried. I sauteed some thinly sliced leeks and finely chopped carrots in lots of olive oil, then added the beans covered with water one inch above the beans. Let this cook until the beans are soft and then add salt, pepper, and a generous amount of fresh thyme, I'm sure dried would work just as well. Smash the beans with the back of your spoon, and top with more olive oil before serving. This is a great dish for sharing and picnics.

Chicken Vegetable Soup
I used chicken back from our lovely broilers for the broth since they are very meaty and bony at the same time, good combination for soup. The rest is a standard veggie stock: onion, carrot, celery. I added tomatoes cause I like the tartness it adds and I just happened to have a bunch of busted wonderful heirlooms that I really wanted to use. I let it all cook without a cover for close to an hour and a half, skimming the foam occasionally. This is a good time to add some herbs if you have them. Take out the chicken and remove the meaty bits. This is my lunch for the week.

Corn Soup with Stock and Peanut Sauce
I tried to take a photo but it came out very blurry. I basically sauteed some onions and scraped corn off the cob. I added some broth from the chicken soup and added some peanut butter sauce I had. It was an experiment and I think it tastes great, sweet and earthy. I'll serve this with fresh lime to brighten up the flavor.

Heirloom Tomato Sauce
I love the orange heirloom tomatoes! I have discovered that they make excellent sauce. First of all, their color is simply gorgeous. They are less acidic and more dense with less water than other heirloom varieties and they have minimal seeds that are very tiny. The tomatoes I had were also very ripe so the skin came off very easily even before cooking. I usually chop them in huge chunks and mash them when they start cooking down. I first slice some garlic and cook in lots of olive oil until fragrant and then throw in the tomatoes, simmer until saucy. This will be savored with pasta or a pizza if I feel ambitious later this week.

Ma's Salsa
Is it obvious yet that we're inundated with tomatoes? Just a few weeks ago I canned a bunch but there is still much more. Just when you think you can't eat any more tomatoes, there is always another recipe you can use them in. I almost forgot about my most famous salsa. Heirloom tomatoes bring the salsa to another level of scrumptiousness. I don't know all the fancy names of the varieties but this one has a tinge of purple in it. They have nice acidity and are very juicy. I usually drain the salsa with a slotted spoon and reserve the liquid for drinking. Great chaser for tequila shots. But alas, no alcohol in this household! Chop up tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, garlic, fresh chilis to your desired heat, add salt, pepper and a squeeze of lime juice. You will never go back to store bought salsa!

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