Cindy has big exciting news on her blog! Go check it out!
Evita has left the building, as has Billie Joe before her, and I am bereft. And that was *before* I went over and saw Miss T's entry into this week's Iron Chefettes competition.
I considered just conceding. Save myself the time of blogging my defeat.
But then I realized--she might have a spectacular secret weapon, but I do too.
Perhaps Evita isn't gone after all.
Bwaa haa haa.
As Miss T. notes, we decided to do an abbreviated version of IC this week, what with end of summer and State Fair and our being generally very busy because we are Such Important People, so only four dishes. I pretty much went with the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid), again noting that when fresh produce is this divine, it's heresy to muck with it too much.
How about a nice cucumber sandwich? The spread is sour cream, garlic powder, white pepper, and fresh dill, spread on thin-sliced tea bread. Of course a little extra fresh dill is never a bad thing. Yummy and refreshing.
Steak fajitas, with fresh onions, sweet peppers, and just a little bit of hot pepper. We are big fajita eaters at Chez Knit Think. The beef, I might note (she says with just a touch of condescension in her voice), was also purchased at the Mill City Market, from a local kind farmer who is nice to his cows.
We also got some lovely new potatoes. I contemplated some rather complicated potato dishes, but in the end went back to my basics Bible:
The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. This is a great beginning, all-around, not too fussy or fancy, cookbook. I found just what I wanted: Parsley Potatoes.
Essentially, you cook your potatoes (cookbook says boil, I steamed), then toss with butter, fresh parsley, and coarse salt. Copious amounts of butter. Take what you think would be plenty of butter and double it. Then you're somewhat close to having enough. Needless to say, it's a darn fine dish.
Finally, the recipe that took the most "work."
Only because of the chopping and slicing. Potato-dill bread spread with hummus (from Holy Land Deli) and layered with crumbled feta, fresh red onion, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and kalamata olives. This is a lunch fit for kings.
So, yeah. Although it was all good--all very good--it's not as impressive as what Miss T. concocted this week.
But, as I said, I do have a secret weapon. It's not really a fair weapon; I'm playing loose with the rules here--more Sopranos-style than Iron Chef-style. But desperate times require desperate measures.
Go. Enjoy. You'll be lightheaded with delight.
Don’t cry for me, Knit Think readers The truth is, I have not lost it… Boy, y'all are really bad at guessing who the guest chairman would be. Most of you obsessed over dead foodies. But c'mon--the real Iron Chef chairman? Is an actor.
Don’t cry for me, Knit Think readers
The truth is, I have not lost it…
Boy, y'all are really bad at guessing who the guest chairman would be. Most of you obsessed over dead foodies. But c'mon--the real Iron Chef chairman? Is an actor.
As is the special guest chairman this week. In fact, long before Reagan, Schwarzenegger, Franken, and Fred Grandy, she made the leap from entertainment to politics.
Why? you might ask. Be patient. All shall be revealed, with just a touch of tyranny.
First, let's talk about the week's CSA box (and by the way, if you'd like to know more about the fine young folks--and I do mean young--that fill our boxes with such exceptional goodies, read about them here). We got salad mix, hot banana pepper, sweet corn, collard greens, fresh onions, garlic, cucumbers, summer squash, cherry tomatoes, purple and green beans, and fresh basil. In addition, Miss T. and I purchased nice big red tomatoes.
That's a pretty rich haul, yes? And varied. This was a box designed not to lead to boredom.
When the goods are at their peak, simplicity is in order. A simple caprese sandwich with sliced tomato, basil, fresh mozzarella, olive oil, salt and pepper, and capers. Nummy.
Bacon, smoked turkey, tomato and lettuce sandwich (also? avocado) with boiled sweet corn. Simple and perfect.
This is a recipe from Lynne Rossetto Kasper's The Italian Country Table. It's so easy--you dice tomatoes (regular and cherry), toss them with chopped fresh basil, olive oil, salt and pepper, in a bowl you've rubbed with a split clove of garlic. Let it all site for a while, then add hot pasta, which "cooks" the tomatoes. With the wonderful tomatoes we get this time of year, this is one of my favorite summer dishes.
Rosemary Trout with Cherry Tomato Sauce. Mixed results here; the trout was about the easiest thing ever (open a fillet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, stick in a sprig of rosemary, fold closed, pan fry) and very tasty. The cherry tomatoes were tossed with shallots, balsamic vinegar, and rosemary, then served on the side. It wasn't bad, but here's the thing: when the cherry tomatoes are as flavorful and delicious as these are, it seems like overkill to douse them in other strong-flavored ingredients. Better to save this recipe for the tomatoes of winter, and use the lovely summer versions to stand alone next to the trout.
On the other hand, when you have something mild like a cucumber, this is a good way to use it. Our CSA newsletter had a recipe for cucumber salsa: feta cheese, black pepper, onion, lemon juice, cucumbers, and cilantro. Holy cow. Fabulous. Especially served on pita bread with lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and kalamata olives.
Then there are rainy days when comfort food rules. Take some hamburger (or ground turkey), brown it with diced onion and minced garlic, add some crushed red pepper, salt, pepper, and oregano; add in some diced summer squash and tomatoes; cook 'til done. Utterly satisfying, especially with biscuits. Yes, they're square biscuits. Taste as good as the round ones.
Alrighty then--can you see the key ingredient here? Why, yes--it's bacon. I steamed green and purple beans and collard greens, then sauteed them with garlic and bacon. A little splash of lemon juice finished 'er off. This was so good I almost wept. And I'm not usually a fan of collard greens.
OK. I sense that, in spite of all this food pron, y'all are getting restless and wanting to know: why Evita??
The story has roots way back last fall, when my good friend Antay decided to take a trip (not the first one, that lucky git) to Argentina. Having a
obsessive slight interest in Evita, I begged pleaded threatened bodily harm mentioned in passing that it might be fun to have an artifact from the Evita Peron Museum. And he's such a dear that he picked up on my subtle hint and brought me this:
An Evita apron! Isn't it darling?
This might even top my Birds Barbie.
Anyway, once we started Iron Chefettes, I realized that Evita was just calling out to be a chairman. And the apron needed to be worn. And I needed to try and look like Evita. (Teens 1 & 2 will tell you that I already channel her dictatorial side all too often.) Problem, though--her classic look was hair severely pulled back into a chignon. I simply don't have enough hair. What to do, what to do...Fortunately, the bakery dept. at Cub Foods came through for me.
That works as a stand-in chignon, right? Especially when attached to my neck with some DPNs and a bit of yarn:
Very Evita-esque! The only remaining stumbling block was--what to cook? I pulled this book off the shelf:
--and started studying it. My first thought was beef, because Argentine beef is supposed to be the best in the world (in fact, my friend has said he could never be a vegetarian now, knowing there is beef like that somewhere in the world). But then I remembered an anecdote from a biography of Evita. For those of you not familiar with her, she and her husband ran Argentina with an iron fist and a deadly hatred of the country's aristocracy. While Mr. Peron was of the "arrest them prison them kill them" mode of dictatorial leadership, Evita had more style and imagination. One of her targets was an upper-crust gathering spot, the Jockey Club. Eva wanted it closed. She was First Lady; she and hubby could have closed it, or burned it, or stormed it with soldiers. But is that what she did?
Why, no. Instead, she took advantage of the hot Argentine summer (remember, this was mid-20th century, long before good sources of A/C), and opened an open-air fish market across the street.
Think about that.
No matter your opinion of her, she gets major snaps on that one. Brilliant, really.
I realized then--it had to be fish. No good tribute to Evita and my glorious apron would be right without seafood. And so, I give you: Salmon Pie (recipe below).
(OK, I cheated and used store-bought pie crust. Sue me. At least I didn't resort to canned salmon.)
You saute up a filling made of chopped onion, diced tomatoes, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, dill and wine.
Then you start layering up your pie crust, with the tomato mixture, cooked salmon, hard-boiled egg slices, and olives with pimiento.
Cover with more pie crust, bake, and --
Heaven in a pan. Wow. Evita. Maybe you are a saint after all.
(That's me, gettin' all Evita with it.) I was a little nervous about serving the Knit Think household such an exotic dish. There was wailing and gnashing of teeth when I announced that dinner was a pie--without sugar. Before trying it, I was definitely considered a tyrant. But it was a hit. Some people even ate seconds. And leftovers the next day.
So thank you, Evita. Your guest chairman run was, I feel, a winning tactic in the ongoing Iron Chefettes battle. Just--umm--you know, I don't really want to have my corpse handled like yours was. No offense. (Seriously, go read that link, and you'll see one reason I find Evita so interesting.)
Salmon Pie (Empanada Gallega)
2 cups sifted flour
¾ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening
1 egg yolk, beaten
3 tablespoons ice water
2 cups chopped onion
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons minced parsley
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
¼ cup dry white wine
1 ½ pounds salmon fillets, lightly poached and cut in 1 ½ inch strips (or canned salmon)
¼ cup pimiento-stuffed green olives, sliced crosswise
2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced crosswise
Sift the flour and salt together. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture looks like coarse sand. Mix in the eg yolk and water with a fork. Form the dough into a ball and chil for 2 hours.
In a skillet, sauté the onions in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil until they are soft. Add the tomatoes, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, dill and wine. Cook over high heat until the liquid is reduced by half. Correct seasonings and cool.
Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Roll out a little over half the dough and line a lightly oiled 10-inch pie pan with it. Layer the filling starting with half the onion mixture. Top the onions with half the salmon strips followed by half the egg slices and half the olive slices. Repeat the layering with the remaining ingredients. Roll out the remaining dough and cover the layered mixture. Seal the pastry edges and cut a small hole in the center of the top crust the size of a finger. Brush the top with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and bake the pie in the center of the oven for 25 minutes or until the pastry is brown. Cool and cut into wedges to serve.
Miss T. is published in Knitcircus! Go over to her site and check it out!
I assume this means she's been so busy being a knitting-writer type person that she's had virtually no time to work on this Friday's Iron Chefettes competition, and therefore I pre-emptively declare myself winner.
(Don't forget--this Friday's edition has a special guest chairman from beyond the grave! No one's guessed who yet...bwaa haa haa...)
--or: The Return of the Iron Chefettes!
I can't speak for Miss T., since I don't talk to her about what I'm cooking with my CSA box--other than to taunt her with my mad CSA-box-using skilz--but the summer is settling into that point where the food from the box is varied and delicious and, frankly, hardly needs any help at all from me to be worth eating. That point arrived late this year--thanks, Mother Nature--but it has arrived.
This week's ingredients included a Jimmy Nardello sweet pepper, garlic, onions, red potatoes, cucumbers, kale, summer squash, eggplant, cherry tomatoes, green beans, salad mix, and a bouquet garni. Miss T. and I also both purchased tri-color potatoes and fresh blueberries.
I'll spare you the salad shots--you know what a good salad looks like, right? I used all kinds of things--the salad mix, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, the Jimmy Nardello pepper. I dried the bouquet garni to save for the winter. There were several cucumbers, which I divided between two favorite recipes.
Did I say I wasn't going to show you any salads? Oops. I lied.
A sort of bastardized salad Nicoise, with steamed potatoes and green beans, salad mix, and cucumbers. And tuna. Tuna from Italy. Very nice tuna. Very nice salad. Very happy me.
Speaking of potatoes, I roasted some of the tri-colors:
--which went quite suitably with steak and mushrooms.
Some of the leftover potatoes made an appearance, diced and sauteed with butter and onions, in some scrambled eggs.
Because, really, is there any vegetable that doesn't blend well with eggs? I think not.
This one was of my favorites of the week: Chicken with Haricot Verts and Lemon Butter. OK, these really aren't haricot verts, but they are young, fresh green beans, and it worked just fine. Such wonderful flavor--especially with the lemon. I wish there had been leftovers. Next time I'll make more.
More potatoes, steamed this time. And--roasted kale! I saw this over on Cheryl's site. I tossed the kale with olive oil and roasted until crispy, then sprinkled with sea salt. Oh my. As usual, I find roasting a vegetable to be such an easy way to change up its flavor profile altogether. And the chicken? Peri-peri Nutty Chicken. Don't know what that is? Let me explain: NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM.
That should clarify things for you.
I'm struggling how to describe the above dish, Rice with Summer Squash, Red Peppers, and Roasted Pepitas. Not because it wasn't good--it was good, very--but because it wasn't, somewhat surprisingly, a flavor powerhouse. It was mild and gentle. And good! But--well--gentle. Not that that's a bad thing. It just feels odd, when everything else I've made is, to use the old cliche, bursting with flavor, to try and explain something that doesn't burst and make it sound good is a challenge.
Unlike the dish below.
This was from a list of 101 salads by Mark Bittman: grated carrots tossed with roasted sunflower seeds, blueberries, olive oil, lemon juice, and black pepper. I'll confess to being the only person in the house who liked it. And even at that, truly? These blueberries? So amazing that it seemed a shame to bury them in something else. I initially planned to bake the rest of the blueberries, or use them in pancakes, but instead we simply ate them. As one ought to do when one has access to such fruity excellence.
Finally, I'll close with two pasta dishes.
One rainy night, I made spaghetti sauce, using some of my cherry tomatoes along with garlic and onion, and my mother's secret spaghetti ingredient: French's Spaghetti Sauce Mix. Yes, I know--hideously non-gourmet and all that. But that's how we made spaghetti when I was growing up, and sometimes you just have to go back to basics.
I made up for it here, though.
I've got a little old cookbook I got through the mail from Antoine's Pasta (are they still around? They don't have a website) years and years ago that had a recipe for Ratatouille Pasta. This used up the eggplant and the last of my summer squash, cherry tomatoes, garlic, and onions. Along with some red and green peppers. Oh my. Very, very tasty.
Overall, an excellent use of my box. No matter what Miss T. comes up with, I shall remain smug and self-satisfied.
There's a dirty little secret at Casa Knit Think. One that I've tried to ignore. But I can't pretend it doesn't exist any longer.
Our household is under siege by a homewrecker.
Yes, a homewrecker. Someone doing her part to destroy a lovely, peaceful household. Not a trophy wife type at all--in fact, she's right around 56 years old. Although I have to report she looks far younger, and I know for a fact she's had no work done, but for the occasional haircut. And some nail work. I guess I would have to report some jealousy on my part--I'd like to go to the spa as often as she does. The rest of us age at an appropriate rate, while she maintains her youthful looks and figure with little to no effort--and, I might add, with quite the healthy appetite.
Her endless need for attention and insistence on being the center of any grouping of humans in her vicinity has caused home-wide damage. And there she sits, claiming no responsibility, as if she doesn't really understand or even know the carnage she's caused.
There she is, sitting on the very scratches she's inflicted on one of the many doors in our home. Look at that innocent expression! How can I not interpret that as mocking me??
Fortunately, the males of Casa Knit Think, particularly DH and Teen 1, are not only pretty much immune to her act, they also have mad woodworking skilz and are repairing the damage.
Take that, Gracie.
But...maybe I should give her a treat. Just one...
--has been postponed.
Scoop: having decided that picking up a box full of foodaliciousness on Saturday, then trying to cook it all and write about it by the following Friday, is really a form of lunacy, Miss T. and I are giving ourselves an extra week per box now. There have been some goofy scheduling things too, so the next two episodes will be the next two Fridays. Be patient. We'll be back before Mad Men is.
Oh, and to whet your appetite? There is a Very Special Guest Chairman coming to this blog, not next Friday, but the week after. How special, you ask?
From beyond the grave.
Feel free to hazard a guess. Hint: it's not John Hughes, Julia Child, and most certainly not Michael Jackson.
I've been a shockingly monogamous knitter as of late. See, even after some screw-ups, I got all the way to the toe of Monkey:
Only a few stitches to graft, and sock 1 will be done! All through the stalwart methodology of staying on track.
Or that's what would happen if I actually did stay on track. But with a handful of stitches needing grafting, I found myself unable to resist the siren song emanating from the bottom of my knitting bag, where a long (1+ years, anyway) abandoned project, buried under all kinds of other hopefuls, suddenly demanded my attention.
The Diamond Fantasy shawl, in Fleece Artist. I started it a long, long time ago, and screwed it up and screwed it up and finally jammed it back in the bag to be examined later. Apparently it got tired of waiting. I had to rip out everything I'd done--no small task with this yarn--and start over.
But I'm so happy with it. It's soft and it'll be pretty when it's done and blocked.
And maybe someday I'll graft Monkey. And even later, cast on for its partner.
Knitting monogamy, it turns out, is overrated.