the last of summer

September 3rd, 2013

Family, friends and strangers alike called my Mother’s father, “Pappy”.  By all reports he was a magical man who wasn’t able to leap tall buildings or move faster than a speeding train. He cared for his family through the depression, ensuring food on the table and a proper song or poem at the close of each day.  He taught his daughters to waltz and his sons to think big.

Pappy always used to say that he would eat anything if it were draped in Hollandaise Sauce, including sawdust.  I have always concurred with that statement and dare to take it a step further: anything draped in Crème Anglaise, sawdust included, sounds mighty tasty to me!  I never met Pappy, because he died before I was born, but I’ve always known him, and I’m certain that he’s somewhere nearby, in spirit.

The last of summer’s strawberries bid good-bye to kitchens regaling their many wonders all season long in the form of jams, shortcakes, and brief dips into liquid chocolate.  I was thinking some local strawberries and candied walnuts tucked into a crêpe and generously draped with Crème Anglaise would bid a proper adieu to the season, and Pappy, I’m sure, would be the first to agree.

Strawberry Crêpes with Candied Walnuts and Crème Anglaise

 

 

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second cousins

August 27th, 2013

Everyone is familiar with the famous dish from Provence known as Ratatouille, perhaps in thanks to the animated film, more hopefully because they’ve experienced this indigenous combination of tomato, zucchini, eggplant, garlic, onion and peppers, perfumed with Herbes de Provence.

Ratatouilles are like snowflakes – there are no two alike.

Its American second cousin, to my mind, has to be the equally indigenous and perhaps more ingenious dish of the Pueblo known as Calabacitas, generously demonstrated to conquering Spaniards long ago.  It features a variety of summer squash, onion, garlic, black beans, fresh corn and tomato.  The ingredient that throws Calabacitas over the top is the New Mexico chile, from Hatch Valley, which just came into season!

Preparing the dish is a multi-staged event, just like its French second cousin.  First, the chiles need to be dry roasted and peeled and then the corn on the cob is charred in a skillet until the natural sugars start to caramelize.  Other ingredients follow, with individual exactness, and then the whole lot is gently warmed in a skillet.

In keeping with the region, leftover Calabacitas contribute to superb versions of quesadillas, tostadas and Huevos Ranchero.

Just another snowflake…

Calabacitas with Fresh Hatch Chilis

 

 

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