Saturday, September 04, 2004

Weekend food report

I did a bunch of cooking last night, after D. and S. and I returned from a trip to the farm to pick up our veggies for the week. I'd planned the meal for Thursday night, in an attempt to finish up all last week's stuff before the new produce appeared. But D. lured me off to Norm's for dinner, and beets and chard were left home, to sit alone in the vegetable drawer.

So I made up for it last night. First, I roasted beets, onions and potatoes - all from the farm - with olive oil, salt and pepper. This was a recipe from The Joy of Cooking, and it suggested putting each veggie in its own dish. That seemed a bit much to me, so I put the potatoes, which also had some rosemary and unpeeled garlic cloves, in one pan, and the onions and beets in another - knowing, of course, that I'd end up with pink onions. After that was all done roasting, I combined the veggies and poured a homemade vinaigrette over them. I think TJOC meant for each vegetable to be served separately, so the beet juice wouldn't stain everything, but when D. and I were just going to eat it all slumped at the coffee table while watching the Red Sox, that seemed just a bit precious. So we had pink roasted veggies and vinaigrette, which was pretty tasty.

At some point I noticed that the recipe said it was to be served at room temperature. Right. When you start roasting veggies at 7:30 at night, ya ain't gonna wait around for 'em to get to room temp. So it was good - not great, but definitely good. And my guess is that the leftovers are even better, since the vinaigrette has had some time to sink in.

Along with the Pink Veggie Medley, I made an orzo and parmesan thing that's supposed to have sauteed spinach on top, but I did it with chard instead. It's not a complicated recipe, but there are about eleventy billion steps for something that tastes so warm and homey. First you cook the orzo; while that's going, you blanch the chard briefly and let it drain. You also mix together an egg, a buncha parmesan and, if you're following the recipe, heavy cream, though I used skim milk, because who has heavy cream in the house all the time? After you drain the orzo, you mix it w/ the egg mixture, cover it and let it sit.

THEN you move on to step two of the spinach/chard process: Saute slivered garlic and red pepper flakes, then add the chard, which you've pressed until all the water is out of it and it forms a disk. Once it's in the pan, you sorta break it up with the back of a spoon, and just saute it briefly until it's heated up (this takes a little longer for chard than for spinach, I think). Again, this has some fancy schmancy presentation suggestion - you're supposed to smooth the orzo out on a platter, and top it with the greens. Eschewing the hoopla, I used tongs to mix the chard throughout the pasta.

It was an unintentionally carb-heavy dinner, but as D. says, who the hell cares? I really like the orzo/greens thing - perhaps especially because we have some really great, sharp (real) Parmigiano Reggiano in the house, which gives a good bite to the pasta, which is also just the tiniest bit creamy. And then there's the garlic... mmm.

So I don't know if I'd make that particular combination of dishes again, but I'd definitely make them separately.

Tonight, we're heading over to my sister and her boyfriend's for dinner. E. and I just came back from walking the dogs, which was a good outing. It's really cool here today, though - the sun is warm enough, but there is a chilly breeze. Fall is on its way for sure. But dinner tonight is full-on late-summer harvest: E. and P. are making a chilled avocado-tomatillo soup, followed by tomato and basil sandwiches on grilled bread. They belong to the same farm we do - and part of the reason we ate so late last night is that we were out in the pick-your-own patch for a long time, foraging for tomatillos - so the veggies will be top-notch.

For dessert, we were torn between something light and refreshing, to go along w/ the super-healthy dinner, and something totally decadent. So, my contribution to the evening - besides pineapple juice, for what E. assures me will be kick-ass pineapple martinis - is Ghiradelli double-chocolate brownies, currently working their chocolatey magic in the oven. I'm not sure how the pineapple will go w/ avocados, tomatillos and basil, but given my sister's drink-mixing prowess, I bet we won't much care.