Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Summer's end

The end of summer

Fall just around the corner (no really--turn right and there's a five foot drop) and I have yet to grill. Believe it or not, have not broken out the giant bag of All-Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal, to smolder away in a starter chimney (Charcoal starter easier you say? Why would I want to eat gasoline flavored meat? Gas grill? 1) I like making things harder for myself; and 2) I like the smoky primordial uncertainty of it all, cooking the way my Cro-Magnon ancestors did, millennia ago).

But before the grill: wanted to do something besides meat, so one weekend I put together the above ingredients, from left to right: a bowl of my neighbor's tomatoes, garlic cloves and red peppers; a bunch of organically grown scallions from North Square Farmer's Market (I tell ya they're a treasure trove of vegetating goodies), drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with kosher salt and fresh-cracked pepper; a bunch of organic carrots (from the aforementioned North Square), sliced thin. 

The results as follows: grilled scallions dipped in a Romesco sauce I cooked up from the tomatoes garlic and red peppers and a slice of bread (all of which I roasted), then blendered with almonds and (for sweetness) balsamic vinegar; carrots in an orange juice glaze (no recipe--just sauteed the roots in butter, a lightly crushed knob of ginger, and orange juice, season and cook down till glaze is dark and shiny). 

The omelet is a little special: I bought frozen crab claws--cheapest item in the grocery--and had a packet of frozen lump crab stashed away; thawed em out; sauteed them in olive oil with taba ng talangka (crab fat paste), poured a mix of eggs sour cream and chives I snipped from my nearby pot, seasoned well, and--voila!--crab frittata.

I could have done this with fresh crabs, of course--but the effort! The time needed! Plus once I disassemble a steamed crab assumption is the meat goes straight to my mouth, no further cooking necessary. I suppose with tinned crab I had to doctor the flavor a little more.   

Bite of scallion dipped in tangy sweet Romesco goes with buttery sweetness of carrots in tangy orange-juice glaze goes with briny sweetness of crab sauteed in crab fat, suspended in delicately cooked tangy-creamy egg. What's not to like? 
Again from North Square Farmer's Market: New Zealand Spinach. Not spinach, but a more cabbage-y version that cooks more or less the same--sauteed in olive oil garlic red onions it tasted just fine, a bit fleshier perhaps, slightly more tangy.

Went well with this:

Porterhouse steaks, on sale for three two-inch steaks @ $9.99/lb at The Butcher Shoppe, two of which I massaged with a Tandoori rub recipe I found online (Which called for grinding the spices in a grinder I didn't have; ever ground peppercorns, mustard seeds, fennel seeds and grains of paradise (basically peppercorns and allspice) in a mortar and pestle? Not easy I tell ya), and left to marinate for hours.  

The third I dredged with my version of this coffee and chipotle rub, only I didn't bother with the chipotle (cayenne pepper served just fine) and used caramel flavored cocoa--let's just say on purpose, for added sweetness). 

The results as follows: 

Seared the steaks over hot coals for five minutes each side (ten minutes total), then slow-cooked them on the cooler end for around twelve to fifteen minutes on each side, twenty-five to thirty minutes total. 

Tandoori steaks were umami good, perhaps not instantly identifiable as tandoori style per se (maybe they should have been kebab cubes instead); the big hit was the coffee-and-cocoa rubbed porterhouse, with its deep earthy (thanks to the coffee) slightly sweet flavor. The New Zealand spinach cut through the beefy richness and the incredibly sweet roast corn generously buttered helped seal the deal. 

So--goodbye summer, hello autumn! Soups and stews anyone?

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