July 25, 2013

Arugula-Corn Salad with Feta and Pecans

My friend Amy always tries to claim she had nothing to do with a recipe being amazing because she "just found it online" or "just got it from a friend." What she obviously doesn't understand is that finding an awesome recipe like a corn salad with feta and nuts is feat in and of itself. And she didn't just find it; she made it. And she put pecans in instead of walnuts, and that was brilliant.

In the age of Google and 17 billion food bloggers, no recipe is really original. There's just a bunch of us finding food combos we like, mixing them up and sharing them with people in our real life and internet life. Cultivating recipes in the digital age is still an art best created in community, my friends. 
Anyway, Amy's corn salad has been spreading in-person meme style amongst the original cookout crew that feasted on it last summer.

As for me, I added some green and protein, tweaked a lime vinaigrette recipe (thanks, Google), and poof! had an innovative farmer's market-fresh meal salad to share with yet another friend, for a weeknight dinner on the porch this go-round. 

And then I made it again the next night. Because pre-prepped leftover ingredients rock almost as much as corn corn and feta cheese.

July 15, 2013

Alabama Tomatoes

When I came across the passage below in The Well and the Mine, a case of writer envy set in. Novelist Gin Phillips is just that talented at conveying imagery in the context of developing scenes and characters in Great Depression-era Carbon Hill, Ala. And so I bring you a tribute to Alabama tomaters in her words with photos from moi.

Albert, the father of the main character, narrates:
Heirloom Tomatoes, Pepper Place Farmer's Market
 My mouth watered at the look of them, insides about to burst through the skin. I plucked one and bit into it like an apple, juice running down my chin...

I pulled another one off and handed it to him, still tasting summer in my mouth, seeds stuck in my shadow of a beard...
Jones Valley Urban Farm Tomatoes in a Tomato Pie-In-Process
 I smiled at them all (his children), chattering and slurping, teeth and tongues and hands and arms covered in tomato innards.

"They're happy vegetables, aren't they, Papa?" asked Tess, chomping great chunks of hers. "Cheerful and excited. Like lemons are pouty and peaches are flirts."

Cherry Tomatoes Growing in Backyard Garden (Thanks to roommates who garden)
Virgie took tiny bites, bending over to hold the tomato away from her dress. But her's was the best, fuller and redder than the others. "Tess thinks they all have personality," she said.

"If she can eat it after she makes friends with it, ain't nothing wrong with it," I said.

We all picked beans until supper time, sticky and sweating, licking our fingers and hands and tasting tomatoes and dirt. When I swung Jack and Tess up the steps on the way in, our hands didn't want to come apart.

-Gin Phillips, The Well and the Mine, pages 52-53

Publix pizza crust with olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil

July 10, 2013

Red, (Off) White and Blue Berry Trifle

Some things just photograph real pretty. Like patriotic (but not overly so) berries on the Fourth of July.
And if you're going to have the real deal in fresh berries, why not go all out and bake a pound cake from scratch and make a pastry cream the same way? Hello, butter, butter, sugar, sugar, eggs, eggs. (I taught my roommate why pound cake in all its butteriness is called pound cake while I was at it.)

 You know the only thing that was missing in the ingredient list at that point in the brainstorming? Liqueur. So I drizzled me some Amaretto on the cake pieces.
This final masterpiece made its debut following dinner on the Fourth. Throw 19 eaters in the mix, and whoosh, it was gone baby gone.
Happy berry season to ya!

July 1, 2013

Summer Veggie Brunch Bake + Strawberry Scones

Why top eggs with veggies when you can top veggies with eggs, and lots of cheese too of course? Maybe we've been getting this eggs-first priority wrong.

Brunch started with sauteed fresh summer veggies plus fresh mozzarella and basil.

Top it with an egg and more cheese, Parmesan this time, and then more basil, bake it, and voila, you have a pretty+healthy summer breakfast.

Recipe verdict:
+Fresh and summery taste
+Veggilicious lightness as opposed to heavy brunchy eggs-meat combo
+Ramekin presentation elegance
+Individual portion cuteness
-Veggies gone runny...maybe strain veggie mix or leave out tomatoes next time
-Time intensive to cook veggies, put it all together and then bake it
Overall: Make again for a small group but prep the night before and skip tomatoes to avoid liquid in end product

But the best part of this meal was a more decadent strawberry scone.

Once upon a time I though scones were always dry pastries. And then I had one that tasted like a fluffy, buttery, sweet biscuit. Now when I make them I can't stop eating them, especially warm out of the oven and filled with summery-fresh berries.

Recipe verdict:
+Fresh and summery, yet lightly decadent, taste
+So delicious
+Pretty wedges of pastry
-Time intensive to cut butter into a flour mixture and then play  with sticky dough to fold in berries and get it in a decent shape for baking
Overall: Make as often as possible when I have the time to dedicate to it

Serve veggies eggs+scones with milk in mason jar, plus a lake view and a conversation/food sharing partner, for full effect.