Tangled Branches: Satiated

riveting tales of how we sustain ourselves

Friday, September 15, 2006

Two Herb Night

Doesn't sound nearly as good as Three Herb Night, but I couldn't think of anything better at the moment.

Last night I made something I haven't made in a long time - Rosemary/Garlic-flavored Olive Oil for dipping. I used to make this all the time and then stopped. Don't know why, because it's easy and good. Here's how. Take about 3 4-inch sprigs of rosemary. Strip the leaves off and put them in a small microwaveable bowl. Thinly slice a clove of garlic and add it to the bowl. Pour about 1/3 - 1/2 cup of olive oil in. Microwave on medium power (i.e. mine goes from 1 to 9 and I used 5) for 30 seconds. You want the rosemary and garlic to release their flavor, but not to cook. Let it cool a bit. Sit down with a loaf of good crusty bread and some nice wine and eat and drink. You could grind some black pepper over the oil. We usually do that with plain olive oil, but didn't this time. I think this oil would make an admirable base for a vinaigrette (for a potato salad, say), but I've never tried it.

Lemon Basil was herb number two last night; the only seasoning herb in Scallops with Corn & Tomato. First I cooked 2 thick slices of bacon in a frying pan. Removed the bacon, but left the drippings. Added some chopped red onion to the pan and cooked it until it started to brown around the edges. Added frozen sweet corn and stirred until the corn was heated through. Added some chopped tomato and a good amount of chopped lemon basil. How much is a good amount? I don't know because I didn't measure it, but I would guess it was about 2 tablespoons or more. Continued cooking until the tomatoes released their juice and started to look cooked. In retrospect, I should have cooked the tomatoes for somewhat less time. Added salt and pepper. Removed the corn-tomato mixture to a bowl. Wiped out the skillet with a paper towel, and added some olive oil and butter. Heated this on "high" heat (my electric range really doesn't get very hot) until the butter was sizzling. Added thawed frozen scallops. Cooked them until browned on both sides and seasoned with salt and pepper. Scallops are kind of tricky. The current fashion is to leave them raw in the middle, but I don't really care for that texture. My goal was to have them seared brown outside and just barely cooked through. If you overcook them, they're no good either. I placed the scallops on the plate and mounded the corn-tomato mixture in artsy little dollops around the scallops. Then I crumbled the bacon over the top (remember the bacon?), and served it.

posted by Entangled at 1:52 PM 0 comments  

Monday, September 11, 2006

Three Herb Night

Several nights ago, I realized that although the garden hasn't given us many vegetables this year, I have been cooking a lot with fresh herbs. One night each of 3 different dishes was flavored with a different herb from the garden. (It adds up to more than 3 herbs if you count all the different varieties, but then I wouldn't get to write "Three Herb Night".)

BBT Sandwiches: We love BLTs even if we don't love Lettuce. I used to make a basil-and-garlic flavored mayonnaise to put on BLTs, but we're not eating as much garlic these days (too many business meetings for DH). I could have made it just a basil mayonnaise, I suppose. Instead, I replaced the Lettuce with Basil. I picked largish leaves of several different kinds of basil - plain old basil, cinnamon basil, lemon basil, Mrs. Burns' lemon basil, and layered 5 or 6 basil leaves on top of the tomato. The tomato was from the garden, by the way. I'm still very partial to the Black Russian tomatoes, and that's what I used.

Roasted Potatoes with Fried Sage: I've always liked fried sage when I've had it in restaurants, but never tried making it myself until this year. I picked about a dozen leaves that were near the top of the plants - not too tiny, but not big old tough ones either. I heated enough olive oil to generously cover the bottom of a frying pan. When it was hot, I dropped in the sage leaves and let them sizzle for, oh, 15 seconds? Maybe not that long. They turn bright green and then start to brown. I think you want to remove them before they brown. I drained them on paper towels after removing them from the oil (they should get crispy). Then I cut up some Yukon Gold potatoes, and tossed them with the oil that the sage leaves had been fried in, and salt and pepper. Roasted them at 400 degrees and tossed in some pieces of red onion about halfway through the cooking time. We like these good and brown. Just before serving, I scattered the fried sage leaves over top the potatoes. Earlier this summer, I tried a similar version, except I just put some sage leaves (raw, so to speak) into the pan with the potatoes. They were good, but I think I liked the fried-leaf version better.

Summer Vegetable Tian with Thyme: This was based on a recipe in The Savory Way by Deborah Madison. I layered some eggplant, green beans, red onion, mild chile peppers, and just a few very, very thin slices of lemon. Tucked in here and there were some garlic slices (would have been better with more <sigh>), and sprigs of various thymes. I used English Broadleaf Thyme, Provencal Thyme, Orange Balsam Thyme, and Lemon Thyme. Like the roasted potatoes, this got a good dousing with olive oil and salt and pepper, and then it was roasted in a covered casserole dish for an hour or more. I could have used more thyme, and although the sprigs look cool, they're a real pain to remove while you're eating. So, next time, more thyme, destemmed.

posted by Entangled at 5:30 PM 0 comments