Friday, August 26, 2011

spaghetti w sweet 100 tomatoes

A couple of years ago, we split a share in a CSA at Geraldson Farms in Bradenton. I love the idea of this. I was less excited about the execution.

First, we had to drive to Bradenton a lot to pick up the weekly take. Since we were splitting the share, we didn't have to do this every week, but when you live in mid-Pinellas, any number of times you drive to Bradenton becomes a lot.

Second, it was mostly greens. Sure, we got beets, and the occasional … other stuff. But mostly we got greens. I like greens. And they were really good, interesting greens. But I don't love them. Even at half a share, we couldn't eat the greens as fast as we were getting them.

But one other thing we got was little tiny tomatoes. We could have all we wanted of those every week, but we had to pick them ourselves. Which was fun. So we got a ton of them. They were tiny and super sweet, very low acidity.

Pam planted some seeds from those tomatoes. And ever since, we have plants bearing tiny, sweet tomatoes all over the yard. Front yard. Back yard. Side yard. I haven't looked on the roof, but I wouldn't assume they aren't there.

I noticed that several of the plants were ripe at once. And I saw this recipe.


Caveat: I couldn't find lemon basil anywhere -- and didn't have the foresight to grow it -- but we had regular basil all over the place outside. Near the tomato plants. So I used that and some lemon zest to get the same effect.

So simple. So good. Can't wait until the tomatoes are ripe again.

Here is the recipe on Epicurious. Told you it was easy.

Up next: maccheroni alla chitarra. It's practically a theme.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

sweet corn crema

Here's the hilarious thing. The two main components of this dish are corn and blackberries. We are not far from Zellwood, which has a hugemongous corn festival each year. And I had been hearing about a farm north of Tampa that was growing blackberries.

So, since I hadn't grown either of these things myself, I thought I'd go do U-pick's for both ingredients. Possibly while wearing overalls and a straw hat. And one of those long pieces of grass sticking between my teeth.

OK, that wasn't the hilarious part. But this is: The season for U-pick corn ends two weeks before the season for U-pick blackberries starts.

The more you know.

I decided to do this dish because it was blackberry season. Which, at the U-pick farm I went to, lasts like three weeks. So there was urgency. That's when I went looking for U-pick corn in Zellwood, or where ever, and learned that the season had just closed.

Imagine my despair.

But it was OK. I got up way, way earlier than usual on a Saturday and drove up to north Tampa and started picking blackberries.

Did I mention I'm allergic to blackberries?

Actually, I didn't know that was true. And it isn't an absolute. I knew I was allergic to raspberries. Even handling them makes me break out, and it gets worse if I eat them. And blackberries sort of look like raspberries, right? But with me and a lot of fruits, if they aren't pristinely fresh, it's a problem. (It's a mold thing, and fruits grow mold long, long before you see it. It's no big deal for most people. But it makes me light up like a Christmas tree.)

But with many fruits, if they are really, really fresh, they don't present a problem for me. And I figured if I'm pulling them off the vine and making them that night, that's pretty much as good a chance at success as I had.

I picked up the corn at a farm stand near the blackberry field -- so apparently corn was growing somewhere -- and headed home.

The berries just got macerated in some sugar and berry flavored booze.

The corn, which I didn't take a photo of, got stripped from the cob and turned into a custard. Excuse me … crema.

It got heated up in some cream with some vanilla, then with egg yolks.

Then it went into my soup/tea/crema cups, and into a water bath in the oven, and I cooked them for the prescribed 40 minutes. At which point they were pretty much still soup. So I left them in 10 more minutes. Still soup. Then I checked them every 5 minutes until they set up. I think it was a total of about 20 more minutes. At that point, they still looked soft, but they looked set enough that maybe a night in the fridge would work wonders.

It did.

Before serving, made some cornmeal zeppole, which are fried, making them delicious. It was like deep-fried cornbread. Win.

When we had this, it was mentioned that it tasted like buttered corn pudding, which I totally agreed with. It wasn't until the next day that I realized something funny about that: There is no butter in the dish. So I had another one that night, to see if I still thought that it tasted like buttered corn, now that I was aware of the lack of butter … and it still did. I have no idea. Supposing that the cream and the salt acted in concert to trick us into thinking butter.

This was not one of the desserts we got hit with when we went to Babbo in May. But pastry chef Gina DePalma recently tweeted that this was one of Mario's favorite desserts, and it was season in New York, so it was back on the menu. So if you're in New York, and can get a Babbo rez, the sweet corn crema comes highly recommended.

Allergy update: The blackberries made me a little itchy. But no big deal. I've dealt with worse. But I don't so much want them again. I have some more in the freezer, where they won't grow mold. We'll see.

Up next: spaghetti with sweet 100 tomatoes

Monday, August 22, 2011

babbo garden closed for summer

In Florida, we're all backward. Our farmer's markets open when everyone else's are closing, and they close when they open everywhere else. It's because it's hot here, and humid, and even if people are willing to go outside, plants are smart enough to avoid growing.

So the Babbo garden is pretty brown right now. But before we close it down for the season, here is a recap of some of the dishes we got for about $6 worth of seeds:

From the bitter greens (dandelion and escarole, both easy to grow, but not my favorite to eat)

This was my favorite of the bitter green dishes. But if I made it again, I'd use spinach.

From the sungold tomatoes:

From the teardrop tomatoes:

The sungold tomatoes were my favorite thing of the things we grew, and I would grow them again. The teardrops also tasted good, despite the fact that two of the three dishes they were in were not my favorite. But they were a little weird to grow. It was hard to harvest them before they developed splits in the skin. Really sweet, though. And the pork chop was one of my favorite dishes.

So, I'm about to put in tomato seeds for Babbo Garden 2.0. And will try again with the sweet peas, the only thing that was a total fail in 1.0. Considering a couple other things, too, but not sure yet. I think I have a couple more weeks to decide.

Up next: sweet corn crema.

Monday, August 8, 2011

pork chop milanese

With this dish, we closed the Babbo Garden 1.0, the teardrop tomatoes making the last appearance of the crops I grew this year.

Otherwise, its about as straight-forward as a recipe can get. I have coated pork chops with bread crumbs before. I had never made my own bread crumbs to coat a pork chop before, so there's a little new ground.

The lemon made sense, and the teardrops had a nice acidity too them, too.

I feel certain I will make this dish a million more times.

Up next: Babbo Garden 1.0 roundup.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

snapper in cartoccio

I'm trying to think of any drama I can attach to this post.

"Oh man, the fish was so hard to get." Well, no. It's snapper. It's always in every store around here. Usually minutes off the boat.

"The recipe called for sungold tomatoes, and no one around here sells them." True, but I grew some. I have gone on and on about this, I know. But I love that photo at the top.

"I had to saute garlic cloves in sweet wine to make this dish." Wait. That was easy. And delicious.

Maybe i should've grown the tree to make the parchment to wrap the fish in. That would have been hard core. And dumb.

So I made the sweet garlic cloves and put them in a piece of parchment with a filet of snapper and the tomatoes, and pea pods and clams and wine.

All good.
Up next: pork chop milanese, also not dramatic.