Archive for the ‘recipes’ Category

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Strawberry Fields Forever

July 7, 2007

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photo by Harold Davis, a photographer and author who has a marvelous blog on digital photography and other subjects.

I’ve just returned from Florida (about which, more later) and I’ve had a very busy week, so after all that, I’m finally getting back to blogging.

In my perambulations around town this week, I stopped by a local strawberry farm to do the “pick your own” thing.  It was fun.  As in the rest of life, the best and sweetest ones are found hiding away under the leaves.

Returning home with four quarts of achingly ripe, pungently aromatic strawberries on a hot and humid day, I thought that frozen strawberry daiquiris would be an excellent project to undertake.  I hadn’t made them in many years. 

So I dragged out the blender, looked around on the web for some recipes, found a few that sounded good, and came up with this adaptation: 

Frozen Strawberry Daiquiris, the Supervixen Way

6 oz. frozen limeade mix, preferably Minute Maid (not diluted)

3 cups ripe fresh strawberries, washed and hulled

1 cup white Bacardi rum

2 cups crushed ice

2 heaping teaspoons sugar (I use raw “demerara” sugar because it tastes best and it’s what we use around the house – but powdered “confectioners” sugar, used in many daiquiri recipes, will dissolve faster and the cornstarch in it will help to make the drink smoother and more frothy)

Pulse-blend just until ice and strawberries are smoothly commingled and the color is even.  Don’t overblend.  Serve in a stemmed glass, garnished with a thin wedge of lime.  Fills four good-sized Margarita glasses.

The audience for these drinks said that they hit the spot.  The mix brought out perfectly the flavor of fresh, ripe strawberries.  I was requested to make more.  We put a big dent into the four quarts of strawberries.  As it should be.

In previous daiquiri experiments I’d used Rose’s Lime Juice, but that has an unpleasant taste when the proportions are not quite right.  The limeade works very well.

Another note from previous experiments: if you don’t have perfectly ripe, fresh-picked strawberries to work with, it’s best to go with frozen.  We have a problem in this country with fruits and vegetables that LOOK ripe but have no flavor or scent.  It’s like they’re made of wax.  That really pisses me off.  I suppose it would be OK for those poor Dutch painters in the 18th century who wanted a long-lasting model for a still life.

Strawberries are among the worst offenders in this way.  Though they’re more sinned against than sinning.  Anyway, be warned.

That evening we dined on grilled meats and my version of a Greek salad: greens, tomato wedges, kalamata olives, chunks of feta (the best you can find – the run-of-the-mill supermarket stuff is too salty), quartered and sliced cucumber, thinly sliced red onion, slivered yellow or orange bell pepper, copious amounts of chopped-up fresh oregano, and – drumroll for the Secret Ingredient! – big pieces of ripe avocado.  I have found that Farmer Boy Greek Dressing is exquisite over avocado.

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Lentils

June 25, 2007

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This one is for ms xeno.

The first few times I went to Paris, it was on business.  I would go out to eat, late at night, in a group with my co-workers, who went where our local contacts told us to go: the well-known old-fashioned brasseries with Art Nouveau glasswork and boyish waiters dashing to and fro with huge platters of seafood.  The whole experience was superb, and I was entranced, ravished.  There are few things better than a couple of dozen French oysters (fines de claire for my taste) accompanied by sauce mignonette, thin slices of buttered bread, and a bottle of Sancerre.

(My husband calls me “Diamond Jim” because of my profligate enjoyment of oysters.)

But then, on another such business trip, I escaped and went to meet one of my husband’s friends, an academic wastrel fluent in French and several other languages.  He was taking a kind of sabbatical in which he lived in a tiny room on the Ile St-Louis and brooded and smoked while deciding what to do with his life. 

He took me out to lunch.  We went to an undistinguished-looking place that felt like a sandwich joint.  He ordered for us in mellifluous French.  It was mesmerizing to see this person I knew very well speaking in a language that I had never heard coming out of his mouth before.  The first course was a lentil salad topped with a few slices of smoked duck breast.  The red wine he ordered was the first “house wine” I ever had in France, and I discovered that “house wines” in France are REALLY GOOD, not what they are here in the US (Inglenook et al.) 

The combination of the earthy lentils with the unctuous duck breast and the robust red wine was heavenly.  We had a main dish, as well, but I don’t recall what it was.  We didn’t really need it.

Looking to recreate the lentil salad recipe, I came across the one below, which is a good approximation.  Since smoked duck breast is hard to find where we are, I substituted slices of just-ripe avocado drizzled with a bit of the lentil dressing.  Not bad!

Adapted from Bistro Cooking by Patricia Wells:

1 lb lentils

1 medium onion, halved and stuck with several whole cloves

1 garlic clove, peeled

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Rinse the lentils and pick over carefully for pebbles.  Put the lentils, onion, garlic, and bay leaf in a heavy saucepan; cover with 1 inch of cold water.  Cover and bring just to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the lentils are tender but just intact, 25-35 minutes.  Check the lentils during cooking; during most of the cooking water should be visible when you tilt the pan slightly.  Add water as needed, but not more than 1/4 cup.  By the end of the cooking time, the liquid should be absorbed.

 When the lentils are cooked, remove the pan from the heat and discard the onion, garlic and bay leaf.  Whisk together the vinegar, oil and salt to taste in a small bowl.  Pour over the warm lentils and toss to coat.  Just before serving, season to taste with pepper and additional salt if necessary.

6-8 servings.