Friday, August 6, 2010

Fresh vegetable salad with blue cheese dressing, and more tomatoes

Posting this recipe feels like cheating in more than one way:
One: There is no recipe here. Any reasonable combination of fresh ripe summer vegetables will work.
Two: Most people can never get heirloom tomatoes and fava beans at the same time. By the time the tomatoes are in season, fava beans are long gone. They don't grow when the temperature goes above 70 degrees. Mine were gone by the end of June. However, anything is possible here in the Bay Area. We have Google and the Gay Parade. Why not fava beans in August? The farm is located in Half Moon Bay, where it never gets above 60, and is foggy most of the time. So the guys re-seed their fava beans every three weeks, and grow them all summer long. It's always spring there.

Cheating or not, it was a good salad, and worth recording.

Persian cucumbers have delicate skins that are never bitter. Don't peel them.
Use vegetable peeler to slice zucchini into delicate ribbons.
Shell fava beans, place them in boiling water for 3 minutes, remove and put the beans in ice water to chill. Pinch the skin at one end and slip it off.

Fresh vegetable salad with blue cheese dressing
2 servings

1 zucchini, sliced into thin ribbons
2 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced
3 medium heirloom tomatoes, sliced
1 cup fava beans, skins removed
salt, pepper
3 Tbsp plain yogurt
2 Tbsp crumbled blue cheese
1 tsp white wine or water

Arrange vegetables on two plates, season with salt and pepper. Mix together yogurt and blue cheese. If the dressing is too thick, thin with white wine or water.

My own tomatoes just started to produce. Early Girls are small, you can see in the next photo that they are a little larger than Cherries. Both are very flavorful.

I save them for eating fresh. For roasting, I got 3 pounds of Shady Ladies at the market. At $1/lb!

3 pounds medium ripe tomatoes
salt, pepper
olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano leaves (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, sprinkle with olive oil. Core and cut tomatoes in half; arrange them cut side up in one layer on the baking sheet, season with salt, pepper, optional oregano leaves. Add a generous splash of olive oil.

Roast about 2-2.5 hours, until the tomatoes shrink and the edges caramelize. Check frequently during the last hour to make sure the tomatoes don’t burn.

Serve hot, or remove to a jar (taste one or two right away anyway, they are wonderful!), add all the juices from the pan, and cover with more olive oil.

Store covered in the refrigerator up to one week.
No matter what else is in the oven, a head of garlic always goes in too. I remove the outer skin, slice the top off, add a few drops of olive oil, wrap it in aluminum foil, and roast about 40 minutes. Roasted garlic is good spread on a slice of bread, mixed into salad dressings, or add it to sauces for grilled meat or chicken. Store in the refrigerator up to 3 days.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Perfect grill marks

These beautiful medium-rare fillet mignons, evenly cooked to perfect pink inside and seared with well defined grill marks on the outside, are not coming from my modest grill. They are coming off this elegant technological miracle, TEC Infrared grill:
This is what my friend M. gave her husband S. for his birthday. Fortunately, M. and S. are my friends and clients. That is, when they have time, they invite me for dinner and S. grills for me on his super-grill. When they don't have time, being caught between their busy work schedules, raising C., an energetic 2.5-year old, and expecting another baby, I cook for them. And then I get to use the super-grill myself!
It goes to 800 degrees in minutes, looks like the best patio decoration you can think of, and is positioned so that while you grill you get to watch the sailboats on the bay and the planes descending to SFO. It has a glass panel between the heating element and the grill, so nothing burns, and the heat is distributed evenly.

Grilled eggplant and fire-roasted peppers were never easier and better tasting. Dressed with sherry vinegar and good olive oil.

The other kind of grilling perfection is acheived indoors, on a cast aluminum griddle heated over medium-high heat: tuna steak marinated Japanese-style, with soy sauce, toasted seasame oil, mirin, wine vinegar, black and white seasame seeds, and brown sugar, grilled about 3 minutes each side, brushed with marinade.

Served with California avocadoes and heirloom tomatoes. Salt, pepper, olive oil.