Friday, June 26, 2009

If you can't stand the heat....

We are dealing with scorching heat & dreadful drought this Spring & Summer from Texas all the way into Northern Mexico. Is there truly enough Sweet Tea or Dr. Pepper in the Lone Star State to break this heat wave we are having?? Texans are no strangers to heat for certain but this heat is seriously cutting into gardens & produce at the local farmer's market. Since returned to Texas I've been doing search & rescue missions out in my yard figuring out what Xeriscape & Native plants survived during the years we were down in Mexico. Some of the Native plants went truly native & have to be pruned during weekend Extreme Makeover episodes out in yard!! More on that in the months to come. I'm digging in & digging up as well as moving things & all seems to be a work in progress from now till the Fall. I've been reworking my herb beds which were inspired several years ago after visiting the Fredricksburg Herb Farm.

While herbs & a few vegetables are growing out back we are taking advantage of our local "Slow Food" movement here. We have been visiting the Farmer's Markets to pick up produce & have been eating both regional as well as seasonal. In that effort we have been enjoying the Corn, Peppers, Onions & a variety of fruits. It is very soothing to feel like we are a part of a slower and more harmonious rhythm of life. While Alice Waters may have pioneered the Slow Food movement our Grandparent's generation certainly lived that live long before it was chic or trendy! Bytes from Texas aka, my daughter has been on those weekend jaunts to the Farm Stands & has cooked up some delicious dishes from her farm fresh findings. As we are just now heading into Summer I'm certain more dog days of Summer are heading our way. While I can truly take the heat, I'll be digging into my Texas roots a little further & keeping cool with tall glasses of iced tea.

You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt.

This corn salad was inspired by Ina Garten better known as the Barefoot Contessa. A cooking Photo friend made this garden fresh salad reminding us all that the best way to enjoy Summertime goodness is straight from the garden to the table. Buen Provecho~

Spicy Fresh Corn Salad
5 ears of Yellow or White Corn, shucked
1/2 cup small-diced Spanish Onion (yellow onion)
1 med. fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded & finely diced
3 tablespoons White Wine Vinegar
3 tablespoons good Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh Cilantro leaves (very rough chopped & loosely packed)
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the corn for 3 minutes until the starchiness is just gone. Drain and immerse it in ice water to stop the cooking and to set the color. When the corn is cool, cut the kernels off the cob, cutting close to the cob.

Toss corn with the onions, jalapeno peppers, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Just before serving, toss in the cilantro. Taste for seasonings and serve cold or at room temperature.

A great green Summer meal full of flavor & spice. I might be out of Mexico but the Spice is here for the duration.

Leek & Mushrooms with Green Pasta
1/2 cup roasted Pine Nuts
1 large Leek*
8 oz. sliced Baby Bell Mushrooms
Salt & Pepper to taste
3 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1 1/2 tbsp. finely diced fresh Jalapeno Pepper
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
1 16 oz. package of Spinach linguine
4 Tbsp. Flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp. Garlic Chives, or Green Onion tops

**Trim the root end of the Leeks, then cut off the hard & keep only the tender green leaves, slice Leeks into rounds 1 inch long, separate the Leek rounds slightly & wash well. Leeks are grown in sandy soil so need washing well so there will be no sand or grit when cooked. Set a large pot of water to boil, and salt it. Once the water boils blanch the Leeks for 3-4 min & drain then plunge into iced water to keep green color & not over cook for the rest of the pasta dish.

Put half the Olive Oil in a large pan, preferably non-stick, on medium-high heat. Add the Garlic and Jalapeno Pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, do not let the garlic brown. Add the Leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until they wilt, about 10 minutes. Add the Red Bell Pepper & Mushrooms lower the heat; add the cumin and continue to cook, stirring once in a while, until the Leeks begin to brown slightly. Cook the pasta until it is tender & drain, reserving about half a cup of the cooking liquid for use later.
Toss the pasta and the Leeks, Jalapeno, Garlic, Red Pepper combination & the Pine nuts, together with the remaining oil, freshly ground Black pepper to taste and all but a little of the Parsley, adding a bit of cooking liquid if the mixture needs moisture, just enough to make it slightly moist. Taste and adjust the seasoning, garnish with the remaining Parsley and serve. This can be served with grated Parmesan cheese.


girlichef said...

It looks like you are definitely making the most of what's around...always fresh & delicious that way!! These dishes are both gorgeous. Bring on the iced tea!

Gloria Chadwick said...

I moved to Texas to be warm in the winter but I never bargained for the extreme heat in summer, even though I was warned it was brutal. We're sweltering here in SA and I know it's just as hot in Austin.
I love your fresh salads made with ingredients from the local farmer's market... what a wonderful way to keep cool in the kitchen and eat healthy.

Reeni♥ said...

I don't envy you for the heat! These both look delicious. Especially the pasta that is just loaded with fresh flavors and goodies with every bite.

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous summer dishes! I need to make a side dish for my husband's company picnic tomorrow and don't have too many ingredients left in my fridge (end of the week!) however I do have all the ingredients for this corn salad so I don't have to get up early for shopping tomorrow - this recipe is perfect. Thank you so much! One question - what is the amount for jalapeno peppers?

Dee said...

Girlichef~I keep telling my girls that eating seasonally is the way things used to be. It is a little more difficult in the heat but it still works & yep...keep that tea coming!! ha!
Gloria Chadwick~We were in SA on Wednesday with family business & it felt like an absolute oven! Stay cool & thanks for your comments:)
Reeni~Yes, quite good for the heat. With temps in the 100s we enjoy the cooler simple dishes like this one. Thank you.
5 Star~Thanks for asking that question. I changed the recipe, I had forgotten to write that ingredient. Good eyes! I changed it. Thank you.

Chef Fresco said...

Nice recipes! Love the pasta creation as well as the corn salsa.

Abby said...

I love me some Ina AND corn. My dad planted several rows this year: Here's to hoping the slugs don't eat it all! (Or bugs. Or whatever they are.)

Looks great! Stay cool!

Ziho said...

QuƩ deliciosa se ve esa pasta con champiƱones!!!!

Q tal tu regreso a Texas?

Salu2 desde Monterrey, N.L., MEXICO!

Teresa Cordero Cordell said...

Welcome home Texas. I know what you mean about the heat. I just lost my strawberry plants and my herbs. :( I'll give it another go. Your corn salad looks divine.

Tangled Noodle said...

These are both wonderful dishes but the corn salad is just spectacular. Growing season here in MN is a bit behind the rest of the country, it seems, so our peak corn season is yet to come. I will definitely try this out!

Karine said...

I love both dishes!

If it is too hot in Texas, can you send some heat to Toronto? I has been hot since last Tuesday... otherwise, it felt like fall, even in July.