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.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Veni, vidi, vici, Cordero?

I came, I saw, I conquered & then there was the Lamb....Of all the things I have fed by hand & I NEVER wanted to eat very much of, top of the list would have to be Lamb! Mr. Texas to Mexico does love a good rack of Lamb & friends of ours in Mexico gave me cause to give it a second thought. True, I can go most Summer months without meat of any form but being the daughter of generations of Texas Ranch folk I would be a bit of a hypocrite to eschew meat or those who eat it. Hope that statement won't get me kicked out of the Veggie establishments I enjoy visiting around in & around Austin~ Having said that I recently brought home a leg of lamb & we had a Roasted Leg of Lamb for dinner. The Earthy flavors of Rosemary & tangy taste of Mustard meld well with the texture & taste of Lamb.
I then conquered our next Lamb related meal by whipping up some Portobello & Lamb Quesadillas. Oven roasted Portobellos sliced thin, shredded Lamb, Black Beans warmed up in a fabulous Central Market Multi-grain Tortilla & served with a mound of fresh Guacamole! The only thing which could have made the meal better would have been an absolute Box Free Existence at our home....Currently we are in Veni, Vidi Vici mode with the hundreds of moving boxes still in our home! Small steps........ seeing & conquering can be very different sides of the coin or moving crate as it might be! I'll be digging out for a while yet trying to mix what came from Mexico back into our Texas lives. In the mean time we continue to settle in, visit Family, Friends & our favorite Farmer's markets on the weekends. The blogging might be slow for a while but slow food, good conversation & enjoyment of life have always been important at our house. ¡Buen Provecho!

Cordero Asado con Mostaza
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Stone Ground Brown Mustard
2 Tbsp chopped Fresh Rosemary
1/3 cup of Honey
1 tsp. each Black Pepper & Salt
1 tsp lime zest
1 Clove Shallots, minced
4 pounds whole leg of lamb, trimmed to remove most fat

Mix the honey, mustard, rosemary, ground black pepper, lime zest and shallots. Mix well and apply to the Lamb. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator 3 to 4 hrs.

Preheat oven to 450*
Place Lamb in a roasting pan after removing some of the marinade with a spatula, reserve for basting purposes.
Bake at medium rare, during this time brush roast with the marinade just keeping moist, meat will gradually glaze & brown. The internal temperature should be at least 145* when taken with a meat thermometer. Rest the Roast for about 10 minutes before carving, slicing into 1/3 inch slices against the grain. t 450* for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 400* and roast for 1 & 10 hour more minutes for medium rare. The internal temperature should be at least 145* when taken with a meat thermometer. Let the roast rest for about 10 minutes before carving.

Portobello y Cordero Quesadillas
2 cups Roasted Lamb, shredded
8 oz. shredded Oaxaca Cheese, fine shredded
2 Portobello mushrooms, oven roasted & sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 cup canned Black Beans, drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh Tomatoes
Whole wheat, Flour or Multi-grain Tortillas
Fresh Guacamole

Prep all ingredients & have all filling ingredients ready next to the cooking area. We made these ingredients available & had everyone prepare their own quesadilla once it was set up & ready to go. Over medium high heated gridle or skillet, heat tortilla & layer in cheese, portabella, lamb, few tsp. black beans & tomatoes & top with a little more cheese then layer on one more tortilla. This creates a "sandwich of tortillas with your fillings caught between 2 layers of tortillas. When it starts to slightly brown flip it over, (careful not to drop any ingredients out of the sides & then toast a few more moments till it is slightly browned, cut into wedges & serve with fresh Guacamole.