We moved last month, to a house we looked at once and fell in love with. We weren’t even really looking to buy a house, but this one went on the market and a friend drove me by and insisted it was perfect for us. Back at the office, we pulled the listing up online. “Too small,” I said. “Go look at it,” he advised. “The location is great, but we wouldn’t really be trading up in terms of size,” I explained. “Go look at it,” he repeated. “It’s probably a better house for a young single person. Or, like, a really really old person,” I offered. “Just go look at it,” he insisted. So we did. Then we bought it.
There were actually quite a few steps between the looking and the buying, all of which were unbearably nerve-wracking. Early in the process, people warned me that buying a house is stressful, and I nodded politely while secretly thinking, “I’ve bought stuff before. How hard can it be?” Here’s the difference: when you buy regular stuff, you click add to cart and a few days later the UPS guy shows up with something pretty; when you buy a house, the bank calls you several times a day to say comforting things like, “I’m reviewing your loan application and I have to ask: do you have any other money?”
But now we live here, in an adorable little mid century ranch with a river for a backyard and a kitchen twice as big as our old one.
There are a handful of things I’ll miss about living at our old house, and the farmers market is one of them. The market in our new town doesn’t start until the end of the June, so yesterday I drove back to our old town to get my fix. Guess how many of those things I bought just because they’re pretty. Hint: four. I was particularly captivated by the flowering arugula, which I’d never seen before. Evidently the flowers are nice in salads or scattered over soups or deviled eggs. Any other ideas?
I know: it sounds weird. I thought the same thing the first time I encountered grapefruit pudding. It was at a cookbook club meeting, one that I’d helped plan, around The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook. The meeting was in October, which made Apple Upside-Down Cake the logical choice for dessert. To me, at least. “But that’s so expected,” my planning partner lamented, “let’s do the grapefruit pudding.”
“It’s a seasonal cookbook,” I insisted with my trademark self-righteousness. Self-righteousness never wins. It’s a clinically proven fact.
I was a little miffed about the grapefruit pudding, to be honest. But then I remembered that the whole point of joining a book club is to stretch and grow, to expose yourself to ideas and viewpoints and preferences that are not like your own, to challenge your beliefs and assumptions, to become A Better Person. Plus, I ate that grapefruit pudding and it was damn good.
I think of it often at this time of year. Of all the seasonal transitions, winter to spring is the weirdest. Last weekend we got 18 inches of snow — big, fat flakes of heavy wet snow that knocked down trees and power lines. On Monday morning when I left for work, it was 0°F; driving home on Wednesday evening the thermometer read 57°F. Then more snow, and now back to balmy. She’s a fickle creature, that Mother Nature.
I, however, remain steadfast in my devotion to grapefruit as a bridge from winter to spring, and grapefruit pudding is especially lovely for these fickle in-between days. It’s soft and warm and comforting, with a reassuring richness that’s beautifully balanced by the refreshing zing of grapefruit. The top bakes up light and airy, and the tender, cake-like crumb gives way to a bright citrus-y custard with a pleasant — almost amusing — springlike jiggle.
recipe from The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook, by Michelle & Philip Wojtowicz and Michael Gilson with Catherine Price
My soufflés fell. They fell, I’m fairly certain, because I insisted on peeking at them repeatedly through the cracked oven door to make sure they were puffing up nicely. And they were, at one point. But when I pulled them all golden brown and fragrant from the hot oven, they’d fallen flatter than a pancake, concave even. “Shit, now what am I gonna do,” I thought, not out of any real concern for dinner but because I needed pretty pictures for my blog.
I like taking pictures of the food I make. It’s a meditative thing for me, being in the kitchen and behind the camera, but sometimes it gets away from me. I had a whole story mapped out around this grits soufflé, a story about homesickness—- deep, achey, ever-present, adrift-at-sea homesickness. Grits help with that sort of thing, because food—- the kind of food we care about—- is never really about just food. So I thought I’d make grits, and then I thought, “good lord, who wants to look at a picture of grits?” Within a matter of hours I’d managed to transform my antidote to homesickness into a source of anxiety over blog-worthy photographs. And just as I was beginning to fret about how I’d find the time to remake the soufflés and the light to re-photograph them by my self-imposed weekend deadline, I stumbled upon Brian Ferry’s beautiful post about honesty and the creative process. Before I was even halfway through, I’d decided not to revisit the soufflés.
I spend an awful lot of time thinking about photography, and the photographs that most interest me are those that capture things as they are—- un-staged, un-styled, of-the-moment sorts of photos. That’s not exactly the honesty that Brian was talking about, but it’s what I was reminded of as I read his post.
It’s true, I could make the soufflés again, but I’d only be doing it because I needed a photo of them, and then the things I do for pleasure—- cooking, photographing, writing—- would become a chore. Instead, I give you the soufflés as they were, along with the recipe, which I’ve successfully made for occasions both special and ordinary and which I can assure you do puff up light and airy, creamy and pleasantly gritty, with a whisper of piney rosemary and the sweet, mellow nip of roasted garlic.
recipe adapted, ever-so-slightly, from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook, which I love to pieces
Here’s what happens when you work for a jam company: you open your refrigerator one afternoon to put away a six-pack of beer and discover that you can’t, because there are thirteen jars of jam in the way. (Also, you get to attend fancy award ceremonies in San Francisco and personally sell jam to Alice freakin’ Waters. No biggie.)
I eat a lot of jam—in the mornings with yogurt and granola and, often, for dinner with cheese and rustic crackers. Still, I don’t eat enough jam to prevent my refrigerator from being overrun by half-eaten jars of it on a fairly regular basis.
And that’s when I start baking. I make a fantastic jam tart, but lately I’m partial to these crumble bars. They start with a tender short pastry base bulked up with oats and almonds, then comes a thick layer of jam nestled under crumbled bits of the same short pastry. The crust bakes up golden brown and nutty, with a soft, sandy texture that gives way to the bright fruitiness of jam. The combination is classic and homey, and these crumbly little jam bars are a perfectly lovely way to make use of even a brand new jar of jam.
recipe adapted from Baking Illustrated, by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine
Winter is magical. I generally have to be reminded of this. Often. Having grown up south of the Mason-Dixon line, I don’t have a natural affinity for things like ice and snow and frostbite, but other people do, namely my Midwestern husband and his Midwestern friends. We had company last weekend— friends from Chicago who came up to ski. And they did ski a little, but mostly I think they came up to open our back door, take deep breaths of frigid northern air and shout, with arms outstretched, “Who wants to go walk barefoot in the snow?” (no takers)
On Sunday afternoon while everyone skied I made après-ski cocktails. I stood by the windows in our cozy kitchen absentmindedly squeezing grapefruit juice as I admired the sparkle and shimmer of soft winter sunlight on freshly fallen snow. When the skiers returned, flushed and exhilarated, I mixed the grapefruit juice with rosemary-infused honey and the warm, comforting notes of bourbon and set a jug out on the counter. And the skiers said, “Oh thank you, but I like my bourbon straight,” and, “Hmmm, I’m not really a big fan of bourbon,” and, “Oooh, that looks great; I think I’ll have a beer.”
Midwesterners. I tell you what.
So I’ve been drinking Brown Derbys all week and reveling in the vivid sparkle of late winter. Grapefruit and bourbon and rosemary would taste perfectly nice any time of year, but the bright, herbaceous sweetness is particularly lovely against the bracing chill of February. This is a late afternoon cocktail, a sipping sort of cocktail, a cocktail to enjoy with friends. And if you decide to go tromping about barefoot in the snow, you’ll want a few of these in you for sure.
recipe adapted from Bridget Albert & Mary Barranco’s Market Fresh Mixology
Things I made in 2011 but never got around to writing about:
It’s occurred to me more than once over the past few years — as we’ve ripped up carpet and torn out cabinets, laid flooring and tile, hung drywall, replaced light fixtures and appliances and furniture, and slowly worked our way through 11 gallons of Benjamin Moore’s Moonlight White — that what I really should have is a home renovation blog (like Door 16, only not nearly as cool), filled with satisfying before-and-after photos and helpful tips on how to paint 50-year-old knotty pine paneling. Instead, I float about in a dream world of food, taking ambitious photos of recipes I’d like to share and then realizing oh crap, that room needs three more coats of paint before Monday; let’s order sandwiches.
But we finished the last major project on our list right after Thanksgiving and we’re now left with only minor tasks like paint baseboards and cover that weird hole in the wall and make a light fixture for the bedroom. Which means a return to a semi-normal life filled with the simple, quiet things that make me happy: cooking, writing, and eating well. I look forward to sharing all that with you in 2012.
My market is one of the only markets in the area that continues beyond September. I mentioned that to a coworker yesterday and he seemed surprised, not that more towns weren’t still holding markets but that mine was. “What do they even have?,” he asked. In addition to this stuff, there were pumpkins and squash and all sorts of leafy greens, tomatoes (yes, still!), mushrooms, broccoli, a dozen varieties of apples, and rutabagas the size of your head. I’m not sure what one does with a rutabaga the size of a human head, which is why I didn’t buy one. (As it turns out, ancient Celts carved scary faces in them and used them as lanterns to ward off evil spirits at Samhain. Duh.)
This week, with carrot greens and leek tops, it was tough to take a photograph that didn’t include at least part of a very portly little cat. She swatted at me when I took the leeks away and followed me to the refrigerator meowing. Which was not nearly as amusing as the time she got her head stuck in a bag of Twizzlers.
I don’t have a picture of that. Here are some leeks and carrots instead.
My brother texted me yesterday to tell me he’d just eaten the best apple of his life. It was a Honeycrisp. This year everyone’s all about the Sweetango but I find they have little to offer other than overwhelming sweetness. Plus, it’s hard to take yourself seriously when you’re eating something called a sweetango.
The Bartletts need a bit of time to ripen, and I need to figure out what type of plums those are. Italian prune plums, I think, in which case they’re going to become a tart. Or this delicious-looking thing. Probably both. There’s plenty of plums.
From my boss, the Obi Wan Kenobi of fruit: “No mystery. . .they are Stanley prune plums, the most commonly grown plum in Michigan.” And evidently you can just eat them. I tried one. It was pretty, um, common.
I’m not exactly sure where September went. It was here, all crisp and vivid with Indian summer sunlight, and then the light softened and the air grew chill and it was October, a month squarely on the other side of summer. I spent September at work writing a holiday catalog, which may not sound particularly taxing, but is. Like, really. At night, after all the writing, I’d come home ravenous and addle-brained and stand in front of a refrigerator stocked with little more than a handful of fancy cheeses and—honestly—six kinds of homemade pickles. These are not the sort of ingredients with which one can reasonably cobble together the only meal of the day.
Instead, I lived on tomatoes. (And wine. Lots and lots of wine.) There are a handful of things that I make for dinner when I can’t be bothered to figure out what to make for dinner, but this cherry tomato gratin is by far the best of my default dinners. You toss a pint of cherry tomatoes in a shallow baking dish and scatter a handful of breadcrumbs, fresh herbs and Parmesan over them, leaving just a hint of round redness peeking out here and there. Then you slip the dish into a hot oven until the bread is crisp and golden and fragrant and the tomatoes have just begun to go all slumpy and warm. With each bite you get the hefty crunch of cheesy toasted bread, the vivacious freshness of summer herbs, and the exhilarating burst of intensely sweet roasted tomatoes. Which is exactly the sort of thing you need when you’re feeling all sapped and addle-brained and like whoever invented sentences is a real jerk.
I don’t know if tomatoes are still in season where you live, but we have another week or so here along the 45th parallel. That’s at least five nights of cherry tomato gratin— spooned over thick slices of fresh mozzarella or grilled eggplant, tossed with capellini, or served alongside roast chicken. On the other few nights, I think we’ll just go back to September and serve it simply with wine. Lots and lots of wine.
1 pint cherry tomatoes
4 oz. ciabatta or rustic Italian bread, torn into coarse crumbs
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
kosher salt and ground white pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400°F. In a medium bowl, combine bread, Parmesan cheese, thyme, and garlic; drizzle with olive oil and toss to combine. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper.
Place cherry tomatoes in a shallow baking dish; scatter bread crumb mixture over tomatoes. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake for five minutes. Remove foil and bake until crust is golden and crisp and tomatoes are soft, 10 minutes more.
Serve over fresh mozzarella, grilled eggplant, pasta, grilled fish or roast chicken.
It was pouring at the market this morning! And it’s supposed to be crappy all weekend– a good weekend to spend in the kitchen.
corncob wine (no, really)
Marcella’s tomato sauce (to freeze)
oven-dried tomatoes (with the Juliets)
basil preserved in salt
and I’ll probably end up canning some of those Romas, because that’s a hell of a lot of tomatoes for just sauce.
And then there’s this:
One goes in gin and the other gets bourbon.
Last Tuesday we attempted to have a dinner party. We invited 15 people, four of them rather small, over for dinner. On a school night. We planned a menu. We made special trips to our favorite farms to pick up produce at its very freshest. We stayed up into the wee hours of the morning making twice as many potato tarts as we really needed to. We borrowed chairs and set two long tables on the deck, using linens from last summer’s wedding. And then, a few minutes before our guests were due to arrive, it started to rain. A lot. We scooped up dishes and glasses and tablecloths and stood, dripping and defeated, in our tiny living/dining room. One of us said some very bad words.
Then we opened a couple bottles of wine, pulled tarts from the oven and steak off the grill, pushed the living room furniture to the edges of the room, dragged our 9′ Ikea patio table inside and just generally made do. And you know what? It was great. I mean, it wasn’t the dinner party I’d envisioned, but maybe it was better and truer than any party I could have orchestrated. Everyone had plenty to eat, none of the munchkins spilled cranberry juice on our grown-up stuff, and there was an amazing potato tart that we’re all still talking about more than a week later.
It’s a tart that, around midnight last Monday night, I made Chris promise not to ever let me make again. But that was before I’d tasted it (and also, he is not the boss of me). This tart is actually not at all complicated unless you’re making it for thirty people, and it’s just the sort of thing to serve a small crowd. It’s substantial without being heavy— a blanket of sliced new potatoes and roasted cherry tomatoes scattered with fresh herbs, settling into a thin sheet of goat cheese atop a bed of flaky puff pastry. At a late summer dinner party it’s the perfect partner to grilled flank steak with parsley sauce, but it’s equally at home next to a simple green salad on more humble occasions.
It’s the kind of tart you want in your repertoire, even if you only pull it out once a year on the night you cram fifteen hungry, happy people into your 12′ x 20′ living/dining room during a thunderstorm. It’s the kind of tart that prompts a handful of those fifteen hungry, happy people to email you a few days later and tell you that your dinner-party-gone-wrong felt like Italy. And I’ve never been to Italy, but “felt like Italy” is pretty much the hallmark of success in my book. Even if once you sit down there’s no way in hell you can get back out to grab seconds.
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 Tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
salt & pepper
1 lb. small new potatoes
1 large onion, thinly sliced (about ¾ cup)
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. butter
4 sprigs fresh oregano
6 sprigs fresh thyme
4 oz. hard goat cheese, sliced (Cypress Grove’s Midnight Moon or Beemster Goat are both good options)
2 oz. crumbled goat cheese
1 sheet puff pastry, rolled thin
Preheat oven to 275° and place tomatoes skin-side down on a baking sheet. Drizzle with about a tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle generously with salt & pepper, and roast for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and potatoes and parboil for 15-18 minutes, until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a knife but are still somewhat firm. Drain and cool. Slice potatoes into1” thick discs, discarding ends for a prettier tart (or use them, if you’re not making it for company).
While the potatoes cool, sauté the onion over medium heat with a little salt for about 10 minutes, until golden brown.
To assemble the tart, brush a 9” cake pan* with olive oil and line with a circle of parchment paper. (You’re basically assembling the tart in reverse order, and then inverting it once it’s baked.) Cook sugar and butter in small pan over high heat, stirring constantly, until you have a semi-dark caramel. Pour the caramel into the pan quickly and tilt the pan to spread the caramel evenly. Pick the oregano and thyme leaves off their stems and scatter generously over the caramel.
Fill the pan with potato slices, placing them snugly cut-side down. Tuck tomatoes and onion carefully into gaps and season generously with salt & pepper. Scatter the crumbled goat cheese evenly over potatoes and top with sliced goat cheese. Trim puff pastry sheet to 1” larger than the pan and lay it over the filling, tucking the edges down inside around the potatoes.
Whew. Have a glass of wine. At this point, you can refrigerate the tart for up to 24 hours. Or not.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400°. Bake the tart for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350° and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Remove the tart from the oven and let it settle for at least 5 minutes. When you’re ready to serve the tart (and not before, or the pastry will get soggy!) hold an inverted platter or cutting board firmly on top of the pan and quickly flip them over together, then lift the pan off the tart. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.
*If you want to double the recipe for a crowd, it fits perfectly in a half-sheet pan.
I’m showing remarkable restraint at the market these days, y’all. Remarkable. Restraint.
We’re having 15 people over for dinner on Tuesday night. Obviously I’m planning on feeding them herbs and tomatoes. I think I need more tomatoes. . .
Also, you should not make pinky swears and home improvements at the same time. The bathroom’s still not quite done, but it’s fully functional and a hell of a lot prettier.
At some point I’m actually going to tell you about something I made with all the produce I’ve been buying. We’re in the midst of renovating our only bathroom, and every spare second is devoted to returning the room to a semi-functional state. Next week, an actual recipe. Pinky swear.
Oh, you’re probably wondering what Shunkyo radishes are. They’re an heirloom variety my favorite farmer grows. I didn’t need two types of radishes, but he tucked them into my basket as a freebie. I think I might pickle them.
More strawberries, more garlic scapes, more fish. And this week, potatoes!
Last week, Amy asked what to do with garlic scapes. I’ve got a grilled garlic scape pizza in mind, but you can use garlic scapes in any recipe that calls for garlic. Just chop the scapes up and use them in place of garlic cloves.
My god, will you look at that rhubarb?! It’s a good thing I got married in August instead of June or I would have been some wacko bride carrying a bunch of rhubarb down the aisle instead of a bouquet of flowers.
I bought the rhubarb and the garlic scapes solely because they were pretty. I’m not really a shining example of frugality and practicality at the market, but I do know how to get a really good deal on toilet paper.
The fudgies ate all my vegetables!
I know that in high season, if you don’t get to the market by 10 you’ll miss out on some good stuff. But there are a lot more people up north now than there were a week ago, and this morning we missed out on almost all the stuff! When we got to the market a little before 10, my favorite farmer was already sold out and packed up. Everyone else just had lettuce and spinach, which I still have left from last week. The good news is that quite a few farmers had strawberries, and there’s still a bit of rhubarb around.
The other good news is that all these visitors generate revenue that ultimately ends up in my paycheck, so I’m happy to share my farmers with them. Still, I guess my Friday nights should consist of a little less Buffy and a lot more sleep so that I can get my lazy ass to the market earlier.
You’d think a blog with the word salad in its title might occasionally feature a salad recipe. In the case of this blog, you’d be wrong. To date, When Harry Met Salad features only one recipe for salad, a late spring salad that also highlights asparagus. The truth is we don’t eat much salad worth mentioning. Chris doesn’t like it (!!!) and I generally can’t be bothered to do much more than dress greens with vinaigrette for just me. But last weekend I fanned my farmers market purchases out over the dining room table and arranged them to photograph. I nestled a bunch of tiny pink radishes in alongside bright green stalks of asparagus and admired the graceful curve and deep purple-greenness of wild mint, and when I looked through the viewfinder of my camera I immediately thought salad. This is that salad.
I sliced the radishes and asparagus into coins and drizzled them with olive oil, lemon juice, and a little honey. Then I tossed in a handful of chopped mint, seasoned the vegetables with salt and white pepper, and carefully folded in crumbled bits of incredibly creamy local feta. And because I was also in the middle of a chive blossom vinegar project, I finished the whole thing off with a smattering of chive blossoms. Sometimes I get a little carried away.
“Hmmm, that looks like something I wouldn’t like,” Chris observed when I emerged, crunching, from the kitchen. And it’s true: he wouldn’t. But you might. With or without the chive blossoms, this salad is really lovely. It’s fresh and crisp and pleasantly vegetal. The sharp, peppery flavor of the radishes and the tender greenness of the raw asparagus mingle with the sweet, aromatic notes of mint, and all this bright freshness is beautifully balanced by the creamy tang of goat’s milk feta. It’s a salad that’s delicious in its simplicity, a salad that captures the fleeting flavors of early summer and hints at the bounty yet to come, a salad that’s totally worth making for just you.
Asparagus, Radish & Mint Salad with Feta
1 lb. fresh asparagus
2 bunches radishes
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
½ tsp. honey
3 Tbsp. mint, chopped
4 oz. feta, crumbled
salt and white pepper, to taste
2 chive blossoms (optional)
Slice the asparagus and radishes into thin coins or discs, slicing as thinly as you can. (I tried this with both a mandoline and a knife — the knife was actually faster and easier.) Transfer to medium bowl and drizzle the olive oil, lemon juice and honey over the vegetables; stir to combine. Fold in mint and feta; season with salt and pepper to taste. If using the chive blossoms to garnish, separate the individual florets from the large blossom and scatter over the salad. Serve immediately.
I left for the market this morning with the intention of buying asparagus, rhubarb, and fish. You can see how well that plan worked out. A thunderstorm blew through around dawn and I guess a lot of farmers decided to stay home, including those with rhubarb and asparagus. It was pretty quiet at the market, which is how I ended up with all these leafy greens: my favorite farmer kept tucking spinach and kale into my basket as we chatted. I have no idea what he charged me for and what he didn’t. Or what I’m going to do with all that spinach.
Asparagus, finally! That wild mint is especially beautiful, isn’t it?
Sometimes I have good ideas. This is not one of them. It is a good idea — it’s a fantastically brilliant idea, really, but I can’t claim it. This recipe is a gift from the Google gods. I wanted to do something savory with rhubarb for a change, and a chef friend had recently mentioned how delicious rhubarb is with fish. But I’m a skeptic at heart, even when faced with overwhelming expertise, so I googled just to be sure. Judging by the sheer number of search results returned, rhubarb is indeed a proper companion to fish.
But the thing about Google is that it still takes a human to cut through all the crap. For there, amid multiple ho-hum recipes for fish with rhubarb sauce, was this delicious little gem of a recipe, which I promptly re-created in my own kitchen. “Rhubarb salsa?” Chris lamented, sporting his best yuck face. But rhubarb salsa is bright and tart and assertively zippy, and it’s difficult to maintain a dour demeanor in the face of such brazen freshness, particularly when that zippiness is paired with sweet, crispy cornmeal-coated strips of freshly-caught Lake Michigan whitefish. So difficult that I suspect we’ll be eating this at least once a week for as long as rhubarb is around.
For the salsa
1½ cups rhubarb, diced
¼ cup red onion, minced
2 tsp. lime juice
¼ cup finely minced scallions
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
2 tsp. honey
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
¼ tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne
Fill a medium bowl with ice and water; set aside. Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add the diced rhubarb, blanch for 10 seconds, then scoop out with a slotted spoon into the ice water. Place red onion in medium bowl and drizzle with lime juice. Remove rhubarb from water batch and blot with towel to dry, then transfer to clean medium bowl. Add rhubarb to red onion and toss with scallions and jalapeño. Whisk vinegar with honey until combined, add to salsa mixture and season with salt and cayenne. Refrigerate.
For the tacos
¼ cup yellow cornmeal
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2/3 pound whitefish, skin removed, cut into 2-inch strips
1 large sweet onion, sliced thin
6 5-inch corn tortillas
1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro leaves
Heat oven to 200°F. Place the cornmeal in shallow bowl and season with salt and cayenne. Dredge the fish strips in the seasoned cornmeal. Add 3 Tbsp. oil to a large skillet and sauté the fish over medium heat, turning, until golden and crispy, one to two minutes per side. Remove to a heatproof dish, and place in the oven. Heat the remaining oil in the skillet. Add the onions and cook over medium heat, stirring, until golden brown and slightly caramelized.
Warm the tortillas in a cast iron skillet about 30 seconds on each side; hold in warm oven if necessary. When ready to serve, place two or three pieces of fish in the center of the tortilla, top with some of the caramelized onion and finish with about 2 Tbsp. of the salsa and a sprinkle of cilantro. Serve any remaining salsa alongside.
I didn’t intend to buy more rhubarb this week, but my favorite farmer ran out of ones so we agreed that I’d just take my change in rhubarb. Pretty good up-selling strategy. Think he learned that in farmer school? Also, DUH, I should have taken my change in extra morels!
For much of my life, the approach of summer signalled a season of blissful slackness — a languid three-month-long stretch free of responsibilities and obligations and schedules. Then I became a grown-up, a grown-up with year-round responsibilities and obligations and schedules that, because I live in a resort town, seem to multiply rather than diminish as summer approaches. Fortunately, there’s gin for that.
This time of year, at the pinnacle of pre-summer stress, there’s also rhubarb. And, as we’ve already established, gin and rhubarb are really quite lovely together. For this year’s version I added another layer of aromatic astringency with a few sprigs of rosemary. The sweet, piney notes of the herb mingle with the subtle botanicals of gin, softening the sharp edges of bracingly tart rhubarb to create a cocktail that’s smooth and dry and delightfully assertive.
And if your equally assertive husband insists that you quit worrying about things and spend the afternoon sitting on the deck sipping gin while the newly opened apples blossoms sway delicately in the breeze, I suggest you listen. I also suggest that you don’t embrace the relaxation thing so fully that you find yourself five cocktails in at 4 pm, but that’s entirely up to you.
2¼ cups water, divided
2 Tbsp. + ½ cup sugar
½ cup fresh rosemary leaves
3 cups diced fresh rhubarb
6 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1½ cups good gin
Place 1 cup water and 2 Tbsp. sugar in small saucepan and simmer, stirring frequently, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add rosemary leaves. Cover and steep for 5 minutes. Strain through fine-mesh sieve, pressing on leaves to extract liquid. Cool syrup to room temperature, then chill for 4 hours.
Puree 1¼ cups water, ½ cup sugar, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice and rhubarb in blender. Strain through fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Squeeze the remaining rhubarb pulp to release as much liquid as possible. Chill the juice for 4 hours.
Mix the rosemary syrup, rhubarb juice, remaining 5 Tbsp. lemon juice, and gin in a pitcher or large jar. Pour over ice and garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs, if desired.
Leftovers (ha!) should keep in the fridge for 2-3 days.
This the third week of the farmer’s market and the first week there was any fresh produce for sale. Here’s what I bought. Not pictured: a cookie for Chris because, as he explained to me, “I came to the farmer’s market with you. And I didn’t complain!”