Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Lazy Culinarian

In the quest to continue my boycott of all grocery stores (also known as "saving money") I, once again, looked no further than our fridge this evening to put together the best dinner possible with the ingredients on hand and my own cooking style I like to call "lazy culinarian."

Stuffed Tomato with Mozzarella and Opal Basil

My first dish was the remaining tomato from last night, hollowed out and stuffed with tomato, mozzarella, opal basil, salt, pepper, and olive oil. When you have to resurrect the tired trope of tomatoes with mozzarella and basil the only way to really keep it interesting is by changing the shape of the ingredients.

Summer Vegetable Terrine

For the main course I wanted to sort of recreate the amazing vegetable "terrine" we'd had in Dijon. I'm not sure why they called it a terrine. It wasn't a terrine in the traditional sense but it was one of the best meals I had in France even without the arm-sized chunk of veal it was served with.

I have no idea how this dish was made but I was home all day so I decided I would cook a number of vegetables separately, reserve the cooking liquids from each, and combine them together. I started by cooking red onions and carrots from the farm with some crushed garlic. I set them aside then braised the farm cabbage and use this as the foundation for the terrine.

I boiled some red bliss and yukon gold potatoes in a pot of salted water. I also cooked one Biscayne Pepper and one Lilac Pepper together. Finally I sliced up the three types of summer squash and cooked them lightly in the pan. Everything cooked got a touch of butter, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Everything was thrown together along with some fresh thyme, and finished in the oven.

Carrot Top Pesto with Fresh Bread

To go along with the terrine I got a loaf of bread at Le Pain Quotidien. I hadn't been there for a while since the last time I went the man recommended a loaf of bread the size of my head and charged me $12 for it. Today's purchase was a lot more reasonable both in size and in cost.

I had the idea to make a pesto out of the carrot tops. I didn't want to throw them away. It was a fairly traditional pesto with roasted cashews, olive oil, garlic, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. The thing about carrot tops is they don't taste very good. If you add enough garlic, cashews, olive oil, salt and pepper to them, well, they're still not very good. But they're edible.


Domaine le Murmurium Cotes-du-Ventoux Opera 2003

A strange thing happened tonight -- I had wine! It seems in the early days of this blog all I ever had was wine but in the last year-and-a-half I've been much more likely to have beer with dinner. However, given the French inspiration for the vegetable terrine, I thought it would be nice to crack open this bottle of wine from Ventoux, where we once journeyed through the mountains. I'm pretty sure Jen's father gave us this wine a while ago when he visited for Thanksgiving. It was a nice bottle of wine and a nice way to celebrate the most difficult drive of my life.

This particular bottle was a 2003 from Domaine le Murmurium. We assume that a murmurium is a special room in the house that you go in when you want to murmur.

We hope to one day own a home with a murmurium.

Sugar Plum Tart

I couldn't really think of anything to do with sugar plums. I even tried doing a Google search for "sugar plum recipe" but all that yielded was a bunch of recipes for the Christmas-style "visions . . . dancing in your head" sort.

Sugar Plum Tart with Whipped Cream

Instead I decided to take the leftover cobbler dough from Sunday and use it as crust for a tart. It had all the basic elements you need from tart dough so I pressed it in the bottom of a pie tin then topped it with a leftover brown sugar mixture form when we made broiled grapefruit which has been in the fridge for way too long. I halved the sugar plums, removed the stones, and placed them on top of the dough with another sprinkle of the brown sugar mix. Then it was in the oven for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees.

The result tasted a lot more like cranberries than I'd expected. This was surprising considering how sweet the sugar plums were. However, with a little whipped cream, it was pretty delicious.

At this rate we may never need to go grocery shopping again.


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