Sunday, August 23, 2009

Scallops in a nest

Late summer means there are so many beautiful vegetables just waiting to realize their potential at the Morningside farmers market. I've posted on my favorite simple approach to seasonal perfection before: just splash the veggies in question with olive oil, sprinkle on some salt and pepper, broil for a couple minutes, then toss with fresh, torn basil leaves. Voila. This time my vegetables served as a cozy nest for quickly grilled scallops finished in lemon and butter. I had some beautiful variegated sweet peppers that I sliced up into strips......and a couple green, hot ones. These I de-seeded before slicing into half moons. For some reason I'm really stuck on cutting different members of the same general vegetable family into different shapes for cooking--does this make any sense? Like if I had two kinds of potatoes--say, one purple and one Yukon Gold or something--I would cut the purple one into slices and the Yukon maybe into rounds. OK, anyway. So I had okra, tomaotes and my peppers all tossed together with some olive oil and salt and pepper.They were broiled for about 3-4 minutes, then tossed with fresh basil.Meanwhile, I rinsed and dried my pound of medium-sized scallops and brushed my grill pan with some olive oil while getting it good and hot over medium-high heat. I didn't want to cook these guys very long but I did want them to get a little browned from the high temperature on the outside while staying sweet and tender inside. Scallops can get rubbery, which is no fun for anyone.After just 2 minutes on my hot grill pan, I added a chunk of butter, a handful of minced parsley, and a splash of beer from the bottle Phil was drinking (I wanted them to have a little liquid so they wouldn't dry out and Phil gracefully consented to drink a beer for that purpose).After another minute or so, I turned off the heat and stirred in the juice and a few slices from 1 lemon. The scallops went into a nest in the center of the vegetables and there was much rejoicing.

Goat cheese & summer tomato pizza

My August tomato bounty resulted in a delicious goat cheese pizza! This recipe does not include any red sauce--instead it is layered with however many different types of tomatoes you feel like slicing up. I used the same dough recipe as when I made pizza last time, but I added a little less water and a little more olive oil so it came out more crackery or flatbread-like. It worked well with the simple goat cheese-basil/arugula-tomato topping, although I rolled it thinner this time and so needed to keep a good eye on it while baking to beware of burning. After rolling it out and stretching over my baking sheet, I sprinkled about 3/4 cup crumbled goat cheese all over the surface of the dough.I sliced zebra and plum tomatoes into thin 1/4" rounds before laying them out over the goat cheese crumbles.Here it is before baking, with a mixture of arugula and basil (mostly basil) scattered over the cheese and tomatoes. I also added a drizzle of olive oil and a very light sprinkle of salt and pepper right before I put it in the oven.Baked at 350 for about 10 - 12 minutes--those perfect summer tomatoes get really sweet in the oven. Easy peasy.

August tomatoes

Of every different size, shape and color...Just waiting to be made into something.What would you suggest?

Monday, August 03, 2009

Grilled summer vegetables

These are happening right now at the farmer's market: small patty pan squash, beautiful sweet peppers, and miniature zeppelins of eggplant.The squash look like UFOs.When you slice them crosswise they look more like stars--either way, we're in outer space.I marinated the veggies in olive oil, a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper, and a little balsamic vinegar. They grilled up beautifully. They went on a platter, surrounding perfect grilled flank steak. I love summer.