We have officially been “in residence” in the United States for over 5 months – a longer period than ever in the last 20 years. And with all the closings, we have dined out exactly twice in the last 4 months. As much as we enjoy cooking, what was once seen as a “nice change” has become a daily chore. In an attempt to keep things interesting, I have pulled out long-neglected cookbooks, and enjoy watching Jacques Pépin’s daily Facebook video for inspiration.
In April, I listened to a cooking program where the chef said that almost anything could become a taco. Using either the traditional hard taco shells or the soft tortilla-style (we like the small “street taco” size), it’s a great way to “package” small amounts of food and/or use leftovers or other odds and ends. Yet it makes a hearty and filling meal! Throw a simple vegetable side together and your dinner is ready.
Some of the fillings we’ve done:
– Red cabbage slaw with sautéed lime shrimp
– Cubed leftover pork tenderloin with grilled pineapple and cilantro
– Kimchi with leftover roast chicken
– Shredded leftover steak with Gorgonzola and balsamic vinegar
– Pan-roasted spiced chickpeas (slightly mashed) with lamb and cucumber-mint yogurt
Some of my standby sources for ingredients are Hudson Valley Foie Gras, Cheshire Heritage Pork, and Thrive Market. With the supermarket offerings being limited (or totally absent), I found we do much better with online meats and seafood. The UPS man has become our favorite person. Another positive side-effect to this enforced residency is that we planted a garden for the first time in ages. The cucumbers, tomatoes, various greens, garlic, onions and herbs are being used daily in the kitchen.
A few of the dishes from the past few weeks:
This was a spur-of-the-moment inspiration when I had some lovely red beets and sweet potatoes from the garden.
The beet leaves and stems are coarsely chopped and sautéed in a little olive oil with onion just until fragrant. Add a sprig of fresh rosemary, some balsamic vinegar and a cup of stock. Bring to a simmer and reduce until thickened, adding a little flour, if needed. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Pre-bake a shortening piecrust, rolling chopped fresh rosemary into the dough.
Pour the beet leaf and onion mixture into the pie crust. Thinly slice the beets and sweet potatoes, standing the slices on edge, pressed into the onion mixture. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
Bake in a 350F oven for 60-90 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Allow to cool to room temperature and serve.
A wonderful pre-prandial aperitivo is a cucumber cooler. Bright and refreshing for a warm afternoon. Cucumber, kafir lime leaves and a pinch of sugar muddled, then shaken over ice with gin and lime juice. Strained over ice with cucumber strips and club soda.
Some blistered baby San Marzano tomatoes with garlic and fresh basil over seared sea scallops.