Friday, October 05, 2007

Simplicity at its Best

Seems that lately we have been eating very simply, farm fresh veggies from LJB Farms in Gilroy, meat from Roberts of Woodside (where Butcher Son is working), and fresh fruit from the farmers market. There have been several of these things which just stick in my mind, and that the family is still raving over, so I thought I would share. My behind is a bit black and blue from kicking myself for not taking pictures, so no need for you to do that. But trust me when I say that these items were divine, worth eating on a regular basis if the ingredients are available.

1. Filet Mignon with Blue Cheese Butter
I did some horse trading last week with the meat department at Roberts, pumpkin bread and peach-ginger jam for some sausage casings. I then sent up some of my homemade sausage to them, and got some very nice filet mignon. My husband threw them on the grill and I made a simple blue-cheese butter (half Maytag blue, half butter) to serve on top. Done to rare perfection, you could almost cut them with your fork, The meat melted in your mouth with the blue cheese butter chasing it down the gullet in its wonderful creaminess. The four of us hardly spoke at dinner, so consumed with eating this piece of flesh.

2. Brown Butter Corn
God bless Molly at Orangette. She posts some of my favorite recipes on her site. I am constantly trying to make things she posts about, but I rarely write about them myself. However this time, I cannot NOT post, that is how good this recipe is. I ate way more than my share and was borderline gluttonous on this dish. Starting with freshly picked ears of corn from LJB Farms, in a matter of minutes the kernels were sheared off, mixed in a heavenly bath of thyme brown butter and on my plate. Having the corn swimming in butter never hurts, but the fresh thyme from the garden added just enough flavor to push this over the top. The recipe is below, minus the chopped parsely she used, as I felt it would detract a bit.

6 ears corn, shucked
8 Tbsp. unsalted butter
8 sprigs thyme, preferably lemon thyme
Kosher salt

Stand one ear of corn vertically on a cutting board or inside a large, shallow wooden bowl. (Using a bowl helps to keep kernels from darting all over the countertop, and using a wooden bowl – such as a salad bowl – is much better for your knife than a metal one.) Using a sawing motion, run a large knife down the ear, between the cob and kernels, to remove the kernels. Using the back of the knife, scrape the bare cob to release the corn’s juices. Repeat with remaining ears of corn. Set kernels and their juices aside. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, dd the thyme sprigs, and cook, stirring frequently, until the butter turns a deep shade of amber and smells nutty. Add the corn kernels, their juices, and a large pinch of salt, and stir well. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the corn is tender, about 5 minutes. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs, and season to taste with salt. Serves 4-6

3. Freeform Pear Tart
After canning 15 pints of strawberry jam, I still had Sunday dinner to make. Rummaging around the kitchen to find something quick and easy to make for dessert, due to my sagging energy level, I decided to make a pear tart. I much prefer a pear pie with its crumbly topping, but no time for that today. So I grabbed a premade store-bought pie dough round and rolled it out a bit, topped the center with sliced pears, sprinkled on some sugar and cinnamon and a few dots of butter. Then I folded the outer edge (2-3”) up onto the pears, making folds as I went around the edge (this leaves an open center that the pears are visible through. Then popped in a 425 oven for 15 minutes, then lowered the over to 375 for another 30-35 minutes until brown. Five minutes of work and we had a beautiful, rustic tart that I served warm out of the oven with sweetened whipped cream. Mmmmmm.

This week I am on a canning frenzy, due to stocking up at LJB Farms. Pickled grapes (courtesy of Molly again), two kinds of onion marmalade, today will be pickles, and tomorrow pepper paste. So I hope to have time to write about it all!


Anonymous said...

So what are pickled grapes?

Mrs. B said...

Grapes that are soaked in a sweet brine. I serve them with cheeses and baguette. Here is the recipe.

1 pound red grapes, preferably seedless
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 (2 1/2-inch) cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon salt

Rinse and dry the grapes, and pull them carefully from their stems. Using a small, sharp knife, trim away the "belly button" at the stem end of the grape, exposing a bit of the flesh inside. Put the grapes into a medium bowl, and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; then pour the mixture immediately over the grapes. Stir to combine. Set aside to cool at room temperature.

Pour the grapes and brine into jars with tight-fitting lids (or cover the bowl with plastic wrap), and chill at least 8 hours or overnight. Serve cold.