Friday, January 8, 2010

Ania, Guest Cook

We had the girls in New Zealand for the holidays, which really meant sharing them with Wellington, but they were around on the "farm" enough to make us glad we have the place to hang around with them, uh, at (!). And also, to appreciate having a kitchen spacious enough for the four of us to operate at once--as opposed to the "one-butt kitchen" that my sister complains about, or even the marginal two-butt kitchen in Berkeley (big, friendly, and well-appointed, but not amenable at all to gang cooking).

Anyway, in the interval between Kim's and Ania's departures, we got into the kitchen with Ania, who has become quite the flairy vegetarian cook. And it was a blast cruising the food supply and brainstorming the possibilities for dinner, to say nothing of cooking together and repeatedly toasting "another feast". Here's a couple of nights to give you the, you should pardon the expression, flavor.


* A batch of tomatoes from the market, which are getting increasingly viable, connected with the basil now emerging in the garden: slice, shred, olive oil, done.

* A few oranges, also from the market, mused a connection with olives, which led to toasting some fresh-shelled walnuts, and using some feta from the fridge. Heap up a bed of chewy, semi-bitter greens from the garden. Toss, and crunch away.

* The centerpiece: a heap of almost the year's first potatoes, right out of the ground, scrubbed and steamed. What better way to exploit the fresh dill than dill butter on top?


On the eve of departure, we went for a swim in the river and used the six or eight minutes of commute time to riff out a few ideas for dinner; too many, really, but we wound up doing them all:

* Of the cauliflower (last year's plants, still producing), steamed then pan-fried with garlic, hot pepper flakes and fresh mint.

* The expected tomato-and-avocado salad (with shallots and vinaigrette) took a turn, when the avocados looked less than appealing, into sliced tomatoes garnished with basil-oil guacamole (not oil OF basil, silly: olive oil infused with basil flowers).

* Haloumi that Krys and Ania had made that day from our blessed farm milk, sliced and grilled. (A bit too enthusiastically, I'm afraid. The charcoal was so hot that the cheese charred in the couple of minutes I had my back turned. Oh well, this is what knives are for.)

* Raita with shredded cucumber and carrot

* Finally, the piece de resistance: Couscous and Corn Salad with Grilled Zucchini (not from the garden, alas, but close), Grilled Sweet and Hot Peppers (from the freezer; last year's bumper crop blesses us yet again), and Spring Onions (just starting in the garden)

...and it only took two hours in the kitchen!


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