Well, my frugal ways paid off this time. I took all the pickled cauliflower I told you about yesterday, along with the onions and garlic and ginger (the only thing I removed were the black peppercorns which I had to pick out one by one) and cooked them with water until soft. I then added about a 1/4 cup of coconut milk (TJ’s low fat), some chopped ginger and curry powder, put it in the blender and whirred until very smooth and then in the frig until cold. Dollop of yogurt on top. Wow, the flavor was amazing. Lots of spice and heat from the curry, mustard seeds and pickled jalapeno I added to the original pickling recipe. Very, very creamy as if there were potatoes and heavy cream in it. I’ve had one bowl and am considering another. Today, frugal won.
My father grew up poor in St. Lous, Missouri and for his family, the price of food was a life-long obsession. I remember my grandparents coming to visit us in Alta Loma in the 60s and all they could do was discuss the price of produce. And until he couldn’t drive anymore, my father would go 20 miles out of his way to save 50 cents on a dozen eggs and then take us all out to dinner at the Five Crowns in Cororna del Mar. Which is a long way of telling you there are issues around the cost of food. I have inherited some of that frugality, but for me it’s about never wasting good food. And this week, the case in point was a cauliflower from the Farmers’ Market that got forgotten in the back of the frig. I pulled it out and decided to make Pickled Cauliflower which involves sugar, vinegar, onion, garlic, ginger, mustard seeds and more–the bright yellow color is from tumeric. (I found the recipe online.) You bring the liquid to a boil, pour it over the raw florets and then let it sit in the frig for days. So today, just one day later, I took the plastic container out to see how it was doing and accidentally hit it on the counter. It cracked and all the liquid poured out. I was left with very crunchy, not too pickled cauliflower that tasted pretty good. We have been muching on it today, but I now have another idea of what to do with it. I’ll let you know tomorrow if it worked out…or whether I spent $3 in ingredients and still couldn’t save a $2 head of cauliflower.
You see before you a lovely zucchini flower, not unlike the ones I bought at the Farmers’ Market on Tuesday. Some I used in Tuesday’s quesadillas and the rest I used last night in a wonderful risotto. (It is at this point that I need to confess that I take photographs of my food right before I’m going to eat it, so I just snap a couple of pics and then sit down and eat before it gets cold. When my pictures are not up to snuff, I will either make them very small, not post them or find an appropriate photograph at the website http://www.morguefile.com where the photos are free and not copyrighted.) So the risotto last night was good. It was made with our homemade chicken stock, arborio rice and Parmigiano Reggiano from Costco. The stems and the base of the blossoms were diced and sauteed with shallots first in olive oil and butter and then slowly the rice was cooked with ladle after ladle of stock until it was tender. Flowers petals went in 10 before serving and they added a very subtle flavor and vibrant streaks of orange. Frugal dish full of flavor.
Nora Ephron–journalist, writer, essayist, screen writer and movie director–died yesterday at the age of 71. (You can read about her in today’s New York Times.) If you are a movie goer, you’ll know her for “Silkwood,” “When Harry met Sally,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” “You’ve Got Mail,” and my personal favorite “Julie and Julia.” She wrote many books of essays inclduing “I Feel Bad About My Neck,” which gave us all a perspective on being an older woman. Nora was smart, she was funny and she was a great champion for women’s rights. Until my DVR malfunctioned and had to be replaced, I had “Julie and Julia” on permanent save. Guess I’ll have to keep an eye out for it and record it again; it’s a great movie to watch while cooking. To see Julia Childs (played brilliantly by Meryl Streep) go from a fumbling amateur to a brilliant chef reminds me that in the kitchen doing something again and again is the only way to make it come naturally.
I went to the Farmers’ Market today. It’s on Grand between Kalmia and Juniper every Tuesday 2:30-6 pm. Besides getting my standard vegetables, I had a mission–get some zucchini blossoms so we could make quesadillas. As you can see I not only found the blossoms but a couple of other items for the meal, including a perfectly ripe avocado, some spring onions and a very nice looking heirloom tomato. Meanwhile, my husband headed off to Vallerta Supermarket at Ash and E. Valley. Now there are torillerias all over town, but there’s also one within this supermarket so that’s where he got warm corn tortillas, epazote, Oaxacan cheese and some scallions. Dinner was quesadillas with all the “trimmings,” along with homemade black beans and a very nice red wine.
The kitchen is my favorite spot in the whole house. Out the front window I can watch the birds at the fountain and neighbors walking by. Out the back door I can pick a lemon off our tree or take a nap in the shade. Inside the kitchen is where I cook, eat and generally have a great time. Starting today, I’ll be sharing what I love about cooking, shopping, eating and living in Escondido–with regular posts on our Farmers’ Market. There will be pictures, videos and recipes, as well as personal thoughts on the place I love to live. Stop by when you have a chance, My Escondido Kitchen is always open.