June 4, 2008
A Pleasant Surprise
So my sister's aforementioned graduation party took place this past weekend. The menu we planned sounded impressive, but in the end I felt it all fell a little flat. My rosemary roasted potatoes nicely browned but then grew soggy in the hours before they were served. My brownies came out neither fudgy nor cakey, but chalky. The chocolate coating for the strawberries was pasty and watery due to the low quality chocolate chips my mother procured from Shoprite. Then there was the oozing overly lemon zested icing on the lemon ricotta cake; the gummy rice in my rice, chickpea, and asparagus pilaf; the overly lemony hummus and the overly garlicky white bean and spinach dip. We love to cook, but aren't always that great in executing our menus. But everyone still ate most of the food and seemed to like it, so I wouldn't call it a failure by any means.
While at home in Warwick for the weekend, which is positively verdant this time of year, we had the chance to not only enjoy a double feature at the drive in despite the rainy forecast, but to check out the Warwick Farmers Market. It wasn't too large, but featured lots of baked goods, wine, homemade gourmet goods, plants, and a couple meat and vegetable stands. Since my hometown is about 50 miles outside of New York City, there is some overlap between our farmers markets. I was thrilled to see Dines Farms, which used to be my main meat guy until they were kicked out of the McCarren Park Greenmarket for some reason. I had a reliable source of tasty chicken up until then, and haven't had much chicken since. So we got a huge chicken breast and some mushrooms from Dines Farms to cook up for dinner, as well as some kind of wild green from Rogowski farm, which they told us was a kind of Mexican spinach, so I think it was quelites.
We rounded out our dinner plans with a bottle of Seyval Chardonnay Reserve from Applewood winery, which is aged in oak, making it more complex than Applewood's slightly cheaper regular Seyval Chardonnay blend.
We planned on taking a hike but got lazy and read books instead in my sunny backyard before taking our booty back to Brooklyn to cook up dinner. Can you blame us?
I wanted to keep our things really simple, so I didn't even add onions or garlic or any spices. I just chopped up the mushrooms and the quelites, sauteed them in olive oil with a couple glugs of the wine and shakes of salt and pepper, and covered the pan for about 15 minutes until wilted. So simple in fact, that that's really all of a recipe you need.
Meanwhile, Jesse grilled the hunka chicken along with a couple buttery yellow potatoes from Berried Treasures in a pocket of foil because we are potato addicts. We ate about a third of the chicken that night and smartly saved the rest in the fridge for future use (such as in the yummy chicken, radish, lettuce, and mayonnaise sandwich I just ate for dinner tonight).
But back to that night's dinner. I quartered the potatoes and slathered them with Ronnybrook butter and a sprinkle of fresh sage from my container garden. Then I sliced up the chicken and laid it over the sauteed quelites and mushrooms to practice my plating skills. Plunked down a glass of that white wine. And yum. Now, I've never liked mushrooms very much, but I really enjoyed these. Something about the earthy sour smell usually turns me off, but I always had this hope that maybe it would be different with mushrooms from the farmers market. So that's what led me to give these mushrooms a whirl, and it was a pleasant surprise - their smell and flavor was mild enough to just give a meaty oomph to the sauteed greens without overpowering my nosebuds. Success! If only I knew what they were called so I could find them again. Name that mushroom? Anyone?
It feels like the Dark Days Challenge just ended, yet here is two months later, moving on into One Local Summer. The challenge is this: to prepare and blog about one meal each week using only locally grown ingredients - the exceptions are oil, salt and pepper, and spices. Reading One Local Summer was what inspired me to start cooking local meals in the first place last summer, but I was too late in the game to join. Now that eating local is old hat, here goes another delicious summer, starting with this very first OLS entry of the summer.