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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Summer is waning...

We tend to eat much more simply in the summertime.
With loads of fresh vegetables and herbs from the garden, and lovely, bright orange-yolk freshly laid eggs from the pullets, we eat whatever is fresh.
A quick sear on the 'real' charcoal grill and zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, poblano peppers and kale tossed with chives, oregano and thyme become a feast. A little salad of fresh red leaf lettuce, Diva cucumbers and cherry tomatoes tossed together with some olive oil, rice wine vinegar and a lightly poached egg on top round out the meal. Adding a rib eye or chicken thigh or bratwurst to the BBQ just makes it even more fragrant and mouth-watering on the summer weekends!
But, the weather is starting to turn in the Kalamth Basin and our thoughts are turning to autumn. Last night, it was 34 degrees. I actually put a light blanket on the bed last night- of course, I kept the window open- I'm not ready to surrender to the cold just yet!
I might have to pull the remainder of the tomatoes soon, and put the heat lamp on in the coop at night for the chickies!
It's been in the mid 70's today with a light breeze- lots of sunshine, but a lot cooler than the past couple of months, so it's time to start bringing in the pumpkins and spaghetti squash to cure...and time to think about fertilizing the grass for snow, cutting back the plants and mulching for the coming winter, and preparing in general for the hard freeze that is coming.
Since it's been a little cooler at night, I've been making more soup-stew type meals.
I recently made an absolutely delicious recipe that was so tasty I have to share it! I guess it could be a summer recipe, or spring recipe, too...but it was warm, and very comforting!
It was originally a 'Shrimp Risotto with Chive Germolata' from the complimentary sample "Cuisine at Home" magazine that I received ...but I made it a little bit differently, because I am not a fan of risotto. I know, I have no taste- I am not cultured- but really, I dislike goopy, runny rice.
First, use your microplane grater to zest an entire lemon.
Then, fry 4 strips of applewood smoked thick bacon. OK, you can use whatever bacon you like.
When nice and crispy, chop finely and combine with 2 tablespoons each of finely chopped chives, fresh parsley and garlic. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and set aside.

I am very fond of the 'great grains' pack from Trader Joe's. It contains couscous, quinoa, lentils and several other tasty grains of varying textures. It's very easy to cook, and we always buy a few bags whenever we run across a TJ's when we travel. Instead of risotto, I made a a 'half serving' which makes about 1.5 cups, using the seafood stock. 

Here's the recipe I used...
Peel and devein 1/2 lb. of shrimp, saving the shells.
Place the shells, 2 cups of water, 1/2 cup of chicken stock, 1/2 cup of chopped onion, 5 whole peppercorns, 4 sprigs of fresh parsley and 1 bay leaf in a pan and bring to a boil on high heat. Boil for 5 minutes, and then lower the heat to medium. Cook for 15 minutes. OK, yes, I did add all the other shells I've saved over the summer, so yes, you do see lobster shells! Turn the heat off and strain the mixture into a bowl, squeezing every bit of juicy goodness out of the shells and veggies! Discard the solids.

 Melt 1 tbsp. of butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup of finely diced onion and slowly sweat the onion. Don't allow it to brown! Add 1/2 cup of Sherry and bring to a boil. Boil for about 1 minute.
Use this stock to make the 'Great Grains'. (Or if you want to make risotto, saute 2 tbsp. of butter and add the onion, add 1/2 cup of arborio rice and saute for 2 minutes. Add the sherrry, and saute for 2 more minutes. Add 1/2 cup of stock at a time until it's absorbed by the rice. Keep adding a 1/2 cup at a time until the rice has absorbed it all and the rice is tender, 20-25 minutes.)
Add the shrimp, and 1/2 cup of frozen peas to the rice or grain mixture. Stir for a couple of minutes, until the peas are hot and the shrimp is cooked through and pink, about 5 minutes.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of grated nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (optional)
Off the heat, add 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese and 1 tablespoon of butter. Stir well, and serve with the BACON gremolata.
It was DELICIOUS!!! Kevin thought it was too 'lemony' with the gremolata, but he also does not like lemon or things like chicken picatta or veal if you like a light lemony, bacony and chivy-parsley topping, you will like this!

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