Otherwise known as Leftover Night, Volume III…
In light of the holiday, I thought I’d take it easy on myself today and work through a few tidbits from the past week or two that wouldn’t quite fill out a post on their own. Happy Fourth of July to all the Americans out there!
This week’s farmer’s market haul was slightly postponed by a trip to Safeway for a few staples and some cash. This was the first time I have taken Nolan to the supermarket alone, and I was concerned about juggling the stroller and the hand-basket, but as it turns out, it fit perfectly in the canopy of the stroller. I loaded up with kosher salt (finally!), whole wheat flour and about 5 different kinds of dried beans (I resisted the urge to try mayocoba beans, which I’d never heard of, and am now wishing I had gotten them), among other things, and by the time we headed off to the farmer’s market, the stroller was weighed down and markedly less maneuverable. That didn’t stop me from loading up with fava beans, artichokes (the first time I’ve seen them at Saturday market!), leeks (the deal of the decade at $2 for a big bunch of three), raspberries, cherries, and a bag of mixed cooking greens containing kale, chard, collards and even some parsley. Just to give you a hint of what will be coming in the next week or so on the blog.
Strawberry season in Oregon is coming to a close—a moment of silence to mourn its passing, please. However, this also means that cherry season is in full swing. Salem is known as the Cherry City, and we make sure to pick up at least a few pints every year. So far this year, I have gotten a pint each of Rainier and Sandra Rose cherries, the former being mild, sweet and yellow-fleshed, and the latter being sweet, juicy, and deep red (similar to Bings). We ate the Sandra Roses out of hand this year, although I’ve made fantastic sorbet from them in the past. We ate some of the Rainiers as is, but I decided to try something different with them and bake a simple cherry-frangipane tart.
The tart was alright. I love frangipane fruit tarts, but I didn’t really care for the texture of the cooked cherries. We ate it with a very rich ice cream made from the leftover mascarpone creme anglaise from the most recent Daring Bakers challenge. I may have liked this better in the form of a Bakewell tart with homemade Rainier cherry jam… oh well.
Some two years ago, I bought Jeremy Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads for his birthday, as a way of encouraging his interest in baking bread (he has long been a fan of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, and has mastered quite a few of the recipes in it). He barely cracked the book open, but has recently shown some renewed interest in it. A few nights ago, he got a biga and soaker going to bake his first loaf of whole wheat bread, and today we had our first taste of the whole wheat hearth bread that resulted. It was a very dense bread compared to what we are used to, with a thick crust and a very earthy, slightly sour flavor. Jeremy commented that it reminded him of rye bread, and that may be why I wasn’t a big fan, even slathered with almond butter. Nolan ate a whole slice with his breakfast and seemed perfectly happy (and then helped eat my neglected piece).
I made two kinds of pesto this week to use up some produce before it started looking sad. I had a bunch of garlic scapes, and despite my grand plans to make garlic scape pickles or a zippy stir fry, I ended up using it for pesto again. I can’t help it—garlic scape pesto is delicious, incredibly versatile, and in my experience, packs quite a punch of garlic. I used this recipe as a guideline, substituting Pecorino Romano for the Parmesan just because I had a bigger chunk of it. Next, I made arugula pesto to use up a half-bag of greens and the toasted almonds leftover from making almond meal for that frangipane tart. This version, which also used pecorino cheese and added a few cloves of garlic, is the darker green of the two and has a nice pepperiness from the arugula.
Pestos of all sorts freeze perfectly (I freeze it in either my silicone ice cube tray or muffin pan, depending on the portion sizes I want on hand), so I had no qualms about making two types at once. Garlic scape pesto is delicious tossed with pasta, made into a flavorful compound butter for sandwiches or a fancy version of garlic bread, stirred into a simple Dijon mustard vinaigrette for salad, beaten into scrambled eggs—you name it. We discovered today that it is an ideal seasoning for tuna salad. These tuna melts used thin slices of hearth bread, cheddar cheese, and a mixture of tuna, mayo, whole grain mustard and the pesto. The flavor combination held up well against the wheaty bread, and we all enjoyed it.
One last dish—I used the arugula pesto to coat spaghetti noodles and season some simple chicken meatballs. The meatballs came out on the dry side, and I preferred the pasta; Jeremy, on the other hand, admitted that pesto is not his favorite in general (whoops, how did I not know that?) and preferred the meatballs. But we both loved the skillet focaccia that I made to go with the dish.