My husband is a really good sport. I was reminded on several occasions this week how many spouses, husbands in particular, would take no part in the experiment I've been blogging about for over a year and a half. Some friends came to eat last week and the wife made a point to tell me her husband did not eat vegetables. He's a great guy but I'm really glad I'm not married to him. I couldn't handle a picky eater. And I'm 100% sure a picky eater could not handle me! Another friend, after I told her what we were having for dinner, asked very incredulously if Richard would eat that.
Tonight I think I found Richard's least favorite food. It's sardines. I had to eat them as a kid so though I don't love them, I can eat them. Richard took one bite of the sardine spread and asked what I had made him eat. The recipe for Grilled Monterey Sardines with Lemon and Herbs in the To Big Sur, With Love article in this month's Bon Appetit called for fresh sardines. I didn't want to search for fresh sardines, though Super H Mart or Whole Foods might carry them. I instead made the "Sardine Shortcut" recipe that followed the actual recipe and used canned sardines. As I already mentioned, Richard was less than thrilled with the dish but it was a creative use of the protein-packed fish. The food processor ground the small bones found in canned sardines and that really helped me like the dish better .
The main dish, Lamb Kebabs with Mint Pesto, underwent a major change. I didn't find an acceptable cut of lamb at my local Publix so I used beef instead. Mint often partners with lamb but I found this pesto was still excellent with beef. I love kebabs because of the distinct flavor of each element and these were excellent. I had worried that the mint pesto would be reminiscent of mint jelly, something I often find a bit too sweet. It wasn't as was a great match for the onions and peppers as well.
The Summer Bean Salad with Toasted Walnuts and Pecorino Fresco was a simple salad with beans. I couldn't find yellow beans so I just used green beans and it worked fine. The dressing was equally simple and light. The dessert for tonight was actually three recipes in one dessert. The base was the Orange Polenta Cake, a loaf cake with the texture and taste of polenta. I had no orange peel so I added lemon peel and a bit of orange extract. It worked and gave the cake a bright orange flavor. The use of yogurt kept the cake from getting heavy and too oily. I didn't mind the extra texture of the polenta. At times, it can be almost gritty but it worked in this dessert to give depth to the cake. The Vanilla-Scented Plums and Blackberries were just what the recipe states, plums and blackberries marinated in sugar and vanilla. It was a simple but delicious topping for the polenta cake. The final touch was the Buttermilk Ice Cream. This super-smooth custard ice cream is an excellent ice cream to show off the flavors of the other elements but has enough tang to stand alone. I really like this ice cream and found it much more interesting than plain old vanilla.
Grilled Monterey Sardines with Lemon and Herbs (Sardine Shortcut)-B
Lamb Kebabs with Mint Pesto-A
Summer Bean Salad with Toasted Walmuts and Pecorino Fresco-B
Orange Polenta Cake with Vanilla-Scented Plums and Blackberries and Buttermilk Ice Cream-A
Last night I wrote about the corn menu in this month's Bon Appetit. Tonight, I will echo my sentiments. A menu based on a staple of summer is a great idea but sometimes there is too much of a good thing. Tomatoes may be a fruit but they do not belong in dessert. I'll begin by describing dessert first since that was the most glaring example of too much tomato. The Tomato Tarte Tatin had some key problems. First, the sugar did not caramelize in the time given. Since the dessert is inverted, it's virtually impossible to tell this before it's too late. Second, the tomato taste is still very strong. I was eating sugary stewed tomatoes on a pastry crust. Not very appetizing. Third, the amount of water released by the tomatoes made the entire dish swim in liquid. You can see the excess water around the edges of the dish in the picture. I ate a piece but then with Richard's agreement, threw this dish away immediately. It was too soggy by then to last anyway.
The appetizer of Bruschetta with Rosemary, Roasted Plum Tomatoes, Ricotta, and Prosciutto was a much bigger success. You can see Eyrleigh's hand in the picture and she was pretty excited about this dish. The roasted tomatoes were simple to make and would make a great addition to lots of meals. The ricotta and shaved ham (replacing proscuitto) were excellent additions and the dressed greens on top added freshness and crunch. This was also a great visual look too with the contrast of red and green. The main dish of Seared Rib-EyeSteak with Tomato-Caper Relish was a pretty simple seared steak with a relish dressing. I like steak so no complaints there. The relish was simple as well with tomatoes, fresh cilantro, and capers. I realized while making this relish that I had no capers so I replaced them with cocktail onions. It's actually a pretty straight switch with a slight vinegar tang and mild bite. I liked the relish but would not say it was incredibly memorable. The called-for side dish of the menu, Olive-Oil-Roasted Tomatoes and Fennel with White Beans, was a pretty creative dish and deviated from the tomato theme enough to bring variety. I unfortunately added the oil for the whole recipe then realized I was halving the recipe. It did make the final product a bit oily but it still tasted great. The taste was very hearty and this dish would be a good vegetarian main. (More on that in just a few posts!)
All in all, I enjoyed the meal portion of the tomato menu. The dessert I could have definitely done without but I read some reviews from other posters on epicurious.com and some people really liked the tomato tartin. I just may have had bad luck with the caramelizing and that created the liquid disaster.
Bruschetta with Rosemary, Roasted Plum Tomatoes, Ricotta, and Proscuitto-A
Seared Rib-Eye Steak with Tomato-Caper Relish-B
Olive-Oil-Roasted Tomatoes and Fennel with White Beans-A-