Like most fancy-pants wanna-be’s, I often read recipes in the New York Times dining section and think “Yes! I am SO going to make that!”. Then I get distracted by work or something sparkly out of the corner of my eye and forget all about it. Not this time! I saw Melissa Clark’s recipe for corn ice cream and knew I wanted to try it. I also knew that Matt would be totally game because A) he’s always up for a challenge and B) he loves both corn and ice cream.
We had a a few ears of (not that great) corn that we bought in Long Island, so we decided to give this a try. It’s really good! It’s a tiny little bit under-sweetened to my taste (unusual for me) but that could be because the corn we used was not that sweet to begin with. If I make it again (with under-whelming corn), I would add a touch more sugar. Maybe just a tablespoon or so. Or, even better, I’ll leave it as-is and pour a bit of this (elixir of the gods) Salted Caramel Sauce on top.
Matt and I used to live just around the corner from one of the best Italian specialty stores in Brooklyn. Caputo’s. Oh dio, this place is fantastic. They import the best stuff from Italy and make their own sausages and fresh pastas. They also make mozzarella and ricotta several times a day so it’s always extremely fresh. Needless to say, we were there a lot.
Note: This story gets a little sad… It was actually the owner’s elderly father who made the mozzarella and he liked to pick out the perfect ball for each person, dip it in the salty brine and hand it to you himself. It was very sweet. So one day Matt and I go in and order a bunch of stuff and as we’re chatting with the old man, he asks us how long we’ve been married. We tell him and he tears up, grabs my hand and tells me that his wife died. So of course, I tear up as he says how much he misses her. Now the old man and I are creating quite an awkward spectacle. Not what people expect to see as they’re buying their gnocchi. The owner comes out from the back and calms his dad and explains that his mom actually passed away a few years ago but his dad forgets this. Then he kindly hands me a tissue as I am no longer at all sanitary.
After that day, for some reason, every time the old man saw me, he would burst into tears. I felt so bad that I was triggering this reaction that I would lurk outside to see if the old man was there, and if he was, I would get the counter guys to sneak a mozzarella ball into my order while I would duck behind the counter. He stopped working eventually but mozzarella now has this bitter-sweet association for me. Maybe now it will for you too! You’re welcome.
I think I might be a tomato snob. I mean, I’m not one of those people who goes to a farmers market and knows the name of every heirloom variety in existence (overheard at the Cold Spring market “They only have Brandywine and Green Zebras left, God I hate this place“).
During most of the year, I’ll pick them out of sandwiches and salads and usually try to sneak them onto Matt’s plate even though he doesn’t love them either (I feel better knowing they’ve gone to a good home). I just really don’t like the taste and texture of out of season tomatoes and would rather wait until the good ones come out. Well, they’re out, and I can finally have the tomato sandwich I’ve been dreaming of all year.
Quick aside; in my real job as a film editor, I recently worked on a movie about farm labor and learned that all commercial tomatoes (the grocery store kind) are picked green because they need to be rock hard to survive the long trip to the store. When they get near the store, they gas them (!) which turns the skins red, but the insides stay un-ripe. That’s why even pretty looking supermarket tomatoes usually taste like wet sneaker. Yum!
Anyway, I dedicate this recipe to my old roommate Paola who introduced me to the glory of the perfect tomato sandwich. When in season, we ate them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Hers was simply good bread, ripe tomato and sliced onion but I’m a bougie bastard and can’t resist gilding the lily with mayo, basil, maldon salt and occasionally avocado. Your tomato sandwich may well be different, but wouldn’t life be boring if everyone was the same?
A not-so-fringe benefit to growing squash is having access to the loveliest edible of the summer. Squash blossoms! So dang perty. They are usually stuffed with ricotta cheese and fried in batter which is (of course) delicious but we didn’t have a lot of them and didn’t want to do a whole fried bonanza so we just sautéed them in a bit of olive oil until they were wilty and brown and then frizzled some capers and garlic to go over them. It took about 5 minutes and ended up being really tasty. The fried zucchini blossoms become silky and translucent, almost like stained glass. Of course, they wilt down to nothing so don’t plan on this being dinner but if you grow squash, fried zucchini blossoms is a pretty good way to use the flowers without a lot of fuss.
We used the last of our green garlic (young, hard neck garlic from the farmers market) which is milder than regular grocery-store garlic. Either would work though so don’t sweat it.
When my gorgeous sister-in-law Hayli and her delightful husband Tristan got married in France a couple of summers ago, Matt and I spent a week at a gîte (french farmhouse) with his family and a mad gaggle of their international friends. It was a delightful mixture of cultures, languages and food with English, French, Belgian, Irish (and one slightly befuddled American).
Each night of the week, different groups of people would cook for the whole gîte (seriously, I think there were about 40 people in all). On our night, Matt and I along with a few co-cooks made baked pastas. I think one was a creamy wild-mushroom rigatoni and the other was a cheesy tomato penne type of thing. Not fancy but cooking for 40 people in a strange kitchen is HARD. I think between shopping, prepping and baking it took about 15 hours (okay, I may be exaggerating a teeny bit but it was seriously exhausting).