Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Nectarine Carpaccio with Basil

We were paging through a recent Vegetarian Times when this recipe caught our eye. We had received some nectarines in our box and we got a few more at our local farmer's market just because it's that time of year.

I was also able to use some just-picked basil leaves from my backyard in this one.

We were having some friends over and we thought this would make a great appetizer.

It comes from Chef Eric Lechausseur, executive chef of Seed Kitchen in Venice, CA. In the write up, he describes how he likes the mixture of fruit and herb because "the nectarine's acidity combines with the freshness of basil for a wonderful flavor."

The ingredients are pretty simple:

  • nectarines
  • basil leaves
  • lemon
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Here's how it works:

You want to start with nectarines that are neither too ripe or not ripe enough. Place the washed nectarine on a cutting board with the "crease" facing you. That way the pit is lined up to give you the maximum number of slices.

Slice off a bit of the peel from the right side to get the slicing started.

Start cutting thin slices.

When you run into the pit, turn the nectarine around and repeat the above on the other side.

You will have a small leftover section on either side. That's your reward for being the cook.

Arrange overlapping nectarine slices on a platter. In a bowl, combine the juice of half of a juicy lemon, just under 1/3 cup high quality olive oil, a generous dash of salt, and a good amount of cracked black pepper.
Get enough basil leaves for the number of nectarine slices you have. You will actually want small to medium sized leaves. Drizzle the dressing over the nectarine/basil slices
Serve out in the backyard enjoying the long days of June and the beginning of summer. We served it with a Viognier which worked well with this dish. We decided this was a keeper.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Alice's Carrots

One of the staple items we get in the box is carrots. Bunches of Nantes carrots to be exact. Normally, I would peel and chop one or two raw carrots to add to a salad. Despite our best efforts, there were some weeks when we did not fully utilize the carrots.

While talking to some friends who also get the same CSA box, they said their "go to" recipe for carrots is the glazed carrots recipe (page 298) from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters. Since hearing about this, I've made this a handful of times and it's a keeper.

As Alice says, "it's more of a technique than a recipe."

It's deceptively simple and it makes an easy side dish.

It goes like this:

  • Peel the carrots (however many you need to feed). If the carrots are fairly thick, you can halve them.
  • Put the carrots in a pan and add water to come up about halfway up the carrots. Use a pan big enough to allow you to keep all of the carrots in a single layer.
  • Add a good pinch of salt and a pat of butter.
  • A few cracks of fresh pepper is always good.
  • Bring to a boil then turn down the heat to a simmer.
  • Cover the pan and simmer until water evaporates.
  • As the water level gets low, shake the pan to distribute the buttery glaze over the carrots.
  • I like to let the butter brown the carrots a bit in the pan.
  • Prior to serving, you can add some chopped herbs. Parsley, chives, and basil would work.