Summertime has finally come, although here in the Catskills the spring rains have decided they like hanging around. They enjoy our company in the afternoons. That, or they’re out to kill everyone’s tomato plants, and doing a good job of it too. We are just finishing a week vacation here in “slightly-upstate” New York, and while work and mozzies invaded quite a bit, it has been quiet and beautiful. (if you don’t speak Oz, mozzies = mosquitoes)
The farms have been fighting with the weather – what a tough profession farming is, subject to the whims of weather. I was really looking forward to the return of fresh roma beans at our local farm, but the wet weather has left them tough and unenjoyable, resistant to even a long stew in tomato sauce. The cucumbers have suffered even worse, including the little kerbys.
Still, the chard, wax beans, and golden zucchini are all beautiful, and I have high hopes for the corn season. I was glad to see Gill’s farm stand open for business. Here is my first payload:
Given the onslaught of work (trying to get a new venture off the ground in this environment is not a simple task), I have only had time to cook oldies but goodies, rather than creating new dishes. With summertime eating, I also tend to go simple — fresh salads and well-seasoned meat cooked on the grill.
A dry rub of smoked paprika, ground coriander, salt, and brown sugar was a smashing hit with our niece visiting from Sydney. We have also been playing around with chimichurri-like green sauces to go with flank and skirt steak, some with parsely and some with cilantro. My favorite so far was the following:
Cilantro Green Sauce (chimichurri inspired)
large bunch of cilantro (fresh coriander)
2 cloves of garlic
1/3 of a hot jalapeno
pinch of salt
1 tbsp of olive oil
red wine vinegar and rice wine vinegar to taste
You can finely mince everything and combine with the liquids, or just use a food processor (which is what I did last night). The bite of the vinegar and the heat of the jalapeno are a fabulous complement to a flank or skirt steak, well seasoned with salt and pepper, cooked to medium-rare on the grill, and sliced thin across the grain.
I also love making twists on lemonade. Last summer I had fun freezing watermelon cubes and using them instead of ice. This year I did a similar thing, but with more of a mohito-making approach.
Lemon-limeade with Watermelon and Spearmint
Juice 4 or 5 lemons and 2 limes, and place in a large jug. Add mint leaves from several sprigs of spearmint or regular mint. Add in 1 lime, washed and quartered. Cut a half-inch slice from a watermelon half, and slice into 1/2 inch cubes. Add in 3 tbsp of sugar. Mash everything up. Pour in cold water and ice, then taste for the amount of citrus juice and sugar, adjusting to taste.