Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer bummer


How’s your summer going so far? As you might have noticed from the smattering of posts this month, ours has been off to a good start and shows little sign of letting up.

We’ve drank beer outside and danced in the sweltering heat of packed shows. We've met another young couple through The Stop’s Yes In My Backyard program with whom we will be developing a vegetable patch. And we’ve endured the day jobs that make all these shenanigans possible. In just a few weeks we head back west for three weeks of fun, family and friends in Edmonton, Vancouver and the Island. Busy times. However, lost by the wayside in all this activity has been time in the kitchen.
For one thing, it’s been way too hot to cook. Our apartment feels about 10 degrees hotter than the outdoors most days, so when the mercury rises to the mid-twenties, the heat (and the humidity) saps whatever will we have to stand over a hot stove top. So that's meant we've been either eating out (holla atcha Parkette) or sticking with salads and other easy and cool options, like the above proscuitto, brie, pear and walnut sammich. This was inspired by one of my all time favourite creations from Finch's Tea and Coffee House back in Vancouver (as seen recently over at Cream and Sugar). For the record, this wasn't as good as the original. Lesson: never cheap out on cured meats.

The times I have turned the stove on, the results haven't always knocked my socks off. Take this lamb ragu I adapted from Urban Italian by Andrew Carmellini and Gwen Hyman.

lamb rag 2

This kind of thing is normally right in my wheelhouse, but this one was just okay. Instead of the rich, dark sauce the recipe promised, I wound up with a thin and fairly bland concoction. I expect there was too much liquid (if I had to do it again - and I probably won't - I'd use about 1 cup less water/stock). I'm not gonna bother with the recipe, but if you're curious, check it out here.

Pepper steak

The perils of summer cooking were highlighted when I decided to cook up my bachelor night standby of peppercorn crusted striploin, pan-seared and finished in the oven, a process that generates a hellacious amount of smoke and heat. Masochist that I am, I decided to sautée a wedge of radicchio di Chioggia (the round kind) to go along with it. Dinner was good (though the radicchio was bitter to the point where I drizzled a bit of maple syrup on it to make it edible), but kitchen and cook were a disaster: a sweltering, smokey, sweaty, oil-spattered mess. I really need a grill and a backyard to put it in.

That's all I have for now. Hopefully I'll be back again soon with some actual recipes for you.

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