Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Why I Grow A Summer Garden

It's finally summer and the living is easy and having put the time and work into the summer garden it's time to take in the benefits. I grew every herb I could find this spring along with vegetables and flowers and mixed them all up so it looked like something that would just grow naturally, some some organized English garden. And I have been experimenting with some flavors and wanted to share them here with you. The fish thing, couldn't be easier. I have been experimenting with new kinds of fish and the formula seems the same for success. As I do not like cooking fish in the house, the grill is more than perfect for this and wrapping a filet in a piece of foil with some herbs from the garden, (I used sage and chives here with some slices of lemon and a smidge of olive oil just works) I rubbed the foil with olive oil first so when it sits on the medium heat of the grill it browns the bottom of this fish to perfection. It was so good I couldn't get enough. Cooking a few filets at a time makes for a nice variety of left overs for fish tacos the next day and cuts down cooking time to a mere minimum. Take the filet off the grill a minute or two before you'd expect to as it cooks when its off the grill also.

Now for the really fun stuff...The asian not so rolled up spring rolls. I love the tastes in spring rolls but I am so not a fan of the roll itself. It looks a little like a condom and the texture freaks me out. These rolling rice wrappers are not hard to find however and they store up to 3 months so if you are having impromptu summer guests its a super easy go to food. I deconstructed the recipe and made a noodle bowl fill of those same tastes without the time consuming wrapping deal.

The basis for the bowl? Well rice noodles or bean thread noodles even sometimes I will use egg noodles. The rice and bean noodles don't even need to be cooked, you pour some boiling water over the top of them in a bowl and let them sit for 15 minutes and then a quick cold water bath to chill them.

The proteins?
You can use anything here, shredded chicken, some slices of left over steak from the grill, big cooked shrimp, even scallops. I almost always use some scrambled egg. Egg is a mainstay in most asian dishes and when mixed with some sauce, it's truly lovely.

The Vegetables?

Go insane here, cucumber, carrots, summer squash all julienne with a peeler. The textures are wonderful, pea pods, cabbage, cooked or not, lettuce leaves, soft or crunchy, the sky is the limit here. I even use some lemon juice or slices of lime to give that cool summer citrus feeling.

The Herbs?
Thai basil, basil, mint, cilantro (my all time favorite), sage, any onion of any sort, but chives seem to be the mildest form, sometimes rosemary in small quantities works for me also.

The Sauces?

Oh golly, go to your local asian market and here you will find a multitude of tastes, hoisn, fish sauces, soy, Tahini (ground sesame seeds), peanut sauce (which is really easy to make on your own) and even hummus for a summer taste, mix them, try dabbles of a few and of course some finely ground peanuts for the top to give you a little crunch and depth.

If you find something that works for you, drop me a note and I'd love to try it. Summer food doesn't mean cooking, just some prep work, chopping mostly. The noodle bowls make for perfect pic nic food, chopping everything into zip lock bags with a few jars of sauce and zip lock bags with some ice cubes keeps everything cold in a summer bag and all of it goes in the trash when you are done, nothing to carry home. I am planning a pic nic with the best friend soon. Pic Nics with her have been some of the best days of my life. Take care,


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