Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sing-along Grease

My college friend Tina--who is apparently an attorney; who knew? as you can tell I am a really loyal friend--was recently featured on Glamour Magazine's food blog for posting this very fashionable recipe for zucchini cakes on Thursday. Just seeing the word zucchini so many times in print really got me in the mood for zucchini later that evening. Luckily, I had a couple hanging out in the fridge, which I combined with the bounty of Jeff's CSA Farm Box to make a pretty exciting summer sandwich (not to be confused with Summer Sanders).

The best part of it was the little trendy peppers on top. Maybe they were padrons or shishitos, or friarellis, or, I don't know, some other name that is not of Spanish, Japanese, or Italian origin. Anyway, the deal with these peppers is that they were invented in 2009, they are tiny, they cost three dollars a pound, one in nine of them is hot so it's like you're playing Russian Pepper Roulette, and you are only allowed to eat them one way--blistered in a pan for one minute on each side with salt. Maybe add some lemon zest but anything else is pushing it. You can get a small bowl of them at any restaurant in San Francisco between the months of June and September. This dish is listed in the appetizer section and costs six dollars.

In all seriousness, these little things are pretty neat--you get kind of a funky, assertive concentrated hot pepper flavor without any actual heat (eight out of nine times). It's interesting; it's as if you're tasting the layer of flavor that you'd get chomping down on a jalapeno if your tongue were impervious to chili pepper. And since Jeff got about six pounds of trendini peppers in his farm box this week, I'm looking forward to finding a way to use them that does not involve blistering in a pan (don't tell the SF Food Police).

Maybe it would make this blog more exciting if I wrote down a recipe every once in a while. Okay. Let me tell you how I made it:

So first I took the mascarpone out of the fridge and mixed in some salt and the zest of half a Meyer lemon. I left that out on the counter to come to room temperature.

I sliced the zucchini on an extreme diagonal as thinly as I could--I could have used a mandoline, but I was lazy. I tossed the slices with some salt and the juice of half a lemon. I cored and quartered a couple San Marzano-ish tomatoes that Jeff got in his mystery box. I added salt to those and left them in a separate bowl.

I knew that I wanted the zucchini and tomatoes to marinate for about 20 minutes. In the meantime I cut up some romano beans and blanched them for maybe 4 minutes in heavily salted water, then chilled them in an ice water bath, and drained them.

Jeff is way better at blistering peppers than I am, so I had him do that--I think he heated some peanut oil in a skillet until it was shiny, tossed a few peppers into the pan (not too crowded) and then cooked them for about a minute on each side. I cut off the stems and sliced them in half.

To finish the beans, I diced a shallot and started cooking it in a pan with a little olive oil over low heat. After a minute or two I threw in the beans, tossed them in an oil, and let them start to heat up. While they were getting warm, I minced some parsley and did a chiffonade of a couple leaves of basil. I threw those in at the last minute.

Then we made the sandwiches! Spread mascarpone on two slices of bread. White pepper on one side, stack the other side with a few slices of zucchini, a few slices of tomato, some trendy peppers, and then shave on a little romano cheese.

Overall, the sandwich worked out pretty well and just spoke so clearly of a warm summer night--no actual cooking, lightly marinated vegetables, spreadable cheese, a loaf of crusty bread. Of course, I live in San Francisco so the night was actually like 51 degrees outside. Thanks, Mark Twain!!

1 comment:

  1. 1) I was just thinking yesterday that I should buy a mandoline. When I tried to make zucchini chips last week, my hand-sliced chunks were super uneven and frankly kind of gross.

    2) I am super jealous of your 51 degree evening weather. We were at a balmy 80.