Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Pasta & Kebabs-One Good Turn Deserves Another

Last night, my beloved bride made a delicious dinner for me. Fresh fettucine cooked just barely al dente, with her company's alfredo sauce, tender chicken breast and delicate broccoli florets. To accompany this, she doctored up some pain rustique (rustic bread) with parmesan and garlic, with a few herbs thrown in for good measure. She made a bunch, too, so I didn't have to leave the house or cook to have a great lunch today. For dessert, we had two different kinds of chocolate cookies. Unbeknownst to one another, we had both purchased chocolate cookies. However, we didn't end up eating the ones she chose. They looked lovely and classy, but the taste was decidedly unpleasant. Perhaps there is a market for triple chocolate Seville cookies. We are not part of that market. We are much more the Archway Dutch Cocoa sort.

Since J made me a great dinner (and brought me a gift of journals & a book today), I was really hoping that tonight's dinner would be good for her. Actually, she ended up cooking part of it, the margarita pork kebabs. I hadn't planned on an appetizer, but when I was in the grocery, they had placed a vase of fresh basil bunches right by the front door. The amazing scent wafting toward me was all the marketing ploy they needed. It didn't hurt that the price was very reasonable & the basil was local. I used some pre-made crostini slices, added basil, tomato slices, fresh mozzarella, grey sea salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and we had a perfect appetizer. To go with the pork kebabs, I made a pouch of Uncle Ben's long grain & wild rice blend (not great) & a mess of fried green tomatoes. I've discovered that the trick to keeping them nice and crisp, rather than soggy and unappealing, is to slice very firm green tomatoes very thinly. I also made sure the oil had plenty of time to get hot before adding my tomatoes. Before I put them in the pan, I dipped them in buttermilk and dredged them in a blend of cornmeal and garlic salt. Then, I fried them golden on each side & drained them on paper towels. They were my very favorite part of dinner.

Margarita Pork Kebabs
1/2 c. frozen margarita mix, thawed
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. pork loin, cut in 1" cubes
Baby portabellas, washed gently
Green peppers, cut into 1" pieces
Cipollini onions, peeled

Mix the first three in a gallon-size ziploc baggie. Add pork and let marinate at least 1/2 hour. Put on greased skewers, along with veggies. Grill on a greased rack, covered, until done, about 5 minutes per side. Or, you can bake or broil them, but the veggies' texture suffers. This serves 2 well & is my adaptation of a recipe that appeared in Southern Living in September 1998.

For dessert, we had Midsummer fruit in wine (which my almost-grandma Lenore calls "boozy fruit", a name I prefer) in martini glasses. It's very simple & refreshing:

Boozy Fruit
1/2 c. sugar
2 c. white wine (I used sauvignon blanc tonight)
4 sliced peaches (I did 3 regular & 1 white tonight)
2 c. cherries, pitted and halved

Stir sugar into wine, making sure that it dissolves. Add fruit and let rest at least an hour before serving. This makes plenty, which is a good thing.

Now, I'm off to bed to sip some mint yerba matte, iced with a smidge of organic cane syrup added. Mmm.

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