September 16, 2015

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Dear friends,

On Sunday afternoon, the day before delivery, Tony asked whether the refrigerator I bought would fit. For the fifth time, I told him I had measured the doorways and the fridge and it would fit. Jeez.

“How about width and height?” he countered.

“Uhhh….I think it will fit.”

“You THINK?”

I dug through my purse for fifteen minutes to find the scrap of paper on which I’d jotted the measurements. “It’s 70 inches tall,” I said triumphantly, “which leaves plenty of room to fit under the overhead cabinet.”

I wish. At midnight we were relocating pitchers and cookie sheets in preparation to rip out the cabinet. We couldn’t reschedule because we had already pushed back delivery once because the old fridge was still – uh – messy.

As I write this Monday afternoon we have an ugly swath of 1950s wallpaper high along one kitchen wall, counters piled with pitchers, vases and baking sheets, and the shiny new refrigerator of my dreams.

My requirements were lots of refrigerator  space and a door that didn’t bang into the stove. Space is tight in my circa 1939 farmhouse kitchen. I didn’t care about freezer space, ice makers or stainless steel, which is a nightmare to keep clean. I definitely didn’t want a side-by-side with its reduced refrigerator space.

What I got was a stainless steel side-by-side LG door-in-door refrigerator. The stainless was the only finish available, and the side-by-side feature came with a twist: The fridge side is a lot wider than the freezer side. This baby has tons of chill space, yet the fridge-side door is slim enough to miss the stove when I throw it open. I’m happy, and Tony is thrilled with the crush/cube ice maker. Whatever.

Anyway, with all the fridge-cleaning last week I didn’t have a chance to create a new recipe. I did modify a favorite, though, to use up the first picking of Sun Gold tomatoes from my garden. The savory clafouti recipe I ran last September has become a favorite. This time I replaced half the flour with masa harina (fine corn flour) and added the fresh, sweet kernels from an ear of corn.

The corn, corn flour and sweet cherry tomatoes  mingled with goat cheese and eggs to produce a full-flavored yet delicate pan soufflé. The heady aroma of fresh chopped thyme perfumed the kitchen when it came from the oven.

I love this quick, summery entrée. I’ll make it again tonight if I can find the goat cheese and eggs in my new refrigerator.

TOMATO AND CORN CLAFOUTI

janesnow-tomatoclafouti
•    3 cups cherry tomatoes
•    Kernels from 1 ear corn (about 3/4 cup)
•    3 oz. French-style goat cheese
•    1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
•    1/4 cup flour
•    1/4 cup masa harina
•    4 eggs
•    1 1/4 cups milk
•    1/2 tsp. salt

Place whole tomatoes and corn in a buttered, 1 1/2 -quart gratin dish. Scatter grape-sized gobs of the cheese evenly over the tomatoes. Sprinkle with thyme. Whisk together the flour, masa harina, eggs, milk and salt. Pour into dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 55 minutes, or until puffy and golden. Makes about 6 servings.

THE MAILBAG

From Joy in Canada:
Hi, Jane. Here’s another recipe you’ll want to give a go with that abundance of zucchini you have. The Recipe comes from James Barber’s “Peasant’s Alphabet Cookbook,”

Mr. Barber, who died in 2007, was at one time a food critic for the Vancouver Province newspaper, host of the popular Canadian Urban Peasant cooking show and a cookbook author.

PROVENCAL BAKED VEGETABLES

•    1 onion, sliced
•    1 medium eggplant, sliced
•    2 tomatoes, sliced
•    1 medium zucchini, sliced
•    Salt and pepper to taste
•    4 cloves garlic, chopped
•    1 tsp. dried basil
•    1  tsp. dried oregano
•    1 cup shredded mozzarella
•    1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
•    3 tbsp. olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an oven-proof casserole dish and place alternate slices of onion, eggplant, tomatoes, and zucchini in the dish.

Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic, basil, oregano, mozzarella, and Parmesan. Drizzle the oil over top and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and browned and the vegetables have softened. Serves 4.

My notes: If you have fresh basil and oregano, even better.. Just add more to your own taste. I use olive oil. Don’t cut back on the garlic.. It’s an important part of the recipe. I have omitted the onion at times (picky eaters), still very good. I’ve also used finely grated Asiago cheese in place of Parmesan as I prefer the Asiago. Good with either one.

Dear Joy: I wouldn’t dream of skimping on the garlic. Ever. Although the recipe isn’t clear, I recommend seasoning each layer rather than just the top. This might qualify as the squash, tomato and cheese casserole Amber requested last week.

From Cynthia:
I, too, was looking for a classic squash casserole this summer and had a hard time. I combed all my Southern cookbooks and church cookbooks. I found this one, which I have attached and modified. The original called for all the squash to be oven roasted, but it is much faster (and cooler) to do that portion on the grill. My husband does the grilling and usually adds a seasoning and salt mix to his vegetables, so add this if you want. I made the casserole without cheese, but it would be easy to add in the last step before baking. I imagine in the taste buds in my mind that Asiago would be terrific. I have another batch of grilled squash and may test that theory today. Thanks for all your creativity!

YELLOW SQUASH CASSEROLE
•    4 lbs. yellow squash (10 medium) trimmed, halved lengthwise
•    Olive oil
•    2 medium onions chopped
•    1 green pepper, chopped
•    1 red pepper, chopped
•    7 tbsp. butter
•    Salt, pepper
•    2 1/4 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (about 4 slices)
•    1/4 cup flour
•    1 3/4 cups chicken broth
•    1 cup sour cream
•    Assorted grated cheeses, 1 to 2 cups

Grill squash halves with olive oil brushed or sprayed on cut surface. Store overnight in refrigerator, covered, and most of the excess liquid will drain off the squash. Cut into 1/4-inch slices.

Saute onion and peppers with 1 tablespoon olive oil until limp. Season with salt and pepper. Combine with prepared squash in a large bowl.

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan.  Remove from heat and add bread crumbs, tossing to combine. Spread on large baking sheet and toast in oven at 400 degrees for 5 minutes or until dry and crisp.

Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in 3-quart heavy saucepan over low heat. Whisk in flour and cook for 3 minutes, whisking constantly. Gradually whisk in stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool, whisking occasionally. Whisk in sour cream. Pour over squash mixture and stir gently until well combined.

Butter a 13-by-9-inch baking dish and sprinkle with half the bread crumbs. Spread squash mixture into dish evenly. Sprinkle with desired cheese and remaining bread crumbs. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden and bubbling.

Adapted from “Gourmet Today,” edited by Ruth Reichl.
Dear Cynthia: This sounds delicious and creamy. I might add some minced fresh herbs such as thyme or tarragon. A layer of seeded chopped tomatoes might be good, too. Thanks for helping out.

From John:
I seem to remember a recipe for pulled pork, rub and Carolina BBQ Sauce that was in the Beacon several years ago. Lost the recipe in a divorce and was wondering if the recipes were in your cookbook? I’d love to have them again.

Thanks for your help.

Dear John: I can relate. I once lost a reciprocal saw in a divorce. Not as painful as losing a barbecue recipe, but still. The recipe is indeed in my book, “Jane Snow Cooks” (available from the University of Akron Press if it still exists when you read this). An easy way to get recipes I created for the Beacon Journal is to click on the “newspapers” database on the Akron-Summit County Public Library’s website (www.akronlibrary.org). Search my byline and the recipe name or main ingredient.

About this recipe I wrote: “Let’s just get all the Texans riled up and be done with it: The best barbecue in the world is the pork barbecue produced in the back hills and piney woods of the Carolinas.

“The succulent pulled pork (pulled as in shredded, not sliced) is served in a pile or heaped on a bun and topped with coleslaw. Making this ambrosial barbecue at home was a quest of mine for years.  I finally got it down pat.”

YANKEE CAROLINA
PULLED PORK BARBECUE
•    1 pork butt roast, 4 lbs.
•    1 quart charcoal briquettes
•    4 small chunks of hickory wood
•    2 tbsp. black pepper
•    1 tbsp. salt
•    1 tbsp. paprika
•    1 tsp. dry mustard
•    1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

Bring roast to room temperature while preparing the fire. For the fire, pile the charcoal on one side of a covered grill and light. Soak the hickory chips in water. When the coals are white around the edges, combine pepper, salt, paprika, mustard and cayenne and rub it evenly over the roast.

Scatter the hickory chunks over the pile of coals (do not spread). Place grid on grill. Place roast on grid, on the side away from the coals. Cover and adjust top vents so they are one-quarter open. Bottom vents should remain fully open.

Cook pork for 4 hours, opening lid as infrequently as possible. It should not be necessary to add more coals.

Remove roast from grill and tightly seal in a double thickness of foil. Bake at 300 degrees for 3 hours, until an instant-read thermometer registers 210 degrees.

Unwrap roast and place on a cutting board. Shred the meat with a fork. Lightly dress with barbecue sauce (preferably Carolina vinegar-based), or pass the sauce at the table. Pile the meat on hamburger buns and top with coleslaw.

Makes 8 servings.

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