Saturday, November 1, 2008

Earthquake Weather

I went out to dodge the rain drops to harvest the Andine Cornue tomatoes. Turns out I didn't have to worry about rain though. It looks like it wants to rain, it's cloudy, breezy, and warm? It was actually colder in the house than outside. Weird weather, rain predicted, which usually means cold, and it's in the mid to high 70's all day. I even had to water! Earthquake Weather. Nah. So, I had plenty of time to pick the ripe Andine Cornues, and a handful of cherry tomatoes, and a bunch of Padron peppers. I put in three Andine Cornue plants this year. One of them was sickly all season, the other two did okay. One of the healthy plants though is producing pink tomatoes, which you might be able to see in tomtoes on the left.

Then I went back out and picked a small basketful of the other tomatoes and a couple of sorry specimens of Doux d'Espagne peppers (you can't see the totally sunburned sides in the picture below). The tomatoes are not the prettiest they can be, but they still have a lot of flavor.

There were enough tomatoes from this bunch, plus previous pickings, excluding the Andine Cornues, to make a batch of Carlo Middione's marinara sauce from his book The Food of Southern Italy. I used that in his recipe for stuffed artichokes braised in marinara sauce. The artichokes are stuffed with a mixture of breadcrumbs, Pecorino Romano, parsley, and garlic. This recipe is really easy because you don't have to dig out the hearts, you don't have to precook the artichokes, you just cut the stems and the top third of the artichoke off, pull the leaves open a bit and sprinkle the filling in. You can see the stuffed, almost ready to cook, artichokes below. The version I usually make calls for liberally drizzling them with olive oil and then cooking them in an inch or so of water with bay, pepper, and lemon. The marinara version calls for painting the top of the stuffed artichoke with beaten egg, then frying them topside down in some olive oil to brown the egg and create a cap. They are then simmered topside up in a potful of marinara sauce until tender. Very messy to eat and so yummy.

In addition to the artichokes I made Aintab Meze Salad of Green Olives, Walnuts & Pomegranates. This is a recipe that I've had my eye on for a long time. I first came across it in the San Francisco Chronicle's Food & Wine Newsletter (love it). I never got around to it during pomegranate season last year. Now that the season is in full swing again I dredged up the recipe and finally made it. It is a winner, and there is the added bonus of making something that calls for the Aleppo Peppers that I'm growing this year.

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