Summer Dinner

My posts on Twitter yesterday as I was cooking what I deemed the “Baitcon Widows dinner” prompted many people begging for the recipes.
See, me and two friends got together partly because our spouses are all off at this annual private party in the woods where about 100-150 of our closest friends camp out together and make a lot of ice cream.
My goal was to use up some of the stuff I got from our two farm shares. We’re in a meat CSA and a vegetable CSA, and we get veg every week! And I’m the only one here most of this week so it’s a challenge to eat it all up. And we’ve been falling behind on our meat consumption, too, meaning we have like 15 steaks to eat up in the freezer.
So, it went something like this…
A salad, made with the lovely green lettuce from the farm, plus a few sprigs of red lettuce they had sent the week before, the fresh herbs we picked at the farm a few weeks back when we visited it ourselves, persian cucumbers from Trader Joes, a radish from the farm, chives and chive flowers from the farm picking expedition, too.
But how to dress it? In my mind I was thinking Wishbone’s “Green Goddess,” which I liked a lot as a kid, but anything pre-bottled to me now tastes like ick. So here’s what I made instead:
Wasabi Cucumber Chive Goddess Dressing:
half cup chopped cucumber
2 chives from the farm
1 tablespoon white sweet onion from the farm
dollop of japanese mayonnaise
dollop of wasabi mayonnaise (or a pinch of wasabi powder)
dash of white vinegar
dash of cream to taste
Put it all in the mini-food processor and puree the hell out of it. Toss over green salad. YUM. I started making these dressings that were largely cucumber when corwin and I did the South Beach Diet a few years ago. Usually there would be some olive oil in there, too, but it didn’t feel like it needed it when I tasted it. It wanted a little bit of mellowing, but I didn’t want more mayonnaise because I wanted it to be pourably thin. So I added the dash of cream and that fixed it right up, adding both fat and a bit of smoothness.
Now, I may have mentioned ice cream. It’s a fairly classic technique to make a vanilla custard first, cool it, and then run that through your ice cream maker. Here’s what I did instead.
Honey Black Tea Rose Vanilla Ice Cream
2 cups milk
2.5 cups whipping cream
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons black tea and roses
vanilla bean
3 eggs
4 egg yolks
Honestly, I put the vanilla in there as a “backup flavor” in case the others disappeared into the cream too much. But given the teas I’ve ben drinking lately, I knew it would meld nicely.
Heat the milk in a saucepan with the split vanilla bean and a cheesecloth bag of the tea and roses soaking in it. Scrape out the vanilla “seeds” in the milk. Steep the tea in the milk for about ten minutes, then take the bag out and let it cool, then squeeze the hell out of it into the milk. Add the cream and heat until steaming.
In a separate heatproof bowl, mix the egs, egg yolks, sugar, and honey. I replaced some of the sugar in this recipe with honey (1:1 ratio on volume) thinking the honey would draw out the flowery flavor of the rose and the tea flavor. I was right. Beat with a handd mixer on medium 2 minutes until pale yellow.
Now while running the mixer, pour a cup of the milk mixture slowly into the egg mixture to temper it. All good? Go ahead and combine all the milk mixture with the egg mixture, beating until uniformly smooth, and then put it back on the heat on medium low. Add a dash of vanilla extract if you feel like it. Stir constantly while heating until mixture thickens enough to coat a spoon.
Now pour it in a bowl and chill it. Honestly, it would have been absolutely delicious just like that. The tea flavor was very prominent, while the vanilla and rose was more subtle. But given all the vanilla tea and rose tea I’ve been drinking lately, it was very nice.
Chill it down in the fridge, then put it in your ice cream maker. I only waited about 2 hours before putting it into my automated ice cream maker for 30 minutes. it was still soft, but then I poured that into bowls and put them in the freezer for 30 more minutes and it was just about perfect.
I may try a jasmine cream next. Perhaps with a touch of coconut milk replacing some of the cream? We’ll see.
I seared up two awesome pieces of meat, nothing but salt and pepper on them, in the cast iron skillet, and oil wilted/seared what looked like red chard except that it was purple (purple kale, maybe?) with sweet onions from the farm. I started that in a nonstick skillet and then after the meat came out of the cast iron, finished it in there with a dash of soy and ponzu sauce. I really liked how the seared vegetable came out but my guests found the leaves too chewy. I’m not convinced actual chard would have come out that different, but we’ll have to see what comes from the farm next week before experimenting further.
White rice for a starch, and Francie made a really fabulous peach cobbler for dessert, which we had with ice cream of course, and a lovely port that Claudia brought. We drank bordeaux with the meat and iced tea (black rose tea, of course), and it was pretty much a perfect summer dinner.

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