Monday, July 13, 2009

Beachin' and Grillin'

This weekend was our last chance to hang out at the Cape house until Labor Day! As of Saturday, its rented for the rest of the summer. I decided to take Friday off so we could head down for one last night and enjoy the (finally) beautiful weather.

Of course, Charlie was there to greet us.

Our seagull friend has become awfully bold in the 3 years he's been visiting us. He now comes right up on the deck to collect his dinner.

While my mother, grandmother and I hung out at the beach, the boys and my aunt Pam went on a fishing trip. Pam caught the biggest fish! They came home with lots of bluefish and striped bass, which we grilled up for dinner.

There are a lot of bluefish in the ocean around here, but my whole life I grew up thinking I didn't like bluefish. It gets rather strong and fishy after a few days. But this fresh caught blue straight from the ocean was delicious! We all agreed it was actually better than the striper.

On the side, I made a big salad with CSA greens, beets, and lots of goat cheese.

My mother made a caprese salad with basil, tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella.

I also had a big bag of spinach from the CSA that I cooked down into creamed spinach.

I just blanched a big bunch of spinach for 1 minute and then stirred that into a bechamel. I've been asked to explain what a bechamel is - its just a basic white sauce. You start with cooking equal parts butter and flour (a roux), then stir in warm milk and season with a pinch of nutmeg. The flour acts as a thickener so you can make a thick sauce without having to use lots of cream. Not that this sauce is light!

We also had sweet steamed corn.

For dessert, I was inspired by the beautiful blueberries I found at the farmer's market to make Smitten Kitchen's Blueberry Crumb Bars.

These were the perfect buttery combination of sweet and tart. And excellent with vanilla ice cream!

Saturday we had to leave the beach to come back to the city. But luckily we were able to bring lots of fresh fish with us! I grilled some more blue fish, knowing we didn't have a lot of time before it got fishy.

I brushed the fillets with a mixture of mayonnaise, chives, meyer lemon juice, and salt and pepper, and then grilled it with slices of meyer lemon on top. Meyer lemons are a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange, so they're sweet enough to eat with the fish after a little grilling.

On the side I used the leftover tomatoes and mozzarella, and some stale bread that was on the Cape, to make an Italian Panzanella salad. A Panzanella uses slightly stale pieces of bread that are mixed in a tomato salad with a vinegary dressing that absorbs into and softens the bread. Its a delicious and hearty summer salad.  My version had some leftover steamed corn added to it.

1 large tomato, chopped
kernels cut from 1 ear of steamed or grilled corn
1/4 of a large baguette
1 clove garlic
handful of torn basil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
red wine vinegar
salt & pepper
  • light grill and heat over medium heat
  • place shallot in a small bowl and cover with red wine vinegar.  Set aside
  • slice bread horizontally and brush with EVOO
  • grill bread cut side down until crispy and golden
  • slice garlic clove in half and rub on cut side of bread
  • cut bread into bite sized pieces and place in medium bowl
  • toss bread with corn, tomatoes, basil, and sallots
  • mix 1 Tbs red wine vinegar from shallots and 2 Tbs EVOO.  Season with salt and pepper
  • Add dressing to bread and vegetables and toss
  • Let sit for at least 1 half hour before serving
Last night I took basically the same ingredients and made a sandwich out of them. I grilled some fresh baguette with mozzarella (they got a little burnt - whoops!) and topped it with tomato, basil, and an arugula pesto I made with spicy CSA arugula. I also grilled some corn. This is the best way to eat fresh corn, in my opinion. I brush the corn with melted butter mixed with lime juice and chipotle, and grill until tender and little charred. Its even better topped with cotija cheese or queso fresco, but I didn't have any on hand.

This corn wasn't local - its Southern corn and was a little tough. But in a few weeks we'll swimming in corn from our CSA! I can't wait!

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