Summer. Smile.

May 20, 2014

God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world, and there are greenhouse tomatoes at the Farmers’ Market.

I’ve had my first BLT, and my first caprese. Life is good.

Don't need bread. Don't need lettuce, either. Slaw and potato salad are nice extras.

Don’t need bread. Don’t need lettuce, either. Slaw and potato salad are nice extras.

One of the things I really worried about, leaving Hot Springs, was the availability of greenhouse tomatoes. An Amish family, the Stutzmanns, grew them somewhere in that part of the world, and had them at the market from late February on. And I bought them religiously.

And, lo and behold, the second weekend of the Jonesboro market, what did I find? An Amish vendor with baskets of gorgeous, glorious ripe tomatoes. Greenhouse grown. Six bucks for about three pounds, and worth every penny of it.

Homegrown basil, too.

Homegrown basil, too.

The top photo was my lunch that afternoon. The one above was my dinner that night.

Odd thing with these tomatoes. The top inch or so on the stem end, when you just cut that sliver off the top, looks like nothing in the world so much as though it’s only about half ripe. Get past that, and it’s fine. Weird. I’ve never seen that in a tomato, and I’ve sliced lots of tomatoes.

I’ll be a happy woman when the heirloom tomatoes — especially the Arkansas Travelers and the Cherokee Purples — come in, but for now, these will most assuredly do. If you ‘n y’mama ‘n ‘em are successful growing heirlooms in a greenhouse, I may go into the greenhouse tomato farming business.

 

A hymn to excess, right here on a plate.

A hymn to excess, right here on a plate.

In fact, I’m not at all sure that looking at the picture may not cause a rise in your cholesterol. This is some seriously unhealthy food, here. And despite the fact it looks sinfully good, it’s just so rich that after the first bite or two, it’s almost too much to take.

That first bite or two? That, though, is pretty freakin’ heavenly.

This is the dish that made me a regular reader of the Serious Eats blog. It’s Latkes Benedict, and it combines four things that I dearly love — latkes, pastrami, an over-easy egg, and Hollandaise sauce.

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Crazy for condiments

May 14, 2014

The next big adventure in the kitchen at Chez Brockwell is going to be condiments. Although, being that it is presently 48 degrees outside (in mid-May? Seriously? I had to bring the basil inside!), I might think about something like braised short ribs or beef stew.

But I’m enamored of the notion of condiments, in part due to the fact my Memphis Guinea Pig finally brought back a batch of jars I’d sent home with him over the years with bacon jam and other goodies in them. The other issue was a confluence of three seemingly unrelated things: I bought a smoker box to hold wood chips in the gas grill; the Farmers’ Market has greenhouse tomatoes; and today, the Commercial Appeal published a recipe for Smoked Tomato Jam.

Let me type that again, slowly. Smoked. Tomato. Jam. Are there words on the face of the planet to begin to contemplate how awesome that concept really IS? Would that make a hellacious BLT, or what? And on a burger? Just kill me now.

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Yes, that's me, digging in behind the fudge pie mountain.

Yes, that’s me, digging in behind the fudge pie mountain.

If you’re gonna splurge, you might as well do it right.

This is, I am here to assure you, doing it right.

Residents of the Greater Memphis area may recognize this as the famous Hot Fudge Pie from Westy’s, on North Main at the corner of Jackson, in downtown Memphis. Those who do not should go there as soon as possible.

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Muffins. Blueberry variety.

Muffins. Blueberry variety.

There are muffin tops, and there are muffins that are tops. These would be the latter.

OK, that was a reach. Give me a break. I’ve been working on a brochure, and my mind has turned to tapioca, and I need to think about something else.

Like muffins.

One thing everyone ought to have in their culinary repertoire is a good muffin recipe. I have two: the bran muffin recipe long detailed on the All-Bran box, which remains one of my favorites, particularly when you add diced dried figs and toasted walnuts.

And this one.

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Ahh, shrimps. Lovely little creatures, they are.

Ahh, shrimps. Lovely little creatures, they are.

I love shrimp. I’m not sure but what shrimp may be my favorite protein from the animal kingdom side of the house.

It’s a versatile critter. You can boil them up in a Cajun boil, with potatoes and corn and a chunk or three of Andouille sausage and some really good shrimp boil seasoning. You can grill ‘em. You can sauce them and put them over grits. You can bread and fry ‘em, although damned if I know why you’d want to. You can bake ‘em, you can saute’ ‘em, you can put them in a salad or on a salad or hang them on the rim of a martini glass filled with an astonishingly wonderful cocktail sauce.

I love ‘em. I’ve never tasted anything with a shrimp that I didn’t like. And want more.

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Aloha, coffee!

May 5, 2014

Snobbery IS worth it when it comes to coffee.

Snobbery IS worth it when it comes to coffee.

I am a self-proclaimed coffee snob. I just almost won’t accept a cup of coffee at someone’s home or office, unless I’m desperate for caffiene. I loathe Starbucks. (Some restaurant coffee, generally, is relatively decent, and oddly, one place I can count on getting a reasonably decent cup is at McDonald’s.)

I grind my own beans daily. I find it next to impossible to drink coffee from conventional coffee pots; I use a French press and an electric kettle to heat the water. I order the beans from Cafe Brazil in Dallas, five pounds at a time.

Or I did. I may have changed that.

Because I have discovered Kona Cloud Coffee. One hundred percent pure Kona (that would be Hawaii, y’all) coffee, estate grown, beans shipped to Jonesboro and roasted.

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