Mid-week dinner treat

May 14, 2015

A very pretty, and quite excellent, dinner.

A very pretty, and quite excellent, dinner.

Since I hadn’t cooked much all week, I wanted to step it up a notch last night, and work on a few new things.

So, we had roasted asparagus, squash “pasta” tossed in butter with tarragon, arepas with what I’ll call carnitas although it wasn’t, and, of course, a caprese. It was quite a mid-week treat.

Squash “pasta” is one of my favorite things to do in the summer. This was a medium zucchini and two small yellow crooknecks, shaved into ribbons with a vegetable peeler until one gets to the seedy core, which one discards. I steamed the resultant “noodles” for about five minutes, then tossed them with melted butter and some minced tarragon from the herb garden.

So simple. So easy. So good.

The asparagus had nothing done to it other than a drizzling with oil and sprinkling with sea salt, and 10 minutes in the oven, which was about the time it took to cook everything else, once I got the prep done.

The asparagus went in, and the squash noodles went on to boil while I started frying the arepas. Midway through the batch of arepas, I took the steamer basket off, dumped the water, put the squash in the pan itself, and added the butter and tarragon. Lid went on it and it went on a turned-off unit on the back of the stove, and it was time for me to flip that batch of arepas.

Arepas are easy to make, not so easy to get just….right. These were pretty close to just right, but for the fact I got the batter just a touch too thick.

I took a pint container of corn out of the freezer — next to last one from last summer! — and thawed it. Into the corn went two beaten eggs, a couple of tablespoons of melted butter, a splash of half-and-half, some salt, and enough masa harina to make a thin batter. Think just a tad past pancake batter, here. And you only want enough batter to hold the corn together and allow you to cook a soft pancake that will fold around a filling.

I could have probably done, truth be told, with one egg, a tad less milk, and half the masa. There’s a breaking point below which the arepa won’t hold together when you try to fry it, though, and I want to err on the plus side of that.

Anyway. I did about 8-inch pancakes, which I could fold over some filling. I’ve also done smaller ones, which make a nice base for something open faced, like huevos rancheros (which may, in fact, be breakfast tomorrow!), or just as a sub for cornbread.

My filling was purely and simply a twist on leftover pork tenderloin from the other night. I diced it up small, added some more honey chipotle butter, some smoked tomato jam, and some pimenton de la vera, then heated it in a saucepan on low heat.

It was a tad too sweet — will cut back on the honey-chipotle butter next time — but very good. The spicy, tangy, smoky pork played nicely with the natural sweetness of the corn. And it’s not carnitas, which are slow-cooked pork (I love boneless country-style ribs for that use, although shoulder works well, too), but I didn’t have another name for it, so that’s what I called it.

Anyway, it was a good use of my time, of which it didn’t take very much, and my summer veggies. I’ll do it again before the summer’s out, likely several times.

We shall see what time Child A gets home tonight. I have a new recipe involving asparagus I want to try out on her. And then it’ll be Friday and the day-before-Farmers-Market. We shall see what adventures THAT brings us this week.

And if you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em see fresh, local green peas anywhere, let me know.



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