So here’s the thing – I only cooked the second recipe from my chosen cookbook, Georgeanne Brennan’s Potager, just tonight. For most of September I was either out of town, or coping with the fallout of going out of town (and having my computer and camera and pretty much everything stolen grr). I might have even lost the pictures from the first recipe along with the camera – but fortunately I back everything up with an online service, and I’d already moved those pictures onto my computer. ….If I could figure out how to get my backup back.
But, long story short, I’ve gotten a new camera and I sorted out the backup, the end, let’s see what I ate.
The first thing I made was the “Sauteed Garlic, Red Peppers, Chicory, Chard and Spinach on White Cheddar Polenta.” Which I picked because I’d just gotten a bunch of chard from my CSA. But then, as I read through the recipe, I realized – it was sauteed greens, on a bed of cornmeal mixed with cheese.
People, that’s cheese grits. Cheese grits with greens. Don’t know what a Southern recipe was doing in a French cookbook, but…who cares.
And it was extremely easy. Just chopping up a couple red peppers and a bunch of chard and spinach up real well…
…And then sauteeing it. In the back there you can see the pot with the gri- er, polenta cooking.
The greens and peppers and polenta took a while to cook, which gave me time to grate up some cheese. Mmm.
Meanwhile the greens cooked down more…
Meanwhile the polenta finished cooking and got impregnated with cheese, and doled into a bowl. It sat all pristine waiting for the greens.
And when the greens were done, I put them on top, and that was that.
I think I heated up a sausage to go with it or something, but really, it was cheese grits and greens and that’s a good thing no matter what.
Tonight, I finally made the second recipe (picture will be forthcoming) – a salt cod gratin. I’ve always meant to try to work with salt cod – it’s a cheap source of protein, and friendly to my using only one bit of it and leaving the rest in the fridge. The problem is that all the fish recipes I know call for fresh fish, and I grew up in New England and so am used to really fresh fish, much fresher than you can get here. So I tend to avoid it. But with salt cod…you sort of know what you’re getting into. (Setting aside the fact that here, what you get in the packages is salt pollock instead – but at least the package says that.)
Because I’ve usually worked with super-fresh fish, I’ve also usually given it very straightforward treatments – broiling, seasoning with a little lemon, maybe chopping it up in a soup. Maybe fry it. One thing I’ve not done is put cheese on it. But y’all, the cheese treatment works in this case. This recipe was a pretty straightforward gratin recipe – cooking up the fillets, flaking it up with some sauteed leeks, then mixing it into a sauce made of a roux and Comte cheese with a little cayenne pepper, then baking it. I rounded dinner tonight out with some simple green beans and a sweet potato soup I’d made earlier today, and – only just now, while I’m digesting it, do I realize “wait…I just put cheese on fish.”
Cheese on fish – who knew?
So. I am kind of torn about which cookbook I’m going to go with for October – I’ve narrowed it down to two choices. I’m open to suggestions, and I’ll decide in a couple days.
- I’d initially planned on Brooke Dojny’s New England Cookbook. The weather is getting autumnal (finally!) and that always gives me nostalgic flashbacks to my New England childhood. There’s still a wealth of things in here that I haven’t ever tried, though, mixed in with familiar foods – things I still recognize as unquestionably New England. However –
- There’s also a little booklet I picked up from one of the “Free Books!” boxes that people in New York are always putting out on their stoops when they clean house; a little booklet of British recipes put out by Canadian Living Magazine, as part of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee a few years back. A lot of the recipes seem to be some kind of variant on meat pie, and since A is out of town I have a bit more leeway to experiment with dough in the house now. I know meat pies seem pretty prosaic, but with a couple of very distinct exceptions, they’re new territory for me.
So – I am deciding between old England and New. I’ll decide in a couple days, and if anyone has an idea…lemme know.