Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Locally Grown Feast

First, I'm sorry I haven't been posting much lately.  I've been traveling a TON, work has been crazy busy, and, to top it off, my home computer totally bit the big one.  I've been cooking some super fun stuff... just haven't had time to upload any of it.  So, hopefully, this post will be the beginning of good things to come :)

And here we go (again on my own, goin' down the only road I've ever known!)  Now that I've song-poisoned you... here we go:

I'm so sad now that my CSA season has come to a close. Because of all the travel this summer, I really missed the experience of walking to pick up my veggies every Sunday morning.  Luckily for me, my awesome roommate came to the rescue so I only had to miss 2 pick-ups all season.  However, now that its all over, I find myself hoarding winter squash and potatoes, knowing that they will store the longest and provide me with some lingering joy knowing that they were grown so close to where I live.

That said, I'll need to cook them up at some point.  I can't go hoarding them forever.  I made a delicious roasted butternut squash and ginger risotto a couple of days ago (forgot to take a picture... bad food blogger!) but had the neck of my beautiful butternut squash left, all alone, in the fridge... there are only 2 of us and that was one big squash.

Now, Boyfriend as I've mentioned, isn't the biggest squash fan.  Butternut is an easy one though because it's pretty sweet and the texture isn't as mushy as long as you don't cook it forever.  With that in mind, my first inspiration was to make a butternut and potato gratin.  I wanted to break up the sweetness and squashy-ness with some nice starchy potatoes (which I've also been hoarding).

A layer of potatoes, layer of squash, repeat.  Salt & pepper, cover with foil and bake for 30min in a 350F oven.  Uncover, pour some light cream over the top and bake uncovered for another 15min or so until the cream is thickening and bubbling.  Top with some panko and dots of butter, toss under the broiler, and done.  Easy peasy (well... more about that later... wait for it...).

As for the other part of our "local" feast.  Well, there's a nice story associated with that one.  However, I will warn you, I was recently told that my stories run a little long these days.... I think the phrase I heard all weekend was “Land the plane, Laura... Land. The. Plane”.  
I was down in the North End buying ground lamb (for euprika, see here) when on my walk back to the T I wandered across Mercato del Mare.  I’ve been to Mercato del Mare before, I love it.  Small little local seafood monger.  Most amazing owners ever (Woot Woot! Keri and Liz!!).  Ever. I popped in with a simple question, “Hey, are you guys still doing those free oyster shucking lessons on Saturday?”
Keri: “Yeah, definitely."

"Great, I'll try to make it down this weekend."

K: "Well, hey, I mean, are you busy now?”... 

“Well.... no”

K: “Well, c’mon in then!  I’ll make (name) show you how to do it”  *meanwhile, (name) is wearing a lobster on his head... fan-&*%-ing-tastic!*

“Really?!?  Awesome!”
And that’s how I learned to shuck oysters.  
Oh.... wait....
That’s not really important right now is it?  OK, here’s the important part, I felt so at-home and happy that I also bought a pound of fresh-off-the-boat bay scallops.  It was a kickass day, I got some fresh ground lamb, learned to shuck oysters, and picked up some nice local scallops.  Happy day!

My impromptu dinner was slowly coming together.  
Local scallops, seared (in butter, obv) with sweet potato gratin and a nice salad.

The scallops were unbelievably good (the butter might have had something to do with that... just a little something) and the gratin turned out significantly better than I thought since I totally burned the panko topping under the broiler because I wasn't paying attention and wine may or may not have been involved let's just leave it at that.

In fact, I believe this gratin might make an appearance on the Thanksgiving table this year....

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