Jul 20, 2010

My Precious

No, I haven't turned into Gollum (Smeagol). I'm not delicately passing an engraved ring through my wiry fingers. But, I am hovering over my precious treasures.

26 tomato plants.

Wait...26 thriving tomato plants.

OK...26 thriving San Marzano tomato plants!

Maybe you are wondering...what the heck lady, it is the end of July. Why are you first posting about your garden NOW?

It was entirely intentional. You see, I am selfish. I didn't want you to get any good ideas from mine, and start your own San Marzano plants. Ha!

The timeframe for garden planting around here is typically Memorial Day weekend. Counting backwards per the directions on the seed packets, I started my San Marzanos about 7 weeks before they would need to make the move outdoors.

Having never started any plants indoors before, I went a little overboard. I thought "I'm sure some won't come up, so I'll just start with 30 and see where that goes. At least I will end up with a few plants to put outside." Turns out I was wrong as all 30 plants came up. Well, actually 60(ish) came up, as 2 seeds were in each mini-pot. I then had the not-so-fun job of playing Sophie's Choice with my tomatoes...which should survive? After snipping the weakest links, I committed myself to making these tomatoes the best they could be. (In case you are doing the math, I did say 26 plants, not 30, at the beginning of the post. I gave 4 to my dad :-)

I had more of an investment than just an average girl with her little plants. These babies are the star of the show at Il Ritrovo, a restaurant I posted about here. This is hands-down my favorite restaurant for many reasons, one of which is the sauce that goes on their pizza. Granted, they use DOP certified San Marzanos from Campania itself, so mine will be lacking in some respects. They don't have the soil of Mt. Vesuvius to nourish them, but instead a swampy backyard in rural Wisconsin. Regardless, I am sure proud of these plants. They are thriving and are now more of a tomato "hedge" than anything else, as I planted them much too close together and harvesting them is going to be a beast.
If the world were my oyster and I could do anything I wanted, I'd probably tear up my entire back yard for these babies. Then, I'd start a sauce company and make large vats of the delicious red sauce. I'd can it and sell it to local organic stores, and make some sweet sun-dried tomatoes for myself. But in all seriousness, I am going to make sauce with it. I've never canned before, so I will probably freeze my product and maybe sell some to people I know. We'll see what happens. Either way, don't get between this girl and her San Marzanos!

Note the above picture...the plants are now as tall as the stakes. Still flowering. They are UNSTOPPABLE!

Jul 11, 2010

Fishy fishy

Thanks to a kind co-worker, I was gifted with 4 lbs of fresh fish filets. I was extremely eager to get them home and cook them, because fish filets like this take me straight back to childhood. We took many family vacations to a lake in Minnesota when I was younger, and the catch of the day was the supper of the night. We'd normally dine on panfish, and that is exactly what my co-worker gave me. Upon inspection I saw it was blue gill and crappie, and began to salivate. Delicious! Just how should I prepare these, I wondered? I wanted almost a zero failure risk, because wasting these would just be wrong.

I went for a pretty fool-proof and delectable method-fry it! These were small filets, so I heated up 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in a frying pan to 350 degrees.

For the coating, I tried two methods on two different nights. The first time, I tried an egg wash, and then a dredge. Second time, sans egg wash. In my opinion the egg wash didn't make much of a difference, seeing as the fish are all...slimy...to begin with (I patted them with paper towel to minimize this a bit). It's up to you. For the egg wash, just beat 2-3 eggs together in a bowl.

The dredge was made with half all-purpose flour, and half corn meal (I think it adds a nice texture, and browns nicely). I seasoned it with salt, pepper, paprika, onion salt, and a lemon pepper spice mix that we had in the cabinet. This was mixed together in a pie plate so the filets could be dredged easily.

The fish filets were covered in the dredge, and placed in the oil with tongs. 1-2 minutes on each side, and they were done. We put them on a cooling rack and then paper towel, so any excess oil could drip off.

These would have made great fish sandwiches, but we just ate them plain with our favorite condiments on the side. It didn't disappoint.

Jul 1, 2010

Chelsea Market

I decided to take this blog off the shelf and blow the dust off, since it's been a month from my last post. Here are some pictures of Chelsea Market in NYC.

This is Eleni's, an adorable bake shop

"Looks good enough to eat" definitely applies!

This chowder was in The Lobster Place. It was as delicious as it sounds.

Seafood mania!

I had to get a picture by the Food Network sign.

The outside of Chelsea Market