Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sunday summer lunch

Saturday morning I had the most food-related fun I can remember in a while.  The Ex-Ex and I headed out to the Durham Farmers Market with a plan.  Lots of times we just roam around, but this time we had a purpose.  We were going to his parents' house in Washington, NC, the original Washington, a lovely little town on the Pamlico River, and make lunch for them the next day.  I had some vague ideas about what I wanted to make but needed to see what was for sale.  The seasonal approach, something I learned while living in Provence.
The word victuals just popped into my head, for some reason.  Do you know that word?  Have you ever watched The Beverly Hillbillies?  That word came out of Granny or Jed's mouth, I am sure.  Or was it Jethro or Ellie May?  Doesn't matter.  I have compared my family to the Clampetts more than once over the years... only we were not nouveau riche because we did not find "Texas tea" while out shooting at some food (listen to the theme song and sing along, if you wish) on our property nor did we load up the truck and move to Bever-ly.  Anyway, I googled victual.  Turns out its first known use was in the 15th century, coming to Middle English from Middle French, from Latin (as does at least 60% of our vocabulary, thanks to William the Conqueror- I will save that lesson for another day, though).  Victualis: nourishment, victualia: provisions, victus: way of living, vivere: to live.  Victuals: food or provisions, typically as prepared for consumption, according to Merriam Webster.  But I draw the line at the pronunciation given.   I have never heard it pronounced so that it rhymes with brittle or whittle.  No way.  Vic-chew-ul in the mountains and on The Hillbillies.
But I digress.  Back to the market. Revenons à nos moutons, as the French say.  Let's come back to our sheep.  (This expression comes from a French 15th century play, author unknown, called La Farce de Maître Pathelin.  I seem to be a font of knowledge today, don't I?)

It was a lovely morning, lots of vendors, lots of shoppers, Andy Magowan of Geer Street Garden, cooking up delicious smells as Chef at the Market.  We made our usual first round, checking things out, before deciding what to buy.  I wanted as much as possible to come from the market.
Honey fig goat cheese spread from Elodie Farms was a must.  My father-in-law tasted it for the first time at Thanksgiving and loved it.
Next, tomatoes and basil for a salad.  Flat River Nursery came to the rescue.
Trop belle et trop bonne, cette salade, n'est-ce pas?  A little sea salt sprinkled on, some good olive oil drizzled all over.
Roasted new potatoes with rosemary (from my garden).  Potatoes cut in half, arranged in baking dish, dotted with butter, sprinkled with sea salt, a few sprigs of fresh rosemary on top, baked at 375˚F for about 20 minutes or until potatoes test done.
We bought two eggplant from Brinkley Farms
I sliced them in thin rounds, covered them with milk and let them sit in the refrigerator overnight.  I took them out of the milk, breaded them with cornmeal, and fried them in hot olive oil.  I sprinkled a little sea salt on them after taking them out of the oil and placing them on paper towels to drain.

And, when feeding hungry mid-Westerners, there must be meat.  Sausage from Fickle Creek Farm won.  And I can't wait to tell Noah that it was a huge hit.  We grilled it on a great little truc that mother-in-law gave father-in-law for Christmas.  A Cuisinart griddler.
This lovely little appliance would be so much easier to use and clean than the cast iron truc that I put on top of the gas burners on my stove...
Father-in-law had bought bread from a local baker (really good) and I made brioche buns from a recipe in Edible Piedmont, a great little magazine I picked up at the market.  They didn't rise the way they should have.  I plan to try again tonight.  I doubled the recipe and will not do that this time.  Too much butter, I think.  It reminded me of my first days in Arles when I was determined to master orange brioche for some bizarre, still inexplicable reason.
Dessert came in the form of a peach cake made from a recipe I found in Nebraska magazine.   Sister-in-law made it while we were visiting her.  She adapted it from a strawberry-rhubarb recipe.  I decided to make this cake when I spotted the Kalawi peach stand.  They are featured in the July edition of Our State magazine.  (This month's cover, with a photo of one of their peaches, is stunning.)  So, a sort of dessert marriage was born between Nebraska and North Carolina, very apropos (being at once opportune and to the point-- a great word!), considering that four of Sunday's diners grew up in Nebraska and two in North Carolina, the families joined in 1982.  The cake was very good and even better with a little vanilla ice cream on the side!
It was very rewarding for me, as the cooker, to prepare lunch for my assembled family of eaters.  I hope to do it again soon.

Fresh Peach Coffee Cake
(adapted from a recipe by Allan and Cher Maybee of Barn A New Bed and Breakfast Scottsbluff, Nebraska)

serves 8-10

1/3 c. butter, room temperature
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. half and half
2 1/2 c. fresh peaches, peeled, quartered, and cut into chunks*

3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. butter
1 Tbsp. cinnamon**

To make the batter, cream butter and sugar, add vanilla and egg, and beat well.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add to creamed mixture alternately with half and half.  Pour into 9x13-inch dish.  Spoon in peaches.
To make the topping, combine ingredients and sprinkle on top of batter.
Bake at 350˚F for 45-55 minutes.

*The original recipe calls for 1 c. strawberries and 1 1/2 c. rhubarb instead of the peaches.
**Chili powder is used in place of cinnamon.  According to the Maybees, this was a mistake the first time, but tasted good so they kept it!

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