Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Courgettes, Courgettes, Courgettes

Our garden at La Touche is impressive and I feel obliged to further sing its praises. In the fruit department there are multiple old growth trees including three varieties of apple, two pears, and three plums. There are also a couple of fig trees, one wild that popped up of its own accord and a second that was planted in honor of my 21st birthday a few years back. Neither produce fruit but it is only a matter of time. We also have a few cherry trees scattered about the property but the birds get to them before we even spot the ripened fruit. The vegetables we harvest include potatoes, leeks, onions, carrots, haricots verts, artichokes, tomatoes, lettuces, and of course our famous courgettes de Nice. I have already devoted a significant amount of copy to these light green gems hailing from the south of France (see 7/30/09) but there are so many to eat that they keep recurring in our meals.

The problem and the joy of having a significant vegetable garden at home is that when things are in season they must be eaten and sometimes eaten in redundant surplus. For the past three or four days we have been racking our collective minds to figure out ways of cooking these tasty zucchinis and in turn eating them for almost every meal. We have had them baked in gratins, pureed into soups, steamed, and sliced into carpaccios. I have been the one in charge of dressing and/or marinating these large plates of thinly sliced courgettes. These are two examples of my handiwork, an Asian inspired circular carpaccio and an Italian style cut lengthwise. I wanted to crate a sort of East meets West dynamic between the two so I brushed the former with soy sauce, sesame oil, and purple basil and the latter with olive oil, lemon juice, and mint. Among those present at lunch I think it was a toss up between the two, some preferred the Asian flavors and others the simple Mediterranean marinade. Either way we made use of about four large courgettes which is a victory in my book.

The second salad among the many we ate for lunch on the lawn in the sunshine under the shade of a parasol consisted of golden string beans with mustard vinaigrette and purple basil. These long yellow beans are another summer vegetable that we have in excess but thankfully they are not as well adapted to our climate. They are a little less fibrous than their green cousins and have a milder flavor and less waxy skin that takes on sauces nicely. Normally we eat them with some quartered tomatoes and black olives but in this case I went with a Dijon and sherry vinaigrette with chopped basil which I had leftover from the Asian carpaccio. It was a simple and delicious summer salad that showcased the golden beans inherent flavor.

The main course of the meal was a Spanish omelet packed with onions and chorizo eaten with a green salad and crusty bread. My father and I went to one of our favorite little markets in Paris last week to buy some Spanish and Basque treats like Pata Negra, pickled sardines, and chorizo. They sell big honking pieces on long strings that are much wider and better aged than those sold in the States. I often use chorizo in omelets and scrambles, particularly my chorizo, scallion, and smoked Gouda scramble, because of its lovely color and amazing flavor. This one was a bit spicy which brought a welcomed bite to our farm raised eggs whipped with a bit of cream for richness. It was flipped halfway through cooking to crisp both sides and give the whole thing a quiche-like appearance, served in wedges right from the pot. Lunch was very tasty and the setting was stunning with a nice view of the house and the adjacent woods. We also managed to use the courgettes in a relatively new fashion and at the very least killed a few of them off. As always, I encourage you to enjoy and share delicious food and home cooked meals with yourself and others!

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