It is summer. No two ways about it. It is humid, hot and pretty sticky outside. Florida is seeing our daily afternoon (and sometimes morning or evening) showers which just adds to the sticky feeling. Make no mistake, summer in Florida is hot, but realistically not any hotter or stickier than DC or Jersey. I loved living in those places, but when Mom would call in July or August and it was hotter there than in Florida you have to wonder why Florida gets the bad “but it is so hot there” rap. Maybe it makes people feel better to think Florida is worse in the summer, but it just isn’t. And we don’t have snow. I’ll trade hot and sticky for no snow.
The other nice thing about July is that I don’t go into work every day. Say what you want, give me grief for it, but yes, I get a month off. I do not feel guilty for it – I cram enough hours into the other eleven months that it more than makes up for it at my salary level. It is the way the system is (stupidly in my opinion, but then the powers that be never asked me) and I deal with it. But I get to experiment in the kitchen this month. And I have a list of things I want to try (including the Korma sauce that I have failed on several times thus far). This week I started out with inspiration from Robert Irvine for a vegetarian dish that just looked amazing. I say I took inspiration because I (of course) didn’t follow the recipe. After reading the reviews I decided to go with the polenta recipe I really like – substituting white onion for red, vegetable broth for chicken and eliminating the butter. I also made a basic sweet pepper sauce that I know Bob will eat instead of the coulis from the original recipe. I wanted something lighter, so I tried it.
The sauce is pretty easy – one red bell pepper, a pat of butter – simmer until the pepper begins to soften then add a half cup of water and a sprig of thyme. Cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes. Pull out the thyme, blend in a food processor then strain through a fine strainer. Thus eliminates the harsh taste of the skin while keeping the subtle flavor of the pepper. Add a dash of cream, a little salt and pepper and let thicken over a medium low heat for about ten minutes. It’s a pretty perfect sauce I think.
I did the vegetables pretty much like the original recipe said. It was pretty good, but it still wanted more sauce. The polenta really stole the show here – rich, creamy with a ton of flavor. It was so good I’m thinking about making more today.
I did try home made tahini sauce this week too. The flavor was fine, but I hate the consistency. It is not saucy enough for what I want and it doesn’t work too well in the magical cilantro sauce. But I tried, and I can use it for something, I’m sure. But for tahini – I will stick to the industrial stuff – I just like the consistency much better.