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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Decluttering the Freezer with Diana Kennedy

Still cleaning out the freezer. It's not empty by any means, but we can kind of move stuff around to see what is in there. What a concept.

Our meals have been quite luxe. Here's a sampling of what we've had since I last reported on my progress. Moroccan chicken and vegetable stew on couscous. Artichoke and mushroom sauce on pasta. Pierogi with sour cream and caramelized onions with red cabbage slaw on the side. Marcella's standby minestrone with those great parmesan rinds we got in Chicago, best souvenir EVER.

And last night, I finally made something that's been on my to-try list for a long time. The mushrooms, onion, and peppers (real poblano--love) were all roasted and in freezer bags. Instead of creme fraiche, I mixed yogurt and ricotta. Cilantro from the garden. I made beans and rice in the rice cooker for a side dish.

The only thing I bought: mix of yellow squash and zucchini, which were (yay!) on sale this week.

All I can say:  Diana Kennedy is right.

This is my all out favorite dish. Even without the cream and cheese it makes a delicious vegetable side dish and with all the rich things, served in individual gratin dishes, makes a wonderful first course or main vegetarian course. I have modified the cooking method given to me. By cooking the mushrooms separately, the flavor is intensified. The small tender clavitos (Leophyllum decastes) literally "little nails" known as Fried Chicken mushrooms in the U.S., are my preferred mushroom for this recipe, but any small, juicy mushroom may be substituted.
1 pound (450 gms) zucchini or green squash
3 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 heaped tablespoons finely chopped white onion
1 large poblano chile, charred, peeled, cleaned and cut into narrow strips
salt to taste
1/2 pound (225 gms) mushrooms (see note above) rinsed and shaken dry
1/2 cup (125 ml) loosely packed, coarsely chopped cilantro
4 ounces (115 gms) queso fresco or domestic Muenster cut into thin slices
1/2 to 3/4 cup (125-188 ml) crème fraîche
Rinse, trim and cut squash into 1/4-inch (3/4 cm) cubes. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil, add the onion and chile strips with a sprinkle of salt and cook without browning for about 1 minute. Add the squash, cover the pan and cook over a medium heat, shaking the pan from time to time to avoid sticking, until the squash is almost tender -about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, toss the mushrooms in the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil, sprinkle with salt and stir fry for about 5 minutes or until the juice that exudes has become almost gelatinous. Add to the squash. Sprinkle the top of the vegetables with the cilantro, cover with cheese and cream. Cover the pan and cook over a gentle heat for about 5 minutes until the cheese has melted.
Excerpted from My Mexico by Diana Kennedy Copyright© 1998 by Diana Kennedy. Excerpted by permission of Clarkson Potter


Shelley said...

I often think that ethnic style 'poor folks' food is the best. No death by diseases of affluence, foods in season, simple preparation. Because we eat a lot of beans / lentils (three times a week), it tends to be the meat products that pile up in the freezer...and leftover dressing from Thanksgiving; I always seem to make way too much. We're still eating our way through the freezer, though not as exotically as you - not a lot of seafood in ours and Bill whinges if I feed him too much frozen veg. Still, I can almost see the bottom layer and our food bills have been about 30% lower for months now.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Shelley--When we clean out the freezer, we start missing our beans.

Shelley said...

How funny that you miss your beans! All those die hard (pun intended) carnivores out there would have a hard time understanding that statement, I'm sure. Because we eat beans and lentils as much for health as for frugality I keep them on my menu even when we're having a freezer clear out. I'm bad about buying large bags of all sorts of beans when we visit our source - once every few years. It takes a very long time to use up those beans and lentils!