Back when my grandma had a vegetable garden, during summer visits I enjoyed watching her come into the kitchen every morning with that day’s harvest. Sometimes there might be tomatoes and sometimes there might be greens, but there was always, always squash. Like the rising of the sun, you could always count on a batch of summer squash that needed harvesting each day.
While my grandma no longer keeps her garden, we still enjoy eating squash. And when it’s in season you’ll find it on my table in the form of Tex-Mex squash casserole, green chile squash casserole, squash enchiladas, squash slaw, and even squash pickles. But I’m always looking for new ways to use up summer squash since it’s plentiful and prolific this time of year.
The past month, I’ve taken to making squash tacos. Now, I know that might sound a little strange but hear me out. First, I take some diced yellow squash and zucchini and cook that with onion, jalapeños, garlic, and corn. I don’t cook it for too long, just enough to soften it a bit and begin to get the juices flowing. This way it still has a bit of crunch to it, which goes well with the satisfying pop of fresh, sweet corn.
After it’s ready, I take the squash and corn mixture and layer it onto a warm tortilla along with some crumbled Mexican chorizo for additional protein, though beans or bacon would work well, too. I top the squash with some creamy avocado slices, a handful of crumbled queso fresco, and a squirt of lime juice. A splash of fresh salsa is also welcome. Then I fold and eat, repeating as necessary. It’s quick, healthy, and good.
Thursday, August 18, 2016
Thursday, August 04, 2016
Last weekend I was with some friends in Dripping Springs. While I’m often in charge of planning meals, this time my friends wanted to grill, and since I haven’t done that since I moved to New York I removed myself from this particular kitchen duty and instead focused on other things such as biscuits, salad, and cobbler.
That said, even though I wasn't in charge of the grilling, I was worried about the basting sauce that was being used on the chicken. “I think it has too much sugar,” I said. “The chicken might burn!” But one of my friends told me to just let it go and have faith that the meal would turn out all right. And it did. I had no need to worry.
The reason, however, I was concerned was that I had made broiler wings the week before, and even though I marinated and basted the chicken in a salsa verde ranch dressing that had no sugar, I still needed to keep a close eye on them lest they get too dark. Though grilling and broiling are not the same and perhaps soon I can spend more time in a yard with a grill and learn more.
In any case, while we didn’t use this salsa verde ranch dressing on our chicken while we were in the Hill Country, it’s still a fine sauce that not only helps the meat stay juicy, but it also gives it a bright and spicy flavor.
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Last weekend after a family wedding, I stayed the night at my grandma’s before embarking on a long road trip across Texas. When I arrived at her farm, the house was rich with a savory aroma. “What are you cooking?” I asked. She said we were having ham and black-eyed peas for dinner. “And cornbread?” I said. She said yes, then asked me to make it.
We went into the kitchen and she pointed to a cast-iron skillet and containers of cornmeal and flour on the counter. “The buttermilk and bacon grease are in the refrigerator,” she said. Then I got to work. Before I started, however, I asked her if she had any blueberries for me to add to the cornbread. She said she didn’t unfortunately, but she was intrigued.
I explained that before arriving in Texas, I had made blueberry cornbread back in my kitchen in New York. Blueberries are in season now and I’d picked some up at the market. While I enjoy popping them in my mouth like candy, I needed to use them up before my travels and considered making muffins with my bounty. After seeing some cornmeal blueberry muffin recipes, however, I decided that baking a similar recipe in a skillet would be even better.
While I had started with my usual cornbread recipe, I added sugar to the mix and also changed the ratio of cornmeal to flour, as I wanted it to be a bit more tender and sweet. Of course, I’m one that feels sugar in cornbread is simply not done, so I was clearly breaking the rules. No matter, I was okay with making an exception in this case. Since I was shaking things up, for extra flavor I put in a bit of nutmeg and lime zest to the blueberry cornbread, too.