Sunday, July 09, 2006

I'm really trying

to use the extra bundle of thyme that Fresh Direct sent me in addition to the one I ordered. They also sent me a surprise bundle of lacinato kale, which is one of my favorite vegetables. I order from FD often and they've only messed up once before; they sent me a box of someone else's non-perishable items in addition to my complete order, and they promptly picked it up at my request. I suppose I could have kept it, but it contained a giant bottle of soda and a startling quantity of canned corn, neither of which I would ever get around to consuming. Fresh thyme and kale is a much happier mistake.

I made two things with thyme yesterday:

First, Tamasin Day-Lewis's Cheese and Thyme Scones.

Cheese and Thyme Scones no flash

I have been eyeing this recipe in my collection for a long time and I'm sorry I waited so long to try it; it's easy and fast and the scones are delicious. I made them with Wensleydale rather than cheddar; it is a cows' milk cheese with a similar texture to cheddar (somewhat crumbly and flaky). I bought half a pound of Borough Market Wensleydale and still have a nice piece left for snacking.

Second, I made something without any thyme that I have to mention because it turned out so well and only took a few minutes to make - David Lebovitz's Salt-roasted Peanuts. (Scroll down a bit for the recipe). I made these with flaky Cyprus sea salt, which Salt Traders graciously sent me as a gift after I complained about their little corks being difficult to remove. They smelled so good as they were cooking that when I closed the oven door after having stirred them, I turned around and noticed my peanut-loving little dog — who had been sleeping soundly — staring at me with an intensity that he usually reserves only for roasted chicken.

Salt-roasted Peanuts

For dinner there was Red Snapper with Angel Hair Pasta and Citrus Cream, which I made with a generous amount of thyme rather than the herbes de Provence the recipe calls for. I also used plum tomatoes that I slow-roasted with — guess what — plenty of thyme, rather than sun-dried tomatoes. I really can't bring myself to use sun-dried tomatoes and haven't used them for a couple years now; they taste good, but they are so evocative of the late-80's/early-90's for me. I wasn't cooking anything more substantial than frozen pizza in that time period, but I must have eaten too many sun-dried tomatoes in restaurants or something because I just can't deal with them now. I'm sure I'll be able to use them again one day because I've had similar phases with bell peppers and cilantro, but for now that's that.

Snapper with Citrus Cream Sauce

Other than those two substitutions — and using fresh egg pasta rather than dried, although the recipe doesn't specify, and seasoning the sauce with pinches of salt and white pepper — I followed the recipe closely. Everything tasted great but everything tasted like everything else. The fish and the pasta were excellent and so was the sauce, but mid-way through the meal it occured to me that I've never served this kind of dish, with everything on the plate flavored the same way. It's somewhat difficult to perceive that the reason the dish is unsatisfying is its monotony, because it doesn't taste monotonous; the sauce has a lovely flavor, and the contrast between the firm seared fish, crisp at the edges, and the delicate pasta is enough to further throw an unsatisfied cook off this idea. But that's the problem, and I will not again make the mistake of serving a dish in which the focus is on one taste.

(I feel like I'm overstating the "problem"; dinner was great, especially because I had incredible Valencia oranges to use in the sauce - it's just that I would have liked it better had the sauce gone only on the fish or only on the pasta, not on both).

I had two wild snapper fillets to serve two people but didn't halve the pasta or the sauce. Somehow all the pasta got eaten, but the fish and sauce did not. I specified two "6- to 8-ounce fillets" of wild snapper in my Fresh Direct order and ended up receiving two 8-ounce fillets Saturday morning, and really that's enough for four. I was able to get my guest - who went on a lengthy hike that day! - to eat another half of a fillet as a second helping but I still have a giant portion for lunch today. *And* lovely Montauk day boat scallops that I have to cook for dinner. *And* I still have a mountain of thyme.


  1. Hi. It's funny how this whole community works -- I'm a fan of David Lebovitz's blog and, reading through the comments on his latest, I found your note to him. It intrigued me, I went to Tiny Banquet, now I'm a fan.

    We lived in New York for years, now we're in San Francisco. Reading through your entries, I saw the one about soup -- I really enjoyed that, and thought you'd also enjoy this listing of mine from May:

    Thanks and keep blogging. You've got fans you didn't know you had! DAK - The Great Plotnik

  2. Thanks dak, it's great to know that I have some fans out there! Sorry for the delay in responding; I was in the hospital for some minor surgery. I will not likely be blogging about the food they served there but hope to be cooking again soon . . . .