Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Mandolines are the bees knees. Also, red bells!

I really don't have much going on right now, and I'm pretty hand-to-mouth with my cooking while we prepare to close on our house. I've had to divide my kitchen into sections that I can pack away and things that I will subsist on until we pack everything else.

That's beside the point though. I want to talk about my mandoline, and why it rules. I have about five hundred pounds of squash thanks to the CSA, my wife's friends, my grandpa, and anybody else who's given me very tasty and seasonal squash. I'm sort of at a loss on what to make with all of this great squash, and then I remembered I had a mandoline, so I set out to make gratin out of a few squashes.

For those who don't know, a mandoline is an inclined plane with a super sharp guillotine blade on it. You vary the thickness between one side of the plane and the blade side by fractions of an inch to get very thin slices of food very very very fast by just sliding your food item along the plane back and forth. I wasn't quite prepared for how awesome it was at slicing the hell out of squash, and I think I blacked out during the process because when I came to I was less three goose-neck squashes and there was a huge mound of potato chip thickness squash slices. Oops!

Of course, I used up every bit of it to make a gratin with asiago cheese, rosemary, and breadcrumbs. Tasted so nice I made it twice, even.

Now, what's that scorchy-lookin red bell pepper doing in this picture? Glad you asked (if you did!) Remember way back when I planted peppers? Well, my red bells matured last week, and I finally got to trim 'em and use 'em. I was excited because in my opinion its my first real bit of produce that I've grown. I don't really consider the hot peppers and herbs as the same because they're more of flavor additives. A big juicy sweet red bell is it's own zip code of importance. I wanted to have fun with it.

I made a risotto, using grease from cooking lardons to soften the onion. To that I added rosemary & mozzarella, then returned the lardons to the dish to stir. I carefully cut the tops off the peppers, de-seeded them and removed the inner ribbing, then filled them to the top with risotto. Put each pepper in a ramekin, and into a 500 degree oven for 12 minutes to get this:

The sweet bell was fantastic against both the pork and the rosemary. It was softer in parts and firmer in parts, but still all fork tender and I'd honestly put that against any bell I've bought at the store in terms of how potent the flavor was. It was very serious business.

I just wish I had more bell peppers now. I'll have to plant more later.

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