And Back to the Food . . .

Dollops of a few different veggie salads were combined with old bread for an Italian peasant feast of panzanella (bread salad), stuffed grape leaves and ricotta salata.

'Tis the season for Cherry Blossom macaroons from Takahachi Bakery. Thanks, Miki!!

Heirloom rice from South Carolina has the scent and flavor of a native basmati.
Many South Indian dishes begin with these ingredients - curry leaves, onions, garlic, ginger and green chilies. Above we're beginning our Green Chile Chicken (recipe below).

Green Chili Chicken, Basmati, Moong Dal, Yellow Squash with Cumin Seeds, Salad with wheat berry sprouts. Here's our recipe for Green Chili Chicken, a recipe from the Jewish community in Cochin where it would typically be served with plain rice and a salad for Shabbat dinner. We begin with around 2 lbs, more or less, of boned and skinless chicken thighs. Cut into 2" pieces and remove any excess fat if that sort of things bothers you. Over a medium flame heat about 2 T. of vegetable oil in a Dutch oven or large, deep skillet. When the oil is very hot add 12 curry leaves (remember, these should always be ziplocked in your freezer - if you don't have toss in 2 bay leaves) and, a few seconds later, 2 cups thinly sliced onions, 7 cloves of minced garlic, 2 T. grated or minced ginger and 5 sliced small green chilies. Stir and fry until the onions just begin to lightly brown and then add 2 small chopped tomatoes. Cook for 4 more minutes before adding 3/4 t. turmeric and 1/2 t. cayenne pepper. Put in the chicken along with 1 t. salt. Add 1 cup of water, reduce heat to low, cover pan and simmer for 20 minutes. You may need to check once to make sure nothing's burning or sticking. Now add 3-5 more small green chilies (slivered), remove lid, and also add 1-2 t. tamarind paste or concentrate (or equal amount of lemon juice if tamarind isn't handy). Cook at a gentle simmer for at least 10 more minutes or until the sauce thickens a bit. Serve warm or hot with chopped cilantro as a garnish. You may need to add more salt, or if the dish is too sour for your tastes, feel free to add 1-2 t. sugar at end of cooking.

Cooking yellow crookneck squash to a sweet, melting consistency is a classic Southern technique. Cafe Drake HRV furthers our Indian-Southern fusion cuisine experiments with this preparation of summer squash: start with quartering lengthwise 2 medium sized zucchini and 2 yellow crookneck squash of roughly the same size. Now chop the quarters into 1" chunks and set aside. Heat 2 T. olive oil and 2 T. butter in a large skillet over medium heat until the butter has melted. When all is hot toss in a very large "pinch" of asafetida/hing and 1 t. cumin seeds. A few seconds later add the squash/zucchini and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Pour in 1/4 cup water, 1 t. salt, 2 t. sugar and at least 1/4 t. cayenne pepper. Stir well, bring to a simmer, lower heat a bit, partially cover skillet and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and squash is becoming very soft. Serve warm. Note: no asafetida in spice pantry right now? A poor but acceptable substitute would be 1 T. grated onion and 1 clove of minced garlic.

Leftover green chili chicken with salad, garden herbs and wheat berry sprouts.

Cafe Drake HRV invented our recipe for Middle Eastern Meatballs with Wide Noodles and Yogurt Sauce back in the '90s. Still satisfying today in our modern incarnation, which swaps out lamb or beef for ground turkey and includes pine nuts for garnish.

There's never many leftover Middle Eastern Meatballs so we supplemented lunch a few days with stuffed grape leaves, pickles and green salad.

Nothing screams the start of Summer like an omnipresent pitcher of iced tea on the counter. Garden infusions at the moment include lavender, mint and shiso. If you're making sweet tea try throwing in a few sprigs of tarragon while your tea brews. Sip with plenty of lemon and spike with gin as desired/required.


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