Move Over Mary Poppins!

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Traditional Fourth of July Dinner... on the Second?

La Famille MoMP is headed south (to Rhode Island, but doesn't "south" sound more romantic?)for the fourth, and will not be visiting with Gramma and Grampa (who usually provide my fresh English peas fix for the year) for the traditional New England Independence Day Meal, so I needed to take care of business myself. With that in mind this past weekend, I bought fresh, local peas, strawberries, salmon, cream... it was a pricey blissful shopping trip.

When Felix & I got home from R's Brit Milah, I hit the kitchen to shell the peas. This was a job my mother and I often did together (or at least that's how I remember it; she might say differently), and now, doing it in my own kitchen, with Felix watching from his Saucer, it gave me a feeling of continuity that I wasn't even looking for when I planned this dinner. Food sneaks up on me like that. I get the same feeling from making my mother's spaghetti sauce and her mac 'n cheese. She never really taught me a recipe in one setting, she more showed me her techniques (or made me do it myself. who knew? chores really do make you learn stuff!). And even with my fancy culinary certificate, I still rely on a lot of her recipes to actually feed my family these days.

The peas looked gorgeous. I was almost tempted to leave them raw. The truth is, I love them raw. They're crunchy and bright tasting. Even my finicky five year old niece loves raw peas. When Mom takes her to the farm stand near their house, she always buys extra peas and lets Rylee carry the bag with her in the car, so she can snack on the peas. How could you not love these gorgeous babies? But for my purposes tonight they were best served cooked al dente in salted water. No butter, no fresh mint, no nonsense. Just perfect little legumes. But I digress. A. Lot.

After the peas were shucked, it was time to whip up shortcakes. Bisquick made short ooh hoo I said short! work of the pastry. That, and my dough whisk from the lovely folks at King Arthur Flour. It's perfect for blanding short doughs and batters without overworking them. I highly recommend one. I also have this superstition that doughs taste better in my great grandmother's bowl. So, there's that as well.

While the cakes were in the oven, I rubbed the fish to give it a head start. I seasoned the board with salt, fresh ground black pepper and chopped dried rosemary, lightly oiled the salmon with olive oil, then rolled the fish in the rub, patting it into a crust. For the record, this, too, is a divergence from the meal of my youth. Mom used to smear the fish with mayonnaise and rosemary when I was much younger. That practice stopped years ago, but I do remember the days! Given my dad's heart, I don't think we'll ever see those days again. Which is probably for the best.

I set that aside, and sliced some fresh strawberries, tossing them with a tablespoon of sugar to macerate. They looked awful pretty in their bowl. I maybe snacked on a few. In hindsight, I should have done this step first, and given them a little smashy smash with the spoon to get them all syrupy, but hindsight is always 20/20 and all that. They were still pretty damn tasty. Especially with shortcakes drool and whipped cream drool.

Next, potatoes in a salty pot of water, because growing up, salt potatoes were always part of the feast. This, so far as I know, is owing to the fact that my mom's best friend from college, with whose family we were all very close in my youth, was from the Syracuse region of Upstate, and my mom developed a taste for them. I didn't find proper salt potatoes, but these were good enough. I think it's the butter that makes them yummy, after all.

The fish came off the grill with gorgeous crispy skin, and was cooked perfectly(of course, my first love is raw sashimi grade salmon on a cold plate, but that's a different meal), a rare treat, since grilled fish has never been my strong suit. Look at that crusty crust. Mmmmm

While all this was going on, the shortcakes came out of the oven, looking lovely, save for the crispy bottoms. Perfect for Mark, who likes crusty brown bits on things, but I prefer a more tender shortcake experience. With candles, and wine, and maybe a snuggle.

We plated up dinner, and the rest was history. Pretty much literally. There was gluttony here. In fact, we usually save a seat for Gluttony here our family table. The he gets to sleep it off on our couch while we watch a movie. We have lovely manners, don't we?

Dessert was the perfect end to such indulgence. Don't you think?

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Blogger Pete said...

Mmmm.... Yummy looking...

7/5/08, 11:06 AM  

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