Part Deux, how do you do? Welcome back to the ramblings of the self-proclaimed “Brutal Gourmet”, Tony Spatafora. Our little show, Dish It Out! (DIO!) is sponsored in part by Melissa’s Produce!!! DIO! is in it’s second season and bringing comedy into the kitchen by the bushel. Our latest episode is here for your joy. Today we speak of jamming aunts. That’s not a band from Boston, it’s about inspiration in the family. Speaking of inspiration, bliss and harmony- stone fruit season continues! We have a great recipe to maximize your bounty that is perfect for summer eating, Grilled Peach Relish!!!
Growing up my aunts were a wonderful influence on me. There were a bunch of them, in different shapes and sizes. Aunts full of life & color and every last one of them an amazing cook. Focus on my Aunt Eva.
Aunt Eva was a dietitian turned home economics instructor. She raised her family to understand that food was never thrown away. You always have ingredients in the fridge for stuffed mushrooms. She frequented rummage sales, traveled the world and made the finest PICKLES. I actually inherited The Pickle Recipe from Aunt Eva and was sworn to never ever ever give it out. Her personality was so formidable in this world, I am not going to risk her ire from the next world. I have shared another pickle recipe that she gave me. It’s been remarked how Aunt Eva fancied bright lipstick. Pink. Bright pink. Her purse heavy from little sample lipsticks she would collect in her travels. And that lipstick was going to be a brand if you will, of the love she felt for you. A bright pink neon on your cheek. In the instances when Aunt Eva hadn’t seen you in a while, you just knew there was going to be a lot of love coming your way in a big pink smear. I digress.
Aunt Eva was an amazing cook, gardener and fisherman. Our visits were at a little house on the Cape that allowed her all three sports. The pickles chilled in the fridge, right near a box of bait. Her lobster pots were checked daily. The garden was always heavy with tomatoes, peppers, beans, squash, cucumbers and herbs. She grew rhubarb and made a beautiful strawberry rhubarb jelly so awesome in color and taste. Look at Aunt Eva, orchestrating farm to table mentality for the kids to learn from. There was plenty right around you to eat and create from. With a lot of effort and love, you could make plenty grow. Eva grew up with a large brood on a farm in Millis, MA. These ideals were instilled early. Thanks for sharing Aunt Eva!
I think of Aunt Eva whenever I pickle or make jam. I love pulling our her old recipe cards with the crazy side notes she’d leave. She would really jam on this recipe (you knew there’d be a pun soon) for it’s southwestern flavors. It’s from another aunt of mine, Martha Stewart. Though we are not blood related, or even properly introduced at this moment, Auntie Marty (she lets me call her this) has a simple, tasty seasonal relish recipe that’s super easy. From her Everyday Food magazine:
Grilled Peach Relish
4 peaches, quartered and pitted
1/2 medium white onion, halved
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo (seeds removed for less heat if desired)
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice (our addition)
1 teaspoon sugar
Coarse salt and ground pepper
Drizzle peaches and onion with oil and rub to coat. Fire up grill or a grill pan over high heat
Oil grates of grill with paper towel and tongs.
Grill peaches and onion until peaches get a light char and skins begin to loosen, about 10 minutes, rotating occasionally. Let cool.
Remove and discard peach skins.
Chop peaches into medium chunks and onion into smaller chunks. Combine in a bowl with remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper.
Auntie Marty recommends this relish with grilled chicken, pork or duck. We broke it in on a lamb burger and licked the dish.
For years the Portuguese Fishing community lived in peace
with the throngs (you read that right) of LGBT community that flocked to Provincetown MA. PTown, as it’s called, is the furthest point on Cape Cod. It was a haven for those wanting a peaceful life. Gays, artists and fishermen made PTown their year round home despite the cold wintry blows. It’s surrounded by water on three sides, a serene shore community fragrances with pine and jasmine. In the summer tourists cue up to take in the tonic that the beach brings.
Before tourism the Cape’s number one commerce for many years was fishing. Swordfish, lobster, bluefish and cod were in abundance. With gays, artists and fishermen is residence the food consumed in PTown has long
been incredible. Do you think any of them would eat anything but?? Portuguese cuisine is a rustic flavor trip with notes of cinnamon, spice, pepper and sweet. The families of the fishermen made great use of wonderful fresh fish and shellfish. Clam boils, roasted fish and amazing soups had wonderful earthy notes that tucked the appetite away, wrapped in a soulful way. Portuguese seafood chowder can be found on almost every menu in restaurants that line Route 6 all the way to the heart of PTown. Important elements of the soup were fresh shellfish and or fish, delicious broth flavored with saffron garlic and herbs, kale, potatoes, and spicy chorizo sausage. It was a great opportunity to clean out the fridge of leftover veggies. The magical broth and seafood bounty were a great welcome to the table.
Recently DIO! Producer Michael Vinton (Michael’s Funny Or Die Rihanna Parody here)
had a birthday that gathered his nears and dears. Family flew in to Los Angeles and guests were invited to #ComeHungry as you can imagine. A great New England Shore Dinner was planned to feed the thirty coming to celebrate the arrival of Michael’s next decade. His Mom and I rocked CostCo for the bounty needed. It being Easter Weekend, you can imagine the crowds. A late-hour snafu was discovered as the 32 gallon fryer/steamer was not going to participate in the ‘great New England Shore Dinner’. Normally the machine performs admirably, but it seems to be holding onto a grudge since Thanksgiving. With guests two hours away, a mad dash was made to assemble dinner IN BATCHES in three stock pots, keeping the catch warm in cater trays in the stove. Of course this led to some shellfish overcooking (Thanks Eric, we heard you) and a thirty minute delay for serving but all in all dinner was amazing for all to pick at.
So, why are we telling you this? Well there were bound to be leftovers. There is seldom an event that the food was plentiful and delicious. Plentiful leftovers and what was to make of our catch???? Of course the natural thing to be done was Portuguese Seafood Chowder (PSFC) A fair amount of the Shore Dinner Broth was reserved. Extra Manila clams were steamed in sautéed leeks, celery and bay leaf with the magic broth. Then came the separating the clam from their shells. EVERYONE INTO THE POOL!!!! Leftover potatoes, corn, artichokes, asparagus hopped in. Next came sausage, andouille in this case. My inner Cajun falls out on occasion, deal with it. In went fresh kale to keep it from going to mush. Finally cracked lobster claws and knuckles and shrimpies. The end result was epic, and had to be mobilized to good homes.
This PSFC may be an episode one day on the show,
but for now we hope this post inspires your love for seafood, kale, purple potatoes and Portuguese food. It’s a recipe of inclusiveness, everyone’s welcome in the bowl.
Much like PTown at the end of Cape Cod.
So I have a passion, a passion for the pickle. The snap, the sour I can crave by the hour. I love them sweet by way of the Bread & Butter. I love them sour with a Kosher flutter. I can’t get my fill of Dill. Garlic, chili peppers, clove however they’re done up, I’m smitten. I go to Umami Burger here in Studio City not for the meat of the matter, but for their well healed pickle plate (platter, and I’m done). It usually has a sampling of veggies in different brines. Some are sweet and some are very spicy. I’m devoted to the crimini mushrooms they serve. I could do a whole plate and forget my parmesan fricco, roasted tomato catsup smothered UmamiBurger. I love the stuff. It started early….
It started early one morning in Cape Cod. There were always smells that were crazy in the kitchen of that beach house. We congregated with my Mom’s family seldom in the year, usually in the summer. And it was a big recipe fest of my Russian heritage. This particular morning Aunt Eva was making her world famous pickles. She boiled her brine, and dressed up some mason jars stuffed with cucumbers from her garden. (There will be much more on Aunt Eva later on in DIO, we may have to have a season devoted to arts learned at the feet of some amazing women) These pickles made in the am, were ready in the pm for dinner. What?? This blew my little mind! Doesn’t there have to be some large vat of water, jar tongs, goggles and smithy aprons to complete canning and or pickling? Little House made it look very hard, so much so that the men cleared out of the cabin for safety’s sake (theirs). “Instant” pickles??? Eva, you got some ‘splainin’ to do. She assured me they would be, swung open the fridge and retrieved a jar from her last batch. She fed me the last one, raised her painted eyebrows towards me making remember the flavor. Happy Dance. Aunt Eva’s pickles are some of the best. Pulling a tiny bright pink sample lipstick, she adorned. She grabbed her macrame car key chain, her purse and several coffee cans that were each strung with old bathrobe belts and made for the door. Sun was getting high and she was going to get to
pick some blueberries before lunch. So I learned what can make you pucker, quick pickles and mini lipsticks.
The sights and smells of Marion MA are with me to this day. Aunt Eva entrusted me with the famous recipe. I try to make it whenever I’m in that kitchen. As far as I know I’m the only one that has it, as she swore me a blood oath not to share it. A cousin looked over her shoulder at Eva’s funeral and said, “I guess I’ll be getting that recipe now….”. No, I don’t think so. Humor me here. Eva’s range supersedes the Great Beyond. The moment I pass that recipe I have a feeling I”ll be run over by a blueberry farmer’s truck or something. It’s serious. She was serious. I can’t disappoint. I do however have another recipe that she shared that I’ll give you here today. She gave me so many great recipes and seeing her commentary at the top makes me smile.
Our next episode is entitled FOY, SOY AND A VEGGIE PO’ BOY! The recipe features Vietnamese Banh Mi, a sandwich with a desired protein, pickled veggies, lime, chilis and cilantro. Some of my new favorite flavors as my adult palate progresses. It also features the very beautiful and talented Miss Colleen Foy, more on her soon. Here’s her IMDB (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2460445/). The veggie po boy could be made with barbecue or protein of choice. We’re making ours with a fantastic marinated tofu with some quick pickled cucumbers, carrots, Julienne onions and maybe some daikon. We’ve got a really simple marinade for the tofu that can be re-used in Rockstar fashion so that there’s little waste and you can start your next batch right there. We’ve a simple technique for making a quick pick that speeds Aunt Eva’s up several bytes. It’s amazing how a little marinade or pickling can change the dispositions of even the most obstinate of flavors. Actually, I had another aunt who was quite successful in changing her husband’s demeanor through pickling. I digress.
Episode 7; is in the hands of Editing, it’s marinade as we speak. We’re very proud of the flavors we’re bringing you and the company that we’re bringing ’em with. That’s what we want here at DIO is for you to make the most of your time in the kitchen, with those important around you. That’s our pickle, and we’re sticking to it.
For each quart:
2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup white vinegar
3 tbsp Kosher salt
(just heat above to boiling point to dissolve salt)
In each quart jar add:
3 tbsp pickling spices
3-4 cloves garlic
2 pieces of chili peppers
Fill jar with small green tomatoes or slice green tomatoes, made in morning can be ready for supper
PS: At said Cape house the new generation is learning the sharing of time and food under one roof. This is very exciting to watch. It’s cool to see them bringing to the table and smiling as they go. To take them blueberry picking and such. Well, sometimes there’s not enough room in the house. Not enough for personal and mental space. We flee. We retreat to the wooden deck that surrounds the house. Wooden. Deck. Beach house. Wooden. What I’m getting at? Wood by the ocean dries and well… one of my GD’s (goddaughters) was dragging her foot along the deck and gave herself one terrible splinter. Oh, it was awful, the crying. But a rite of passage, we’d all been there one form or another (mine deals with a large shrub of Beach Roses, not once but twice) But in the little angels pain she couldn’t say splinter, she may have confused pricker with splinter and the result became that she had a ‘tewwible pickle’. “Pickle”? Pickle. Pickle stuck that summer, so many ago and will continue to steep in my heart for days to come.