August 31st: good food, good wine, good weather, good dogs! A fine way to end a summer that didn’t feel much like summer at all, and probably the last chance to have meals outside. While folks across the pond enjoyed a long Labor Day weekend, we celebrated the final days of August with flavors of the season.
Left to right: Riparosso by Illuminati, cialledda fredda (cold bread salad), prosciutto crudo and melon, smoked burratina and Paul Robeson toms from the garden, and sauteed portobello mushrooms in the corner. The bread salad is a snap to make. Take stale bread, tear it into pieces and moisten with a little bit of water. Toss together with chopped tomatoes, thinly sliced red onions, sliced cucumbers, dried oregano, fresh basil and black olives. Season to taste with salt, freshly ground black pepper and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Burratina is a petite version of burrata, and this one is smoked instead of the usual plain (still excellent!) version. The smaller size presents beautifully as a single serving – look at that creamy interior!
Yes it’s MasterChef Australia to the rescue on yet another lunch al fresco. A flavorful mix of asian tastes and textures, this dish by Mindy Woods (season 4) had me wishing that I could hop on the next plane to visit my step-mom in Thailand. My knowledge of curries is limited to cookbooks so this version with litchi was a novel surprise. Even if I had to settle for canned litchi, the sweet fruit contrasted deliciously with the spicy curry. The use of duck was also new as I’ve feasted on red thai curry only with large shrimp or salmon.
The curry is accompanied with coconut rice topped with fish floss – something unheard of in all my years dabbling in the kitchen – and a list of garnishes that had to be substituted with their italian counterparts. If anyone knows where to buy vietnamese mint, kaffir lime leaves, and Thai or Holy basil in this country (seeds or plants), please point me in the right direction!
The recipe does involve a long list of ingredients to make the red curry paste so maybe it was a blessing that I couldn’t source the majority of them. Ready-made pastes are easier to find and instead of using the amount listed, I adjusted the quantity to suit our level of heat tolerance. Also, fish sauce is extremely salty, so whenever I make thai curries, I always add the dark pungent liquid and the palm sugar TO TASTE. Mindy’s recipe can be found here: Crispy Skin Duck with Fragrant Red Curry and Lychees, Thai Coconut and Fish Floss Rice
Fish floss. It’ll take some time before I lose the image of dental string, but this dried, then fried topping was delicious on the coconut rice.