Autumn Coat 2013, oil on canvas, 18 x 18 inches
Today is sunny and warm but the forecast for the rest of the week is for cold weather, very cold, with rain and snow predicted. My garden is unruly and overgrown as I hadn’t been able to do much over the summer with my bum hand. I did put in tomato plants but a severe hail storm in June set them back. They recovered and I picked the last of them today along with a bit of basil and a handful of green beans.
Our friend Sally came for lunch last week and I decided to offer a last ode to summer. I made a zucchini soup.
This is a recipe from Deborah Madison in her marvelous Local Flavors cook book. I served the soup cold but it is equally delicious warm. There is a mystery ingredient that makes it irresistible so read on…
First, roast a couple poblanos. I do this over the open flame on my gas range but use whatever method you prefer. Peel and seed them and chop into 1/2 inch squares.
Next, cut a medium sized zucchini, about 12-16 ounces, into 1/2 inch pieces. Thinly slice a medium onion, red or yellow. Chop the stems from a bunch of cilantro into small pieces; chop and set aside the leaves.
Saute the onion, zucchini, cilantro stems, 3 tablespoons chopped parsley, 2 tablespoons chopped mint, in 3 tablespoons safflower oil until onions are tender and zucchini limp, about ten minutes.
Add the poblanos, 2 corn tortillas torn in pieces (the mystery ingredient), 5-6 cups water or chicken stock and a teaspoon of salt. Simmer until the veggies are soft then add the cilantro leaves. Cool then puree in a blender. Season to taste with salt and serve, hot or cold, with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt and a wedge of lime.
With the soup I served a farro and fresh corn salad, combining summer and fall tastes. The salad included roasted poblanos, cilantro and pine nuts. The dressing is one I frequently use with grain salads ─ juice of a lime, a finely chopped clove of garlic, a teaspoon of ground cumin, a big pinch of hot red pepper flakes, salt, olive oil.
The soup and salad were accompanied by a baguette from the St. Vrain Market (highly recommended), an assortment of cheeses and a tomato and basil salad simply dressed with salt and olive oil.
So autumn is here and my cooking begins its seasonal change. Baking has taken a turn toward recipes I associate with the cold. Lately I’ve made date bars and ginger snaps.
For the date bars, pit and chop about 20 dates, enough to make 2 cups.
Then make a batter with 2 large eggs, 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed, 1/2 cup unbleached flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir in the dates and 1 cup of broken walnuts. The dough will be stiff and thick. Spread in a buttered 8 inch square pan and bake at 325° for 25-30 minutes until firm and brown. Cool on a rack.
Makes 16-25 depending on how you cut them.
We have changed our bedding to a down comforter and turned on the furnace. Sad to see summer end with the Zweck’s farm stand now closed and my garden dry and about to be frosted. I am ready, maybe, to be inspired by autumn and winter recipes.