Sunday, November 15, 2009

sunday supper: grilled sardines with fried green tomatoes and persimons

Hello! It’s been too long. I have missed you. Forgive my absence, I've been in (what the kids these days call) a k hole. I've been letting worry get the best of me. We're all in some troubled chaotic dialog about scarcity these days aren't we? Even the wealthiest of my friends are experiencing their own personal turbulence. It's just the times we live in. But there is really only so much a cancer/goat such as myself can take of that sort of seriousness. It's not really my style. Given an opportunity to slip into a pleasurable hour with friends, family or food I'll take it happily.

As I have said a few times more than many here the farmer’s market and fall foods are two of my favorite things. Yesterday morning my pals and I made our way, still on the early side of the day, to the bustling Hollywood market. We stopped at the coffee stands first. The man at the organic coffee stand scolded me about the exact ratio of milk to coffee he has established as for his blend when I asked for more almond milk. I scoffed and scowled and said I wont be back but I couldn’t help but admire him for standing his ground. These damn foodies. I get it though, I really do. We’ll have that conversation again, he and I, because I liked the coffee. But I liked it my way. With more almond milk and lots of cane sugar.

Then I found B munching on warm spinach pasty from the Jamaican booth. After sampling a bite of hers I rushed off and got myself one pronto. Spicy, hearty and a one-hand meal, it was the perfect compliment to my extortionate beverage. I wish I had one in my hand right now actually, I may have found a replacement to my traditional tamale.

After an hour or so of fondling fruits and vying for vegetables I had a single well-stocked bag of psychedelic items. Persimmons, green tomatoes, Russian kale, leeks, fresh sardines, salmon belly (two very good deals at the fish stand), cauliflower, lemons and fennel weighed my shoulder down. I grabbed a big bunch of burnt orange chrysanthemums with yellow tips on the way out. They’re exploding wildly over my dinning room table right now. Worth every penny of the $5 I spent on them - really splendid and warm.Just what I need this Monday morning.

Back home we got busy busting out an unusual and adventurous meal. It was a visually sensuous and wonderfully tactile few hours with slippery sardines, crisp fruits and the pungent smells of fennel, thyme and lemon. Everyone had to gut at least one sardine. It was kind of fun really. Really.

Grilled Fennel Stuffed Sardines

2 lbs of fresh sardines, slit down the belly, gutted and rinsed. Stuff the empty bellies of the fish with slivered fresh fennel, red onion, lemon that’s been tossed with fresh thyme, tarragon, garlic, salt & pepper. Add a few drops of olive oil if you desire but the fish has enough oil naturally to go without. Spread stuffed fishes into a fish grill cage and grill over a med/high heat about 2-3 minutes per side. Close lid to allow heat to smoke fish a bit.

Fried Green Tomatoes & Persimmons

Slice tomatoes and Hachiya persimmons in ¾” rounds, squeeze a lemon over the slices and then dunk each piece in an egg/milk mixture. Dredge both sides on a plate with sifted corn meal, spelt flour, salt, pepper and paprika. Dredge again in smooshed saltine crackers. Bring corn oil to a near boil on a med/high heat. When water that hits the oils surface sizzles drop in the coated pieces. When the underside is golden brown, almost burning, flip it over and cook about 1-2 minutes more. Remove slices and drain on a paper napkin (or better yet have a few old cloth napkins dedicated to this purpose. I should have thought of that this time!). Add a sprinkle of sea salt to them while they’re still very hot and then keep them warm in a low oven (150 or 200 degrees) until ready to eat.

These two items are plenty rich so we simply placed the fish on a bed of steamed, thinly sliced kale tossed with lemon juice and added an assortment of spicy green olives and a glass of crisp white wine to finish out the plate.It was a wonderful Sunday supper. Thanks to my friends for their inspiration and participation! xo

And remember, never leave any guest, no matter how small, no matter which seat he occupies at the table, never leave any guest hungry.