Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Terror Reigns For Innocent Vegetables!!

Yesterday, Monday, Februrary 5, 2007 marked a brief reign of terror. Innocent vegetables, rudely torn from Madre Tierra, were trimmed and sliced open, then plunged into a savory marinade. Then each, in a precise order, was roasted over live coals.
Susan was in charge of the roasting, and she was indeed a fierce sight, as she hacked at the coals with her wickedly curved machete.

A few days before, I'd bought eggplant, sweet red and yellow peppers, chiles Poblanos, as well as onions and medium, red potatoes in the mercado. To my amazement, grape tomatoes were on offer, at a premium price. I'd planned to cook these sooner, but the trip to Tangancícuaro came up Saturday. Our neighbors had other activities for Sunday, so it was Monday, after we hiked up on the shoulder of the mountain, that we finally sacrificed the vegetables to appease our hunger.

The marinade was a vinaigrette of fresh lime juice, white wine vinegar and a splash of balsamic vinegar; olive oil, garlic, ground red chile, basil, coarse French mustard, salt, and minced anchovies. I used about 2 1/2 cups of olive oil in all. Frequent tasting by finger dipping was necessary, seasoning to get the right balance.

I trimmed the egplants and cut them lengthwise into 1/2 inch slices. The peppers were stemmed, seeded and cut into approximately 2 inch squares. The vegetables were briefly anointed and set in a large, stainless steel baking pan, while Susan prepared the fire.

Earlier, I'd baked Rosemary and Garlic Roasted Potatoes in the kitchen oven. I seasoned them with olive oil, coarse salt, thyme, rosemary, Pimentón de la Vera, and studded it with numerous whole cloves of garlic.

The vegetables were cooked in a precise order: first, white onions, cross-cut and wrapped in aluminum foil, dripping with the marinade and a few drops of Salsa de Chile Chipotle "Cosecha Purépecha". Then the eggplant steaks, followed by the sweet and mildly hot pepper chunks. Finally, the grape tomatoes went into a perforated "stir-fry grill pan" for a quick toss over the flames.

We had no troubled consciences as we dug into the smokey, savory and crisp-tender vegetables. It was accompanied by a sourdough, rosemary foccacia.

Dessert, after a polite pause, was a fresh fruit plate of watermelon, pineapple and papaya by Geni. (You can see more of her photos of this feast here.) Then, a warm, deep-dish apple pie.

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