Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Frutas de La Primavera

On our return from our stay in the U.S. and Mexico City, we hurriedly restocked our fridge with basics, such as acelgas, zanahorias, col, cebolla, ajo, jitomates, chiles poblanos, tomates verdes, limones Persas.

The second trip to to the Pátzcuaro mercado, and I picked up more "interesting" vegetables, such as pimientos morrones de colores, berenjenas, mango petacón.

There is one stand that specializes in "legumbres exóticos". It is run by Señora Padilla and her son. It's located in the cross-street of the mercado thay eventually exits onto Calle Codallos. It's in front of a few steps and a portón that accesses the central indoor corridor of the market. Thursday is usually the best day for berenjenas (eggplants). Sometimes there are rábanos negros or rábanos o nabos Japoneses; black radishes and daikons. The latter are more common than the former.
I first made fried peppers in vinaigrette, with capers; then on return I made escalivada, roasted eggplant, onions, peppers with olive oil and vinegar. I should not neglect to mention garlic.

There are seasonal surprises, as well. Ladies outside the mercado were offering luscious, locally grown zarzamoras (blackberries), at 26 or 28 pesos a kilo. I snapped some up and quickly turned them into a cobbler. My cobbler recipe is derived from one written by Marian Cunningham in the Fannie Farmer Baking Book.

Now ciruelas are offered at 14 pesos a kilo. These are very small red plums, and they are a p.i.t.a. to pit, but worth the effort, as they have a deep, concentrated flavor of plum-ness when baked. I made them into a variant on a Plum Cake from The Joy of Cooking. The cake is essentially an inverted cobbler. A sweet dough is patted out into a deep baking dish; sweetened and lightly thickened and spiced fruit is piled on. I made a butter streusel for a topping.

I saw greengage plums yesterday, also in miniature, but they don't appeal to me. And, of course, there's the regular, Michoacán "plum", a dense, oval fruit of gold-tinged red. I haven't eaten one recently.

Two women were selling young English Peas in the pod. A modest sized bag for 10 pesos.I asked them "¿Cuantas perlitas rinde una bolsita como esta?" They told me that you eat them, pods and all, as they were young and tender. I plan to try these today. They suggest using the peas in a soup. That's a possibility, but I was also thinking of a risotto or pasta. Some fresh mint might be nice.

I was pleased to see la bonita Señorita de los pepinos at her puesto. She was looking very nice, in a Renaissance portrait sort of way, in her Spring outfit. The cucumbers, for once, were smaller instead of the grossly mature, seedy ones usually sold, but a quick glance convinced me that these were not prime quality fruits. I may look more closely today.

Yesterday there were tomates bolas, round, American type tomatoes. They went for 18 pesos a kilo. We split one for lunch. It was a bit watery and underflavored, but not too bad. I baked some Honey-Oatmeal-Bulgur Bread so we can make Bacon Lettuce and Tomato Sandwiches today.

At the Mercado Medellín in México, DF, I'd bought a nice hand of fresh ginger. When we got home, I was inspired by a post on the Stuff It! forum of the Thorny Tree Refuge site to make Ginger Beer. Not only is it super easy, it's very good. I came up with an improvement or two on the original recipe, to make a stronger, more gingery brew, using home made ginger syrup. I'm about to make it again. It's quick, easy and delicious.

I'll try to post some cobbler variations and my ginger beer recipe later. Perhaps also a Black Radish Salad or appetizer, I learned from my mother.

¡Hasta pronto y buen provecho!


Steve Cotton said...

What a great post. Well worth waiting for. I look forward to the recipes. Unfortunately, raw ingredients this far north will be hard to find. My one consolation is that local cherry season will soon be here, but not until after the small, juicy local strawberries run out.

Don Cuevas said...

Estoy agradecido que te gustó el post, Steve. I put it together more improvisedly than usual, and without the usual graphic enrichments.

I may get inspired now by your kind comments and start typing the recipes.

Hasta pronto,