Wednesday, May 23, 2007

And Knowing's Half the Battle: You schooled me, now I squash you

Okay, so you edumacated me big time. Thanks for the cherry tomato suggestion. I did slice them in half for a salad (next post!), although I have to admit that I kind of like squishing them whole in my mouth. Does that make me a slob?

On the
pattypan vs. sunburst squash issue, it's a tricky one. The answer to your question of whether that's a pattypan or sunburst in your crisper is, "Yes."

Here's what my convoluted Internet trail-blazing led me to:
The sunburst squash is a kind of pattypan, pattypan being marked by its flying-saucer shape with scalloped edges and sunburst being a yellow variety of pattypan.

com's entry for pattypan identifies the pattypan's color as white, or greenish-white. If you want a more official aggie site, the UK's Royal Horticultural Society calls the sunburst the best variety of "Patty Pan" (they separate the two words, but I think they're kind of jolly squished together and in all lower-case letters). Also, they associate the pattypan with winter squash, which is perplexing:
"The Patty Pan types of winter squash, all of which can be left to develop and mature for winter storage, seemed to work particularly well when harvested young. The fruits are not unlike flying saucers with flat, round fruits and wavy edges. Undoubtedly the best of these was the cultivar ‘Sunburst’ which produced many small, bright yellow fruits."
My last source, The Cook's Thesaurus, lists pattypan (one word!) as part of the family of summer squash. Summer squash is distinguished from winter by the fact that you can eat it entire, seeds, rind, and all. I think I'll side with the Cook's Thesaurus over those British blue-bloods on calling the pattypan a summer squash. They also give a nod to the sunburst, "There are green and yellow varieties; yellow ones are sometimes called sunburst squash."

I first heard the term "
pattypan" from The Naked Chef, Jamie Oliver. He uses them in a delicious Food Network recipe for couscous with grilled summer vegetables that I like to make for potlucks or big groups of people.

[Insert cringe-worthy pun involving "squash" here, i.e. "I hope I squashed that question," or "Sure ran that one through the squashing machine," etc.]

Monday, May 14, 2007

crisper wars

The contents of my veg drawer are unconventional, and over one week old. Nonetheless, some weird vegetable educatin's gonna happen.

Pictured at left:

- 1 rhubarb baton, fuschia. I diced up its mate to use as a fennel substitute in a green lentil salad with carrots, lemon, thyme and feta. If fennel is sweet licorice celery, then rhubarb is thick-skinned, lemon-infused celery.

- 1 baggie of stinging nettles, upper right corner. To be (carefully) plucked from stems, sauteed with garlic and spread on pizza crust. More to come.

- 1/2 a red onion that was cheap, giant and gorgeous. Purchased from the Balakian Farms stand at the Ferry Plaza FM.

- An assortment of squashlets. The yellow guy is either a pattypan or a sunburst -- find out for me? Either way, they will all soon be grated to shreds, sauteed with a little garlic and salt, and tossed with penne and parmesan and basil.

Think you've learnt some stuff yet?

As for your cherry tom dilemma, whatever you do, slice those things in half! Quarter them if you have the patience. I say I'm an adventurous eater, but I cringe at the thought of biting into one left intact and feeling seeds ooze between my teeth. Shiver.

An idea:

- Halve the tomatoes, slide them onto a cookie sheet with olive oil, garlic, s & p, and broil for less than 5 mins. When they look juicy and blistery (and before the garlic blackens), remove from oven and combine with hot pasta and fresh arugula.

Report back.

What up veggie mate?

Hey Erin! Thanks for letting me weasel my way onto your food blog. It's just like at the farmers' market when I follow you around and ask you what everything is, then buy what you buy. I'm looking forward to a flavorful, nutrient-rich dialogue. Let's boogie!

I have no weird vegetable activity to report yet, unless you count the color of the celery wilting in my crisper. I also have some cherry tomatoes and baby carrots that look like dry gnome fingers. I promise to pick up something new and exciting this weekend at the farmers' market.

Do you have any ideas for what to do with cherry tomatoes?