Monday, February 7, 2011

Scenes From A Weekend With Pennyroyal, Purple Cauliflower and a Lemonade Stand

This was a warm, Spring-like weekend, filled with all sorts of eclectic food and outdoor activities.

I suppose you could say our weekends are always eclectic when it comes to food. A mix bag of styles and tastes, which was very apparent last Saturday night when we hosted a dinner party for some friends.

I like coherence in a meal. I look for flow and harmony of ingredients and courses, but it is not always easy when sharing a kitchen with others. I have come to accept that C. and I just have completely different backgrounds, palates and food references. I come from the land where spices are rarely used, where vegetables make an entree and whole fish is simply roasted with salt, garlic and olive oil. He, on the other hand, loves bold flavors, hearty meats, anything smothered and fried. Smothered seems a good way to describe it.

So eclectic it is.

But our friends love it. They love coming over and having tortilla, pisto and ensalada mixta followed by gooey ribs and jalapeno poppers. They just do. And so Saturday night we had all that.

And then we found pennyroyal.

I believe I had pennyroyal tea once as a teenager in London. Minty and pleasant, but I never even knew what it looked like until this weekend. My mom and I walked around the West Palm Beach farmers' market. Got our eggs, purple cauliflower, pink turnips, watercress, heirloom tomatoes and before leaving, we stopped by the herb guy to see if there was anything new. And there it was, a pennyroyal plant.

"It's used as an insect repellant", he said. "Really?", I replied remembering the tea I had drunk years earlier. As soon as we left his stand, I started researching this mysterious plant and its uses. As it turns out, he was right. Pennyroyal can be used as an insect repellant, prepared as an herbal tea, as well as a delicious ice cream. So exciting.

Mom and I decided to make a light purple cauliflower soup for lunch after the over-indulgent dinner party the night before. Leeks, garlic, pink turnips and purple cauliflower cooked in vegetable broth. Perfectly soothing.

For dessert, an apple, almond and pennyroyal-scented crumble with some of the apples our friend Hilda had brought the night before as a hostess gift. She never comes empty handed.

And so there it was. A weekend of superbowl food, some Basque fare, a new ingredient and the lemonade stand.

Oh yes, the lemonade stand. The one that our neighbor Stella runs on the weekends in front of our home. She is quite the entrepreneur and J. loves helping out.

Aren't they the cutest? We might be biased.

Apple, Almond and Pennyroyal Crumble

makes 4 servings

1/2 cup (70 grams) superfine brown rice flour
3/4 cup (70 grams) almond meal
1/3 cup (70 grams) natural cane sugar
1 Tbs pennyroyal or mint, chopped
5 Tbs (70 grams) cold unsalted butter diced
4 apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 Tbs coconut palm sugar
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 tsp candied ginger, diced
1/4 cup apple juice
1 Tbs tsp pennyroyal or mint, chopped

In the food processor, combine the first five ingredients and pulse until it forms a crumbly sand. Transfer to a bowl and chill until ready to use.

Combine the rest of ingredients in a medium saucepan and cook for 5 minutes. Divide into 4 oven proof bowls and top with the crumble. Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes until filling is bubbling and the crumble is golden.

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