Monday, August 10, 2009
When Cucumbers Attack
This summer, I've gotten an abundance of cucumbers from the lovely CSA through Dragonfly Farms, and although I find the crisp vegetables refreshing (especially a slice in water), up until the last month or so, I hadn't found them interesting on a culinary level.
In order to keep up with the influx I began making cucumber sandwiches (red onion, cucumber and mascarpone cheese) or little cucumber salads (sliced, with red onion again, olive oil, a dash of red wine vinegar, salt and pepper).
Well, after looking at another bunch of cucumbers, including a very strange variety that resembled a crook-necked squash with an unfortunate STD, I was completely uninspired. God love the cucumber sandwich, but I'd had it with that shit.
Luckily, yesterday I went to go see "Julie & Julia," which I absolutely loved, and there was a comment in there about braised cucumbers. After buying two bottles of red wine (Julia does drink throughout the entire film, after all), I rushed home and looked in Grandma Frances' copy of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." Sure enough, there are a ton of cucumber recipes in there! I'd looked through damn near every book I had for some inspiration to no avail. ("Always go to Julia" is my new mantra.)
Today, I made Concombres a la Mornay - cucumbers with a jacked-up bechamel.
My husband, who loathes cucumbers, tartly remarked that if you butter and cheese the fuck out of anything, it would taste good, but this recipe was downright delicious!
First, I had to peel, seed, slice and salt the cucumbers and then allow them to drain for a couple of hours (which happened while I taught yoga at Sacred Space).
Then you bake them in a pan with butter for an hour. Meanwhile, I whipped up a bechamel, added gruyere and voila! Sauce Mornay!
Fold said cheesey-goodness into the cucumbers, top with a little bit more gruyere and broil briefly. It was downright revolutionary. The flavor combination was to die-for! I had it today alongside bruschetta topped with fontina, some lovely little tomatoes from the CSA and basil growing on the porch.
I still have Sauce Mornay left, so I might take the haricot verts and bake them in it.
After which, I'll commence lamenting the loss of my washboard abs.
C'est la vie!