Saturday, August 21, 2010
Bad publicity once made tomatoes and cucumbers distasteful to fearful Europeans. The former was said to be poisonous and the latter "fit for consumption by cows only." Samuel Johnson once said that "A cucumber should be well sliced, and dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out, as good for nothing.” Nevertheless, today's gardeners love these slandered vegetables. In my case, they are the only ones I have been able to coax from my container garden. The cucumbers must have come from a ten-cent package I got at a discount store. They are frighteningly prickly and far from handsome. Once peeled, however, they are perfectly acceptable. The prickliness identifies them as pickling cucumbers--slicing cucumbers are smooth and uniformly green.
So far my harvest has been so modest, pickling is out of the question. besides, I prefer cornichons, the best of which, in my opinion, come from Poland. My paltry supply of fresh cucumbers will do for salads and all I need to do is choose between various recipes. Rose Martha Rose Shulman's Persian salad recipe calls for the addition of radishes, tomatoes and a dressing made from lime juice, olive oil and garlic. A mix of cottage cheese and Greek yogurt is all that is required for her Creamy Cucumber salad.
Soup is my alternative to salads although my attempt to duplicate a Brazilian recipe made with maxixe, (Cucumis sativa) was not a great success. Northeast Brazilians cook maxixes in milk to which they add butter and queijo de coalho, a cheese I replaced with mozzarella. next I will try Fannie Farmer's Chilled Cucumber Soup and Emeril Lagasse's more elaborate version with green peppers, jalapenos, dil,l coriander and mint. An addition of shrimp should make Fannie Farmer's soup a good meal for Meatless Monday. Then, there is always green gazpacho. Let the cows try to fight me for it.