Thanks to Owen at Tomatilla, I've been "forced" to be creative in the kitchen. As if this Eat Local Challenge weren't requirement enough, I've now concocted a dish that's not only local, but uses a set list of ingredients. Called Paper Chef, this monthly event dares us to make up a dish for August using dried chillies, peaches, edible flowers, and something local.
Well, a house (and patio) full of "local" I've got, but flowers and chillies?
At first I thought of making a spicy fruit salsa, but I figured I wouldn't be the only one to do that. Rummaging through the fridge I came up with some Cowgirl Creamery clabbered cottage cheese that was nearing expiration. And suddenly I remembered that silly ladies' luncheon salad from the 50s, peach halves stuffed with cottage cheese, nestled on lettuce leaves.
That meant I could make the peaches the centerpiece, not just a topping.
I admit, I've used pluots from Sonoma in place of the peaches -- just got 'em Sunday at the farmers' market, and why waste 'em?
So: This is my salad. A bed of leaf lettuce from the patio (not quite 10 feet away), topped with sliced radishes from Star Route Farms in Bolinas (26 miles). Radishes are tossed with McEvoy olive oil (Petaluma, 20 miles) and a pinch of sea salt (France! So sue me). Atop this sits a nearly quartered, pitted pluot (maybe 30 miles), filled with above-mentioned cheese (Point Reyes Station, about 30 miles). This is sprinkled with dried, ground "paprika" -- it packs a bit of a punch -- from Happy Quail Farms in East Palo Alto (53 miles). And the crowning touch is wild fennel buds from the Mormon church parking lot across the street (hmm, 60 yards, max?).
I thought it would be a hodgepodge of flavors, but my mouth can't stop thanking me.
You're welcome, mouth.
And thanks, again, Owen.