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Stuffed Peppers with Melon Salsa

Right now I’m completely enthralled by the gorgeous red chili peppers from New Mexico. When I saw the mountain of peppers at the grocery store, I thought they would be perfect for melon week: heat plus sweet is a beautiful combination. An idea for Stuffed Peppers with Melon Salsa popped into my head. It feels like I’m in a grilling frenzy, trying to enjoy summer as the season fades into fall. I decided to stuff the peppers with grilled chicken and goat cheese, then grill the peppers. Oh yes I did.  So very, very good.

Grilling chicken is tricky. Too often it’s dry and charred and not nice at all. I like to grill the whole chicken leg, bone-in and skin-on. The bones and skin keep the meat moist and tender, not to mention flavorful. Get the grill nice and hot, but once the chicken is on turn the heat down to medium-low. It’s going to take about twenty minutes for the chicken legs to cook, and you don’t want to have the heat so high that the meat gets dried out.

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Storyboard: Melons

Words used to describe melons include perfumed, juicy, succulent, voluptuous, sweet, and honey flavored. A melon is one of the most sensual and tactile fruits. Smell the heady fragrance, touch the rough netted or smooth skin, taste the juicy flesh. Don’t let the summer pass you by without enjoying this beautiful fruit. If you’ve only eaten watermelon, it’s time to try something new. You’re in for a treat, as there are more varieties in grocery stores and farmers markets than ever before!

Classifying Melons

Melons come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. They are part of the gourd family (like pumpkins) as evidenced by their tough skin and numerous seeds. Melons grow on a vine that creeps over the ground and takes up a lot of space. They require a long season of warm, sunny days to produce fruit and can be harvested from late summer to early fall. According to The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion, there are two species of vines that produce melons. Watermelons come from one species and the other species produces European cantaloupe, muskmelon, and winter melon.

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Cook in the Moment: Charentais Melon with Spiced Quinoa, Yogurt, and Pistachio

Sometimes the simplest pleasure is the greatest luxury. A perfectly ripe, heavily perfumed melon with syrupy sweet nectar is something to appreciate. Have you ever tried the Charentais melon? It’s a cantaloupe from France with a reputation as the crème de la crème of melons. My good friend Carolyn brought me a Charentais from our local farmers market recently- what a gift! Its skin was smooth and pale green with beige undertones and dark green vertical stripes. I could easily hold the Charentais in the palm of my hand. It didn’t take long for a sweet, heady fragrance to fill the kitchen. Such a lovely piece of fruit deserves a starring role at the breakfast table.

Slice the Charentais melon in half and you’ll find brilliant orange flesh dripping with juice. In the recipe Charentais Melon with Spiced Quinoa, Yogurt, and Pistachio I’ve scooped out the seeds and filled the melon with a Middle Eastern inspired mixture. The quick-cooking quinoa is infused with cinnamon, cardamom, and orange flower water then spooned into the center of the Charentais melon. Top with a dollop of tangy Greek yogurt, a sprinkling of crushed pistachio and mint, and finish with a drizzle of honey.

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10 Ways Tuesday: Melons

Cantaloupe (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

I’ve got creative ideas for using melons in late summer cooking:

1.  The Italian Way

According to The Silver Spoon (the self-proclaimed bible of authentic Italian cooking), prosciutto and melon is “truly the best-loved antipasto among Italians.” This combination of sweet, perfumed melon and salty cured ham is very popular in the United States. Serve it on the porch with a glass of prosecco for a casual but elegant appetizer. If you want to kick it up a notch, The Silver Spoon includes a recipe for Spicy Bundles. Prosciutto is spread with ricotta, provolone, and paprika, then rolled up and secured with a toothpick. The bundles are served on a platter with melon balls and seasoned with fresh cracked pepper. In A Platter of Figs, David Tanis arranges figs, melon slices, and prosciutto on a platter garnished with mint leaves.

2.  Drinky Drink

I love the way the Canal House ladies describe melons: “a big juicy orb of sweet, perfumed rainwater.” In Volume No. 1, they combined puréed melon with simple syrup then serve this “melon water” in a glass topped with a shot of white rum, a squeeze of lime, and a sprig of mint. Lovely. I also like the idea from Bon Appétit (August) for Watermelon Sugar, a pitcher cocktail (easy) made with muddled watermelon, lime juice, simple syrup, and jalapeño infused smoky tequila (mezcal).

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Ingredient of the Week: Melons

Melon (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

The ingredient of the week at La Domestique is the melon. Melon season is in full swing here in Colorado. Our warm, sunny climate is well-suited to cultivating several types of melons. Local farmers are growing heirloom melons and I encourage you to explore them all. You may find a new favorite!

I’m excited to cook in the moment with you- combining melons with summer fruits and veg. We’ll explore melon varieties from the luscious orange fleshed French Charentias to sweet green honeydew melons. Tomorrow is 10 Ways Tuesday and I’ll have lots of creative ideas for cooking with melons.

This week we’re taking a break from the usual video. We’re excited to make some changes and improvements to our Monday videos, and planning to start back up with that the first Monday in September.

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Sunday Series: Gathering, It’s the little things

Last week I met a good friend for lunch at Arabesque in Boulder. This lovely little cafe on the corner of Walnut and 17th street is full of light and life. Middle Eastern inspired food is served for breakfast and lunch. Everything is made from scratch, and their homemade pitas are fresh from the oven tender and delicious. The restaurant is owned by Manal and Saib Jarrar who can be found there daily. It’s a real mom and pop shop, with family working together. Manal is a former ballet instructor (Arabesque is a classical ballet position that demonstrates great skill from a dancer). The second you walk in the door you can feel her warm and welcoming energy. She and the other women were all dressed in brightly colored dresses and looking gorgeous while working. Just being in there puts a spring in your step.

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This Past Week at La Domestique: Salt

Salt (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

This past week at La Domestique was devoted to salt. Summer is the time of year when salt plays a starring role by enhancing the flavors of fresh vegetables. We delved into artisanal salts and learned how to “salt to taste.” Recipes featured this week highlighted salts ability to elevate the flavor of other ingredients like grilled lamb or a simple sliced tomato. I enjoyed cooking in the moment with you.

In case you missed anything, I’ve got a recap for you!

Monday:  Announcing salt as the ingredient of the week in our videocast.

Tuesday:  10 Ways Tuesday! Creative ideas for cooking with salt during summer.

Wednesday:  Cook in the moment with a recipe for Grilled Lamb with Gray Sea Salt, Lavender & Sage.

Thursday:  The story behind salt: how it’s produced, where it comes from, varieties and cooking.

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Tomato & Grilled Corn Salad with Smoked Salt

Summer is slipping away. Can you feel it? The days are getting shorter. The nights are getting cooler. If I stop to really look at my garden, I can see it’s peaking. Squash are desperately reproducing while their giant green leaves wither away. Tomatoes hang heavy on the vine. Farmers market stands overflow with end of summer produce like corn and watermelons. For just a little while longer we can hold on to summer. That’s what Tomato & Grilled Corn Salad is all about- cherishing those last few moments of summer.

On my last trip to the Boulder Farmers Market I came across some fantastic heirloom tomatoes from Red Wagon Farm. Wyatt, the farmer, said it’s his best crop of tomatoes in a long time. I was impressed by the massive softball sized ones, as well as the small zebra variety(they have stripes, go figure). After grabbing some tomatoes and a few ears of peaches and cream corn from Munson’s Farm Stand, I was good to go. My plan: a sliced tomato and char-grilled corn salad.

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Storyboard: Salt

Storyboard: Salt (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

Salt

Many of us see salt as a common pantry ingredient, a necessity. We don’t think about it too much. We’re not aware of how salt is produced or who works hard all day to make sure this product is available for our dinner table. We’re not too concerned with working conditions or how salt harvesting methods affect the environment.

This week while researching salt, I had a light bulb moment.

I realized that salt can be a hand-harvested, artisanal product. Salt is no different than other products like coffee, tea, cheese, meat and poultry. Why would I strive to support small organic farms and cast a blind eye towards artisanal salts? Talk about a compartmentalized view!

After reading the book Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral, with recipes, I began to see salt through Mark Bitterman’s eyes. He writes that salt is “a natural, whole food, intimately tied to a place and a way of life.” I realized that by seeking out hand-crafted salts, we support a market of diversity, preserve traditions, and promote sustainability.

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Cook in the Moment: Gray Sea Salt & Grilled Lamb

The Food

I have something really special to share with you today! It’s a recipe, and it has changed my world a little bit. Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? I sat down at my desk to brainstorm a recipe that features salt as a very important ingredient. This was tough. Writing about salt is like writing about the universe, God, mankind. . . where do you start? It’s so big. I flipped through some cookbooks and eventually came across a recipe in the book, Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes. Mark Bitterman’s recipe for Buttermilk Leg of Lamb with the Meadow Sel Gris totally seduced me. He writes,

“We’ve domesticated the gaminess out of most everything we eat, but every time we toss a leg of lamb on the fire we grow bushy and wild, our countenance waxing fierce amid the ghostly tendrils of burning fat and smoky mountain herbs. And after we toil over the flaming coals, the table is laid, the tapers lit, the dark wine poured. Aromatic and crackling-golden on the outside; savagely, voluptuously rosy on the inside- a leg of lamb is a meal of the ages.

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About Jess

Jess O'Toole is La Domestique

Hi, I’m Jess, aka La Domestique. No matter how busy or cooking-challenged you are I can help you live the good life and enjoy fresh, healthy meals at home every day. Find out more

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