Each of the seasons in the Northeast brings with it varied foods and moods. Over the weekend I made a crustless pumpkin pie which, while it tasted earthy and rich with cinnamon and nutmeg, not even the best photography could save in terms of looks.
Autumn, up until around Thanksgiving is a time of harvest, apples, cider, fields of golden corn and the smell of burning firewood, hinting at the emphatic, impending cold up ahead. Maybe because of Halloween, it seems the time of year where the rich-enchanted netherworld comes to life, governed by the harsh rules of folk magic. Fall is full of signs and portents: old carved pumpkins, darkened skies, dried leaves and a body of lore and belief. The shortened days bring with them magic in the form of earlier bedtime stories and superstitions, such as the ones I mentioned when I ventured into cooking root vegetables a few entries back, forcing me to overcome my feverishly imaginative troubles about the profound mysteries of beets.
With this on my mind, after a hurricane followed by a snow storm on Friday, which closed down some roads around New York City, I found myself longing for the levity of summer. Thus, I traded in my usual Monday night go-to salmon dish for a Thai seafood salad over fresh vegetables, cashews and bean sprout noodles. After cutting up a cucumber, basil, cilantro and mint leaves, a red bell pepper, a carrot, and grinding some fresh ginger, I made a pungent, spicy dressing using lime juice, soy sauce, fresh ginger, fish sauce, rice wine vinegar, red chili pepper and tiny bit of sugar. I then pan seared half a pound of scallops and some shrimp on high heat until golden brown on both sides. I soaked the bean sprout noodles for ten minutes and then assembled the dish: dressing atop fish, atop the vegetables and cashews, atop the bean sprout noodles. The flavor packed a powerful punch that sent me right back in time to the long dog days summer. The heat of the chili pepper was just enough to make me break a sweat. No matter. As a surprise dessert, we had Mexican chili chocolate ice cream, my favorite. I’ll save the blueberries for tomorrow. By then, I may just be ready to embrace all that fall portends. It would be much easier to embrace all that winter has to offer if the NHL would end its lockout, but that’s another story.