September's Bounty

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

September. The gateway to autumn (and my favorite time of year). The weather is still pretty hot, but giving way to slightly cooler nights. If you live in the country, you can smell the husks in the air at dusk.

This is the height of the growing season for corn:

and tomatoes:

For only a few more weeks, we can enjoy the ripe sweet beauty of the scarlett fruit that yeilds to so many different dishes. Tomatoes right now are at their sweetest, and it is this batch that is preferred to be dried into sun-dried tomatoes. This is the best time to make a fresh pasta sauce from scratch, with just a few light-handed touches of good salt, some garlic, and the last of your garden's can be a beautifuil thing.
Corn is at it's sweetest now too. Although its peak production is August, the corn now has a sublte sweeter flavor to it. This is the time to cut the kernals off and do a quick saute with some good butter, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Then use the cobs to make a stock for corn chowder. Throw in some pieces of perfectly poached lobster and you have one hell of a meal.
Corn and tomatoes can go together as well. Make a salad with fresh corn kernals, ripe cherry tomatoes, a drizzle of a good extra virgin olive oil and some sea salt and pepper. Add a chiffonade of basil or some bright parsley for garnish if you so desire.
My father loves corn on the cob roasted on a mesquite bbq. The mesquite gives way to a caramelization that is so tasty (a little mess on the hands), and so good. Tomato salad with fleur de sell is wonderful, and now is a great time to make Panzanella -- a quick toss of fresh tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers and basil with day-old bread in a garlic-vinaigrette. It's wonderful and one of my favorite go-to sides for a roasted chicken in the summer.
This is also a great time to make your own fresh salsa. Tomatoes, red onions, scallions, garlic, fresh cilantro and all the jalepenos or serrano peppers you can handle can make a very quick and tasty Salsa Fresca.
Whether you have your own garden or visit the farmers' market, get some corn and tomatoes these next couple of weeks for one last time. It's not the same making corn on the cob in December, and the tomatos don't taste as good in that BLT in February.
And savory every last kernal.