Best Meals of the Month

The dishes I will remember most from July include:

  • my sourdough bread
  • octopus
  • Portuguese Ventresca tuna from Luças
  • the vegetable bounty of our summertime

Sourdough

Recently my Tartine-style breads have been quite good, and I’ve settled on a recipe for the dough which is now 20% whole wheat.  Also, small amounts of Spelt in the mix seems to add considerable ‘extensibility’ to the dough, making it much easier to do ‘stretching and folding’ during the development phase.  The result is a well-formed loaf when it’s baked.

I now make one boule and one batard, giving me some variation in shapes each time.  Rather than split the dough 50/50, I make the batard with ~40% of the dough and the boule with 60%.  That way the batard fits better in my oval Le Creuset Dutch oven, and my custom-made ceramic breadpot from Judy Motzkin easily handles the large boule.

Octopus

Now that Harold McGee taught me how to cook octopus simply, I can enjoy it when I want, and in small quantities, too, because my fish market will sell me as many or as few tentacles as I want.  Last week I did just 3 tentacles from a 4-lb. octopus, and it provided several excellent dishes — pulpo al la gallega, and a variety of octopus salads, for example.

Ventresca

Another of my seafood passions is Ventresca tuna.  According to Google: “often considered ‘foie gras of tuna fish’, Ventresca, also known as Belly Tuna, is a tender and flavorful hand cut fillet that is packed by hand in easy to open cans.”

Last summer when I was in Porto, Portugal, I bought a can that was incredibly good — and reasonably priced, as well.  Here is a photo of that can:

I searched high and low on the internet to buy more of it, but was unable to locate any.  Then I decided to explore it with the management of Portugalia, a market with all things Portuguese, less than 2 hours’ drive from my home.  It took a few months, but they were able to import it, and they delivered!  I recently placed two large orders, and now am ready for a meal with delicious tuna on a moment’s notice.  With some of my bread grilled, sliced lightly-pickled red onions, plum tomato fillets, fresh basil from the garden and several glugs of smooth Portuguese olive oil, lunch is on the table in 10 minutes.

Vegetables

Vegetables are still the main elements in our food.  July highlights included a Zucchini-Tomato Gratin from Patricia Wells, homegrown microgreens from Hamama, flavorful plates featuring beets, and a pasta dish with zucchini, carrots and tomatoes.

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