Seasonal Plot Twist.

I have piles upon piles of tomatoes, peppers and eggplant sitting in my house. But due to a cursed nightshade allergy that gets worse during ragweed season, I ignored all of my garden, gift and CSA tomatoes this past Friday and plummeted straight into an autumn menu for a drive-in movie and picnic date with Baseball Boy. We would see a double header (of the non-baseball sort) and eat the savory flavors I’ve been craving for months. All sans tomatoes.

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My menu was simple: Toasted Gruyère, Golden Onion and Apple Sandwiches, Roasted Sweet Potato Rounds with Garlic Oil and Sage, store-bought chips and an apple tart.

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The sandwich recipe, from a March 1995 copy of Gourmet, required me to use my broiler, an act that I’ve never done before. Luckily, Ms. Laddan was around to tell me that the broiler simply heats my oven in a stronger fashion and stopped me from sliding my bread into the drawer beneath my oven.

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The result was a lovely sandwich, singing with the flavors of rosemary (from my garden), sweet onion, apples and the best (and, unfortunately the most expensive) Gruyère I could find. I wrapped the sandwiches in foil, hoping that they’d stay warm until we got to the movie.

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The sweet potato recipe – another Epicurious-related Gourmet find – called for fried sage. The experience of frying sage opened up a new culinary world for me. Savory, crispy, and slightly forbidden, the sage was a perfect match for the garlic-enveloped roasted sweet potatoes. Unfortunately, I had no way to keep this dish warm for the ride, so by the time we consumed it (while sitting in an open hatchback), it wasn’t in its best form.

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The movies, Sorority Row , a horror flick with gratuitous shower scenes and District 9, social commentary mixed with an alien invasion, were, to me, less interesting than the food and the atmosphere. The real drama, of course, is what I’m going to do with all of those tomatoes.

Toasted Gruyère, Golden Onion & Apple Sandwiches
from Gourmet, March 1995

1 TB. olive oil
1 lb. onions, sliced thin
2 teas. chopped fresh rosemary leaves or 1/4 teaspoon dried, crumbled
2 teas. white-wine vinegar
4 oval slices rye bread (I used seedless rye)
1/2 Granny Smith apple
1/4 lb. thinly sliced Gruyère cheese (use a cheese plane if possible)

In a 10-inch heavy skillet heat oil over moderate heat until hot but not smoking and cook onions with rosemary, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in vinegar and salt and pepper to taste and cook until vinegar evaporates. Cool onion mixture.

Preheat broiler. On a baking sheet toast both sides of bread about 3 inches from heat until golden. Core apple with a melon-ball cutter and cut crosswise into very thin slices. Divide onion mixture among toasts, spreading evenly, and cover with overlapping apple slices. Cover apple slices with Gruyère and broil sandwiches until cheese is melted and bubbling, about 1 minute.

Roasted Sweet Potato Rounds with Garlic Oil and Fried Sage
from Gourmet, November 2008

For sweet potatoes:
3 large garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
2 1/2 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds

For fried sage:
1/3 cup olive oil
24 sage leaves

Preheat oven 450°F with rack in upper third. Purée garlic with oil and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a blender until smooth. Toss sweet potatoes with garlic oil in a large bowl, then spread in 1 layer in a 15-by 10-inch shallow baking pan. Bake until golden in patches and cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes.

Heat oil in a small heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then fry sage leaves in 2 batches, stirring, until crisp, 30 seconds to 1 minute per batch. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Serve sweet potatoes with sage leaves scattered on top.

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2 thoughts on “Seasonal Plot Twist.

  1. Laddan says:

    My dear, I am sorry that you have realized your nightshade allergy. I also wish I were still blissfully unaware of mine. Unrelated, I totally love this friggin’ blog.

  2. Jill says:

    I knew about the allergies; I just did not realize that they were related. It’s a lot easer, now, to say, “I’m allergic to nightshades” than to list ’em all. Unrelated, aw, shucks.

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