seasonal food and cooking tips for the harvest

seasonal food tips: grapes are coming into season in California, as are apples. and of course, it's coming up on squash season in new england.

cooking tip: in one of my favorite, recently acquired cookbooks, Sonoma county chef Michael Chiarello recommends making polenta with milk and a dash of nutmeg (from the Tra Vigne Cookbook). i finally cheated on Marcella Hazan's insistence that polenta cook for 40 minutes, stirring rapidly most of the time, and let it go for more like 20-30 minutes, using 1 cup of coursely ground corn meal to 3 cups liquid (i used 1 cup of raw skim milk and 2 cups water). more milk would probably make it even creamier. it came out a little thicker for eating soft, but was still delicious with crumbled blue cheese, and it fried up perfectly in the pan, cut into either triangular cutlets or narrow, crispy polenta fingers.

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