Cayenne sauce, Spanish omelet and muscadine granita

Oct 7, 2013

Coming home last night from a dinner fundraiser for North Carolina Health News at the home of my friend, Rose Hoban — Rose’s friend, a former chef, catered an amazing assortment of Thai, Singaporean and Vietnamese dishes — I was reminded that I had a batch of cayenne hot sauce ready to strain and bottle. It smelled fruity and not too hot, a lot like Tabasco but fresher, of course.

Today, needing a reason for a first taste of the hot sauce, I looked around the kitchen and saw a bowl of potatoes that I’d bought from Eliza of Cane Creek Farm at the Carrboro Farmers Market a couple of weeks back. I went searching in the Joy of Cooking for a recipe for roast potatoes, and instead liked the idea of a Spanish omelet, which I’d learned to make from a volcano-loving Spaniard who showed up on Paama one day (I still have the piece of notebook paper on which Erin wrote out Jose’s recipes for gazpacho, paella and the omelet). So, for dinner here in Carrboro, spanish omelet with a dash of the fresh hot sauce. Very tasty and satisfying.

Dessert was muscadine granita, inspired by the scuppernong granita that topped off the 2007 food blogging dinner at the Durham restaurant Piedmont. (Here’s what Dean McCord wrote back then; I went to Dean’s birthday party last week, and blogged it here.) I made my granita through the day, this morning juicing the muscadine grapes that Oliver and I bought at the farmers market yesterday, preparing simple syrup this afternoon, and then mixing grape juice and sweet syrup and putting it in the freezer while I prepared the omelet. When I served the fragrant, deeply purple slushy to the family, Oliver was the first to say, “This is good. I like this.” The pungent grape flavor took me back to St. Croix and the frozen fruit juices in Solo cups that refreshed me along the dusty road.

The other day, searching the Joy of Cooking for a recipe of another sort, I happened upon a page describing various tropical fruits, and there was the genip (Melicoccus bijugatus, also called mamoncillo), a grape-sized fruit with a pit surrounded by tart orange pulp that is another of the memorable tastes of my youth in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Anton Zuiker

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