It doesn’t take more than a couple fresh ingredients at their prime to make an appetizer that you might spend upwards of $10 for in a restaurant. But in a restaurant, a dish like this–even with so simple a philosophy that I can agree with–nags me a little. It’s just too precious. Too plated. And often, too skimpy.
Last summer, ten friends and I kissed the summer goodbye with a beach weekend and a clambake. I wrote afterward that there was no greater communal food activity than this, if you’re by the shore with many people. I take that back just a little. Because for all the seaweed we let sizzle on molten-hot rocks, and crustaceans that reddened atop those before cracking open, there is another awesome group food that should not be overlooked in the summer: paella.
What do you get when you mix two classic condiments: a creamy roasted eggplant dip and a tangy, fresh tomato-based salsa? A colorful cross. And why not? I always liked the brightness of adding fresh citrus juice to roasted or grilled eggplant. It sort of livens the greyish thing up. I also get frustrated, sometimes, spilling the juice of a fresh tomato salsa while trying to scoop it up with a tortilla chip. Or getting one piece of onion on … Read More
Do you ever edit yourself, after something’s been said and done? After you’ve cleaned off a meal that you enjoyed to its fullest, then start believing that it wasn’t all that it could be? I have this compulsive habit sometimes, and right now I’m really wishing that I’d scattered crisp red onion across this dish, like slivers of orchid petals. And maybe pinched speckles of Maldon sea salt and black pepper on top of those tomatoes and lettuces, and–eh… it … Read More
Whenever I have a plethora of random vegetables with no assigned purposes, I start to panic think along the lines of stir-frying them. This tends to happen a lot in the summer, when stockpiles of goods from farmers market strolls begin to overbear my fridge. Everything looks so good, and there are so many kinds of vegetables in season now–eggplants and peppers, beans and leafy greens–it’s like looking at a menu that you want to order everything from. But fortunately … Read More
You might consider a hearty red meat like lamb a more winter-appropriate food, not on your summer cookout menu. Or you might associate it with restaurants rather than your home-cooking menu, any time of the year. But I think it’s a secret weapon to creating a fun outdoor feast that tastes like it came from a gourmet gastropub.
Ah, fresh fava beans. Who else first heard of this legume via Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs? If so, it was a most disturbing way one can be introduced to a new food (and I am amongst those). No, I didn’t eat fava beans for a good long time after seeing that movie, but it wasn’t because I was afraid. It was because I never did encounter them, least of all fresh and whole still in their pods, until … Read More
Sour cherries, unlike sweet, are just about the sharpest taste you can get from a stone fruit. Eaten raw, these little gems will make your mouth hurt and your face flare up with weird expressions (just try one without making a face). They’re as crimson as cranberries once crushed up. But when cooked with a little sugar, sour cherries take on a unique, classic-candy flavor, which you can’t get from sweet cherries. Not by a long shot.
When it’s warm out in the midst of summer, one doesn’t feel as inclined to eat, much less cook. Then hunger kicks in, and heavy foods like fried oysters and hamburgers from street vendors and such come into the picture and, well, why not dig in? A certain fatigue that leads to throw-your-hands-up-in-the-air lapses in eating judgement is an expected part of summertime. Problem is, you just want to throw-your-head-on-the-pillow sleep afterwards.
I needed a green detox after cookout fever this holiday weekend. I found myself stationed at the grill this 4th of July, where one after another, people lined up to give me things to char: chicken wings, sausages, lamb chops, chicken breasts, hamburgers, hot dogs, kabobs. Thank goodness it was overcast and not very hot that day. I also managed to grill some zucchini and eggplant, but didn’t get a chance to snag any while tending the flames. The chops were … Read More