At the start of my cookbook, I have a list of the ten most important over-arching lessons I learned cooking with the best chefs in America. One of those lessons is: “Put ingredients on display.”
There’s an explanation of that in the book, and I’ll wait for you to read your copy before I spoil that here, but consider this post a corollary to that advice. As you can see, after going to the farmer’s market last Monday, I put my ingredients on display in my kitchen…and that inspired a rather extravagant feast for my visiting friends Kim and Ben the next night.
For starters, I knew I wanted to make a salad using those beautiful heirloom tomatoes. I mean look how pretty they are all cut up:
I had an idea to make Suzanne Goin’s Green Goddess dressing (recipe here), putting it into a squeeze bottle and applying it to the salad plates before piling on the tomatoes. That way, the tomatoes wouldn’t be coated in a gloppy dressing but still get a flavor boost from the dressing beneath. Also: I thought it would look pretty.
So into a blender went the ingredients:
Blitzed it all up while adding oil from above and then seasoned it with salt and lemon juice. It was tasty. Here’s the blender in the sink and the dressing in the squeeze bottle:
Meanwhile, I’d been making Haddock Chowder from April Bloomfield’s cookbook (click that link and you’ll see all the recipes I’ve already shared from it; which is why to make this Haddock Chowder you’ll need to get your own copy!). I’ll give you the basics.
You chop up potatoes:
You cook them in milk and cream (you’re supposed to peel them first, but I forgot):
Meanwhile, you render bacon in a separate pot:
Cook onions, carrots and celery in there:
Add white wine:
And fish stock (but if you don’t have fish stock, water) allowing it all to reduce.
Meanwhile, when the potatoes are tender, you take the cream off the heat and add your smoked Haddock (I couldn’t find Haddock so used smoked white fish), allowing it to steep and flavor the liquid.
When everything’s cool enough to handle, you remove your fish to a cutting board:
And shred it away from the bone:
Then simply pour your cream mixture into the bacon/white wine mixture, along with the shredded fish:
Allow that to reduce a little, season with salt and lemon juice, and voila: Haddock Chowder (minus the Haddock).
Finally, I made my favorite recipe for shortcake which comes from The Barefoot Contessa (see here).
With everything prepped, and our guests arrived, it was time to serve everything up. First: the salad.
Using the squeeze bottle, I made Green Goddess spirals on all of the plates:
Then added the tomatoes in pretty, colorful patterns:
I drizzled the tomatoes with really good extra-virgin olive oil and fleur de del and behold:
Our guests were very happy:
When it came time to serve the chowder, I garnished with parsley and celery leaves and offered up oyster crackers to make it more homey:
The chowder was definitely a hit.
Finally, for the shortcake, I simply sliced up the strawberries (macerating them a bit in sugar) and peaches (which I peeled first using a Y-peeler) and piled them inside and on top of the cake, which I’d sliced in two and layered with whipped cream:
A triumphant conclusion to a summertime feast and all inspired by ingredients that I’d put on display. Now back to the farmer’s market I go (I’m into farmer’s marketing on Monday) to do it all over again.