Delaying gratification is an exercise few food lovers can comprehend. We nibble the hors d’oeuvres before the guests arrive, we gobble up the bread basket before the waiter puts pad to pen, we’re ready for seconds while most people are still on their firsts. Which is why I deserve some credit for not devouring the Corn Cookie from Momofuku Milk Bar on my walk home from the East Village last week.
Despite this month’s banner, one of my favorite dishes to serve in summer is an heirloom tomato salad. It’s a dish that does the work for you: just buy an array of quirkily beautiful heirloom tomatoes–as many colors and shapes as you can find at the farmer’s market–cut them into slices or wedges and serve them with torn-bread croutons, green basil (plus purple basil if you can find it) and some shaved ricotta salata on top. The finished plate looks something like this….
[Hey, this is Adam The Amateur Gourmet. I’m on vacation in Barcelona, Spain and while I’m gone I’ve asked some awesome people to fill in for me. Today we continue talented female filmmaker day with another talented female filmmaker, Ms. Dara Bratt. (Check out her film, “In Vivid Detail.”) Dara isn’t just a talented filmmaker, she’s also an excellent cook–see here–but this post, I have to confess, has me a little worried. Take it away, Dara!]
What I’m about to share may shock you, some will be repulsed, others curious or even amused. Nothing beats a hot summer day like frozen pickle juice.
The weekend is here and you’re finally free to relax, to read, to toast yourself in the sun. But here’s what I think you should do: on Saturday? Go to a farmer’s market. If you don’t have one in your town, ok, you’re off the hook; but if you do, head over there and buy a bunch of fruits and vegetables. Buy zucchini and make Clotilde’s carpaccio (as you see above); buy beets and shred them in your food processor for Mark Bittman’s raw beet salad; buy carrots too and shred them before the beets, actually, so they don’t turn red and make David Lebovitz’s carottes râpée. Invite friends over and if that’s not enough to feed you and your guests, make Luisa’s focaccia di patate which I’ve made before and can’t get enough of…
Here are two meals you can make this weekend: one, a meal of farmer’s market goodies that are seasonal and good for you and good for the planet and the farmers, and the second a crowd-pleaser from your local grocery store that isn’t good for you or the planet but boy is it good and easy to make. Let’s start with the angel on your shoulder meal:
There on the plate you’ll see vegetables–sugar snap peas, beets and radishes. You’ll also see a Parker House roll (from the post below this). What I liked about this meal was that, even though it was a meal of just vegetables, it wasn’t punishing in any way. After washing and peeling the snap peas, I took butter–a few tablespoons–and cooked it in a skillet until it turned a toasty brown (make sure it doesn’t burn!) and then I added the peas and tossed them around until they were coated. I sprinkled them with salt and pepper and after a few minutes (and tasting one to see that it was just cooked enough) I put it on the plate. The beets were prepared with the knowledge that raw beets are better for you than cooked beets, so I peeled them and cut them thinly into strips and tossed with a simple vinaigrette of mustard, red wine vinegar and olive oil. And they were fantastic–I think I like beets better raw, now, than cooked!
So that was a relatively healthy dinner, rounded out by the rolls which helped fill us up. On the flip side was this:
This is a meal I hope all of you make at some point this summer. It’s like an instant picnic, and even if you eat it at home after a long day of work (as Craig did having come home from a full day of teaching high schoolers how to make movies) it transports you instantly to a sunny bench in the park.
The components are simple: fried chicken, biscuits, and watermelon feta salad. All of these are recipes I’ve posted on the blog before. For the fried chicken recipe click here; for the biscuits click here; for the watermelon/feta click here. It’s guaranteed to please a crowd or just a grateful significant other. And you’ll really impress if you serve the biscuits with your homemade red currant jam, as I did:
We’re eating well this summer, aren’t we? Let me know if you give any of this a try….
Brooklyn Fish Camp is a restaurant built for summer. And yesterday, before it got gray and cloudy (though not quite rainy), Craig and I adopted the summer spirit and sat outside on the Fish Camp benches, benches that reminded me of summer camp (minus the bullies). The sun beat down on half our table, and I angled my body to stay in the shady half. I was pretty sure I wanted mussels, a nice light lunch because I knew I was having a big dinner, and Craig wanted his usual trout BLT on focaccia bread. But then the waitress went and told us the specials and one of the specials was a side of hush puppies served with a lemon aioli. How could we say no to that? So we ordered those too.
The picture you see above is what she brought out. Hush puppies are basically corn meal fritters; a dough made from corn meal, eggs and milk. The lemon aioli was a nice touch, but the hush puppies were terrific on their own. I can’t think of a better beacon for summer: these should be an obligatory treat on Memorial Day. If you have a recipe, please share it in the comments!
and autumn will soon descend.
Gather ye lobsters while ye may
and tomatoes too,
And make a Pearl lobster roll
like Rebecca taught on the vid;
a final summer love affair
that won’t produce a kid.
It’s September and tomatoes are at their juiciest, and according to many food gurus, their best. More importantly, heirloom tomatoes are so prevalent everywhere these days that you can compose a gorgeous salad like the one you see above with very little effort. Just slice the tomatoes in half or quarters, drizzle with olive oil, spot with balsamic vinegar, shred some basil over the top, sprinkle with salt and pepper and crumble on some feta. That’s it. Make it as pretty as you can. If you make an extra pretty one, link to it in the comments–I’d love to see it.