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"It's so beautifully arranged on the the plate – you know someone's fingers have been all over it." – Julia Child

ThanksgivingOnce a year, we gather and give thanks. We had the chance to do that early, as a warm-up if you will, this year, when we got together to put this Thanksgiving spread together.

The cold had crept in, with rain and gusts of violent wind. Those weather conditions mirrored some of our emotional states as well. But, as we settled into the evening and into the kitchen, all was calm and warm and safe.

Let’s be thankful for the moments, little and big, that bring us together with the people we hold dear, be it a Tuesday night or a calendar holiday.

And, a special thanks to the talented Penelope Bouklas and Jessica O’Brien for making these images come to life.

ThanksgivingCRUCIFEROUS CRUDITES

Serves 4 to 6

I’m a word geek, and “cruciferous” gives me no end of pleasure. I like that it sounds like a description of a tree creature in a Tolkien novel, but also, that it sounds like a biting into something crunchy and spiky and nubby and slightly juicy. It’s perfect, because cruciferous vegetable (cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and kohlrabi, to name a few) are just all those things.

Here is one of my favorite crucifers: Romanesco. Pale green and spiraled and spiky like an underwater sea creature, it’s a more robust yet more sophisticated version of cauliflower. And, did you know? The spirals in each funky floret follow the Fibonacci sequence. Look it up: mind-blowing.

This is a pretty and simple recipe that really ups the ante on the basic crudité platter. Romanesco florets get a blanch in boiling water and a shock in cold, while purple cauliflower, another cruciferous beauty, is quickly sautéed for warm, buttery contrast.

Make the dip first:
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup crema or crème fraîche
2 garlic cloves, miced or grated
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

- Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl and store, covered, until ready to serve.

Prep the crudités: 
1 head Romanesco, cut until florets
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 head purple cauliflower, cut into florets
2 teaspoons lemon juice

- Line a large baking sheet with 3 layers paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice. Add enough cold water to fill bowl about three-quarters of the way. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Stir in 3 tablespoons salt and Romanesco florets and cook for 1 minute. Drain and immediately add florets to prepared ice bath. When completely cooled, drain florets and spread them on prepared baking sheet.

- Cook butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until bubbling and beginning to brown. Add the cauliflower, season with salt and pepper, and cook, tossing or stirring , until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and add lemon juice (Surprise! Did you see the color change?!).

- Arrange the Romanesco and cauliflower florets on a platter and serve with garlic dip.

Thanksgiving

ThanksgivingPUMPKIN SOUP

Makes about 7 cups

Equipment: paring knife, soup spoon or ice cream scoop, baking sheet, cooling rack, large mixing bowl, blender, large skillet, soup pot, slotted spoon, paper towels

There are numerous gourds for sale this time of year, from pie-friendly sugar ones to quick roasting ones like acorn. We opted for this large cheese pumpkin in order to make enough soup for a crowd.

Wipe the exterior of the pumpkin clean with a damp rag, then carve it as you would a jack-o’-lantern (well, don’t carve out a face on it or the soup will ooze out): run a sharp paring knife around the pumpkin, about a quarter of the way below the stem, then remove the “hat” and scoop out the seeds and membrane. I like to use a sharp-edged ice cream scoop to do this. Now you’re ready to make the soup.

For the soup:
1 (6 to 7-pound) cheese or Cinderella pumpkin, prepared as instructed above
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups chicken broth (*low-sodium if not homemade)
1 tablespoon lemon juice

- Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Place pumpkin on a large baking sheet. Rub inside of pumpkin with 1 ½ teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, Aleppo pepper, and butter. Rub the exterior of the pumpkin and its hat (place it beside the pumpkin on the sheet) with oil and roast until flesh is easily pierced with a skewer, 45 minutes to an hour.

- Transfer pumpkin on sheet to a cooling rack, and allow to cool about 10 minutes. With a large spoon, scoop out flesh and accumulated juices into a large mixing bowl. Leave about 1-inch of flesh all around the interior of the pumpkin so it doesn’t collapse. Scrape the flesh from the underside of the pumpkin’s hat, too.

- Puree the pumpkin in a blender, in batches, until smooth. Transfer each batch to a Dutch oven or soup pot. Heat the soup over medium heat, stirring, and adjust consistency with chicken broth. Season to taste with salt and pepper and lemon juice. When ready to serve, place pumpkin on a large serving tray or platter, and ladle in the soup. Serve with garnish (see below).

For the garnish:
4 slices slab bacon (about 1/2-inch thick slices), cut into ¼-inch thick batons
1 pound mixed mushrooms, such as shiitake, hen of the woods/maitake, and cremini, sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil, if needed
½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 bunch sage
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup Latin American crema or crème fraîche

- Line a plate with 2 layers paper towels. Place bacon in a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Once bacon starts rendering fat, increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, until crisp and deep golden brown, about 8 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to prepared plate.

- Add mushrooms to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 6 minutes. Taste mushrooms and season to taste. Transfer to plate with bacon.

- If skillet is dry, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add pumpkin seeds and sage and cook until crisp, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Return bacon and mushrooms to skillet and toss to combine. Transfer to serving plate and pass at table along with crema.

ThanksgivingSPAGHETTI SQUASH IN ROASTED POBLANO CREAM SAUCE

Yield: 1 (3-pound) squash yields 4 cups, serving 6 to 8 as a side

Equipment: chef’s knife, mallet and metal bench scraper (if available), cutting board, kitchen towel, soup spoon, baking sheet, foil, fork, large skillet

We’re obviously not going to tell you to skip the mashed potatoes this year, but include this lush side in your menu: think creamy, spicy mac’n’cheese sauce over golden, sweet spaghetti squash.

Lickety split!
We hate splitting spaghetti squash, but, we’ve tried roasting the thing whole and even thought the skin softens, it takes forever it’s a big old mess inside afterwards. Microwave? Sure, but proceed with caution—explosions have been known to happen.

Here’s what we find is an easier approach to cracking that nut-hard skin: Place a damp kitchen towel on a *stabilized cutting board and place the squash on it. Tap a metal bench scraper into the squash with a meat mallet or hammer until it begins to crack. Pry it out, then, use a large knife to finish the job. Don’t worry if it doesn’t come apart in two completely even halves, as they rarely do.

Scoop the seeds and membranes out with a soup spoon or, better yet, with a metal ice cream disher.

Stabilizing cutting boards: Never chop on a board that’s slip-sliding all over your work surface. Set the board on a rubber grip mat, a damp paper towel, or a damp kitchen towel.

Roast the squash:
1 (3-pound) spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeds and membranes removed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoon dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

- Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (for easier cleanup).

- Season the cut sides of squash with salt and pepper and sugar, then brush with butter. Roast, cut-sides up, until fork tender, 45 minute to 1 hour.

- Transfer squash on sheet to a cooling rack and, when cool enough to handle, scrape out flesh with a fork. If immediately proceeding with recipe, leave flesh in the shell, cover, and keep warm. Otherwise, refrigerate flesh and shells separately until ready to use. When ready to use, drain any accumulated liquid and reheat flesh in a lightly oiled saucepan over medium heat, or in the microwave.

Sauce it!
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 poblano peppers, stems, ribs, and seeds removed, cut into thin strips
2 jalapeño peppers, stems, ribs, and seeds removed, cut into thin strips
1 medium onion, thinly sliced from pole to pole
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk, warmed
1 cups Latin American crema or crème fraîche
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 ounces cotija cheese or feta, crumbled

- Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the poblanos, jalapeños, and onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is softened and deep golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

- Add the flour and stir to coat. Cook 2 minutes to eliminate raw flavor in flour. Add the milk in a slow, steady stream, stirring constantly to avoid lumps from forming. Stir in crema and cook until heated through and slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and adjust seasoning. If you prefer a soupier sauce, stir in milk as needed.

- Pour sauce over spaghetti squash and sprinkle with cheese. Serve.

MacGyver your leftovers!
Use leftovers to make grilled cheese sandwiches or quesadillas.

ThanksgivingBUTTERNUT SQUASH DRESSING 

Serves 6 to 8

Equipment: Peeler, chef’s knife, baking sheet, cooling rack, large skillet

Whether you’re having roast beast or fowl this Thanksgiving, dressing is a must. Why am I not calling stuffing? Because I’m not putting it into anything other than my mouth, and also, please only stuff your turkey with aromatics like onions, apples, lemons, and herbs. The bread mixture will only act as a sponge, soaking up turkey blood and juice and not really tasting like anything much at the end. The texture is a horror, too.

This dressing is crisp and multi-textured, with nubby bits of hot Italian sausage, good bread, and sweet pieces of butternut squash. Avoid prepackaged stuffing: crumbly bread and to many dry spices that taste like forgotten crouton crumbs at an all-you-can-eat salad bar.

You can roast the squash & toast the bread up to 2 days in advance!
1 large loaf sturdy bread, such as ciabatta, cut into 1-inch cubes to make 6 cups
1 butternut squash (about 3 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch dice to make 3 cups
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons orange zest plus 1 tablespoon orange juice

And pick it up from here, on the stovetop before serving: 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more as needed
4 fresh hot Italian sausages, casings removed and crumbled
2 large shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon rosemary leaves, chopped
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
8 sage leaves, chopped

- Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and arrange squash in an even layer. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with zest and juice and use hands to evenly coat. Roast until tender, about 12 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack.

- Melt butter over medium-high heat in large skillet. Add the sausage and cook, stirring, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

- If the skillet is very dry, add 1 tablespoon butter. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary, thyme, and sage and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes.

- Add butternut cubes and sausage to the skillet and stir to combine. Taste and season. Add bread and stir to combine. Add broth, and once again stir to combine. Cover and keep warm.

- When ready to serve, adjust oven rack to upper third and heat broiler to high. Transfer dressing to an oven-safe serving dish, or, if going super casual, leave it in the skillet. Run the dish under the broiler until crisp and golden, 1 – 3 minutes. Serve.

ThanksgivingPUMPKIN HAND PIES 

Makes 6

Equipment: Dutch oven or 6- to 8-quart pot, slotted spoon or spider, blender, strainer, rolling pin, chef’s knife, baking sheet, parchment paper, cooling rack

A few months ago, I needed a pumpkin for a photo shoot, but they were nowhere near being in season. Enter ayote or zapayo, or what I call “Latin pumpkin” or calabaza. It’s just one more of the gourd family, with the unique exception that you can find it year-round at many grocery stores. I grew up eating ayote en miel: ayote cooked in dark brown sugar syrup until dark and tender. Usually, to offset the sweetness, it, along with other stewed fruits, are served with salty cheese.

We had a piepalooza last year and were reluctant to revisit, but this Pop Tarts-inspired dessert brought together some heritage, a departure from the usual pie, and a great option for sending your guests off with an edible gift. If you’re pressed for time, do use store-bought pie crust, otherwise, visit our 2013 “Pie-Faced” Thanksgiving post for our recipe and method. Prepare the recipe for a double-crust pie and divide the dough into 2 rounds for easier handling. You can make the dough a couple of days in advance.

For the ayote en miel: 
1 tablespoon peppercorns
1 teaspoon allspice berries
1 cinnamon stick
3 pounds ayote, zapayo, calabaza, or sugar pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into large chunks
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
Water
½ teaspoon salt
Peeled zest of 1 orange, plus its juice

- In a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot of 6- to 8-quart capacity, toast peppercorns, allspice berries, and cinnamon over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

- Add the pumpkin cubes, sugar, salt, orange zest and juice, and enough water to cover the pumpkin by about ½ inch. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer until completely tender, 1 to 2 hours.

- With a spider or slotted spoon, transfer the pumpkin to a bowl. Allow to cool to room temperature, then, purée in a blender until smooth. Strain cooking liquid and use it to sweeten and flavor anything from tea, to mulled wine, warm cider, and simple cocktails.

To assemble: 
All-purpose flour
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Pinch salt

- Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

- Dust a clean, dry work surface with all-purpose flour and roll each dough circle out to about 12- by 13-inches. Place 2 to 3 tablespoons pumpkin purée on the lower half of the dough, leaving a “frame” of about 1 inch around each mound of filling. Fold the top half of the dough over, with a chef’s knife cut into 3 hand pies (each will be roughly 4- by 5-inches), and use a fork to crimp and seal the tarts.

- Whisk together the yolk and cream and brush evenly on each hand pie. Bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack and serve warm or at room temperature.

 

 

The Condiments

The Cheeseburger

 

People frequently ask: “How do you decide what to post?” Often it’s about how much time we have to prep, so we come up with recipes that can be made with ingredients picked up on the walk from the subway home, or with bits that were lurking in the fridge and pantry. Cravings, as we mention often, also fuel our posts. And holidays, of course. Thanksgiving is in the works!

Another one, illustrated here, is a hole in our portfolios. As professional photographer and food stylist, our body of work is constantly expanding, but that growth lacks structure and direction. For instance, we might spend months working on packaging for frozen food, or on healthy cookbooks, which translates into a library of images that represent only a corner of our market. Clients will approach us and say, “Have you shot any drinks? What about cakes?” When this happens, we need to be ready to say, “YES!” and supply them with examples. When not working for pay, artists turn to tests to flex their creative muscles, and also to stock their image libraries.

I approached this burger primarily from a food styling angle, rather than the usual recipe one, therefore, no official recipe. However, I can give you a few tips on what to do when making a burger at home so it tastes great and looks picture-perfect (we did eat this one and it was delicious, if you were wondering).

HERE’S THE BEEF Grind your own beef (I have attachments for my KitchenAid stand mixer) or ask a butcher to do it. It’s impossible to tell what’s in those Styrofoam trays in the meat display at the supermarket #mysterymeat.

I usually go with chuck, which comes from the shoulder, and has a good balance of meat and fat. If you read enough articles about famous burger joints, you’ll find out about special blends, but chuck is a standard. Do not ever make a burger with lean beef. I mean it.

GET IN SHAPE I’m a condiment addict, and grew up eating proteins like grilled chicken and beef patties that were marinated with Worcestershire sauce and French’s mustard. Save the condiments for the finished burger: you want the beef to be the main event.

Don’t salt the beef until the patty is formed. It sounds insane, especially if you season like I do: one ingredient at a time and progressively as the dish develops. Salt messes with muscle proteins and toughens the meat. I actually just found a note about that in one of my abuela Muriel’s recipes from the 1950s.

When do you season, then? Once the patty is shaped. Salt and pepper it liberally on both sides. Go with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

How do you shape? Quickly and gently. Divide your beef into equal amounts (I make 6 ounce patties), shape into a patty about 3/4-inch thick, then press into the center to make a little well. This will prevent the patty from bulging in the middle. Cover and refrigerate the patties if you’re not cooking them immediately.

FLIPPING OUT Heat your grill or a large skillet with a teaspoon of vegetable oil over high heat until it begins to smoke. Add your patties and flip them once they’ve started to darken and set. I like a rare, bloody burger, so my patty’s done when it’s charred but still oozing red juices (about 125°F when tested with an instant-read thermometer). Squeamish? 140°F for medium, and then, you’re on your own.

ON BUNS AND TOPPINGS Have at it. I like a squishy potato bun that’s really only there to soak up meat juices and condiments, but a buttered and griddled brioche roll is lovely. Mustard. Ketchup. Pickles. Hot sauce. Onion slices. Lettuce. Ripe tomatoes. Go nuts, and don’t let anyone harass you if your condiment of choice is MAYO.

Breakfast All Day

Planes, trains, automobiles. We were far and away this summer; now we return home to New York’s hustle and flow. Cabs merge into traffic, we get swept along: this is The Routine.

The madcap ballet of the subway, a complicated dance: we lock eyes with those odd sweatpants declaring “my fête is my life!” and that shade of lipstick that must be Crayola carnation. Jaggedly up-tempo, the clanks and clatters make a cacophonous city symphony.

Then, suddenly, calm.

Swimming upstream but recognizing the current: The Routine.

Back on the sidewalks we go, walking to favorite shops for smoked trout and translucent orange caviar bubbles. No poetry in these simple foods: fish, bread, butter, eggs, citrus, and coffee, but none is needed.

Prose and Our Routine.

*Smoked trout from one of our very favorite shops, Russ and Daughters

 

It’s Friday, and I’m going out. Although I don’t suffer from hangovers (knock on wood), I’m always thirsty for a Bloody on the weekends (with gin, please).

There are quite a few ingredients in this drink, so I suggest making it today or tomorrow, before your headache strikes in the wee, too-sunshine-y, why-don’t-I-have-blackout-curtains? hours of the morning after your parranda. You won’t even have to get it together to go out to brunch.

(Ice + premade Bloody + straw) + 10 (water + Advil) = Good morning

CLASSIC BLOODY MARY
A special sneak peek from our upcoming book, Summer Cocktails

Serves 1

Hangovers happen, and cures for them have been peddled and promoted for as long as the perpetrator has existed. Magic cures, potions, rituals, whatever the antidote is purported to be, the Bloody Mary has withstood the test of time as the companion to that morning misery. This Bloody is a stepping stone: add and subtract condiments to suit your palate.

 

For the Salt Rim
2 tablespoons coarse salt, such as kosher or Maldon salt, crushed
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon celery salt, optional
Finely grated zest of half a lime, lime half reserved

For the Cocktail
¾ cup V8, chilled
2 tablespoons clam juice, chilled
2 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish*
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons hot sauce
2 ounces gin or vodka
Ice cubes
Celery stalk, for garnish
Pimento-stuffed olives or Picholine olives for garnish
Beer chaser, optional

In a small saucer, combine salt, pepper, celery salt, and lime zest, rubbing zest into mixture with fingertips. Cut the lime half in two to make wedges, and run one along the rim of a chilled highball glass to dampen. Dip rim into salt mixture and reserve.

In a shaker, combine all ingredients and stir to combine. Adjust flavor with condiments to taste. Serve in an ice-filled highball glass and garnish with celery stalks and olives.

QUIT HORSING AROUND:
Freshly grated horseradish will be much sharper than prepared. If you’re unfamiliar with horseradish in general, think about eating wasabi or strong mustard. The nasal passage clearing effects are the same. The prepared version that you find in the refrigerated section of the supermarket will do in a pinch, but it will require a significant amount more to reach the heat level of the fresh root. Also, horseradish oxidizes quickly; don’t let it sit out once it’s grated.

AN INTERESTING THING:
There is some debate as to whether the original Bloody Mary was made with gin or with vodka. Allegedly, a Bloody made with gin is called a Red Snapper, but the famous King Cole Bar a the swank St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan claims the fishy moniker was the original name for the Bloody Mary, made with the usual vodka. Use and call it whatever you like — it won’t matter after a couple.

I always feel like I need to bring something to a party, aside from my sparkling personality. I’m a cook and a stylist, and it just wouldn’t do for me to show up empty-handed, or worse yet, with a store-bought dessert. Sometimes, I bring booze. When I do, I start stuttering through a series of excuses, “Oh! It’s been madness! All of this travel! I’m never home anymore! I…etc.etc.etc.” Ultimately, I’m sure no one cares, but I feel dreadful.

Enter this dessert. It’s one of those Key lime pie recipes that you can find in the Wild West that is the Internet, or even on the side panel of a box of Grahams or a tin of sweetened condensed milk. You can make this thing blindfolded, even those of you who proclaim themselves non-bakers. AND! While there is a crust recipe here, go ahead, get one of those ready-made things if you want.

Top this tart with the most seasonal fruits you can find, like raspberries and plums, and not only will this be a refreshing and delicious dessert, it’ll look very “wow!”

KEY LIME FRUIT TART

Makes 1 (9-inch) tart, serving 8

IF YOU’RE MAKING YOUR OWN CRUST:
1 ¾ cups Graham cracker crumbs
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

- Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl with a rubber spatula, then scrape into a 9-inch round pie plate. Press crumbs into bottom and up sides of plate.

- Bake until golden, 7 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack and reserve.

WHILE THE CRUST IS COOLING, MAKE THE FILLING and TOPPING
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened*
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest
Pinch salt
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, from about 12 limes
3 cups assorted fruits, such as berries and sliced peaches, plums, and nectarines

- With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese in a large bowl until light and fluffy. With machine running, gradually beat in condensed milk, lime zest, and salt. Slowly add the lime juice and beat just until mixture is combined.

- With a rubber spatula, scrape mixture into prepared pie shell. Top with fruits and refrigerate until chilled and set, about 2 hours. Serve.

*SOFT AND SUPPLE: Don’t try to beat this cream cheese when it’s cold: you’ll wind up with a filling that’s lumpy, like cottage cheese. If you’re in a rush and don’t want to wait for the cheese to come to room temperature, buy cream cheese in the carton with the foil wrapper on the cheese. Massage the cheese while still wrapped.

LobsterJust because we were working 16-hour days in the hot sun shooting our book for a week…Just because we were in a house full of insomniac women who slept on average 4 hours a night…Just because there was no amount of Tiger Balm and groaning that would relieve our sciatic torture and tingling appendages…Just because we didn’t wash our hair or shave our legs for a week…Just because we looked like Medusa’s less-attractive sister after a binge and a street fight…DOES NOT MEAN WE DID NOT EAT LIKE CIVILIZED LADIES EVERY SINGLE DAY.

That’s right. We may not have looked beautiful, but our food did, and oh! just wait until you see Summer Cocktails.

We ate most of the set food, and took advantage of the grill, breezy evenings, and as much of the fresh produce, local seafood, wine, and spirits from the North Fork’s farms, vineyards, and distilleries as we could.

This is one of the recipes we made (twice!). Note that while lengthy, there are several tips for preparing components a day in advance.

Happy summer!

Lobster

 

LobsterGRILLED LOBSTER with CREAMY GRILLED CORN AND POTATO SALAD
Makes 4 generous portions

FOR THE SALAD

MAKE THE DRESSING: You can do it a day ahead
You’ll need
12 fresh curry leaves
½ cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons masala powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Cholula, Valentina, or Chipotle Tabasco hot sauce (or more to taste)
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
½ cup cilantro leaves and thin stems, chopped
2 scallions, chopped
Finely grated zest and juice of 2 limes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

- Cook curry leaves in a small dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until toasted and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and crush with fingers.

- Melt 2 tablespoons of the mayonnaise in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add masala and cumin and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Scrape into bowl with curry leaves.

- Whisk in remaining ingredients and adjust seasonings to taste with condiments, salt, and pepper.

INGREDIENT NOTES: Fresh curry leaves taste nothing like curry powder. They are smoky and fragrant, adding a unique backbone of flavor to numerous Indian dishes as well as this salad. Find them online, or at a store carrying Indian goods. If unavailable, proceed with recipe, but do try them at some point. Masal powder should be easy to find in the spice aisle of the supermarket. Try the international aisles if you’re having trouble, or go to http://www.Kalustyans.com

PREP THE POTATOES: Get them grill-ready up to 24 hours in advance
24 ounces small new potatoes (red or yellow jackets), scrubbed and cut into ½-inch thick slices, or halved if very small
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

- Place potatoes in medium microwave-proof bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Toss with hands to combine.

- Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and microwave until potatoes are tender, about 8 minutes, stopping halfway through to toss and redistribute potatoes. Be sure to do this with a dish rag or oven mitts as bowl will be hot.

- Carefully remove plastic from bowl, keeping face away to prevent any steam burns.  Reserve until ready for grilling.

NOTE: If boiling potatoes, scrub them but don’t slice them. Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water, adding ¼ cup salt to the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, and, when cool enough to handle, slice into ½-inch-thick slices, drizzle with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Proceed with recipe.

FOR THE CORN
4 ears corn, shucked
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt

- Heat grill to high and with grill scraper and brush, clean grates.  Brush corn with oil and season with salt. Grill corn until charred in spots, rotating with grill tongs every 2 minutes. Transfer to wide bowl.

BRING OUT THE POTATOES: Once corn is off grill, carefully transfer potatoes with a slotted metal spatula or spoon in a single layer on the grill. There might be a few flare-ups when the oil drips onto the heat source, so do use grill-appropriate tools with long handles. Grill potatoes until marked, about 3 minutes per side, then transfer to a large bowl and cover to keep warm.

GRILL SAFETY TIP: Always open the grill while standing beside, rather than in front of it. Grill temperatures can soar beyond 500°F when closed and, especially with gas grills, when opened, heat rages out, just like infernal breath from a dragon’s mouth.

When cool enough to handle, hold corn by pointy end in a wide bowl or pie plate and, with a sharp chef’s knife, scrape off kernels by running blade firmly against the cob. Discard cob and repeat with remaining ears.

CLICK FOR A HOW-TO ON COOKING CRUSTACEANS
For this recipe you’ll need:
3 (1 ½- to 2-pound) lobsters
We were at the beach, and, if you are too, cook them in a pot of ocean water for impossibly tender, well-seasoned meat! Otherwise:
Cook lobster in a large pot of water and
½ cup salt

- Cook lobsters for 8 minutes and allow to sit for 5 minutes before you get cracking. Rinse them under cold water as some scum will inevitably have collected.

- Once the lobsters are cooked and you’ve picked out all the meat (it doesn’t matter if you have irregular bits here and there), brush it with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and grill them until bright red and marked, about 2 minutes per side. While grilling, if you like, add 6 scallions, scrubbed and brushed with oil,  and 4 jalapeño peppers, scrubbed and brushed with oil, to the fire. Cook them until well charred, chop, and add to salad.

IT’S TIME TO EAT
You’ll need:
1 head Boston/Bibb lettuce, washed and dried
1 bunch radishes, scrubbed and sliced
1 cup cilantro
Lime wedges

- Whisk salad dressing to recombine. Combine potatoes, corn, scallions, and jalapeños (if using) in a large bowl. Drizzle salad dressing over mixture a bit at a time, stirring gently with a rubber spatula to evenly coat. Add more dressing as needed. Stir in radishes.

- Use lettuce leaves as wraps and fill with potato salad and lobster. Garnish with cilantro and serve with lime wedges. And remember, always have Maldon or other flaky salt at the table for your guests!

Lemonade

Lemonade

Lemonade

Lemonade

BREAKING NEWS: We’re working on our second book!  Even as “Winter Cocktails” was enjoying its moment in the sun (or snow, rather), its summer mate was already being thought about. And drunk about.

Expect boozed up iced teas, milkshakes, and granitas, as well as classic cocktails and antidotes for those raucous summer nights we all indulge in.

Have a taste! This is one of the recipes in progress (much better than what that kid down the block is peddling).

AND! If you have any suggestions for the name, do tell. We’ll send you an autographed copy of the book when it’s out.

AS YET NAMELESS COCKTAIL
Makes 4 (about 4-ounce drinks)
4 ounces (1/2 cup) freshly squeezed lemon juice, from about 6 lemons
4 ounces (1/2 cup) demerara simple syrup*
6 tablespoons hibiscus tea*
4 ounces (1/2 cup) pisco
2 ounces (1/4 cup) Lillet blanc
2 ounces (1/4 cup) St. Germain elederflower liqueur
Ice cubes

- Combine all ingredients in a shaker (we sometimes use a mason jar) and shake vigorously. Strain into an ice-filled glass and garnish with a lemon twist, if desired.

- Cheers!

Be sure to follow the “Summer” girls on Instagram for behind-the-scenes #summercocktailsbook and for our usual shenanigans and wacky hijinks!
@tstriano @sacasastylist @misspaloma @emilyrickardstylist

Expect “Summer Cocktails” (Quirk Books) next year.

*For the demerara simple syrup: Combine 1 cup demerara sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until sugar has dissolved entirely. Remove saucepan from heat and cool syrup completely. Syrup may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Yield: About 2 cups.
*Dried hibiscus flowers (or flor de jamaica) can be found in many specialty stores and also in the Latin American aisle of many supermarkets. Alternatively, order online or substitute with sachets of hibiscus tea. I like to use a 2-to-1 ratio of water to flowers. Bring the mixture to a boil, allow to steep off the heat for 30 minutes, then strain through a sieve and discard solids. Whatever amount you decide to make, store in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

 

Skillet PizzaSkillet PizzaSkillet Pizza

 

This is one of our easiest recipes to date (just like those cheater doughnuts). It’s a non-recipe of sorts, casual and simple. Store-bought pizza dough, a raging hot skillet, and your choice of cheese and toppings — done.

SKILLET PIZZA
Makes 3 personal pizzas

We prefer to use fresh mozzarella or burrata (similar to mozzarella, but with a creamy center) and picholine olives, but feel free to substitute the olives with your favorite variety; hit up the olive bar at your grocer and skip the canned, water-logged variety.  Look for good quality anchovies – boquerones are sweet and plump, not the bristly, über-salty cadavers you tend to see distressing pizza-eaters.

1 (1-pound) fresh pizza dough, sitting at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes
All-purpose flour for work surface
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 (8-ounce) ball fresh mozzarella or burrata, torn into pueces
4 ounces full-fat ricotta
4 ounces ricotta salata, crumbled
Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup picholine olives, pitted and lightly crushed with the back of a knife
½ cup boquerones  (marinated anchovies) or pickled anchovies

- Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 475°F. Place a large (10- to 12-inch) cast-iron skillet or large heavy-bottomed, oven-safe skillet on the rack.

- Cut the dough into three pieces.  Lightly dust a clean, dry, work surface with flour. Using a flour-coated rolling pin or empty wine bottle to roll out each piece of dough into an circle about 10-inches in diameter. The circle doesn’t have to be perfect.

- Place the hot skillet (keep a kitchen rack or oven mitt on the handle so you never forget it’s hot!) on the stovetop and turn the flame to medium.  Place one pizza round on the skillet and drizzle generously with oil. Top with some of the mozzarella, ricotta, and ricotta salata. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and return the skillet to the oven.

- Bake until the cheese is melted and the dough is puffed and golden, 12 to 15 minutes.  Repeat with remaining dough and cheese.

- Once the last pizza is finished, heat a small amount of oil in the skillet, add the olives and cook them over high heat until blistered and browned. Sprinkle the olives on the pizzas and top them with the boquerones.

- Serve with a chilled white wine or rosé.

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