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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

Posts tagged Summer Recipes

Have you ever been to the supermarket and not found a tomato? Probably not. We live in a seasonless era where produce exists year-round. You can buy peaches in the dead of winter and strawberries in the fall, but they never taste good. The same goes for tomatoes. These sci-fi versions with their lipstick red hue and taut skins are more decor than food.

I’ve become used to perennial produce, just like many, and I buy those out of season fruits (mostly tomatoes, because, I just really, really want one in my sandwich) only to eat them and feel deep disappointment.

It’s now late summer and the proper time to eat tomatoes, finally. There are so many beautiful, sun-ripened, juicy ones available you might have a hard time selecting among them, but they’re only around for a short while so eat as many as you can and store the memory of their proper flavor in your mind and belly until next season.

A favorite way we have of eating them is the most simple: salt and pepper, maybe some olive oil, good bread, and whatever cheese you may have, like mozzarella or goat cheese or sharp cheddar (try a cheddar, tomato, and mayonnaise sandiwich!).

We also love this take on a BLT with pork belly and herbs, and a vegetarian ensemble with green and yellow tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, cucumbers, and basil.

PORK BELLY B.L.T.

1 1/4 pounds pork belly
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons molasses
3 tablespoons malt vinegar
1 tablespoon sharp mustard
1 cup water

– Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F.

– With a sharp knife, score (gently cut) the top of the pork belly in a cross-hatch pattern. Season with salt, pepper, and the dry mustard.

– Whisk the remaining ingredients together in small saucepan and bring to a boil. Place the pork belly in a small baking dish and pour the sauce over it (it should come up at least halfway up the sides of the belly, otherwise, transfer to a smaller container). Cover with foil and transfer to the oven. Bake 1 hour until tender.

– Cool the belly completely (preferably refrigerated overnight) and slice into 1/2-inch thick slices. Cook the slices in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. If you like, you can simmer the cooking sauce and use it to glaze the pork.

– For the sandwich, spread toast with mayonnaise or mustard, then top with the pork belly and ripe, salted tomatoes. Add herbs like lemon thyme and basil and serve.

Finally, eggplant and tomatoes in a version of caponata. Caponata is a Sicilian classic, with myriad interpretations, but mostly it starts with eggplant cooked until tender. Other ingredients include the aforementioned tomatoes, onions, and celery, plus carrots, capers, olives, pine nuts, and herbs. The flavor is agrodolce (sweet-sour) and all of these ingredients combine to hit your palate in multiple locations at once.

This edition is a bit loose, having been made quickly from what was on hand. The dish, as you can see in the photo, is meant to look like a thick, fruit-heavy compote. Our caponata starts with eggplant and includes bits and pieces of fresh tomatoes. It’s actually a great way to rescue leftover bits of tomatoes you might have from having made a sandwich or a salad. You can use anchovies, or sardines as this recipe does—don’t worry, they won’t be “fishy” but will impart a heady dose of umami.

CAPONATA

Olive oil
2 black-skinned eggplant (2 to 2 1/2 pounds), cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
6 ripe tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup pimento-stuffed olives (chopping optional)
1/3 cup capers, rinsed and drained
2 sardines packed in oil
1/3 cup raisins (optional)
2 rosemary sprigs
Lemon juice
Red wine vinegar
– Heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the eggplant and onion and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant begins to soften and the onion is translucent, about 20 minutes. It’s ok if the eggplant turns a bit brown, but do lower the heat if any excess charring begins to happen.

– Add the garlic and a pinch of Aleppo pepper and cook 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and any juices and continue cooking, stirring, until the mixture is becoming homogenous and thick. Stir in the olives, capers, sardines, raisins, and rosemary and cook for 10 minutes longer.

– Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and vinegar.

– Cool to room temperature and serve as an appetizer with garlic toast or alongside grilled fish or chicken.

We shared our potato salad with homemade ranch dressing a few weeks ago for 4th of July, but it’s just so good and perfect for holiday gatherings that we decided to give it a little more attention, including variations with summer staples like corn and the thing the defies all seasons and reason: BACON.

A few things about potato salad: Use new or waxy potatoes like red bliss. Have you ever had a potato salad that was one step away from being mashed potatoes? You can bet the potatoes were overcooked, but a starchy potato (like the coarse brown-skinned russet) was probably the main culprit. While russets are fantastic baked — fluffy flesh, ready to absorb copious amounts of butter and sour cream — when cut up in potato salad they soak up too much dressing and they don’t hold their shape. Use what you like, but, we’re sticking to our waxy spuds.

Dicing or slicing? You can do either, just make sure that the cuts are even: as with any food you cut up, the pieces should be of equal size for even cooking. If dicing, make cubes about 1 1/2 inches big, and if slicing, a 1/2 inch thickness will do. Peeling? I like to leave the jackets-just scrub thoroughly.

On cooking: Always start potatoes in cold water. If you dump them into already boiling water, the exteriors will start to cook immediately. While the interior tries to catch up, those outsides will start to get mushy. Bring the water, potatoes, and salt (like with pasta, they need to be seasoned from the start) up to a boil over high heat and immediately reduce the heat to keep the potatoes at a low simmer.

Let’s see…what else? Do pay attention to the 2-step dressing process. In step 1, the potatoes are tossed with oil and vinegar — a very basic vinaigrette – to add base flavor, and then, the real dressing is added.

I like to eat potato salad the day it’s made as when it sits in the fridge it seizes up a bit and isn’t as creamy. If you’re going to make it the day before serving, toss them with the oil and vinegar, then half of the dressing and reserve the remaining half for coating just before serving.

POTATO SALAD WITH HOMEMADE RANCH DRESSING
Serves 10

4 pounds new potatoes (such as red bliss), scrubbed and cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 bunch dill, chopped (about 1 cup)
½ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
½ cup parsley leaves, chopped
Worcestershire sauce
Fresh lemon juice

– Place the potatoes in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover them. Add 1 tablespoon salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the head to medium and simmer the potatoes until fork-tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and spread them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle them with the vinegar and oil and gently stir them with a rubber spatula.

– While the potatoes are cooling, whisk the buttermilk and mayonnaise together in a medium bowl. Whisk in the garlic, dill, cilantro, and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Add Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice to taste.

– Pour about half of the dressing over the potatoes and stir gently to combine — while warm, the potatoes will absorb the dressing. Reserve the rest. When the potatoes come to room temperature, transfer them to a large bowl and refrigerate until chilled. When ready to serve, add the reserved dressing to the potatoes and adjust seasoning, as food tends to lose flavor when cold.

 

POTATO SALAD WITH BACON RANCH DRESSING
– Cut 10 slices bacon crosswise into thin strips. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until they’re brown and crisp. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat.

– Proceed with the recipe above, replacing the olive oil with the bacon fat. Stir 3/4 of the bacon bits into the salad with the dressing and sprinkle the rest on top.

 

POTATO SALAD WITH CORN AND CHIPOTLE DRESSING
Serves 10

3 ears of corn, shucked
4 pounds new potatoes (such as red bliss), scrubbed and cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, finely minced
6 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
½ cup parsley leaves, chopped
2 to 3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (more or less to taste)
Worcestershire sauce
Crumbled cotija cheese (optional)

– If you happen to be grilling, grill the ears of corn until charred on all sides. If you have a gas stove, you can char the corn directly on the range with the flame set to medium. To shave the corn off the cob: set a pie plate or wide shallow bowl on a rubber grip mat or a damp towel to secure it to the surface. Hold the corn with one hand, at the top, the base standing in the plate, and, carefully, cut the kernels, going parallel to the cob with a chef’s knife. If you’re not grilling at all, cook the kernels in 1 teaspoon of oil in a large skillet over high heat until browned. Reserve.

– Place the potatoes in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover them. Add 1 tablespoon salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the head to medium and simmer the potatoes until fork-tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and spread them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle them with the lime juice and oil and gently stir them with a rubber spatula.

– While the potatoes are cooling, whisk the buttermilk and mayonnaise together in a medium bowl. Whisk in the garlic, scallions, cilantro, and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the chipotles Worcestershire sauce.

– Pour about half of the dressing over the potatoes and stir gently to combine — while warm, the potatoes will absorb the dressing. Reserve the rest. When the potatoes come to room temperature, transfer them to a large bowl and refrigerate until chilled. When ready to serve, add the reserved dressing to the potatoes and adjust seasoning, as food tends to lose flavor when cold. Sprinkle with the cotija cheese before serving. And yes, this also goes well with bacon.

GARLIC SHRIMP
This one of those non-recipes that’s quick and easy to make and pairs so well with any of our potato salads and a crisp green salad. Devein the shrimp, rinse them under cold running water, and pat them thoroughly dry. Season them with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes and sauté them in vegetable or olive oil (remember, no extra-virgin for high heat cooking!) about 4 minutes until golden. Add a chopped garlic clove halfway through cooking, sprinkle fresh herbs like parsley and dill over them when you pull the skillet off the heat. Spritz with lime or lemon juice.

Cheeses for Bruschetta

Bruschetta

“Bigger is better!” is a creed that in our modern American food lexicon translates into super-sized meals and foods that have morphed into concoctions worthy of sci-fi. Ever curious about culinary innovation  hungry eyes and minds and mouths sometimes mislead us and feed us disastrous concoctions.

We are guilty of eating out a lot: sometimes it’s convenient, other times it’s because we’re running around for work, and most often because restaurants are where we meet with friends, celebrate, and relax. Don’t get us wrong, we love it! We’re so lucky to live in New York where restaurant choices are unlimited, but, after stuffing ourselves to the point of waistband button explosion, we return to our kitchens and scale back to the basics: meals made with local and seasonal items, cooked without much fuss and fanfare.

Ripe tomatoes, plump strawberries, slender asparagus, and herbs from the garden are a good place to start. Douse thick slices of  good bread with peppery olive oil and grill until charred: the exterior will crunch between your teeth, and the sturdy crumb will soak up the berry and tomato juices.

You can top your bruschetta with whatever you like, just remember to mind the basics: Start with the freshest and ripest produce, bread that has a thick crust and a dense crumb, quality extra-virgin olive oil, flaky sea salt, and just-ground black pepper. If adding cheeses, go for full fat and have a variety on hand, like mozzarella, spreadable mascarpone, and crumbly Parmigiano.

Tell us what you top your bruschetta with!

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