RSS Feed

WELCOME TO HELL. LET’S HAVE A PICNIC!

Posted on
WELCOME TO HELL. LET’S HAVE A PICNIC!

If you’re reading this, I can still reach the keyboard. My cats are flatter than pancakes. I have lost all interest in any activities except idly thumbing through Christmas card catalogs, anticipating sub-freezing temperatures with pleasure.

FORECAST

Here is another Mark Bittman column  – more common sense than I’ll ever have, as well as humor and a little in-your-face. Picnic fare that is just as good at home.  Today is July 2;  this was published July 2, 2008. Good ideas if you’ll be outdoors on Independence Day, or if you just want some simple-to-make dishes to sustain you through the summer.

101 20-Minute Dishes for Inspired Picnics

There is something both innocent and exciting about a picnic, even if you are only packing a few things at the last minute and heading down the street to the park. It may be nothing fancier than bologna or tuna salad on white bread, but you’re still likely to have a good time, which is probably why many of us remain devoted to the same picnic foods we’ve eaten all our lives.

But at some point, you may get the urge to vary the menu a bit. With that in mind, I’d like to make a few — or, actually, 101 — suggestions, ranging from snacks to dessert. With a little shopping, a little effort, and 20 minutes or less for assembly, you can create the kind of carry-out food that will put the local prepared food shops to shame while saving you a small fortune. No matter how faithful you are to your old favorites, I’ll bet you will find something intriguing here.

1 BEET SALAD Peel beets and grate them (a food processor will keep the juice contained). Add pistachios or hazelnuts; dress with orange zest and juice, and olive oil. Add bits of goat cheese and chopped parsley.

2 PESTO CHICKEN ROLLS Season and grill chicken cutlets. Brush lavash or any other wrap-type bread with pesto; layer with the chicken, sun-dried tomatoes and arugula; roll up and cut on the bias.

3 CURRIED EGG SALAD Make egg salad with hard-cooked eggs, mayo, curry powder, Dijon mustard, fresh lime juice, salt, pepper, cilantro, red onion and, if you like, diced apple.

4 TOMATOES AND PEACHES Toss together sliced seeded tomatoes and peaches, along with thinly sliced red onion and chopped cilantro or rosemary. Dress at the last minute with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

5 ROAST BEEF AND BLUE Start with whole-grain rolls. Smear blue cheese on one side and prepared horseradish on the other. Add red onion and thin-sliced roast beef, pork or lamb. Pack lettuce and tomato on the side. Potato chips are mandatory.

6 CORNFLAKE CHICKEN BITES Cut boneless chicken breasts into small pieces. Dip in milk or buttermilk, then dredge in seasoned crushed corn flake crumbs, cornmeal or panko. Pan-fry in oil, drain, cool and eat cold with celery sticks, with ranch or blue cheese dressing for dipping.

7 GRAPES AND CHEESE Mix feta cubes and green grapes (or grape tomatoes or pieces of watermelon). Add mint, salt, pepper and olive oil. A tiny bit of chopped fresh chili is good, too.

8 COLD PEANUT NOODLES Cook Chinese egg noodles or regular spaghetti. Drain and rinse. Toss with sesame oil, peanut butter (or tahini), sugar, soy sauce, ginger, vinegar, black pepper (lots) and chili oil (optional). Pack shredded seeded cucumber, cooked shrimp and chopped scallions separately.

9 For gazpacho, combine a couple of pounds of ripe tomatoes, one of cucumbers, a slice or two of bread, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper in a blender. Chill and pour into a thermos.

DSCN7736

Gazpacho. See my recipe here.

10 Combine tomatoes and cucumber in blender with lemon grass (only the most tender part), cilantro, fish sauce and lime. Voilà: Thai gazpacho.

11 Mix peeled, grated carrots with chopped dates, cumin, minced chili, lemon or lime juice, mint or cilantro.

12 Slice a few bulbs of fennel and some tart apples; dice some jicama. Toss together with freshly chopped tarragon, basil or chervil (if you can find it), olive oil, salt, lots of pepper and lemon juice. Celery is good in this, too, as are oranges and cheeses, especially sheep’s cheeses.

13 Guacasalsa: Mash an avocado (it won’t get brown) into some salsa, even jarred if necessary. Don’t forget chips.

14 Cut day-old crusty bread into one-inch cubes. Just before leaving the house, combine it with chopped tomatoes (seeds are O.K.), chopped cucumber, chopped red onion and fresh basil. Pack dressing separately: olive oil, red wine vinegar, diced anchovies, capers, salt and pepper. Call this panzanella.

15 Toss toasted pita with olives, parsley and mint, salt and pepper, bits of chopped-up lemon (rinds and all; preserved lemon is even better), chopped seeded tomatoes, chopped seeded cucumbers and chopped red pepper. Take olive oil for last-minute dressing.

16 Thinly slice Savoy or Napa cabbage. Toss with thinly sliced red onion, half a diced jalapeño and handfuls of chopped cilantro. Dress with olive oil, lime juice, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

17 Halve cherry tomatoes; toss with equal-size pieces of firm smoked or regular tofu and soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, scallions and a pinch of sugar (or mirin if you have it). Add chopped Thai basil and/or cilantro and/or mint just before eating.

18 Toss cooked couscous with oil, chopped parsley, chopped black olives, capers, red onion, salt and pepper. Scoop out medium-size tomatoes and fill with mixture. Pack carefully.

19 Process a cup or two of cashews, a chili or two, some garlic, a splash of soy sauce and enough water to get the food processor going; fold in chopped cilantro or chives. Fill celery sticks and chill. This is the best celery-filler since cream cheese.

20 Poach a couple of pounds of dark leafy greens, like kale, collards or spinach. Drain, cool, squeeze dry and chop. Then toss with oil, salt and lots of lemon juice. Serve with more lemon, oil, salt and pepper. Call it horta.

21 Brown fresh corn kernels in hot oil with chopped chili and garlic, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and toss with cilantro and lots of lime juice.

22 Cook whole unpeeled eggplant in a dry, hot skillet, turning occasionally, until collapsed and soft. (Or grill, or roast, or hold with a fork over an open flame.) While it’s cooling, whisk together tahini, lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic and parsley in a bowl. Chop the eggplant flesh (leave the peel behind) and roughly mash in the bowl. Add red pepper flakes if you like. Serve with pita.

23 Simmer one part olive oil, two parts red wine vinegar and four parts water with herbs, salt and pepper. Add chopped vegetables, firmest to softest — maybe carrots first, then cauliflower, then peppers — and poach until just getting tender. Remove from heat and chill overnight in the liquid. It’s giardiniera.

24 Cut zucchini into big chunks and roast or grill with olive oil (and, if you like, whole garlic cloves). Combine with chopped seeded tomatoes, lemon juice, dill, salt and pepper.

25 Toss cauliflower florets with oil, salt and pepper, and roast in a hot oven until browned and cooked; while still warm, toss with curry powder and a handful of raisins. Pour on the lemon juice.

26 Soak wakame or other seaweed in hot water until soft; drain and squeeze dry. Toss with chopped celery, sesame oil, soy sauce, mirin (or honey) and rice wine vinegar. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

27 Clean a bunch of mixed mushrooms; quarter any large ones. Steam for about five minutes. When still warm, toss with sliced shallots, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, cracked coriander seeds, chopped fresh cilantro, sherry vinegar and more olive oil if necessary.

28 In a blender or food processor, combine ginger, a half cup or so light miso, a little more than that of walnuts, and enough soy sauce to make a sauce. Toss with cooked green beans or eggplant.

29 Steam or boil a bunch of asparagus; slice on the bias. Toss with orange segments, zest and juice, some olive oil, salt and pepper. Garnish with sesame seeds. Add little shrimp or shredded crab, lobster or chicken if you like.

30 Steam or boil green beans or asparagus; slice on the bias. Toss with thinly sliced red onion, matchstick-size pieces of prosciutto (or lardo if you’re in Colonnata), olive oil, lemon juice, a pinch of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

31 Combine cooked or canned (and drained) black beans, kidney beans and chickpeas. Add diced red and green pepper, some corn kernels and a minced jalapeño. Season with lime juice, chopped marjoram or oregano, salt and pepper.

32 Cook lentils with garlic, onion and thyme. Toss with salt, pepper and fresh chopped herbs: marjoram, tarragon, chervil or basil. Dress with vinaigrette made with oil, vinegar and mustard.

33 Toss cooked or canned white beans with chopped seeded tomato, chopped anchovy, chopped olives, oil, lemon juice, lots of black pepper, salt if necessary and parsley.

34 Steam frozen (shelled) edamame or limas. Toss with chopped seeded tomatoes, cilantro, soy sauce and a suspicion of sesame oil. Salt and pepper.

35 Steam frozen edamame and chill. Toss with olive oil, lemon juice, a pinch of sugar, lots of chopped mint, salt, pepper, and as much shaved pecorino or Parmesan as you like.

36 Mix cooked rice and cooked lentils with very, very well caramelized onions. Add sherry vinegar, salt, pepper and, if necessary, a bit of oil.

37 Combine cooked brown rice with small, barely cooked broccoli florets and chopped pecans or walnuts and parsley. Dress with salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon.

38 Combine cooked Arborio rice with thin pesto, peas, toasted pine nuts, salt and pepper.

39 Soak a tablespoon or two of black beans in sherry or wine; toss with cooked rice, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and cilantro.

luncheon-on-the-grass-by-edouard-manet

Le déjeuner sur l’herbe by Edouard Manet. Scandalous!

40 Mix cooked couscous with olive oil; add pimentón, cumin, salt and pepper, chopped shallot or red onion, toasted slivered almonds and orange zest and juice. Cooked cauliflower is good, too.

41 Toss a load of chopped parsley with a little cooked bulgur — say three to one in favor of the parsley. Chopped seeded tomatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper and lots of lemon juice. Call this real tabbouleh.

42 Make tabbouleh as above and embellish with more vegetables — like cucumbers and radishes — and/or crumbled feta, or bits of cooked chicken. Or smoked tofu, or bacon, whatever you can think of. How can you go wrong?

43 Make potato salad with mustard vinaigrette. Add chopped cooked asparagus, peas, green beans, etc. Or steamed mussels.

44 Make potato salad with mayo and crumbled bacon, and add grated Cheddar, celery, onion and chopped egg. You don’t have to pack much else except blood thinner.

45 Roast or boil sweet potatoes, but not too soft. Make a blended vinaigrette with a little chili, cumin, sherry vinegar and olive oil. Pack separately and toss together with scallions and mint.

46 Make egg salad with sesame oil and seeds, soy sauce, rice vinegar, scallions and chilies.

47 Egg salad with chopped seeded tomato, basil and extra virgin olive oil.

48 Egg salad with sour cream, smoked salmon and chopped chives.

49 Take cold pizza and lemon. Squeeze lemon over pizza. Really.

50 Mix a couple of cups of cold leftover cooked short-grain rice (if you happen to have risotto lying around, so much the better) with three eggs. Form balls; insert a small cube of mozzarella into each. Roll in bread crumbs and refrigerate if convenient. Deep or shallow fry until golden. Packed carefully, these will be fine. Call them supplì al telefono.

51 Purée roasted red peppers (jarred are O.K., piquillo are even better) with feta, marjoram or oregano and parsley, olive oil and garlic. Serve as a dip.

52 Make burritos, using the biggest flour tortillas you can find: rice, beans, any stewed or grilled meat or chicken, cilantro, salsa.

53 Marinate firm goat or feta cheese in olive oil, with rosemary, garlic, lemon zest, red and black pepper. You don’t need much of this, but it’s good.

54 Make a cheese ball: Mash together equal parts good grated Cheddar, crumbled blue and cream cheese, maybe thinned with a little sour cream. Shape into a ball and roll in fresh chopped herbs and/or hazelnuts. Take Triscuits. You think people won’t eat this?

55 Make simple syrup with rosemary; purée in a blender with watermelon, rum (optional) and lemon juice. Use more rum and call this a cocktail, or omit rum, add a little feta and eat with a spoon. Keep it cold in either case.

56 Use a spoon or melon baller to make equal size pieces of watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, or, I don’t know, Charentais. Mix together and sprinkle with lemon juice and salt or (better still) chili, sugar, salt and lime.

57 (A) Make fruit salad, however you like it; pack it. (B) Take seeded papaya halves, well wrapped. Put (A) in (B), drizzle with lemon, and serve.

58 Husk and quarter strawberries; at the last minute, combine with a little chopped tarragon, black pepper and balsamic vinegar. Goat cheese is good, too.

59 Cut melon into wedges and wrap thin slices of prosciutto around them. Stack in a container, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with black pepper. Take romaine lettuce and serve the wedges over the greens, with the accumulated juices as a dressing. It works.

60 Toss cornbread cubes with blueberries, lemon juice, olive oil and hazelnuts. Yes.

61 Toss chopped shrimp or shredded crab or lobster with lemon juice, chopped chives, salt and pepper. Use this to fill avocado halves. (If the avocado browns, blame me. It’ll still taste great.)

62 Boil potatoes, corn kernels and shrimp; drain and chill. Serve with crusty bread and lemon wedges along with mayo mixed with garlic and crumbled saffron. Call this Aegean seafood salad.

63 Drain a can of good quality salmon (preferably sockeye). Mix with cannellini beans, chopped tomato, diced shallot, chopped black or green olives, chopped parsley and basil. Dress with olive oil and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Serve on bread (scooped out ciabatta is very nice) or over greens.

4682

Sandy filed for divorce shortly thereafter. No one could blame her.

64 Combine a bunch of watercress or arugula with thinly sliced radishes and red onion; add flaked smoked trout or whitefish. Dress at the last minute with olive oil, sherry vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.

65 Cut salmon fillets (the skin can be on or off) into serving-size pieces, and sear them in oil on both sides until brown; set aside. Sauté onions, garlic, fresh chilies if you like; deglaze the pan with one part red wine vinegar, two parts each red wine and water. Pour over fish and chill for up to two days. This will work with mackerel, chicken, pork, etc. Call this escabeche.

66 Make escabeche with white wine and vinegar, dill and lemon slices.

67 Pan-cook shrimp in oil. Separately sauté fresh and dried chilies with lots of onions and garlic; add beer, reduce and pour glaze over shrimp.

68 Mix good canned tuna with diced fennel, tarragon, lemon juice, salt and pepper. No mayo.

69 Mix good tuna with mashed anchovies (packed in olive oil), grated Parmesan, bits of lemon and some lemon juice, olive oil and perhaps a thimbleful of Worcestershire. No mayo.

70 You want an idea for tuna with mayo, I know: Mix tuna with mayo and mustard; add capers and dill.

71 Cut chicken wings into two parts, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and grill or roast until crisp and golden. Whisk together mustard, honey and lemon juice, and toss with warm wings. Chill overnight (or eat them and take something else to the picnic).

72 Combine equal parts soy sauce, mirin and sake with a little sugar and sesame oil; boil for a minute. Use this to baste chicken thighs, pork or beef while you grill or broil it. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and/or chopped scallions — ginger and/or lemon are good too — just before serving. Call it teriyaki. Works with mackerel and other dark fish, too.

73 Make chicken teriyaki as above, then toss with a little mayo and perhaps more soy. Awesome.

74 Poach chicken and chop or shred. Toss with lemon juice, olive oil and herbs of your choice.

75 Pack in three containers: grilled sliced beef or pork, with its juices; watercress or arugula tossed with mint, basil and/or cilantro; a dressing of lime juice, sesame oil, fish or soy sauce and sugar. Dress greens; put meat and its juices over all.

76 Thinly slice grilled butterflied leg of lamb; toss with cherry tomatoes, olive oil, mint, feta and chopped red onion.

77 Grind chunks of lamb shoulder in a food processor with onion, parsley, salt and pepper. Make into small meatballs and sauté or roast. Serve sliced with pita wedges or in pita, with lemon, and a dollop of yogurt or tapenade.

78 Split small chickens or Cornish hens; grill or broil quickly, with lots of salt and pepper. Take them whole to the picnic with sandwich rolls, good barbecue sauce (O.K., and mayo) and pickles. Pick off the meat and go to it.

79 Cut quail in half, or not; marinate with salt, pepper, minced garlic, sage and oil for as long as you can — at least five minutes. Grill for 10 to 15 minutes.

80 Chop various salamis, mortadella, etc. and combine with chopped provolone, Parmesan, bell pepper, red onion and fresh oregano. Heavily dress in vinaigrette. Take shredded romaine lettuce for tossing. And bread, obviously.

81 Make chopped olive salad (I like onion, thyme, capers, a little garlic). Hollow out a medium-size round bread, or a few rolls. Put in olive salad and cured meats of your choice: ham, prosciutto, salami, mortadella, whatever; and provolone. Call this a muffuletta.

82 Slice open a good baguette and fill it with chopped or shredded cooked chicken tossed with fish sauce, chili, sugar, lime, garlic, scallions and Thai basil (or, in a dire emergency, regular).

1e3296b3dc20b5f41d4f171e42f18c50

Blue sandwiches with daisies never caught on, and more’s the pity.

83 Fry chopped bacon until half done; add strips of boneless chicken and cook until done; pack. Take pitas, chopped seeded tomato, avocado, sliced red onion and shredded romaine. Assemble sandwiches in situ; dress with olive oil and cheap vinegar.

84 Blanch frozen fava beans in salted water. Pulse in a food processor with some mint or parsley until roughly chopped; season with salt, pepper and fresh lemon juice. Slice baguette and spread one half with fresh ricotta, then drizzle with olive oil. Spread the other half with the fava beans. Put arugula in there and sandwich-ize.

85 Butter both halves of a sliced baguette. Layer with thinly sliced cured ham — Serrano, prosciutto, Bayonne, York, whatever — and many halved cornichons. Call this une sandwich.

86 Halve a cucumber or two; scoop out the seeds. Slice it thin and salt it for a bit if you have time; in any case squeeze out some of the liquid. Combine it with shredded cooked chicken, ginger, soy sauce, salt, pepper and cilantro. On a baguette, it’s reminiscent of banh mi.

87 Grill a steak; slice it thin. Butter a baguette on one side; put Dijon on the other side. Pile the bread with steak, roasted peppers (canned are fine; piquillos are best), and something crunchy, like radicchio or fennel. A little blue cheese wouldn’t hurt either. Neither would avocado. (But not both.)

88 Cook peeled shrimp; little ones are best. Toss with pesto: lots. Put on small rolls. (In fact: cook anything; toss with pesto: lots. Put on small rolls.)

89 Dredge fish fillets in cornmeal. Sauté in abundant olive oil until crisp. Let cool a bit, then use for sandwiches, packing tomatoes separately.

90 Hard-cook some eggs; slice them. Sauté some spinach with oil and garlic until quite dry; chop. Make mustardy sandwiches with baguettes, rolls or any bread that can absorb some oil.

91 Cook fusilli or other cut pasta; rinse in cool water, but don’t bother to chill. Combine with chopped seeded tomatoes, cubed fresh mozzarella, chopped basil, olive oil, salt and pepper. (Good with olives, too.) Do not call this pasta salad, because pasta salad is no good, and this is.

92 Shred carrots and zucchini. Mix lime juice, soy sauce, grated ginger and sesame oil. Cook soba noodles, drain and rinse under cold water. Toss noodles with the vegetables and dressing.

93 Cook rice vermicelli and drain. Toss with kimchi, lots of cilantro and cooked chopped shrimp or chicken.

94 Cook garlic in olive oil until just sizzling; add clams (you can use canned clams but it will not be the same), and, cook, stirring, until they open. Remove, chop and combine with the garlic, oil, any liquid in pan, chopped tomato and cooked pasta. Add more oil as needed, with lemon juice, parsley, salt (if needed), pepper and oregano, if you like.

95 Combine equal parts honey and brown sugar with a little oil and bring to a boil; toss with good granola until the mixture is very sticky. You can add more nuts, or raisins and, yes, O.K., you can add chocolate chips. Line a pan with waxed paper or film with oil. Press mixture into pan and let cool. Call these granola bars.

96 Cook a couple of pounds of berries with some sugar and a little water until they break down. Layer in a plastic container with slices of good pound cake. Pour any remaining juices on top. You might want some cream.

97 Make sandwiches of angel food cake and ganache or fruit compote.

98 Mix peanut butter and cream cheese. Spread between two good cookies and make sandwiches. Or mix honey, lemon zest and cream cheese. Make sandwiches with ginger snaps.

99 Put sorbet (make it yourself if you have time) in a really cold thermos; it will be slushy by the time you open it. Add a splash of Champagne or Gewürztraminer if you like, maybe some mint, and eat like cold soup.

100 Take a container of melted chocolate thinned with cream or crème fraîche with strawberries, pineapple or bananas for dipping.

101 Take the makings of S’mores. Build a fire.

TOO DAMN HOT, REDUX

Posted on

It isn’t even 10 AM and it’s 91 degrees. This is how the day is going to go.

download (2)

But a girl has to eat, even if girl doesn’t feel like doing much more than ripping open a bag of Ruffles and scooping up some pre-made dip, but that is the Road to Perdition, especially if accompanied by a giant bottle of Coke.

More Mark Bittman? Yes, please. From July 21, 2009.

101 Simple Salads for the Season.

Summer may not be the best time to cook, but it’s certainly among the best times to eat. Toss watermelon and peaches with some ingredients you have lying around already, and you can produce a salad that’s delicious, unusual, fast and perfectly seasonal.

That’s the idea behind the 101 ideas found in this section. In theory, each salad takes 20 minutes or less. Honestly, some may take you a little longer. But most minimize work at the stove and capitalize on the season, when tomatoes, eggplant, herbs, fruit, greens and more are plentiful and excellent.

This last point is important. Not everything needs to be farmers’ market quality, but it’s not too much to expect ripe fruit, fragrant herbs and juicy greens.

Salt, to taste, is a given in all of these recipes. Pepper, too (if I want you to use a lot of pepper, I say so).

Herein, then, are enough salad ideas to tide you over until the weather cools down.

MOSTLY VEGAN SALADS

1. Cube watermelon and combine with tomato chunks, basil and basic vinaigrette. You can substitute peach for the watermelon or the tomato (but not both, O.K.?). You can also add bacon or feta, but there goes the vegan-ness.

2. Mix wedges of tomatoes and peaches, add slivers of red onion, a few red-pepper flakes and cilantro. Dress with olive oil and lime or lemon juice. Astonishing.

3. A nice cucumber salad: Slice cucumbers thin (if they’re fat and old, peel and seed them first), toss with red onions and salt, then let sit for 20 to 60 minutes. Rinse, dry, dress with cider vinegar mixed with Dijon mustard; no oil necessary.

4. Shave raw asparagus stalks with a vegetable peeler. Discard the tough first pass of the peeler — i.e., the peel — but do use the tips, whole. Dress with lemon vinaigrette and coarse salt. (Chopped hard-boiled eggs optional but good.)

5. Grate or very thinly slice Jerusalem artichokes; mix with pitted and chopped oil-cured olives, olive oil, lemon juice and a sprinkling of coarsely ground cumin. Unusual and wonderful.

6. Sichuan slaw: Toss bean sprouts, shredded carrots and celery, minced fresh chili, soy sauce, sesame oil and a bit of sugar. Top with chopped peanuts and chopped basil, mint and/or cilantro. (The full trio is best.)

7. Grate carrots, toast some sunflower seeds, and toss with blueberries, olive oil, lemon juice and plenty of black pepper. Sweet, sour, crunchy, soft.

8. Chop or slice radishes (or jicama, or the ever-surprising kohlrabi) and combine with chopped or sliced unripe (i.e., still crunchy) mango, lime juice and mint or cilantro.

9. Chop or slice jicama (or radishes or kohlrabi) and mango and mix with coconut milk, lime juice, curry powder and cilantro or mint.

10. Cook whole grape tomatoes in olive oil over high heat until they brown lightly, sprinkling with curry powder. Cool a bit, then toss with chopped arugula, loads of chopped mint and lime juice.

11. Chop and steam baby or grown-up bok choy until crisp-tender, then shock it in ice water. Drain, then toss with halved cherry tomatoes, capers, olive oil and lemon juice.

12. Combine sliced fennel and prune plums; serve with vinaigrette spiked with minced ginger. Nice pairing.

6174b4e3730c3df5f4930a4307d8a985

This woman has the disturbing expression of someone being forced to do something against her will.

13. A red salad: Combine tomato wedges with halved strawberries, basil leaves, shaved Parmesan and balsamic vinegar.

14. A classic Moroccan thing: Thinly slice carrots, or grate or shred them (the food processor makes quick work of this). Toss with toasted cumin seeds, olive oil, lemon juice and cilantro. Raisins are good in here, too. There is no better use of raw carrots.

15. Cut cherry or grape tomatoes in half; toss with soy sauce, a bit of dark sesame oil and basil or cilantro. I love this — the tomato juice-soy thing is incredible.

16. Slice fennel and crisp apple about the same thickness (your choice). Combine, then dress with mustardy vinaigrette and chopped parsley. Come fall, this will be even better.

17. With thanks to Szechuan Gourmet restaurant: Finely chop celery and mix with a roughly equal amount of pressed or smoked tofu, chopped. Dress with peanut oil warmed with chili flakes and Sichuan peppercorns, then mixed with soy sauce.

18. Roughly chop cooked or canned chickpeas (you can pulse them, carefully, in a food processor) and toss with olive oil, lemon juice, lots of chopped fresh parsley and mint, and a few chopped tomatoes. Call this chickpea tabbouleh.

19. Mix cooked cannellini or other white beans, chopped cherry or grape tomatoes and arugula or baby spinach. Lightly toast sliced garlic in olive oil with rosemary and red pepper flakes; cool slightly, add lemon zest or juice or both, then pour over beans.

20. Shred Napa cabbage and radishes. The dressing is roasted peanuts, lime juice, peanut or other oil, cilantro and fresh or dried chili, all whizzed in a blender. Deliciousness belies ease.

21. Dice cucumbers (if they’re fat and old, peel and seed them first) and toss with cubes of avocado, a little mirin (or honey, but then it’s not vegan), rice vinegar and soy sauce. (You could mix in a little lump crab meat, really not vegan, even rice, and call it a California roll salad.)

22. Thinly slice button mushrooms; toss with finely chopped carrots and celery and mix with mung bean sprouts. Finish with peanut or olive oil, sherry vinegar, a little soy sauce and minced ginger. (This is a super vinaigrette, by the way.)

23. Thinly slice some cucumbers (if they’re fat and old, peel and seed them first), red onions, radishes and fresh chili pepper. Soak for a few minutes in equal amounts vinegar and water, with some salt and sugar. When they taste lightly pickled, drain and serve, alone or over rice.

24. Blanch spinach, then drain and shock in ice water. Squeeze it dry, chop it and toss it with toasted pine nuts, raisins, olive oil and a tiny bit of balsamic vinegar. Capers are good, too. Quite elegant, actually.

25. Combine chopped bell peppers, tomatoes, red onion, chilies and cilantro, then toss with corn tortilla strips, toasted in a 350-degree oven until crisp (or yes, use packaged chips; why not?). Dust with chili powder and lots of lime juice.

26. Combine mushroom caps and thinly sliced red onions with olive oil; broil gently until tender and browned. Toss with a lot of chopped fresh parsley or basil (or both) and a simple vinaigrette. Some chopped escarole, arugula or watercress is good, too.

27. Cook whole, unpeeled eggplant in a dry, hot skillet or on a grill, turning occasionally, until completely collapsed and soft. Chop and toss with toasted pita, toasted pine nuts, cooked white beans and halved cherry tomatoes. Dress with olive oil, lemon juice and lots of black pepper. Or a (non-vegan) yogurt dressing is good, especially one laced with tahini.

28. Toss mâche or another soft green with toasted slivered almonds and roughly chopped fresh figs. Thin some almond butter with water and sherry vinegar to taste and use as a dressing. Some will like this with fresh goat cheese.

29. Pit and halve cherries (or halve and pit cherries), then cook gently with olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar until they break down. Toss with chopped radicchio, endive, escarole or a combination, some toasted hazelnuts and more oil and vinegar, if necessary.

30. Fast, grown-up potato salad: Boil bite-size red potatoes. While still warm, dress them with olive oil, lemon juice, whole grain mustard, capers and parsley. Chopped shallots, bell peppers, etc., all welcome, too.

6dea668d3c3e112aa6c3984d091139d9

“Gimme a big ol’ slice o’ potato salad,” said no one ever.

31. Roast beets whole (or buy them precooked), then slice or cube and toss with a little chopped garlic (or a lot of roasted garlic), toasted walnuts, orange juice and olive oil.

32. Same deal with the beets, but toss with cooked corn, arugula, olive oil, sherry vinegar and chopped shallots.

33. The real five-bean: Chickpeas, cannellini or other white beans, kidney or other red beans, steamed string beans and steamed yellow wax beans. Toss with vinaigrette, chopped scallions or red onion, and parsley.

34. Grill quartered romaine hearts, radicchio and/or endive. Drizzle with olive oil and sherry vinegar, and add dill and chopped shallots. Teeny-tiny croutons are great on this.

35. Combine cooked or canned black beans with shredded cabbage and this vinaigrette: olive oil, fresh orange juice, not much sherry vinegar, ground cumin.

36. Mix cooked or canned chickpeas with toasted coconut, shredded carrots, chopped celery, curry powder, olive oil, lime juice and cilantro.

VEGETARIAN SALADS

37. Cube smoked tofu, then brush it with a mixture of honey and orange juice; broil until browned. Toss with chopped cucumbers, radishes and peas or pea shoots; drizzle with soy sauce and lime juice.

38. Cube watermelon; combine with roughly chopped mint, crumbled feta, sliced red onion and chopped Kalamata olives. Dress lightly with olive oil and lemon juice. Despite saltiness of feta and olives, this may need salt.

39. Yucatecan street food as salad: Roast fresh corn kernels in a pan with a little oil; toss with cayenne or minced chilis, lime juice and a little queso fresco. Cherry tomatoes are optional.

40. Slice cucumber and top with capers, olive oil, lots of pepper and little dollops of fresh ricotta. Note: cucumbers, ricotta and oil must all be really good.

41. Halve avocados and scoop out some but not all of their flesh. Roughly chop and toss with black beans, queso fresco, cilantro, chopped tomatillos and lime juice. Serve in the meaty avocado shells.

42. Trim crusts if necessary from day-or-two-old bread (or even three-day-old bread), cube and marinate in black olive tapenade thinned with more olive oil. Add chopped capers and toss with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella. (Anchovies optional.)

43. Grate raw beets (use the food processor to avoid ruining everything within spattering distance) and toss with watercress or arugula. Top with sherry vinaigrette and a little goat cheese. Especially obvious, perhaps, but also especially popular.

44. Make a crisp grilled cheese sandwich, with good bread and not too much good cheese. Let it cool, then cut into croutons. Put them on anything, but especially tomato and basil salad. This you will do forever.

45. Halve or quarter cooked artichoke hearts (the best are fresh and grilled, but you can use canned or frozen) and combine with cherry tomatoes, bits of feta or Parmesan or both, olive oil and lemon juice.

46. Sauté mushrooms and shallots in olive oil. Add a lot of spinach, chopped unless the leaves are small. When it wilts, stir in parsley and crumbled blue cheese. Feels like a steakhouse side-dish salad.

47. Thinly slice raw button mushrooms; combine with sliced or shaved Parmesan, parsley and a vinaigrette of olive oil, sherry vinegar and shallots.

48. Toss roughly chopped dandelion greens (or arugula or watercress) with chopped preserved lemon, chickpeas, crumbled feta and olive oil. (Before you start cursing me out, here’s a quick way to make preserved lemons: chop whole lemons and put in a bowl with the juice of another lemon or two, sprinkle with a fair amount of salt and let sit for an hour or so.)

49. Toss greens with walnuts, blue cheese and raspberries; drizzle with a simple vinaigrette. Sell for $14 a serving.

50. It’s puttanesca-ish: Egg salad with pitted black olives, chopped tomatoes, capers, anchovies (optional), a tiny bit of garlic and some red onion; mayonnaise as needed.

51. Arrange sliced ripe tomatoes and hard-boiled eggs on a platter; scatter a handful of chopped pitted green olives on top. Drizzle with a dressing made with olive oil, sherry vinegar and a teaspoon of pimentón.

52. Chop hard-boiled eggs and mix with just enough mayonnaise to bind; spoon into endive leaves. Top each with a small canned sardine and drizzle with a vinaigrette of olive oil, lemon juice and mustard.

53. Peel beets and grate them in a food processor. Mix equal parts plain yogurt and tahini, and toss with the beets along with lemon juice and za’atar (a mixture of toasted sesame seeds, dried green herbs and ground sumac; you can make it yourself using dried thyme).

54. Slice roasted red peppers (if you must use canned, try to find piquillos) and fresh mozzarella. Toss with cooked white beans, olive oil, red wine vinegar, a chopped shallot and fresh rosemary or parsley.

SALADS WITH SEAFOOD

55. Mix watercress with chopped smoked salmon, avocado, red onion and capers. Make a vinaigrette with olive oil, sherry vinegar and mustard powder.

56. Salade niçoise, sort of: On or around a bed of greens, make mounds of olives, cooked new potatoes and green beans (warm or at room temperature), good tomatoes, capers, fennel slivers, hard-cooked eggs and good quality Italian canned tuna. None of these is crucial; you get the idea. Serve with vinaigrette or aioli.

57. Toss cubes of day-or-more-old good bread with soy sauce, chopped sautéed shrimp, chopped radishes and cilantro. Like a weird shrimp toast panzanella.

58. Sear tuna until rare (for that matter, you could leave it raw) and cut it into small cubes. Toss with shredded jicama or radish and shredded Napa cabbage; season with mirin, soy sauce and cilantro. Avocado and/or wasabi paste are great with this, too.

59. Sear tuna, or use good canned tuna. Chop it up and mix with chopped olives, capers, tomatoes, parsley and olive oil.

P1020109

Canned tuna with warm white beans, arugula, chopped red onion, chopped tomato, olive oil.

60. Ditto on the tuna. Mix with chopped apples, halved seedless grapes, chopped red onion, olive oil, a bit of cumin and black pepper.

61. Mix canned salmon (sockeye, or use cooked fresh) with capers, chopped celery, yogurt or mayonnaise, and lemon juice. Serve on greens or in endive leaves.

62. Dust shrimp with chili powder. Sauté in butter or oil (or a combination) with fresh corn kernels and flavorful cooking greens (bok choy is good, as is watercress). Add halved cherry tomatoes and lime juice at the last minute.

63. Sunday brunch salad: Mix diced cucumbers, chopped tomato, minced red onion and capers with bits of smoked salmon. Dress with lemon juice (you won’t need much oil, if any). Take a step further by adding croutons of cubed toasted bagels.

64. Alternative Sunday brunch: Shred or chop cucumbers (if they’re fat and old, peel and seed them first), then toss with flaked smoked trout or whitefish, capers, dill, lemon juice and olive oil.

65. In a hot pan, flash-cook cut-up squid in a little olive oil for no more than two minutes. Toss with cooked or canned chickpeas, chopped bell peppers, lemon juice, a little more oil and parsley.

66. In a hot pan, sear sea scallops for a minute or two on each side, depending on size. Slice or chop, then toss with thinly sliced fennel and lemon or orange vinaigrette and some chopped fennel fronds.

67. Bread salad for anchovy lovers: Chop together many anchovies, a few capers, lemon juice and olive oil (or anchovy oil). Toss with cubes of toasted bread and chopped tomatoes or halved cherry or grape tomatoes.

68. Mix crab meat with pan-roasted corn, chopped avocado, halved cherry or grape tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice and perhaps a bit of cilantro and crumbled ancho chili.

69. Stir-fry small or chopped shrimp in olive or peanut oil with lots of ginger; while still warm, combine with tomato wedges, chopped romaine, cilantro, scallions and lots of lime juice. Good in pita.

SALADS WITH MEAT

70. Shred Brussels sprouts in the food processor, preferably with the slicing disk. Toss with vinaigrette and crumbled bacon.

71. Combine sliced green tomatoes and sliced fresh mozzarella; top with roughly chopped basil, olive oil, black pepper and crumbled bacon.

72. Sort-of carpaccio salad: Broil or grill skirt or sirloin steak very rare and slice very thin. Arrange on a plate with tomato wedges, lettuce and lemon juice.

73. Hawaiitalian: Combine pineapple chunks with bits of any cured pork product — cooked guanciale is ideal, or any ham — and a not-too-subtle chili vinaigrette.

74. Julienne red, yellow and orange bell peppers; mix with thinly sliced red onion, olive oil and cooked crumbled sausage or chopped salami.

75. The Little Italy salad: Chop or julienne salami and prosciutto, then toss with cubed mozzarella, chopped tomato, pepperoncini, oil and wine vinegar.

da761e8c872c796d2dcd22a0e8d5e060

I don’t know what happened here, but “train wreck” comes to mind.

76. Slice fresh figs — many, if you live where they grow — and top with crumbled bacon, balsamic vinegar (the best you have) and crumbled blue cheese.

77. Combine shredded cabbage or lettuce with bits of good turkey, Swiss cheese and rye croutons. Top with good old Russian dressing, call it a turkey sandwich salad and don’t knock it until you try it.

78. What happens when your Chicago hot dog falls apart: Toss together tomato wedges, chopped pickles, hot peppers, shredded lettuce and a few slices of broiled or grilled hot dog. Dress with a vinaigrette made with mustard (should be yellow for authenticity, but …) and celery salt. (You could throw in freshly made croutons; inauthentic, but better than a hot dog bun.)

79. Sear a steak and move it to a cutting board (don’t wash the pan); wait a minute or two, then slice. Cut kale (preferably black, also known as Tuscan, or dino kale) into thin ribbons and toss in the pan over high heat for a minute. Turn off the heat, add chopped black olives, olive oil and sherry vinegar. Serve kale with steak on top.

80. Sort-of-Cobb salad: Choose any combination of hard-cooked eggs, chopped prosciutto, cooked chicken, crumbled Gorgonzola, chopped tomatoes, chickpeas or white beans, sliced red onion, olives. Make vinaigrette with capers and anchovies.

81. Soak sliced prune plums or figs in balsamic vinegar for a few minutes, then add olive oil, chopped celery and red onion, shreds of roasted or grilled chicken, chopped fresh marjoram or oregano and chopped almonds. Serve on top of or toss with greens. So good.

82. Cut pancetta into matchsticks and crisp in a skillet with some oil, then caramelize onions in the fat. Toss both with chopped bitter greens — radicchio, escarole or endive, for example — toasted pine nuts and halved cherry or grape tomatoes.

83. Toss thinly sliced Vidalia or other sweet onions with olive oil and red wine vinegar. Sear a skirt steak and let sit a minute; slice it thin. Toss salad greens with the onions, roasted red peppers, and steak; add a little more oil and vinegar if necessary.

SALADS WITH NOODLES

84. Spring rolls, unrolled: One at a time, soften a few sheets of rice paper in warm water. Drain, pat dry, cut into strips and toss with chopped cucumber, grated carrots, chopped cilantro, bean sprouts, chili flakes and chopped roasted peanuts. Dress with toasted sesame oil, fish sauce or soy sauce, and rice vinegar or lime juice. A few shrimp are a nice addition.

85. Mix lots of arugula with somewhat less cold whole wheat penne, lemon zest, olive oil and Parmesan. The idea is an arugula salad with pasta, not a pasta salad with arugula.

86. Toss chilled cooked soba noodles with diced cucumber (if they’re fat and old, peel and seed them first), a small amount of hijiki reconstituted with water, toasted sesame seeds and a vinaigrette laced with soy sauce and miso.

87. Cold not-sesame noodles: Combine about a half-cup peanut butter with a tablespoon soy sauce and enough coconut milk to make the mixture creamy (about a half cup), along with garlic and chili flakes in a blender or food processor. Toss sauce with cooked and cooled noodles, a load of mint, Thai basil, and/or cilantro, and lime juice. Shredded cucumber and carrots optional.

P1020101

Sesame noodles (sesame mayonnaise adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook) with leftover quick-pickled vegetables.

88. Toss cooked pasta with roasted red peppers, toasted walnuts, fresh goat cheese, basil and olive oil. Corny, but still good.

89. Soak or cook rice noodles, drain and rinse; toss with cubed unripe mango, chopped peanuts, shredded carrot and minced scallion. Make a dressing of rice vinegar, fish sauce, lime juice, chili and a bit of sugar.

90. Sort of classic pasta salad: Pasta, artichoke hearts, sliced prosciutto or salami, chopped plum tomato. Dress with olive oil and a bit of balsamic vinegar, perhaps with some mustard.

GRAIN SALADS

91. Cereal for grown-ups: Start with puffed brown rice; toss with chopped tomatoes, scallions, a minced chili, cooked or canned chickpeas and toasted unsweetened coconut. Dress with coconut milk and lime juice.

92. Simmer a cup of bulgur and some roughly chopped cauliflower florets until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Toss with chopped tarragon, roughly chopped hazelnuts, minced garlic, Dijon mustard, olive oil and lemon juice.

93. Mix leftover rice with lemon or lime juice, soy sauce and a combination of sesame and peanut oils. Microwave if necessary to soften the rice, then serve at room temperature, tossed with sprouts, shredded radishes, chopped scallions, bits of cooked meat or fish if you like and more soy sauce.

94. Cook and cool quinoa. Toss with olive oil, loads of lemon juice, tons of parsley, some chopped tomatoes and, if you like, toasted pine nuts. Call it quinoa tabbouleh.

95. Mix cooked couscous or quinoa with orange zest and juice, olive oil, maybe honey, sliced oranges, raisins or dried cranberries, chopped red onion and chopped almonds. Serve over greens, or not.

96. Cook short-grain white rice in watered-down coconut milk (be careful that it doesn’t burn) and a few cardamom pods. While warm, toss with peas (they can be raw if they’re fresh and tender), chopped cashews or pistachios, a pinch of chili flakes and chopped raw spinach.

97. Toss cooked, cooled farro, wheat berries, barley or other chewy grain with chopped-up grapes. Add olive oil, lemon juice and thinly sliced romaine lettuce; toss again, with ricotta salata or feta if you want.

98. Toss cooked bulgur with cooked chickpeas, quartered cherry or grape tomatoes, a little cumin, lots of chopped parsley, and lemon juice.

99. Toss cooked quinoa with fresh sliced apricots, cherries, pecans, and enough lemon and black pepper to make the whole thing savory.

100. Mash a canned chipotle with some of its adobo and stir with olive oil and lime juice. Toss with drained canned hominy, fresh corn cut from the cob (or drained pinto beans), cilantro and green onions.

101. Cook a pot of short-grain rice. While it’s still hot, toss with raw grated zucchini, fermented black beans, sriracha, sesame oil, sake and a touch of rice vinegar. Add bits of leftover roast chicken or pork if you have it, and pass soy sauce at the table.

TODAY…

Posted on

PENZEYS

TOO DAMN HOT

Posted on

For those of you living in Barrow, Alaska or Deer Island, Maine or Halifax, Nova Scotia, I have two words for you which, being kind of couth, I won’t use.  But I will just post this weather forecast for my area right here.

temp

 

If you read things in Celsius, here is your converter.

It isn’t just hot. It’s really fucking hot for the next two weeks. (I tried to be couth but the batteries ran down.) Beyond that, who knows? Perhaps we will all just be dried up like old toast by then and it won’t matter.

I have tried to tag some appropriate entries here as summer food or hot weather food. Mostly when it’s insanely hot like this I wind up eating a lot of macaroni salad. Yes, you can buy salad greens and watermelon and that makes for easy food preparation without turning the stove on, but after a while you get tired of lettuce, even with Ranch dressing and blue cheese.

The guy who knows all about this stuff is Mark Bittman, AKA The Minimalist. He has written some fine cookbooks, but what I really love are his recipe columns in the New York Times – stream-of-consciousness recipes that aren’t so much recipes as they are common sense, if it wasn’t so hot that your brains were boiled. (He also writes about food economics, sustainable agriculture, and so forth. Smart man.)

I hope copyright laws allow me to copy-and-paste this. If not, I will probably hear from the NY Times and Mark Bittman. Please don’t sue me.

Here is one such column, from July 18, 2007.

Summer Express – 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less.

The pleasures of cooking are sometimes obscured by summer haze and heat, which can cause many of us to turn instead to bad restaurants and worse takeout. But the cook with a little bit of experience has a wealth of quick and easy alternatives at hand. The trouble is that when it’s too hot, even the most resourceful cook has a hard time remembering all the options. So here are 101 substantial main courses, all of which get you in and out of the kitchen in 10 minutes or less. (I’m not counting the time it takes to bring water to a boil, but you can stay out of the kitchen for that.) These suggestions are not formal recipes; rather, they provide a general outline. With a little imagination and some swift moves — and maybe a salad and a loaf of bread — you can turn any dish on this list into a meal that not only will be better than takeout, but won’t heat you out of the house.

1 Make six-minute eggs: simmer gently, run under cold water until cool, then peel. Serve over steamed asparagus.

2 Toss a cup of chopped mixed herbs with a few tablespoons of olive oil in a hot pan. Serve over angel-hair pasta, diluting the sauce if necessary with pasta cooking water.

3 Cut eight sea scallops into four horizontal slices each. Arrange on plates. Sprinkle with lime juice, salt and crushed chilies; serve after five minutes.

4 Open a can of white beans and combine with olive oil, salt, small or chopped shrimp, minced garlic and thyme leaves in a pan. Cook, stirring, until the shrimp are done; garnish with more olive oil.

5 Put three pounds of washed mussels in a pot with half a cup of white wine, garlic cloves, basil leaves and chopped tomatoes. Steam until mussels open. Serve with bread.

6 Heat a quarter-inch of olive oil in a skillet. Dredge flounder or sole fillets in flour and fry until crisp, about two minutes a side. Serve on sliced bread with tartar sauce.

7 Make pesto: put a couple of cups of basil leaves, a garlic clove, salt, pepper and olive oil as necessary in a blender (walnuts and Parmesan are optional). Serve over pasta (dilute with oil or water as necessary) or grilled fish or meat.

8 Put a few dozen washed littlenecks in a large, hot skillet with olive oil. When clams begin to open, add a tablespoon or two of chopped garlic. When most or all are opened, add parsley. Serve alone, with bread or over angel-hair pasta.

9 Pan-grill a skirt steak for three or four minutes a side. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, slice and serve over romaine or any other green salad, drizzled with olive oil and lemon.

10 Smear mackerel fillets with mustard, then sprinkle with chopped herbs (fresh tarragon is good), salt, pepper and bread crumbs. Bake in a 425-degree oven for about eight minutes.

11 Warm olive oil in a skillet with at least three cloves sliced garlic. When the garlic colors, add at least a teaspoon each of cumin and pimentón. A minute later, add a dozen or so shrimp, salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley, serve with lemon and bread.

12 Boil a lobster. Serve with lemon or melted butter.

13 Gazpacho: Combine one pound tomatoes cut into chunks, a cucumber peeled and cut into chunks, two or three slices stale bread torn into pieces, a quarter-cup olive oil, two tablespoons sherry vinegar and a clove of garlic in a blender with one cup water and a couple of ice cubes. Process until smooth, adding water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper, then serve or refrigerate, garnished with anchovies if you like, and a little more olive oil.

14 Put a few slices of chopped prosciutto in a skillet with olive oil, a couple of cloves of crushed garlic and a bit of butter; a minute later, toss in about half a cup bread crumbs and red chili flakes to taste. Serve over pasta with chopped parsley.

15 Call it panini: Grilled cheese with prosciutto, tomatoes, thyme or basil leaves.

16 Slice or chop salami, corned beef or kielbasa and warm in a little oil; stir in eggs and scramble. Serve with mustard and rye bread.

17 Soak couscous in boiling water to cover until tender; top with sardines, tomatoes, parsley, olive oil and black pepper.

18 Stir-fry a pound or so of ground meat or chopped fish mixed with chopped onions and seasoned with cumin or chili powder. Pile into taco shells or soft tacos, along with tomato, lettuce, canned beans, onion, cilantro and sour cream.

19 Chinese tomato and eggs: Cook minced garlic in peanut oil until blond; add chopped tomatoes then, a minute later, beaten eggs, along with salt and pepper. Scramble with a little soy sauce.

20 Cut eggplant into half-inch slices. Broil with lots of olive oil, turning once, until tender and browned. Top with crumbled goat or feta cheese and broil another 20 seconds.

21 While pasta cooks, combine a couple cups chopped tomatoes, a teaspoon or more minced garlic, olive oil and 20 to 30 basil leaves. Toss with pasta, salt, pepper and Parmesan.

22 Make wraps of tuna, warm white beans, a drizzle of olive oil and lettuce and tomato.

23 The New York supper: Bagels, cream cheese, smoked salmon. Serve with tomatoes, watercress or arugula, and sliced red onion or shallot.

24 Dredge thinly sliced chicken breasts in flour or cornmeal; cook about two minutes a side in hot olive oil. Place on bread with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise.

25 Upscale tuna salad: good canned tuna (packed in olive oil), capers, dill or parsley, lemon juice but no mayo. Use to stuff a tomato or two.

26 Cut Italian sausage into chunks and brown in a little olive oil; chop onions and bell peppers and add them to the pan. Cook until sausage is browned and peppers and onions tender. Serve in sandwiches.

27 Egg in a hole, glorified: Tear a hole in a piece of bread and fry in butter. Crack an egg into the hole. Deglaze pan with a little sherry vinegar mixed with water, and more butter; pour over egg.

28 New Joe’s Special, from San Francisco: Brown ground meat with minced garlic and chopped onion. When just about cooked, add chopped spinach and cook, stirring, until wilted. At the last minute, stir in two eggs, along with grated Parmesan and salt and pepper.

29 Chop prosciutto and crisp it in a skillet with olive oil; add chopped not-too-ripe figs. Serve over greens dressed with oil and vinegar; top all with crumbled blue cheese.

30 Quesadilla: Use a combination of cheeses, like Fontina mixed with grated pecorino. Put on half of a large flour tortilla with pickled jalapenos, chopped onion, shallot or scallion, chopped tomatoes and grated radish. Fold tortilla over and brown on both sides in butter or oil, until cheese is melted.

31 Fast chile rellenos: Drain canned whole green chilies. Make a slit in each and insert a piece of cheese. Dredge in flour and fry in a skillet, slit side up, until cheese melts.

32 Cobb-ish salad: Chop bacon and begin to brown it; cut boneless chicken into strips and cook it with bacon. Toss romaine and watercress or arugula with chopped tomatoes, avocado, onion and crumbled blue cheese. Add bacon and chicken. Dress with oil and vinegar.

33 Sauté 10 whole peeled garlic cloves in olive oil. Meanwhile, grate Pecorino, grind lots of black pepper, chop parsley and cook pasta. Toss all together, along with crushed dried chili flakes and salt.

34 Niçoise salad: Lightly steam haricot verts, green beans or asparagus. Arrange on a plate with chickpeas, good canned tuna, hard-cooked eggs, a green salad, sliced cucumber and tomato. Dress with oil and vinegar.

1280px-Flickr_-_cyclonebill_-_Salade_niçoise_(1)

Photo of salad Nicoise by cyclonebill via Flickr

35 Cold soba with dipping sauce: Cook soba noodles, then rinse in cold water until cool. Serve with a sauce of soy sauce and minced ginger diluted with mirin and/or dry sake.

36 Fried egg “saltimbocca”: Lay slices of prosciutto or ham in a buttered skillet. Fry eggs on top of ham; top with grated Parmesan.

37 Frisée aux lardons: Cook chunks of bacon in a skillet. Meanwhile, make six-minute or poached eggs and a frisée salad. Put eggs on top of salad along with bacon; deglaze pan with sherry vinegar and pour pan juices over all.

38 Fried rice: Soften vegetables with oil in a skillet. Add cold takeout rice, chopped onion, garlic, ginger, peas and two beaten eggs. Toss until hot and cooked through. Season with soy sauce and sesame oil.

39 Taco salad: Toss together greens, chopped tomato, chopped red onion, sliced avocado, a small can of black beans and kernels from a couple of ears of corn. Toss with crumbled tortilla chips and grated cheese. Dress with olive oil, lime and chopped cilantro leaves.

40 Put a large can of chickpeas and their liquid in a medium saucepan. Add some sherry, along with olive oil, plenty of minced garlic, smoked pimentón and chopped Spanish chorizo. Heat through.

41 Raita to the rescue: Broil any fish. Serve with a sauce of drained yogurt mixed with chopped cucumber, minced onion and cayenne.

42 Season boneless lamb steaks cut from the leg with sweet curry powder. Sear on both sides. Serve over greens, with lemon wedges.

43 Migas, with egg: Sauté chopped stale bread with olive oil, mushrooms, onions and spinach. Stir in a couple of eggs.

44 Migas, without egg: Sauté chopped stale bread with chopped Spanish chorizo, plenty of garlic and lots of olive oil. Finish with chopped parsley.

45 Sauté shredded zucchini in olive oil, adding garlic and chopped herbs. Serve over pasta.

46 Broil a few slices prosciutto until crisp; crumble and toss with parsley, Parmesan, olive oil and pasta.

47 Not exactly banh mi, but… Make sandwiches on crisp bread with liverwurst, ham, sliced half-sours, shredded carrots, cilantro sprigs and Vietnamese chili-garlic paste.

48 Not takeout: Stir-fry onions with cut-up broccoli. Add cubed tofu, chicken or shrimp, or sliced beef or pork, along with a tablespoon each minced garlic and ginger. When almost done, add half cup of water, two tablespoons soy sauce and plenty of black pepper. Heat through and serve over fresh Chinese noodles.

49 Sprinkle sole fillets with chopped parsley, garlic, salt and pepper; roll up, dip in flour, then beaten egg, then bread crumbs; cook in hot olive oil about three minutes a side. Serve with lemon wedges.

50 The Waldorf: Toast a handful of walnuts in a skillet. Chop an apple or pear; toss with greens, walnuts and a dressing made with olive oil, sherry vinegar, Dijon mustard and shallot. Top, if you like, with crumbled goat or blue cheese.

51 Put a stick of butter and a handful of pine nuts in a skillet. Cook over medium heat until both are brown. Toss with cooked pasta, grated Parmesan and black pepper.

52 Grill or sauté Italian sausage and serve over store-bought hummus, with lemon wedges.

53 Put a tablespoon of cream and a slice of tomato in each of several small ramekins. Top with an egg, then salt, pepper and grated Parmesan. Bake at 350 degrees until the eggs set. Serve with toast.

54 Brown small pork (or hot dog) chunks in a skillet. Add white beans, garlic, thyme and olive oil. Or add white beans and ketchup.

55 Dredge skate or flounder in flour and brown quickly in butter or oil. Deglaze pan with a couple of spoonfuls of capers and a lot of lemon juice or a little vinegar.

56 Make a fast tomato sauce of olive oil, chopped tomatoes and garlic. Poach eggs in the sauce, then top with Parmesan.

57 Dip pork cutlets in egg, then dredge heavily in panko; brown quickly on both sides. Serve over lettuce, with fresh lemon, or bottled Japanese curry sauce.

58 Cook chicken livers in butter or oil with garlic; do not overcook. Finish with parsley, lemon juice and coarse salt; serve over toast.

59 Brown bratwursts with cut-up apples. Serve with coleslaw.

60 Peel and thinly slice raw beets; cook in butter until soft. Take out of pan and quickly cook some shrimp in same pan. Deglaze pan with sherry vinegar, adding sauce to beets and shrimp. Garnish with dill.

61 Poach shrimp and plunge into ice water. Serve with cocktail sauce: one cup ketchup, one tablespoon vinegar, three tablespoons melted butter and lots of horseradish.

62 Southeast Asia steak salad: Pan- or oven-grill skirt or flank steak. Slice and serve on a pile of greens with a sauce of one tablespoon each of nam pla and lime juice, black pepper, a teaspoon each of sugar and garlic, crushed red chili flakes and Thai basil.

63 Miso steak: Coat beef tenderloin steaks (filet mignon) with a blend of miso and chili paste thinned with sake or white wine. Grill or broil about five minutes.

64 Pasta with fresh tomatoes: Cook chopped fresh tomatoes in butter or oil with garlic until tender, while pasta cooks. Combine and serve with grated Parmesan.

65 Sauté squid rings and tentacles in olive oil with salt and pepper and garlic; add chopped tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes break down. Serve over pasta.

66 Salmon (or just about anything else) teriyaki: Sear salmon steaks on both sides for a couple of minutes; remove. To skillet, add a splash of water, sake, a little sugar and soy sauce; when mixture is thick, return steaks to pan and turn in sauce until done. Serve hot or at room temperature.

67 Rich vegetable soup: Cook asparagus tips and peeled stalks or most any other green vegetable in chicken stock with a little tarragon until tender; reserve a few tips and purée the rest with a little butter (cream or yogurt, too, if you like) adding enough stock to thin the purée. Garnish with the reserved tips. Serve hot or cold.

68 Brush portobello caps with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper and broil until tender. Briefly sweat chopped onions, then scramble eggs with them. Put eggs in mushrooms.

69 Buy good blintzes. Brown them on both sides in butter. Serve with sour cream, apple sauce or both.

70 Sauté squid rings and tentacles in olive oil with salt and pepper. Make a sauce of minced garlic, smoked pimentón, mayo, lots of lemon juice and fresh parsley. Serve with a chopped salad of cucumber, tomato, lettuce, grated carrot and scallion, lightly dressed.

71 Press a lot of coarsely ground black pepper onto both sides of filet mignon or other steaks or chopped meat patties. Brown in butter in a skillet for two minutes a side. Remove steaks and add a splash of red wine, chopped shallots and a bit of tarragon to skillet. Reduce, then return steaks to pan, turning in the sauce for a minute or two.

72 World’s leading sandwich: prosciutto, tomato, butter or olive oil and a baguette.

73 Near instant mezze: Combine hummus on a plate with yogurt laced with chopped cucumbers and a bit of garlic, plus tomato, feta, white beans with olive oil and pita bread.

74 Canned sardines packed in olive oil on Triscuits, with mustard and Tabasco.

75 Boil-and-eat shrimp, cooked in water with Old Bay seasoning or a mixture of thyme, garlic, paprika, chopped onion, celery, chili, salt and pepper.

76 Make a thin plain omelet with two or three eggs. Sauté cubes of bacon or pancetta or strips of prosciutto until crisp. Cut up the omelet and use it and the meat to garnish a green salad dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

77 Sear corn kernels in olive oil with minced Jalapeños and chopped onions; toss with cilantro, black beans, chopped tomatoes, chopped bell pepper and lime.

78 Cook shrimp in a skillet slowly (five minutes or so) to preserve their juices, with plenty of garlic and olive oil, until done; pour over watercress or arugula, with lemon, pepper and salt.

79 Liverwurst on good sourdough rye with scallions, tomato and wholegrain mustard.

80 Not-quite merguez: Ground lamb burgers seasoned with cumin, garlic, onion, salt and cayenne. Serve with couscous and green salad, along with bottled harissa.

81 Combine crab meat with mayo, Dijon mustard, chives and tarragon. Serve in a sandwich, with potato chips.

82 Combine canned tuna in olive oil, halved grape tomatoes, black olives, mint, lemon zest and red pepper flakes. Serve with pasta, thinning with olive oil or pasta cooking water as needed.

83 Pit and chop a cup or more of mixed olives. Combine with olive oil, a little minced garlic, red pepper flakes and chopped basil or parsley. Serve over pasta.

84 Cook chopped tomatillos with a little water or stock, cilantro and a little minced fresh chili; serve over grilled, broiled or sautéed chicken breasts, with corn tortillas.

85 A winning sandwich: bresaola or prosciutto, arugula, Parmesan, marinated artichoke hearts, tomato.

86 Smoked trout fillets served with lightly toasted almonds, shredded fennel, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of lemon.

87 Grated carrots topped with six-minute eggs (run under cold water until cool before peeling), olive oil and lemon juice.

88 Cut the top off four big tomatoes; scoop out the interiors and mix them with toasted stale baguette or pita, olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs (basil, tarragon, and/or parsley). Stuff into tomatoes and serve with salad.

89 Pasta frittata: Turn cooked pasta and a little garlic into an oiled or buttered skillet. Brown, pressing to create a cake. Flip, then top with three or four beaten eggs and loads of Parmesan. Brown other side and serve.

90 Thai-style beef: Thinly slice one and a half pounds of flank steak, pork shoulder or boneless chicken; heat peanut oil in a skillet, add meat and stir. A minute later, add a tablespoon minced garlic and some red chili flakes. Add 30 clean basil leaves, a quarter cup of water and a tablespoon or two of soy sauce or nam pla. Serve with lime juice and more chili flakes, over rice or salad.

91 Dredge calf’s liver in flour. Sear in olive oil or butter or a combination until crisp on both sides, adding salt and pepper as it cooks; it should be medium-rare. Garnish with parsley and lemon juice.

92 Rub not-too-thick pork or lamb chops with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper plus sage or thyme. Broil about three minutes a side and drizzle with good balsamic vinegar.

93 Cut up Italian sausage into chunks and brown in a little olive oil until just about done. Dump in a lot of seedless grapes and, if you like, a little slivered garlic and chopped rosemary. Cook, stirring, until the grapes are hot. Serve with bread.

94 Ketchup-braised tofu: Dredge large tofu cubes in flour. Brown in oil; remove from skillet and wipe skillet clean. Add a little more oil, then a tablespoon minced garlic; 30 seconds later, add one and a half cups ketchup and the tofu. Cook until sauce bubbles and tofu is hot.

95 Veggie burger: Drain and pour a 14-ounce can of beans into a food processor with an onion, half a cup rolled oats, a tablespoon chili powder or other spice mix, an egg, salt and pepper. Process until mushy, then shape into burgers, adding a little liquid or oats as necessary. Cook in oil about three minutes a side and serve.

96 A Roman classic: In lots of olive oil, lightly cook lots of slivered garlic, with six or so anchovy fillets and a dried hot chili or two. Dress pasta with this.

97 So-called Fettuccine Alfredo: Heat several tablespoons of butter and about half a cup of cream in a large skillet just until the cream starts to simmer. Add slightly undercooked fresh pasta to the skillet, along with plenty of grated Parmesan. Cook over low heat, tossing, until pasta is tender and hot.

98 Rub flank steak or chuck with curry or chili powder before broiling or grilling, then slice thin across the grain.

99 Cook a couple of pounds of shrimp, shell on or off, in oil, with lots of chopped garlic. When they turn pink, remove; deglaze the pan with a half-cup or so of beer, along with a splash of Worcestershire sauce, cayenne, rosemary and a lump of butter. Serve with bread.

100 Cook red lentils in water with a little cumin and chopped bacon until soft. Top with poached or six-minute eggs (run under cold water until cool before peeling) and a little sherry vinegar.

101 Hot dogs on buns — with beans!

RHUBARB FOOL. WHY AREN’T YOU MAKING THIS?

Posted on

We don’t actually know why it’s called a fool. Some bad translation of French, maybe, or an obscure joke, or a local word that got passed along some 400+ years ago. What it is: a dessert that combines stewed fruit with custard or whipped cream. British food writers Nigella Lawson, Jane Garmey,  Delia Smith, Jamie Oliver, Jane Grigson, Elizabeth David, et al include recipes for it in their cookbooks, but it doesn’t seem to have crossed The Big Pond very far. Which is too bad, because it’s sublimely easy to make and very easy to eat.

The first versions were apparently made around the 16th century with gooseberries, little sharply-sour green berries that are very difficult to find where I live except (occasionally) canned. Rhubarb is likewise sour and makes a good substitute. So do all kinds of berries and soft summer fruits like plums and apricots. The method is the same: slowly cook the fruit with sugar, then mash or puree it. Let cool, then mix with an indecent amount of whipped cream or custard.

file6971278531027

I won’t say this is health food, but some things are worth a sharp deviation from steamed broccoli and chicken breasts. I adapted this from Nigella Lawson’s Forever Summer cookbook.

About rhubarb: it’s usually rather sandy so a good wash is in order. The leaves and roots are poisonous so cut those off and discard, as well as any grungy spots.

RHUBARB FOOL

  • 3 pounds really red fresh rhubarb
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups whipping (heavy, double) cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • powdered (confectioner’s) sugar to taste

Wash and trim the rhubarb as described above, then chop it into pieces about 2″ long and put in a baking dish. Mix the 1 1/2 cups sugar with it, cover tightly with foil, and bake at 350 for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the rhubarb is completely squashy soft.

P1020022

P1020024

Drain the juice off the rhubarb and put it in a small pot – there will be about 1 1/2 to 2 cups. Put it over low heat (watch it because it can boil over when your back is turned and oh God what a sticky mess that would make) and reduce by about half. Pour into a jar, let cool, and put in the refrigerator. (Nigella said to not put it in the fridge for fear the color would change, but as it was about 4893458 degrees here and I don’t have air conditioning, I decided to risk it rather than have fermented rhubarb juice. No loss of color occurred. Your choice.)

P1020029

Puree the rhubarb, either in a food processor, blender, potato ricer, or just mash holy hell out of it with a potato masher.

P1020028

Cover and also put in the fridge to cool thoroughly.  You can – you need to, actually – do all this a day or two ahead of time.

When ready to make the fool:

Whip the cream until quite thick and not at all runny. Tilt the bowl – if the whipped cream slides to one side, it isn’t ready yet. ( Hint: whipping cream is quicker  if you put the bowl and beaters in the freezer for a while before starting.)  Add the 2 teaspoons vanilla and sweeten the cream to taste with the powdered sugar, remembering that the stewed rhubarb is rather tart.

Break up the cold rhubarb with a fork, then fold it into the whipped cream. Don’t try to completely blend it in – you want it more like zingy tart veins or swirls.

P1020043

If you like, transfer the rhubarb fool to a pretty clear glass bowl or a bowl in contrasting color, like green or blue.

Serve with the chilled rhubarb juice on the side for diners to pour over as they wish. Some simple cookies go nicely alongside. This recipe serves about 12 people depending on greediness, and leftovers will keep a day or two in the fridge. Leftover rhubarb juice can be mixed with white wine or champagne for a summery wine cocktail.

P1020074

BLACK BEAN & MANGO SALSA

Posted on

I bought a couple of Ataulfo mangoes with no particular plans for them.

Just a very few of the mango varieties out there:

Mango-Varieties-courtesy-of-the-National-Mango-Board

Then it turned out there was a baseball game on TV and we would need something to snack on. So I made Black Bean & Mango Salsa. It’s now my husband’s favorite dip for chips – better than guacamole or the tomato-based salsas and pico de gallos I’ve made in the past. I guess this could be filed under Caribbean, Mexican, or world cuisine.

Lots of chopping here, but this is a great way to practice mad knife skillz, since it’ll all be tumbled together at the end anyway. And speaking of chopping: I saw a food demonstration of how to efficiently chop garlic, and it works better than a garlic press. Use a large chef’s knife (a small paring or steak knife will not work) and salt. This video describes it all (until he starts flogging garlic in a jar, which is convenient but does not taste like fresh garlic).

BLACK BEAN AND MANGO SALSA

  • 2 small (Ataulfo) or 1 large (Tommy Atkins, Haden, etc.) mango, peeled and diced small
  • 1 Anaheim chili, roasted, peeled, minced (see this for the how-tos)
  • 1 Jalapeno chili, roasted, peeled, minced (as above)
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 5-6 fat garlic cloves, minced (do not be tempted to skimp on the garlic!)
  • 1 can (about 16 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and minced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 3 or 4 ripe tomatoes, diced small –  about 1 generous cup of chopped tomato (Romas are great for this, but other tomatoes work too – even cherry tomatoes if you don’t mind extra chopping)
  • juice of 1 fat lemon or 2-3 limes
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • salt to taste (if you did not use salt to mince the garlic)

Chop/prep everything and toss into a bowl as you go. Mix it up and let sit for about 20 minutes, then taste and adjust  seasoning (more lemon? More heat? More salt?).

Eat. Great with chips but also on tacos, chicken, pork chops, grilled fish, green salad, whatever.

P1010847

Variations:

  • Substitute peaches, apricots, nectarines, plums, or papaya for the mango.
  • Substitute other chilies for the Anaheim and Jalapeno.
  • Use raw minced chilies instead of roasting them.
  • Add fresh minced sweet basil.

And finally: I found this video and I have not tried it, but it looks like it would work. Just be sure to hold onto that glass (or use a plastic glass) because nothing is more slippery than a mango.

SWISS CHARD SOUP

Posted on

I went to the local farmer’s market the other day and snagged three fat bunches of Swiss Chard for a buck each. EACH! They’d been harvested about an hour before. It doesn’t get much better than that.

But what to do with them? Fortunately, I also recently snagged The Art of Real Food by Joanne Neft and Laura Kenny, who also wrote the fabulous Placer County Real Food Cookbook. Both books are beautifully photographed, the recipes are simple (though not always for rank beginners), and the books are arranged chronologically so that you can flip to May and see what is likely to be in the farmer’s market, and find a recipe that will showcase that ingredient. Like Swiss chard.
swiss chard by alex flickrPhoto by Alex on Flickr

I made this soup last night and it was wonderful. It was unusual in that the recipe did not include onions – odd for a vegetable soup – but when I tasted it, I understood why. Onions would have overwhelmed the other ingredients. I did include more broth than the recipe called for, but that’s a matter of taste.

The book also included a recipe to deal with those chard stems – deep fried with blue cheese dip. Next time.

This is a lovely and easy soup for this time of year when chard is springing up in home gardens and farmer’s markets.

SWISS CHARD SOUP

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, mined
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 big bunch chard, leaves only, chopped
6 cups chicken broth
2 potatoes, halved lengthwise and then sliced into half-moons
1/4 pound penne pasta
salt and pepper

Heat oil in deep pot. Add garlic, carrots, and celery, and saute over medium heat, stirring often, until the vegetables begin to brown lightly. Add the chard and stir and cook for another 3-4 minutes.

Pour in the broth and add the potatoes. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and add the penne pasta. Cook over medium-low heat until the potatoes and pasta are done.

Season with salt and pepper. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and some crusty bread.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 69 other followers

%d bloggers like this: