Summer Archive

Thursday, August 22, 2013

almond-crisped peaches + uk book tour

almond crisped peach + mine

I hope, if we are going to continue to be good friends, that we can have an implicit understanding that there is no such thing as too many peach recipes. Not in July, not in August, not in New York, which grows surprisingly good peaches for a Yankee. And I know that as a writer and food person, I’m supposed to be on the lookout for my crutches, my overused ingredients. I should probably lay off the tomatoes, the caramelized onions, the feta, Dijon, strawberries, green beans, white beans and butternut squash. Sheesh, I should show some range! Maybe I will, you know, after peach season is over. Because I’m not done with them yet. I’m not done with summer yet. Maybe it’s this mild August we’ve been having or, I confess, the not-supposed-to-be-but-kinda-has-been fun of having a husband out of a job for the last few months, but once you become a summer person, it’s hard to react with anything but venom when you spy apples and butternut squash at the farmer’s market before Labor Day, as I did this week. How gauche!

butter + peaches + almonds + sugar
halved peaches, some freestone

But, you know, September’s not going to be too terrible. School resumes, which is pretty awesome if you’re three-going-on-four, we’ll all be back to the grind (sigh/yay) and oh, there’s this little trip I’m taking across the pond for a UK book tour.

ground almonds, sugar, butter, and maybe oats

Continued after the jump »

Monday, August 19, 2013

rice-stuffed tomatoes

rice-stuffed tomatoes

Guys, we should definitely, definitely talk about these. Here, I’ll go first: I think it’s essential that you not let another tomato season pass without making them. I realize that you might imagine rice-stuffed tomatoes to be something unappealing. Maybe you had a cold, stomach-turning one at a buffet wedding too many years ago that its squidgy horror should still be fresh in your mind, and yet. Maybe you cannot imagine why anyone would consider rice stuffed inside a tomato to be something noteworthy, being just rice and tomatoes, possibly two of the most generic foods out there. Maybe you’re waiting to hear what I dolled these up with to make them interesting — was there bacon or cheese or caramelized onions? Did I amp it up with whole grains or kale? Maybe I cooked an egg inside, like that one time? And maybe you’re going to be disappointed when I tell you that I added nothing, just about nothing at all, and that’s the best thing about them.

red and yellow medium-large tomatoes
take just a little off the top

I started obsessing over rice-stuffed tomatoes a year ago. At the time, I loved them because they felt to me like the essence of simple Italian and Mediterranean cooking, this idea that you don’t need to lay 16 outside flavors onto things as simple as seasonal tomatoes and plain rice to make them taste amazing. You could coax the maximum flavor out of them with seasoning, by toasting the rice, by cooking them with a tiny amount of onion and garlic in olive oil then slowly in the oven. But, at the time, I never told you about them because they made me a little sad. At the time, I was moping that the family vacation to Rome — a place I imagined did a fine job with these throughout tomato season — we’d been trying to take for as long as we’d been a family had gotten postponed again due to all of those real-life things that have the nerve to get in the way of a good time. I mean, I know that sometimes as a grown-up you don’t get to do everything that you want, but I was starting to question the point of working all of the time and spending scrupulously if it didn’t, at least every few years, lead to things we really wanted?

grapefruit knives make pretty, clean cuts

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

kale salad with pecorino and walnuts

kale salad with bread crumbs and raisins

As someone who has said things like “the world would be a better place if we could all stop pretending that kale tastes good” (on p. 67, in fact) and who is unwaveringly certain that the last thing the internet needs is another kale salad, I am not even sure what I’m doing here. Am I on the wrong blog? But I can’t help it. I had an unforgettable kale salad last weekend and seeing as my life (and undoubtedly various legal statues) does not allow me to move into Barbuto (believe me, I’m considering it as I type… would they notice? I’ve always wanted more windows…), I had to attempt to riff on it at home. And if I’m going to be making it at home, well, it seems rude to keep it from you. We have no cooking secrets here.

lacinato, tuscan or black kale
let's chiffonade this

We did the Chef’s Table for my husband’s birthday on Saturday night and were this the kind of blog that covered restaurants, this paragraph would be all, omg it was so good, squee, vegetables! and each dish was better than the one before and they were so generous! and you would quickly realize why I don’t. Fortunately, I’m only interested in talking about the parts of great meals outside my kitchen that I can drag back into it, and that brings us to kale.

finely slivered kale hay

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, August 8, 2013

strawberry, lime and black pepper popsicles

strawberry-lime, black pepper

I had these popsicle molds for 14 months before using them once, yet in the weeks since I used them for the first time, I’ve made three other varieties and considered doing a 5-day week of posts here exclusively devoted to popsicle offerings. I’ve basically fallen down a popsicle rabbit hole so deep, now every time I see something that looks good, I think, I wonder how that would taste as a popsicle. (My family’s looking nervous around me, understandably.)

strawberries, hulled and quartered
macerating with sugar

So, what changed? First, I realized that they hold 1/3 cup each. One-third of a cup! Do you know how little that is? You could literally stuff it with the most indulgent Ben & Jerry’s and still come in under their suggested serving size, while eating something that felt generous. Not that we’re going to do that. Yet. I also realized that all of the headaches that most iced frozen desserts involve — egg yolk custards, buckets of leftover egg whites, freezer bowls, the churning of machines so loud and groaning that we used to (seriously) lock in the bathroom so we didn’t have to hear it, only to have another two hours of freezer time to go — do not exist in Popsicle Land, a magical place where all concoctions freeze perfectly and but six hours stand between you and your next indulgence-on-a-stick. Finally, seeing as we recently decided it would be a really good idea to buy a white carpet, I especially love that at least the ones I’ve been making aren’t terribly drippy. As they’re mostly fruit purees and other thick things, they don’t so much melt back to a watery state when someone (not naming names) takes an hour to finish one.

a brief simmer to further limpen them

Continued after the jump »

Monday, August 5, 2013

burst tomato galette with corn and zucchini

tomato, corn and zucchini galette

I have a long history of spectacular tomato tart failures. There was the one that enchanted me on TV a decade ago, with a parmesan crust, bacon, fine breadcrumbs and roasted garlic, that — several hours of work later — ended up tasting metallic and clashy against the acidic tomatoes. There was the tomato tarte tatin flop from a fancy French chef, for which I have only myself to blame. And two summers ago, there was an heirloom tomato galette, with colors like a rainbow, that fell apart before we ate it. The problem more often than not is a basic one: tomatoes are very wet and tart crusts need to stay fairly dry. But this has never stopped me from trying again, and I’m glad, because it led me to this.

a pretty mix of tiny tomatoes
diced zucchini

Sort of. This too spun from a disaster, a gnocchi failure last week that involved these same fixings. But we were so in love with the combination — lightly charred and slumped cherry tomatoes, sauteed zucchini, crunchy sweet corn, scallions and parmesan that I’ve become convinced it should be applied to everything this month from pasta to farro to omelets.

burst and sauteed tiny tomatoes

Continued after the jump »


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