Summer Archive

Thursday, July 11, 2013

grilled bacon salad with arugula and balsamic

grilled bacon salad with arugula and balsamic

You guys, I owe you an apology. It’s been nearly a month since I first encountered this grilled bacon salad and I couldn’t find a window to tell you about it until now. That wasn’t right of me. When you try it, you’ll understand.

insanely thick bacon; use moderately thick instead

This salad is so delicious, it has spread by a modern sort of word of mouth alone. I tried it out on a friend’s grill a few weeks ago, and as social media will go, she Instagram-ed a photo of it, which led to two of her friends making it on visual suggestion alone, and then friends of that friend’s too. I imagine a web of people now partaking in the awesomeness that is a grilled bacon salad and here you are with a direct line to Patient Zero, and I was too busy dry-rubbing chicken and making pecan sandies into pie crumbles to get around to mentioning it until now. Tsk-tsk.

indoor grilling is just not the same

Continued after the jump »

Monday, July 8, 2013

slow-and-low dry rub oven chicken

dry rub oven-barbecued chicken

Five years ago, I fell in love with dry-rub barbecue. Prior to the summer of 2008, I naively believed that the only way to make ribs deliciously on the grill was to mop them with copious amounts of a wet, tomato-based barbecue sauce. I know, I know, silly Deb, but what can you really expect from a Yankee?

making the dry rub
dry rub

Under my friend Molly’s tutelage, I learned the error of my ways. The thing is, no matter how unappealing the word “dry” may sound against meat of any sort, the results are anything but. While a wet sauce just wants to roll or evaporate off your meat as it cooks, the dry rub spices adhere themselves to it, almost crusting in the meltingly tender meat within as it cooks slow-and-low over a the grill. It loses none of its punch, no matter how long it cooks. You might have some barbecue sauce around when you’re done as a dip for the meat, but there’s so much flavor from that spice crust, you probably won’t need it.

dry rub

Continued after the jump »

Monday, July 1, 2013

peach and pecan sandy crumble

peaches, pecan sandies, crumbled

If you think about it, isn’t it strange that we’ve nominated pie as our iconic summer dessert? Do understand, I say this as someone who frequently daydreams about going around the country and teaching people to make pie with a bare minimum of fuss, because I think the only thing standing between you and someone who effortlessly throws pies together because you heard someone was coming over is someone talking you through it once or twice… But I will also fully admit: pie is a pest. It requires very cold fat to be carefully worked into a floury mix until the pieces are exactly the right size. Too small, your crust is flat and crunchy. Too big, butter pools out and burns, leaving sad, tough flakes for crust. Too warm, the bits go small and absorb into the flour. Too cold, good luck rolling it out! And before you even know if the trouble will be worth it, you’ve got to roll out your crust with no holes or tears or your fruit filling will leak through and permanently glue pie-to-pan. And the fruit! Too thick, your pie cuts freakishly like Jell-O; too thin, it spills out everywhere, leaving a hollow crust in its wake. And don’t even get me started on lattice-tops. They’re for really sick people.

deeply toasted pecans
grinding the toasted pecans and flour

Given all of these high stakes, it’s a wonder we don’t all spend our summers, exclusively extolling the virtues of fruit crisps and crumbles, because they’re pie’s laid-back, easy-breezy sibling, the one whose arrival always brings applause. They give you nothing to carefully roll out; you just messily sprinkle the so-called “crust” over the top of the fruit, which can be thickened or not at all because if you’re not slicing it, who cares if it slumps? (And if the thought of fruit that sighs and puddles out onto a plate isn’t more appealing to you than fruit that stands up straight when you slice it, well, I beg to differ.) And the fat! Instead of asking butter to do the thing it would very least like to do on a hot day — that is, to try to stay cold — you begin by melting it.

melted butter into dry mixture

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, June 27, 2013

pickled vegetable sandwich slaw

mustard seed-pickled sandwich slaw

If you’re one of those people who saw the word “pickled” in the title and said “Ugh, no, sorry, not for me,” do know, I was the same not too long ago and encourage you to fight the good fight for as long as you can, because once your tastes cross over to the vinegar side, there’s little going back.

fact: colorful things taste better

Something of a gateway pickle, these should be eyed suspiciously as well. The thing is, one day you’re eating the foods you’ve always liked — sandwiches, salads, tacos, cheese — and you wouldn’t change a single thing. And then, once day, the quadruple-threat crunch/sweet/salty/punch of a pickle gets under your skin and suddenly, the food landscape is a bleak, depressing place without them. You need pickled red onions on your tacos, pickled celery in your tuna and egg salads, cucumber slices in your potato salads, grapes with your sharp cheeses and pickled carrot sticks in the fridge whenever the mood strikes, and nothing’s ever quite right without them again. I can find a clear demarcation in my pre- and post-pickle junkie days (it’s just about 10 (!) years ago, when I took up with this Russian I married) and think there’s still hope for you. Here, how about some granita instead?

julienned radishes, maybe not recommended

Continued after the jump »

Monday, June 24, 2013

espresso granita with whipped cream

granita di caffe con panna

One of my favorite desserts on this planet (yes, we’re going for High Melodrama today, also, it’s that wonderful) is affogato, which translates from Italian as “drowned.” The lucky drowner is top-notch vanilla gelato, and it is draped in a single shot of freshly-pulled espresso. I see you arching your eyebrows and you are full of questions, aren’t you? Isn’t that horribly bitter? Doesn’t it melt the ice cream? How can it be your favorite dessert if it has neither butter nor chocolate with it? All are legitimate concerns but the thing is, when it’s done right — and there really is a magical balancing point between the volume of ice cream and the amount of espresso, that is, sadly, rarely achieved — the resulting mess is a semi-slumped mound of cold and sweet vanilla cream with a trench of faintly bitter latte around it. It is the ultimate grownup dessert — sure, you get the ice cream you’ve been angling for after dinner since you were 3.5, but you also get a bracing hit of espresso, just enough to keep you up past your bedtime, you know, when all the fun begins.

espresso granita, unsweetened cream

Of course, we’re not going to talk about affogato today because, well, you already know how to make it now. Instead, we’re going to talk about the cups of granita di espresso con panna we fell head over heels for in Rome, which reminded me of an inversed affogato. Instead of unsweetened espresso coating sweetened creamy gelato, it’s the coffee that’s icy and sweet and the cream that’s plain and soft. The result is the same contrast of bitter versus sweet, soft versus icy that I love in affogato, but stacked in a cup that you can eat with a spoon as you wander the ancient cobblestoned center of Rome on blazing hot day when even the dapper businessman we passed along the Tiber was licking a gelato cone with the utter abandon of a kid. (Rome, you are wonderful.)

looking upkeeping the kid out too laterush hour in romefrom villa borghese to piazza navonasweet balloons and an e-reader at the vaticanthis is a pizza flour delivery little wanderertonnarelli cacio e pepe

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