Posts tagged ‘Cooking’

July 16, 2012

Monday Grill | My Favorite Okra

I came back from Georgia filled with Southern inspiration and several bagfuls of southern produce.  The okra purchased at a farmer’s market just before we left was my favorite.  And when I came home I was determined to try and remake it in a way that I found I loved.  In Athens, we were lucky enough to have a superb dinner at Five and Ten.  It was there I had some of the best okra I’d ever eaten.  It was very simply perfectly seasoned then lightly charred in – most likely – a cast iron skillet.

Fast forward to a night that I have almost no energy to cook and even less to clean the kitchen after dinner.

Enter this super-summery dinner that’s cooked entirely outside and takes no more than about 10 minutes to prep in the kitchen.  Tonight’s easy meal was chicken thighs (bone in, skin on please) rubbed with this quick spice mixture and left to marinate, and a ton of peak-season summer produce and a ton of flavor.  But the star is the okra.

I know, you might have a thing with okra, right?  Or you only eat it fried?  Or in gumbo?  Or perhaps, you just avoid it altogether.  I challenge you to give this quick cooking method a try, it leaves all that incredible fresh okra taste with almost none of the things you might not like about okra (ahem, the slime).  The trick is a high heat and, to begin with, a completely dry pan.

Favorite Athens Okra and Vegetables, serves two

15 small to medium sized okra pods, trimmed of the stem and halved on a deep diagonal

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July 12, 2012

The Teaches of Peaches | Herb Nectars

We just got back from vacation in Georgia. It’s such a great state with so many people committed to delicious food fresh off the farm.  My kind of place, really.  And to be honest, they make some mean fried chicken.

While I was there I couldn’t help but do some canning of some fresh Georgia peaches.  I basically followed this method for canning the teeny ten pounds I had into four quart jars.  In some of the jarred peaches I packed in some fresh basil,

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June 20, 2012

Words Fail Me | Garlic Scape Pesto and Prawn Pizza

I have a tendency to be effusive.

I also wish, at times like this, that I wasn’t all those other times.

Because sometimes, you end up with a garlic scape pesto and prawn pizza with an egg on top.

And you haven’t ever made pizza before because you just thought, “well, I am kind of terrible with breads and I’ll probably be terrible with pizza crusts, too.”  But then, lo! you have this amazing friend, who’s super-supportive and encouraging for you to go ahead! Try to make it! You can do it!

My friend Kate is this person.  In addition to being a talented and creative entrepreneur, she’s also an incredible cook.  I stood in her kitchen for a few moments mid-day today after she handed me gifts of a ball jar of cherry stones and a bouquet of garlic scapes from her very own enthusiastic garden and I remembered: she makes really great pizzas.  I remembered, too, that Kate never seems to fuss with her dough and when I asked her about it, I had all of those questions: “oh you’d have to rest it, right?  and you need to make it in the morning or something, too, huh?”

Quite simply she said, no.

She stood in the kitchen with the sun streaming in through the window and wrote on a scrap of paper the simplest recipe for pizza dough around.  And said, “hey, those scapes make awesome pesto.”

After her incredibly simple explanation of the dough and remembering the ease of pesto, I stood there gesturing wildly with my jar of cherry stones exclaiming, “Yes!  I will make pizza tonight!  I will do it.”

“Here, take some cheese,” she said.

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June 10, 2012

A Sadness and a Joy | Ball Jar Sour Cherry Pies

I had some sad news earlier this week.  We just won’t have a cherry season around here this year.  I think Michigan is all but given up hope of anything there, too.  And all the farms that might have had cherries this year have no you-picks, which make for some of the most beautiful shots of teeny little bare feet in trees climbing to help harvest.

Last year was monumental and to be remembered with deep affection.  Cherry shrub, pickled cherries, boozy cherry pie, cherry salsa, cherry shiso vinegar, cherry pound cake.  Oh my the pounds of cherries.

Excuse me.  I’ve wandered off remembering the bliss.

So I was of two minds about this sad state of affairs because I had been give exactly one large bowl of sour cherries from a friend in a new house with (what an amazing bonus!!) a mature cherry tree in her front yard. 

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June 4, 2012

Two Light and Easy Nights | Summer Miso Soup

This past weekend the most recent Top Chef winner Paul Qui was in town at Market District to do a demo and answer questions.  Honestly, I don’t think there has been a nicer, more unassuming winner of that crazy show.   He’s just such a humble, talented guy.  His dishes were lovely light versions of chicken rice (his with lots and lots of a lemony ponzu) and a summer miso soup.  Things, he says, are his comfort foods.  I can completely see why.

His cooking got me thinking about dishes I had made in the past but could bring together for the perfect, almost no effort summer dinner.  Granted, you’ll have Asian food a couple of days in a row, but I don’t think that ever hurt anyone.  Plus, this is the time of year that you can gather just about everything locally, aside from the kombu, katsuobushi and a couple of pantry items.

But perhaps the thing that makes me happiest about this kind of dinner is that since everybody gets to choose what to include in their bowls, it’s lots of fun for Cherub.  She amazed even me tonight by her choice of tofu, zucchini, carrots, green onion, bean sprouts and snap peas.  But she passed on the fresh sweet corn.  (What kid does that?)  And she even had seconds.

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May 20, 2012

Precious Little | Strawberry Peony Jam

It’s the time of year that it’s hard to pin me down.  I’m outside.  Busy in the backyard, planting, weeding, sitting, contemplating.  I just want to be outside.  Watching for the return of Chestnut.  Seeing if we have any new baby rabbits in the yard.  I just find so much peace there, that you’re hard pressed to get a post out of me.  I have better things to do.

Because of this I was there, in the backyard, when the peonies bloomed this year.  They are my absolute favorite flower: profuse, heavy blooms; heady fragrance.  I turned the confetti of abundant petals into syrup.  I did this last year, but not as adroitly.

Marry to this that I went strawberry picking with friends last week.  And 17 pounds picked meant there was certain to be some jamming.  Did there happen to be some master pastry chefs along?  Why yes, there were.  (Thanks, B.)  So I asked them how to incorporate my peony syrup into the jam that was sure to follow all that picking.   Add the syrup at the last minute, they said, to keep all the flower essence.   But of course.

Ten cups of strawberries

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May 6, 2012

Almost Effortless | Summer Picnic Slaw

This weekend’s weather made me gear back up in the garden, get back in the kitchen and get my groove back.  Warm weather is all about ease: barely putting a pot on the stove, most things cooked over the grill.  Who needs a mess when the back garden begs you to come and play?  A quick ten minutes of chopping and a quick simmer is all it takes to throw this big-enough-to-serve-a-crowd slaw together.

Summer Picnic Slaw for Friends, serves 6

1/2 c rice wine vinegar

1 T whole cumin seeds

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