Posts tagged ‘tomatoes’

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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February 13, 2012

Sharing History | Stuffed Cabbage

This is hardly even a post about cooking.

It’s a post about what what to do when you want to help.  When things happen in life and I feel like I want to hug and cry and help,  I cook.

And often, because I feel such a connection with meals, the thing to be cooked just comes to me.  This time it was the humble stuffed cabbage.

When I was little, stuffed cabbage was a comforting dish that my mom would make on Sundays.  When I was newly married and a fish out of water in New Jersey, it was the dish my mother-in-law and I connected over at Paul’s Diner in Mountain Lakes.  Turns out, she loved it, just like I did.  She grew up with her mother making them, as well as serendipitously being at a diner on the rare day the kitchen made them.  In Texas we don’t have much of a diner culture, but I really grew to love this aspect of New Jersey.

As she explained it, every diner had its own schedule of when things were made and you kind of needed to be a regular to figure it all out.  We happened to be there on a Monday, during lunch and we both decided saw and decided immediately that we’d have the cabbage.  She grew up with cabbage rolls being served with copious amounts of mashed potatoes.

This was not something my mother did. 

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September 22, 2011

Farewell, Summer Garden | Gazpacho

Every so often you run across a recipe that begs to be made just as is, such as Spanish maestro José Andrés’s recipe for gazpacho.  Not a more perfect dish than this can be found to send summer off into its nine month hiatus.  Celebrate all that we are losing before the clock strikes 5:05 a.m. tomorrow.  Well, perhaps this post is a bit late for that, but rustle up some of these ingredients this weekend for a quick, albeit belated, goodbye.

I used some gorgeous, juicy yellow tomatoes from a Green B.E.A.N. Delivery box along with peppers and cucumbers from my back yard.  All gone now.

Don’t cry because it’s over.  Smile because it happened.

Playlist included Quiet Town, by Josh Rouse.

September 3, 2011

Extra Time on Saturday | Pasta and Focaccia

The quick and dirty version of a Saturday dinner:

Because I made a veal stock today (with lovely bones from Bluescreek Farm Meats), it meant that there was quite a bit of tasty meat left on the bones after the stock was all said and done.  It was dropped into the quick tomato sauce, that I seem to make quite a bit here in the summer.  (It’s just now about time for the last of those tasty orbs.  Get them fresh while you still can.)  This was poured over some homemade tagliatelle.

Served alongside for sopping up all the extra tomato-y goodness was a bit of rosemary focaccia: (1 1/4 c all purpose flour, 1 large sprig fresh rosemary finely chopped, 3/4 t salt, 1 package dried yeast, 1/2 c water all dumped into a bread machine for kneading, then allowed to rise in a covered and very generously olive-oiled bowl for about an hour an a half; punched down on a baking tray and allowed to rise once again for about 30 minutes and then drizzled with more olive oil and torn rosemary, salt and grated parm; baked at 400F for about 25 minutes).  A simpler, no knead version is here.

Playlist included Misery, by New Jersey’s Big Troubles.  How is it that My Bloody Valentine is now retro?  Are we that old?  Le sigh.

August 30, 2011

My Favorite Summer Corn | Maque Choux

Although summer corn here in Ohio is some of the sweetest and loveliest I’ve ever eaten, I still can’t help but occasionally add to an already great thing.  Gilding the already golden lily, if you will.  This is an easy, flavorful recipe that I’ve made countless times this summer, because it seems to go with everything.  And left to my own devices, I would eat bowls of this all alone for dinner.  It’s so delicious.

Maque Choux (say mock shoe) is a traditional Cajun dish of braised corn, along with

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July 12, 2011

Cherub in the Kitchen | Cherry Salsa

Whole Foods recently ran a contest for kid-friendly cherry recipes and honestly I can’t think of a better time for them to have done this.  This house has been overrun with cherries.  And Cherub’s always wanting to help in the kitchen.

Here’s a no-cook cherry salsa that we came up with together, that uses seasonal raspberries and tomatoes, too.  Her favorite task was to pit the cherries: smashing them lightly with a glass and removing the pit.  It was roll-y, juicy, slightly messy fun.  I recommend an apron for this part.

As for the final product, it was, in a word, devoured.  I love that she gets an extra boost of fiber along with a good amount of vitamin C.  She loves to scoop big, delicious mounds into her mouth.   Everybody’s happy.

While this recipe is super kid friendly, don’t let it stop you from serving it next time you’ve got a bar-b-q or a casual family get together.  It’s wonderful.  No chilies means it’s not too spicy and the hint of cumin lends it just a bit of sophistication.  And we all love that.

Firecracker Cherry Salsa, Serves 4

1/2 c. sweet red cherries, pitted and quartered

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June 2, 2011

Spargel Pasta | Asparagus in Cream Sauce

While I was in Germany and France last month, just about everywhere I went, sandwich boards proclaimed in German or French “Lust auf Spargel?” “Fin de l’Asperge!” And it seemed every bistro and restaurant had specials celebrating the edible spring perennial.  And truly, it is best savored when it is fresh and local.  I enjoyed a wonderful pasta dish at the Ratskeller in Munich my very first night and remember it wistfully.  With roasted tomatoes, tender asparagus and a drizzle of cream, this easy dish is a satisfying vegetarian meal, even for omnivores like myself.  There is a brief moment here in Ohio in the latest June or the earliest July, when the asparagus and the tomato harvests almost touch, those few precious days would the most wonderful time to enjoy this dish.

Spargel Pasta, serves 4

1 bunch asparagus

1 cup of small tomatoes or

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