Grilled Spring Onion and Strawberry Salad with Pistachio Pesto

Spring Onion and Strawberry Salad with Pistachio Pesto-1

This is a recipe for the 5th, 6th or 9th of July, but not the 4th, when the grilling train pulls into town with its freight cars of steaks, lobsters, salmon filets, pork shoulders, eggplant, roasted peppers, whatever.  Grilled Spring Onion and Strawberry Salad with Pistachio Pesto is easy–you could do it–but it will get lost amid the fanfare over Aunt Sophie’s famous deviled eggs, and the potato salad made with diced fermented sour pickles from Brooklyn, and the story about your brother Bob who almost blew his thumb off with an m-80 when he was a kid.

Save it for a quiet day this weekend, when a meal with just one main course and only one or two sides or a salad sounds great, when there’s a bit of culinary light left to shine on a rare seasonal treat.

Stir-Fried Hakurei Turnips with Dried Shrimp, Chiles, Garlic and Lime

Stir-Fried Hakurei Turnips-8

 

 

If the word ‘turnips” doesn’t make your heart go pitter-patter there’s a good chance you’re suffering from the after-effects of  Araac Syndrome (Ate  Rutabagas As A Child).  Let’s face it, rutabagas are to gastronomic pleasure what Miss Hannigan is to social work.  Not to worry. We have the cure for what ails you: Stir-Fried Hakurei Turnips with Dried Shrimp, Chiles, Garlic and Lime.

Having your spuds and eating them too – Quick Boulangère Potatoes

Boulangère Potatoes TGF-1

Pity Antoine-Augustin Parmentier.  The late 18th century polymath would be rolling in his grave in Père Lachaise were he aware of the abuse heaped upon his beloved potato by modern nutritionists.  If there were ever a lobbyist for potatoes, it was Parmentier.  In Parmentier’s time most of Europe regarded the potato as fit for little more than animal fodder. In France cultivation of potatoes was forbidden by law, a natural outgrowth of then current French belief that potatoes were thought to cause leprosy. Parmentier became acquainted with potatoes while fed them as a prisoner in a Prussian prison during the Napoleonic wars, but few Frenchmen were willing to take him at his word about the benefits of eating them. Determined to bring his countrymen around to his way of thinking Parmentier threw himself into a decades long campaign of public demonstrations, potato-themed dinners for the rich and influential, and public lectures.    Today, as a member of the Gang of Three (along with rice and bread), potatoes stand accused of undermining the People’s waistline, usually in league with its natural allies, cream and cheese. But there’s a way of having one potatoes without taking on a wheelbarrow of calories. Enter Boulangère Potatoes.

Pressure Cooker Risotto with Kale Pesto

Risotto with Kale Pesto-TGF-20

Something discordant this way comes.  It happens in every kitchen, if you cook together long enough.  Jody and I did a Dagwood and Blondie over today’s post, Risotto with Kale Pesto, made in a pressure cooker.  My willingness to fudge things a bit for a weeknight dinner versus the cruel exactitude of a restaurant chef.   As Jody not so delicately summed up our contretemps: “You’re the photographer. [Ouch!]  I’m the chef, and my reputation is on the line.”  Guess who got the broom in the back of the head? 

Seared Brussels Sprouts with Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

The idea was to come up with a side dish for Thanksgiving.  But after much soul searching and a brainstorming session based on What do you do with Brussels sprouts? we decided that the world wasn’t crying out for another version of brussels sprouts with bacon.

You’re welcome.

Instead we’re offering Seared Brussels Sprouts with Vietnamese Dipping Sauce.  People who do not love Brussels sprouts (me) love these.  

Puglian Barley Salad with Pecorino Cheese


“Hot-buttered groat clusters!”  –Firesign Theater.

One of the pleasures of travelling is tdrawing close to the seemingly familiar only to suddenly discover it strikingly different, like this Puglian Barley Salad with Pecorino Cheese.  Looks ordinary.  But the taste – not like barley on this planet.  Many of the more forward thinking participants in Italy’s agritourismo movement are attempting to preserve regional variations on farm products that for one reason or another have fallen from grace or never gained the favor of larger commercial ventures. Barley is a case in point–in Puglia, where it’s often hulled, rather than pearled, it’s chewy.

And chewy barley is a delight.

Slow-Roasted Plum Tomatoes with Herb Salt

Give me one good reason why anyone would choose to cook tomatoes at the very apex of their season, especially for for four hours?  

Okay, here’s one: Slow-Roasted Plum Tomatoes with Herb Salt.

Plum tomatoes are the different tomatoes of the pomodoro world.  Not inferior, just different.  Consumed raw, their virtues remain hidden, but when roasted slowly they soften to the consistency of butter.  Spread them on good bread, give them a quick chop to help them morph into a quick sauce.  As a contribution to a picnic where everyone is assembling a plate of goodies, or as a high class sumpin’-sumpin’ with olives and shaved Pecorino Romano before dinner, they will provoke applause.

Unfortunately, they’re also addictive.

Grilled Corn with Pepper Pecorino Butter


If you give a mouse an ear of grilled corn, he’s going to want some grilled peppers to go with it.  Or vice versa.  The peppers have been so beautiful of late that we can’t stop eating them, or trying to figure out what else to eat with them.  Now that corn is coming into view one of the treats of the season is Grilled Corn with Pepper Pecorino Butter.

Warm Radish Salad with Bacon and Pea Tips

Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you.  That’s the way it was with Warm Radish Salad with Bacon and Pea Tips.  Salad is a killer to photograph.  Light glints off the dressed surfaces, producing bits of glare or “hot spots.”  And if the salad is one part greens and another part something else, then while it may taste delicious to toss everything together, that homestyle approach doesn’t make for an alluring photo.  The heavier components tend to weigh down the more delicate ones.  What’s a guy with a camera and a chef for a wife to do?

Make the damn salad and photograph it a second time, that’s what.*  The salad above is composed with a photograph, or dinner guests, in mind–radishes here, salad there, easy on the dressing.  The photo shot from straight down later in the post is the way we’d normally eat the salad in all its messy collapsed glory.  Different stees.

You choose.

Fireworks for the Fourth of July – Pickled Eggs 3 Ways

Pickled Eggs 3 Ways is the final and most colorful installment in our recent trilogy of egg recipes.  We made two batches of each of these eggs, a week apart, both to test the recipes and so I could photograph the process from pickling juice to finished eggs.  As I write this the first batch of three dozen eggs is nearly gone–in case you’re wondering if kids will eat pickled eggs,  the answer is Yes, they will.  Who can resist wedges of a saffron and purple egg, child or adult? These eggs are tart, but not completely sour (note the sugar in the recipes), which makes them a flexible dining companion.  Of course pickled eggs are the ultimate picnic food–festive, not prone to spoilage, and given to pairing nicely with other preserved items like cheese, smoked fish–and great beer.  They stand out with mixed greens–and when combined with with wasabi mayonnaise make a killer egg salad