What would Bobby Flay do?

August 20, 2010

Panko Crusted Chicken with Watermelon Salsa

I think some of the coolest eating experiences are the eye-opening moments where sweet and salty find a perfect balance, particularly in some non-traditional situations. Now, it’s funny to think how much food has changed and how much of what seemed “non-traditional” when our parents were growing up, is now pretty common place. Thanks to Bobby Flay we have mango salsa!  (Kidding) But all joking aside, fruit has a place in savory dishes, and it’s place can make or break a plate of food.

Watermelon is a perfect example. The majority of its consumption comes from giant picnic slices and depressing fruit salads. But it’s a fruit that pairs extremely well with salty components. For example, last year when I paired watermelon bites with creamy feta cheese at a cocktail party, there were those that were a bit reluctant. But once they dove in, it was the first app to go.

So when I got my second watermelon in the CSA this week along with a dozen beautifully orange tomatoes the first thing I thought of was salsa. Diced tomatoes, onion, watermelon, and minced parsley made up the base of this topping that balanced acidity, sweetness, and saltiness in a way you can only hope for. The freshness of the ingredients worked perfectly to cut the richness of the mustard and panko crusted chicken breasts. And yes, that is Bud Light Lime. Don’t judge!

So as we get into mid-late august (how is that possible by the way), make sure you’re taking advantage of the abundance of fruit and vegetables available. And don’t be afraid to cook them together!

Enjoy the weekend!


Work in Progress

August 19, 2010

Ghiradelli Mint Chocolate Chip Sundae

I was a little shocked by the lack of outrage over the declaration of my previous pie indifference. So I’m going to up the ante…

What if I told you, I didn’t really care for Ice Cream either? What if I told you the first time I had rocky road was a year ago?

It’s true. I’ve never been much of an ice cream fanatic. Vanilla or mint chocolate chip were my stand-bys but I was never the one begging to stop at the 31 Flavors or Springer’s. With the revolution of ice cream taking place making salted caramel and cereal milk ice cream more common than chocolate and cookie dough, I’ve definitely grown to love the uniqueness that this dessert provides. But I still consider myself a work in progress.

So when Em and I shared these ice cream sundaes in San Fran, a little window into my childhood opened up, and what I saw made me realize how bizarre not being obsessed with ice cream truly was. Hot fudge, whipped cream, caramel, are you kidding me! What the hell is wrong with me? Or should I say, was wrong with me.

This summer is turning out to be a serious dessert turning point. So I’ll probably still claim indifference, but sharers beware, you better hide the extra spoons!

Rocky Road Sundae

Devouring Pies

August 18, 2010

Raspberry Peach + Red Hot and Apple Pies

I’ve never been much of a dessert guy. In fact, I’m the pain in the ass who orders the sorbet when the table has agreed to share a bunch. Call it indifference, call in lunacy: I just don’t get excited about cakes and pastries. And maybe the least exciting of them all, pies have never been a source of my cravings. And I know how nuts that sounds. How could anyone not like pie!?

I think after this weekend I should really re-sculpt my argument.

I take no claim on these pies (seen above). In fact the only role I played in this story, was that of the devourer. But Em’s aunt, who makes a mean pie, offered up a raspberry peach and a red hot and apple version that I found myself obsessed with; particularly the raspberry peach. And on top of these two, Nikki whipped up a Jamie Oliver blackberry and apple pie! Her crust was a bit more “cookie-like” which was just up my alley.

If only we had some sorbet!

Stocked with Pickles

August 17, 2010

Pan Seared Salmon w/ Yogurt Tartar

Remember those pickles? Well I brought most of them out to Southampton this past weekend and they were a huge hit. I even got a thumbs up from a self-proclaimed product of a pickle family. So when I got home and had a few of those salting cucumbers remaining, I was excited to throw them into anything and everything.

I’m a crazy pickle fanatic. I could eat them on pretty much anything. But I often forget how good they are, finely diced in sauces; particularly in tartar. So with a small carton of greek yogurt, a few diced pickles, paprika, oregano, and a bit of diced poblano in hand, I was able to make an awesome condiment for this pan seared salmon.

I’ve got a  bunch more weeks of the CSA remaining. Which can only mean one thing. It may be time to pickle some tomatoes a la Ben’s Kosher deli. Haters beware!

The Best Weekend of My Life

August 16, 2010

Clams, Mussels, and Oysters

Our annual trip out to Southampton has become more and more epic each year. Tucked away in a tiny community on the peconic bay, it’s a weekend that absolutely exemplifies the good life. And there is no better activity representing this weekend then clamming! It’s become so legendary, our crew seems to get larger each year as friends and strangers alike hear about the fun and gear up for the hunt and the feast that follows (check out the haul above).

Our Second Catch: Blue Crabs

But like all of our traditions, we find a way to add a piece that takes the trip to a level never thought imaginable. Our second catch of the weekend came from crabbing! Off the dock, in the dark of night, we managed to grab a good number of these delicious blue crabs that tasted unbelievable in our Sunday brunch egg scramble.

Garden and CSA Produce

It was a weekend spent full of farm and garden produce, freshly caught shellfish, tons of beer, and even more good times. It’s always tough to leave, but a year of anticipation for next year’s haul is a welcomed consolation.

Oh and all those clams, mussels, and oysters?…

Some raw (nothing like these shucked oysters!), some grilled, and a bunch steamed with sausage and swiss chard: Delicious!

Too Much of Anything is a Bad Thing

August 13, 2010

Tomato Mozzarella Salad with a Tomato Frittata

Agree to disagree. Because there is nothing better than tomato season. So when I missed the first offerings of tomatos from the CSA last week while in California, and didn’t receive the typical offerings list for this week, I was a bit nervous tomatos weren’t in my future.

A pint of orange cherry tomatos and 5 or 6 heirlooms later, it’s safe to say I’m in tomato heaven. And this tomato, mozzarella, basil, and balsamic salad over a tomato and zucchini frittata was a flavor packed way to dive in. And even though I always preface the “eating local has more flavor” argument with “it’s probably at least a quarter mental”, Em who has outwardly hated tomatoes for years couldn’t stop devouring this meal!

Weather Report: “Chili” in San Fran

August 12, 2010

Beef Shank and Summer Corn Chili

I have always heard about the cold and foggy weather of San Francisco. But as a victim of the barometer blues that is this NY summer, my packing was a bit suspect for this trip. Luckily, I had listened, and brought that one sweater (but also a million t-shirts). Unfortunately, years from now when we look back at the pictures, I’ll either remember my mistake, or think I took a day trip…same damn sweater!

So I must have had a cold weather hangover when I got off the plane earlier this week because I couldn’t get short ribs off the brain. Had I forgotten that just a few minutes of stove top cooking renders the apartment unlivable? Oh well, at least I’d go out eating what I wanted.

So when I couldn’t find short ribs, I turned to another one of my favorite cuts. Local grass fed beef shanks are the ultimate. I’ve made them before straight up or in this case, to break down into a stew or chili. And you know that technique you’ve seen countless times on the Food Network? Just a tbsp or two of butter at the end of cooking makes those sauces rich and glistening. Well screw you butter, I’ve got bone marrow!

The dish sort of progressed as I was making it and turned into a delicious beef shank chili with black beans and fresh summer corn. The tomato and red wine base brought out the richness of the beef and with a few zucchini noodles to sop it all up, this meal was definitely worth the sweat it brought out. I think the kitchen has finally cooled off!

%d bloggers like this: