I was walking through my local farmer’s market today and saw a new vendor called the Maine Connection Seafood Company.
The prize on their table was fresh Maine lobster – flown to LA the same day that it is caught from the family run fishing business.
Of course, you can buy a whole lobster and cook it yourself, but this is so convenient and incredibly fresh.
Lobster rolls in Maine are almost always made with a top split hot dog bun, but they’re nearly impossible to find in California.
We sell a lot of locally raised (organic) salmon at our store in Maine, it is reasonable in price and quite easy to feed a crowd. Most everyone is intimidated by how to cook it, marinate or not, and what kind of sauce. So over the years we have broken the process down to practicable steps that everyone can easily follow.
Grilling for the Holiday that launches Summer must be fun, a little easy, with a noteworthy end result. I prefer a fillet at the widest end near the head, I like the taste better and the fatty mouth feel, but there are others that Like the tail end fillet preferring the leanest, flavor and probably a few less calories.
Always leave the skin on when grilling, without the skin it would be a big mess and fall through the grates!
Marinate the fish if you have time, try lemon juice and olive oil for a quick approach or orange juice and cracked coriander seed if you have a little more time but it isn’t imperative – and no longer than half an hour or your fish will start cooking like a ceviche.
A major aspect of the garden living lifestyle is the understanding of each season’s produce. In a culture where summertime fruits are available in winter, I feel that a true garden lifestyle is marked by the gardener’s knowledge of “in season” produce for the freshest garden experience possible. Having an understanding and knowledge of your garden and the land’s timely bounty is a must for garden living, for the rewards of this understanding are delicious. For this Farmer, knowing when peaches, blackberries, and other seasonal delights are at their finest is a memorable stopping point on the garden living journey.
As a Georgia boy, I have grown up under the shade of pecan groves and amidst the rows of peach fields. In fact, the Peach County line is only a stone’s throw from my home. Growing up on a farm lent the opportunity for an education with nature as professor, learning in relation to the seasonal and native crops perennially noting the time of year.
Each season is marked by its produce in my mind, a marking that has imprinted itself into a garden living mindset and thus lifestyle. I know we’ll have blackberries in late spring and summer, followed by peaches, watermelons and wild plums, muscadines and scuppernongs in late summer and into fall and finally pecans in the year’s latter months. From the brambles and briars yielding scores of deep purple blackberries to the fields laden with peaches, I have come to rely and respect nature’s bounty for its simplicity, its flavor, and beauty.
Last spring I had the pleasure of interviewing chef and restaurateur Deborah Schneider about salsas for a San Diego Union-Tribune article “Simply Salsa.”At the time, her award-winning 2006 cookbook, Baja! Cooking on the Edge!, named one of the “Best Cookbooks of the Year” by Food and Wine magazine, had just been re-released.
I was tickled. Schneider’s cookbook was the first one I bought after moving to San Diego eight years ago. I thought, I’m gonna talk salsas with Deborah Schneider! Followed seconds later with, It’s salsa. How much can we possibly say about about it?
The interview lasted an hour, though Schneider readily admitted that she could have talked for several more. (Her passion about salsas and their place in Mexican cuisine is deliciously genuine and contagious.)
Now, you too can talk salsas (and moles) with Schneider with her latest cookbook, “Salsas and Moles: Fresh and Authentic Recipes for Pico de Gallo, Mole Poblano, Chimichurri, Guacamole, and More.”
In her introduction, Schneider says this book “is designed to teach you essential Mexican cooking techniques and one very important skill: how to introduce and balance big flavors to create sensational effects.” As someone who has made several of the book’s recipes, I can say that the design works.
Did you know July is National Hot Dog Month?
I guess it makes sense since this is the month when Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest takes place. I think this year, fifty-nine hot dogs were eaten in 10 minutes and then an overtime round was required because of a tie. Ack! Fifty-nine dogs plus the tie-breaker round...no thanks!
We don't have hot dogs around here very often, but when we do, we like them slathered with chili and cheese. And not just any chili, it has to be sweet and super tangy. I love chili with cumin and cayenne but not on a hot dog. I prefer something that really forces my taste buds to stand up and salute. This is why I came up with this recipe. Hold me.
These chili-dogs have an amazing burst of flavor like you have never tasted before. The tang gives you this awesome puckering sensation in your mouth but in a very good way. It's not overpowering, it's just right.
Two of my absolute favorite foods are fried chicken and potato salad. There's something so unabashedly comforting about these foods that I am not ashamed to admit they're my favorite. I love them maybe because my mom would make them every year on my birthday or because it's simple and unassuming to prepare. And who doesn't love fried chicken and potato salad? Just the word fried is enough to make anybody like it. And creamy potato salad with the traditional mayo and eggs is always a crowd pleaser. It's typical summer picnic food in an old-fashioned way. Lucky my birthday is in July.
For me summer wouldn't be complete without these two classics. But there's nothing wrong with updating mom's recipes. I take traditional fried chicken and give it a healthy modern and slightly Southern twist. Dare I say it: I like skinless fried chicken! I use chicken tenders that I bread in the usual flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs but add cornmeal for an extra crispy crust. The potato salad: I like a runny, creamy, tart, and sweet dressing. In addition to chopped eggs, I also add crumbled bacon. Eggs and bacon go hand in hand after all. And finally give it a Scandinavian twist with chopped dill, which adds brightness. It's irresistible flavor will have your friends coming back for more. Get ready summer, Here I come!
A simple pasta is a life saver. How many nights are you rescued from eating out of a box just because you know how to throw together a good simple pasta? First tip: Don’t just rely on tomato sauce to coat the pasta. I love good sweet, milky ricotta and when I’m at a store where I can find it I tend to go overboard and buy a bit too much. So it’s ricotta on toast for breakfast, ricotta with fruit for lunch and ricotta as the “sauce” for a quick seasonal pasta.
In this dish I started with ricotta, then saw I had some pesto, added a couple of tablespoons of that, then added some crunchy sweet baby tomatoes and slices of green onion. While I was waiting for my pasta water to boil I discovered a couple of tiny zucchini with flowers attached and an ear of corn that needed to be used up. So I cut the niblets off the corn, sliced the zucchini in half lengthwise and shredded the flowers with my fingers.
I added them during the last five minutes of pasta cooking time. Voila. The (extremely critical) Mom gave it two thumbs up. The big “technique” here is to add a few tablespoons of pasta cooking water to the ricotta mixture to loosen it so that is coats the noodles. I didn’t add parmesan because I wanted the clear flavors of the vegetables to dominate. But please add it if you’re a cheese hound.
With summer vegetables appearing in the farmers' markets, a vegetable risotto is a perfect way to feature the bounty of the garden.
This past Sunday at the Palisades Farmers' Market, we picked up several ears of fresh corn and some baby zucchini. We also bought carrots, spinach, Italian parsley, scallions, green garlic, squash, asparagus, English peas, spinach, and broccoli, any of which would be good in the risotto.
To make risotto requires a variety of rice – Carnaroli, Violone or Arborio – with a high starch content, the source of risotto's distinctive creamy quality.
For the liquid, you have a lot of choices: vegetable, chicken, meat, or fish stock, wine, even water with a pat of butter added for flavor. You'll achieve the best results if you use homemade stock with its fresher taste and lower sodium content.
Risotto likes a steady hand, stirring frequently for 18-20 minutes. Because the rice both releases starches into and absorbs the stock, there is a window of a few minutes when the rice is simultaneously al dente and the broth creamy. Past that point, the grains bond together, becoming gummy like porridge, which still tastes good but isn't risotto.
The most traditional Greek salad recipe, and the kind of Greek salad you will usually encounter in Greece, does not typically include lettuce, but is more a bowl of raw chunky vegetables with a little olive oil and lemon juice.
The flavors of this dish just get better and you can store leftovers and use with grilled meats or in sandwiches made with pita pockets.
The rich, zesty vinaigrette gets great authentic flavor from the fresh oregano, and is further enhanced by the fresh mint and parsley.
Marinating the onion and cucumber slices in the vinaigrette helps tone down the raw onion in the salad.
We’re all bound to go overboard during summer and you know what? That’s fine with me. Because if any season speaks to me about the bounty of food it’s certainly summer.
What I love most about summer cooking is that it gives us certain cooks a pass on formality. A little of this, some of that, it’s a good time to veer just a teeny bit from the exact science of cooking. Perhaps this is because the cooking wildcard known as The Grill can’t be controlled but coaxed, befriended but never bossed.
I’m sure some folks with expensive built-in outdoor gas grills may have better luck with this but me? I don’t have that. I’ve learned to love a flame that acts like a mischievous child — give it the right upbringing and it behaves. Ignore and neglect it and it”ll disappoint you and disappear.
When I head outdoors to cook I’m usually armed with very little other than food & tongs. There might be a spray bottle near to keep flare-ups down but I like to keep it simple during summer. Those big and bold warm-weathered flavors don’t really need a lot of fuss.
At my local farmers' market this past week, I found some thick, hefty ears of corn that had been growing all summer with swollen kernels to match. They reminded me of the juicy ears of corn we had used at Tante Marie's Cooking School in San Francisco when we made a wonderful corn soup with a fresh tomato salsa. As soon as I saw those ears of corn I knew I would make that soup as soon as I got home.
As I visited with each farmer at the market, exclaiming over all the beautiful produce, I was able to buy the tomatoes, onion, garlic, tomatillos and jalapenos that I needed for the salsa that would top each serving of corn soup.
The soup doesn't take long to make. Removing the kernels of corn from the cob is not difficult when you stand each ear of corn on its wide end in a large bowl. Using a sharp knife or an electric knife, cut away the kernels from each ear. I ran into a friend at the grocery store today who told me when he does this job, he props an ear of corn in the middle hole of an angel food cake pan and then cuts the kernels away using an electric knife. The corn drops into the cake pan
by James Moore
I generally don’t care for Sangria, except for when I’m in Spain - it just seems to taste better there. Sangria makes a perfect summer drink when entertaining, because you can make large batches ahead of time.
This recipe is based on one I received during my stay at Le Meridien Barcelona from the General Manager, Gonzalo Duarte Silva. They...Read more...
by James Farmer III
My house wine is sweat tea, but there are a couple concoctions I simply relish as much as tea. One is Mrs. Wilson’s Rosemary Lemonade and the other, a “James Farmer” – this Farmer’s version of an Arnold Palmer.
Dear friends of mine in Montgomery host me and “put me up” (or more so put up with me) when I’m staying in town for the night, and Mrs....Read more...
by Susan Salzman
The local farmers market today was filled with several varieties of stone fruit, rhubarb, strawberries, and melons. Melons were everywhere. Red, orange, green, and white. I grabbed whatever I could carry, I couldn’t help myself.
After washing, cleaning and cutting all of my veggies, I stared at the amount (and size of the fruit) that now rested...Read more...