Two years ago, Mark Bittman came up with 101 easy-to-make summer meals, and being an aficionado of all things in list form, I decided to make my way through the lot. I got through about two dozen, almost all of which were great (and, I discovered, I really quite like anchovies).
Well, now there’s a new list — 101 Simple Salads for the Season — and I’m giving it a go.
Here’s our first entry: 15. Cut cherry or grape tomatoes in half; toss with soy sauce, a bit of dark sesame oil and basil or cilantro. I love this — the tomato juice-soy thing is incredible.
I honestly think I may never eat tomatoes any other way ever again. It doesn’t seem like it would be that great, but the salty/savory/pungent combination of the soy sauce, sesame oil, and cilantro is a perfect match for tomatoes at their peak of sweetness.
I am a deeply committed limeade person. I don’t dislike lemonade, but it’s just… missing something that I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe it’s too sour or maybe it’s missing the sort of floral note from the lime zest, but whatever it is, I love limeade.
And I love this limeade best of all…
Based almost entirely on this recipe from Red Bird Crafts, this is possibly the most perfect limeade ever. Why? Because it’s a syrup, which solves two limeade problems for me. 1. I like my limeade pretty strong but my husband and kid like it more dilute, so this allows us all to customize our limeade. 2. This makes a lot of limeade without taking up a huge amount of space in the fridge.
1 c. water
2 c. sugar
8-10 limes, juiced
zest from 2 limes
pinch of salt
Bring water, sugar and lime zest to a boil and let simmer for 5-7 minutes.
Strain, if desired. Add sugar solution to lime juice. Let cool.
Add 2-4 tablespoons syrup to 12 ounces ice water (or as desired).
A few notes on limes:
The juiciest limes have smooth, thin skins and are heavy for their size. If they’re a little yellow, that’s fine.
In order to get the most juice possible from a lime (or any citrus fruit), juice them with a wooden citrus reamer. Plastic and metal reamers slide around, but wooden ones have a nice amount of grip to get all the juice out.
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Chioggia beets (also called Candy Cane, Candystripe, or Bull’s Eye) are an Italian heirloom variety, named for the Italian city of Chioggia, near Venice, and were introduced to the US around 1840. One of the sweetest varieties of beets — with an 8% sugar content — they lose their distinctive coloring when boiled, although roasting them supposedly helps keep their rings.
How crazy looking is that second beet? I was cutting off a piece of skin I’d missed while peeling and it ended up with that fractal effect.
Those beets came from Migliorelli Farm — one of the only farms I know by name, because their fruit and produce is so consistently good. It also doesn’t hurt that they make fantastic cinnamon-sugar cider donuts.
I couldn’t bear to have these beets lose their fun rings, so I shredded them with my all-time favorite kitchen gadget, the Borner mandoline, along with a couple of Granny Smith apples and some carrots, to make this:
I’m calling it ABC Slaw (for Apples, Beets, Carrots, not Already Been Chewed) and it’s really simply dressed with just olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. One caveat: it’s best when it’s eaten right away. Otherwise, the beets’ earthiness starts to overpower the other elements and the whole thing starts to taste like, well, earth.
Kinda gruesome, isn’t it?
A ham hock is the end of a smoked ham where the foot was attached to the hog’s leg. It is the portion of the leg that is neither part of the ham proper nor the foot or ankle, but rather the extreme shank end of the leg bone and the associated skin, fat, tendons, and muscle. This piece generally consists of too much skin and gristle to be palatable on its own, so it is usually cooked with greens and other vegetables in order to give them additional flavor (generally that of pork fat and smoke), although the meat from particularly meaty hocks may be removed and served.
I’d like to say I bought ham hocks because I’m embracing the Fergus Henderson idea of nose-to-tail eating, but it was mostly out of a morbid curiosity. I got them from FreshDirect and after a couple of days of them freaking me out every time I looked into the fridge, I stuffed them in the freezer and forgot about them.
Then I wanted to make some beans.
Yeah, not waffles, not chocolate. Belgian Spaghetti — Student Style, specifically.
I adapted the recipe just slightly from Everyone Eats Well In Belgium. I got the recipe from FreshDirect’s collection, and let me tell you, if all recipes are as good as this one was, I’m going to have to buy the book.1
- Oof! Maybe not — the book is out of print and being sold for a whopping $59.95 on Amazon. Cripes. [↩]
Simplicity is the essence of the sloppy joe — meat + canned product + bun = done — and there’s something slightly pompous about a sloppy joe made from scratch.
Still, when I saw a FreshDirect One-Click Recipe for Not-So-Sloppy Joes (and seeing as No matches were found for “manwich” on FreshDirect (not that I live and die by the FreshDirect offerings, but I am lazy and don’t want to schlep to Key Food if I can help it), I decided to try it.
Sometimes I cook something that’s, well, not-so-pretty and I think, should I really bother to post this? it looks kinda bad.
Pork Chop with Mustard Sauce
The pork chop is basically just pan-fried in two tablespoons of butter; nothing fancy about it. It’s the mustard sauce that’s really where it’s at.
- 3 onions, finely diced
- 1/3 plus 1 tablespoon dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 ounces cornichons, sliced
After cooking the pork chops, remove and set aside. Add the onions and cook gently. Pour in the wine, increase the heat, and reduce by half. Mix in the mustard, reduce heat, then whisk in butter to form a smooth, glossy sauce. Stir in the cornichons and serve with pork chops.
Pickles, onions, and mustard: what could be better with a big piece of fried meat?