Summer’s Bounty Rustic Ratatouille

This is a rustic recipe. By rustic I mean uncomplicated. Its deliciousness is derived from the deliciousness of the component ingredients. I see Joël Robuchon and Thomas Keller telling me to cook every bit separately, to layer each item carefully, to fuss and rearrange. I like a poetic, modern meal as much as the next foodie jerk, but unfortunately for the proponents of needlessly complicating delicious-tasting foods, these gentleman came into my life long after a certain woman named Rita who had her own opinions on the matter.

Ratatouille was introduced to me at Thanksgiving, where it was a staple for some reason I don’t remember. Imagine a table laid out with meats and stuffing and mashed potatoes and gravy and pie; and then imagine a bunch of kids lined up in front of a bowl of slimy vegetables and you will begin to see what my mother wrought in our hearts and minds concerning squash. I still make mom’s version at least once a month. It’s delicious, full of vegetables, has almost no fat or oil, takes no effort to prepare, and even the masters agree: ratatouille tastes better the next day. (It’s also vegan, glutin-free, everything free, but whatever.)

So with all due respect to Ms. Julia Child, who would slap me for putting corn in this dish (and for cursing as much as I do), I present my love letter to summertime vegetables: ratatouille with the vegetables I have on hand, sweet corn, and fresh peas because they’re delicious  – Continue reading

How to Pickle Peppers (Why to Pickle Peppers)

You know how you like to put hot sauce on pizza? Stop doing that and start putting pickled peppers on your pizza. Pickled peppers are also great on sandwiches and Rhode Island-style fried calamari. In fact, stop what you are doing right now and pickle some peppers, your new favorite condiment.

If you like hot things, use hot peppers. If you like mild things, use mild peppers. If you like using things that you already have, use whatever peppers are on hand. Basically you’re going to take a sterilized glass jar, fill it with sliced pepper rings, and then pour pickling brine on top of that. Easy. How to below. Continue reading

Berry – Gooseberry Crisp

Gooseberries are one of those what-on-earth-do-I-do-with-those? ingredients. They look like grapes but with thicker skins and have the interior of a passion fruit. Gooseberries are tough and tart and usually end up in preserves. I met someone who eats them plain like grapes, and now I do the same. However, blended with sugar and a soft berry, they made a great crisp. Yesterday I made a Raspberry-Gooseberry Crisp. Recipe below. Continue reading

Smelly Tomato = Delicious Tomato

The seasonally available tomato: a delight and a rarity. We demand fresh tomatoes year round, and most of the year round that means bland, mealy fruit confetti for side salads. In a fairly standard description of how to harvest and handle tomatoes, one sinisterly named Bio & Ag Engineering School’s  guidelines gave the following ideal handling times: Tomatoes harvested at the immature green stage, a stage they assure will produce fruit indiscernible from vine ripened fruit, can be chilled and stored 21-28 days. And that’s before you buy them. Gross. Horticulturalist Harry Lee described the problem to NPR:

Growers are simply not paid to produce good – great-tasting tomatoes. They’re paid for how many pounds of red objects they put in a box, and there’s a disconnect, I think, between the consumer and the grower, and there’s no financial incentive for them.

So what made mine (pictured) taste so good? Continue reading

Pan Fried Buttermilk Flounder over Summer Ragout

I was working my CSA shift this morning when I met the first person I’ve ever known to hate cilantro.  I’ve heard of this before, of course, but always assumed it was fake, like you can make $4876 a week working from home, or a lie that people tell themselves, like I really don’t like dessert. No, this poor soul was real and she made it into adulthood thinking that cilantro, if not the king at least some sort or duke of herbs, tastes like soap. I mention this story because I love cilantro and I used it to garnish my pan fried buttermilk flounder today. It was terrific and that’s being modest. If, however, you think that cilantro is gross (like Julia Child apparently!), you might want to use that fact as a benchmark by which to gauge how you will probably feel about all of my recipes.

Moving on. Flounder! The ugliest fish you love to eat. I coated my flounder in buttermilk and breadcrumbs and then quickly browned them in a cast iron pan. The fish was fresh from the fisherman this morning and all of the vegetables came off of my farm share’s truck. Summertime! Fresh vegetables! Flounder!

This recipe is inspired by the wonderful things my parents used to do to fish to encourage me to eat it in the dark years during which I was just beginning to experiment with seafood. They would fry flounder and serve it with a cooked kind of chutney, made very similar to this one except using either avocado or mango instead of zucchini. If you have either of those lying around, I highly recommend both variations, especially if you have an annoying child who needs help eating fish.

This meal can be ready in 20 minutes.

Continue reading

Out for Dinner. Too Hot for Cooking in SLA’s.

Too hot for cooking in my shitty little apartment this week. You know, it’s like a thousand degrees in there and I did some oven work already (manky cherry cherry crisp), but sometimes it’s just too much.

Fortunately there is Rippers at the Rockaways:

and Locanda Verde in TriBeCa:

Rippers is a beach burger shack from the people behind Roberta’s. Open seven days a week, 10am to 8pm, Rippers is a great place to spend a week night at the beach eating burgers and drinking micheladas. Or, you know, basically any other time day or night.

Andrew Carmellini’s Locanda Verde is owned by Robert De Niro, which might explain why it describes itself as “a casual, energetic, affordable neighborhood Italian taverna in TriBeCa,” while serving (soul crushingly good) lamb dinner for two at over $200– with drinks and dessert. That’s still not what a lot of people would go out of their way to describe as affordable, given the entire universe of adjectives and compound adjectives such as soul-crushingly good.