Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Eggplant Crostini

When seasonal dishes collide with beautiful presentation, the combination gets my attention every time. In Simple Fare: Spring and Summer, that beauty of presentation extends to the book itself with a clean, modern layout and large, stunning photographs reminiscent of the style of Donna Hay. As I read my review copy, I quickly fell for this simplicity that comes packed with special touches. The author, Karen Mordechai, believes “food should capture your spirit.” What you cook and what you’re drawn to evolves as you do, and food “is at the foundation of our cultures.” By sourcing the best of the current season and sharing meals with family and friends, “we help sustain a beautiful cycle of goodness.” The Burnt Carrots dish is just carrots roasted with a coating of maple syrup and olive oil, but it’s served with marinated labneh, toasted hazelnuts, and nigella seeds. The Ricotta Gnudi is plated with an easy mix of brown butter and purple basil leaves, but the dumplings are made with a mix of plain, homemade if possible, ricotta and smoked ricotta. The Cured Eggs are shown with two variations. They can be pickled with a beet to turn the outside pink or with saffron to turn it yellow, and the pink option looks lovely in the bowl of White Miso Soup. There’s nothing too complex or time-consuming about these dishes, but they all offer nice, added touches. For instance, for the Eggplant Crostini shown here, there’s a flavorful tahini spread that holds everything in place on the toasted bread, a tangy black garlic dressing, and toppings of pickled red onion, toasted pine nuts, and fresh basil. I had just brought home some farm-fresh eggplant that was perfect for it. 

Wedges of eggplants were cut and tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper before being roasted until browned and crisp. The tahini spread was made by mixing tahini with a minced garlic clove, some lemon juice, and olive oil. Next, the dressing was made by pureeing black garlic cloves with pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, sumac, cocoa powder, salt, and olive oil. I had made the pickled red onion in advance by thinly slicing an onion and covering the slices with a brine of white vinegar, lime juice, and salt with a bay leaf. The roasted eggplant wedges were tossed with some of the dressing before building the toasts. To put it all together, toasted bread was spread with the tahini mixture, the dressed eggplant wedges were nestled into the spread, more dressing was drizzled on top, and garnishes of pickled red onion, toasted pine nuts, and basil leaves were added. 

I love a composition that’s put together well like this. The tahini spread is an excellent glue to keep everything in place as you pick up each piece of bread. A great punch of flavor is delivered here by the black garlic dressing. The sweet and funky, fermented garlic combined with pomegranate molasses, lemon, and sumac made the roasted eggplant sing. Simple, fresh food with interesting details, that’s as pretty as it is tasty, never goes out of style.  

Eggplant Crostini
Recipe reprinted with publisher's permission from Simple Fare: Spring and Summer. 

This eggplant dish is warm and bright. It works well as a starter or as a light meal, served with a side of greens. The roasting technique is inspired by a method from London-based chef Yotam Ottolenghi. 

For the eggplant 
3 to 4 (about 31⁄2 pounds/1.6 kg total) eggplants 
4 tablespoons (60 ml) olive oil 
1⁄2 tablespoon salt 
Freshly ground black pepper 

For the tahini spread 
3⁄4 cup (180 ml) tahini 
1⁄2 garlic clove 
Juice of 1 lemon 
4 tablespoons (60 ml) olive oil 

For the black garlic dressing 
3 black garlic cloves, peeled 
1 teaspoon black sesame paste 
1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses 
Juice of 1⁄2 lemon 
1⁄2 teaspoon sumac 
1⁄2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder 
1⁄4 teaspoon salt 
3 tablespoons olive oil 

For the toast 
1 loaf miche, cut into slices 1⁄2 inch (12 mm) thick 
1⁄4 cup (60 ml) olive oil 
1⁄2 cup (75 g) Pickled Red Onion 
1⁄4 cup (35g) pine nuts, toasted 
1⁄4 cup (10 g) fresh basil leaves, torn 

Preheat the oven to 400oF (205oC). Cut each eggplant into half lengthwise, and cut each half into half widthwise. Cut each quarter into thirds to create thick wedges. In a large bowl, toss the wedges with the olive oil, salt, and some pepper. Arrange the wedges on two parchment-lined baking sheets and roast until golden and slightly crisp, but not dry, 35 to 40 minutes. 

For the tahini spread: Combine the tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil in a food processor and blend until smooth. The mixture should be spreadable, but not overly thick. If you wish to thin your tahini, add a thin stream of up to 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) ice water to the mixture with the motor running until your desired consistency is reached. Set aside. 

For the black garlic dressing: Pulse the garlic, sesame paste, molasses, lemon juice, sumac, cocoa powder, and salt in a food processor to form a paste. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a slow and steady stream until completely incorporated. Remove the eggplant from the oven and, while still warm, gently toss it in a large bowl with the black garlic dressing until completely coated. Set it aside to let the flavors meld. 

For the toast: Heat a grill to medium-high or a grill pan over medium- high heat. Brush each slice of bread with the olive oil and toast for about 2 minutes on each side, until lightly brown. 

To serve, spread each piece of toast with a bit of the tahini spread and top with a few wedges of warm eggplant. Garnish with pickled red onions, a sprinkling of pine nuts, and basil leaves.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Tacos with Roasted Vegetables in Cascabel Chile Oil with Homemade Queso Fresco, Guajillo Tortillas, and Salsa de Arbol

I do not ever get tired of tacos. It’s not possible. There are infinite combinations when you consider types of tortillas, fillings, cheese or no cheese, and the choice of a salsa or two. I had tacos for breakfast yesterday and will have tacos for dinner tonight. But, the tacos shown here today are special. The tortillas were homemade, the cheese was homemade, the vegetables were roasted in homemade cascabel chile oil, and they were the most delicious tacos I’ve had all year. The recipes are from Nopalito: A Mexican Kitchen , and I received a review copy. I should be clear that this book is so much more than just tacos. It’s a collection of favorite authentic Mexican dishes from Gonzalo Guzman, the chef of Nopalito restaurants in San Francisco. The recipes are true to their origin with inspiration from seasonal, local ingredients in California. Because of Guzman’s upbringing in southern Mexico in Veracruz, corn was “the king of Mexican ingredients.” And, freshly made corn tortillas are key to several dishes. The Basics chapter includes information about nixtamalization, making your own masa, and turning that into fresh tortillas. There’s also a recipe for wheat flour tortillas even though corn is preferred. Then, the chapters take you through small plates, big plates, drinks and desserts, and salsas. The Ensalada de Pepinos y Verdolagas caught my eye because it’s made with purslane and cucumbers and both are in season right now. Also, the dressing is an interesting vinaigrette thickened with pureed pepitas. There are quesadillas, tacos, and tamales with meat, fish, and vegetable fillings. And, there's a lovely looking Huarache de Huitlacoche y Hongos. I’ve never found huitlacoche available locally, but I’d love to try this with all mushrooms instead. The braised meat dishes, adobo-rubbed trout, and enchiladas would all be inviting for parties. And, I have to try the Smashed Shrimp with Eggs and Salsa served with tortillas and refried black beans and the Breaded Chicken Sandwiches on homemade cemitas or sesame rolls. The fresh, bright, and spicy flavors are evident, and I couldn’t wait to jump in and try several things. 

First, I made the Queso Fresco which is similar to making fresh ricotta except the curds are pressed to form a firmer cheese. There is a typo in this recipe, though, as the amount of vinegar listed is too much for the quantity of milk. The milk will over-acidify, separate, and not curdle. Rather than using the amount of vinegar listed, once the milk comes up to about 170 degrees F, turn off the heat and just dribble in a tablespoon of vinegar at a time while stirring until the milk begins to form curds. I used less than one-quarter cup of vinegar for a half gallon of milk. After curdling, the milk was left to sit for 20 minutes before the curds were drained in a cheesecloth-lined strainer. The liquid was squeezed from the cheesecloth, salt was added, and the cheese was weighted down with a bowl to press more liquid from it. It was placed in the refrigerator for eight hours. Next, I made tortillas. I used store-bought masa harina rather than making homemade masa, but I took inspiration from the book for adding pureed, reconstituted dried chiles to the dough. I used guajillos, and they gave the masa a pretty, orange color. Rolling balls of dough and flattening them in a tortilla press is one of the funnest things to do in the kitchen. Just be sure to line the tortilla press with pieces of plastic cut from a storage bag to prevent sticking. The pressed tortillas were cooked for a few minutes per side on a griddle and kept warm wrapped in a kitchen towel. Meanwhile, I also reconstituted some cascabel chiles that were combined with another guajillo and pureed with a clove of garlic and olive oil. That oil was used for roasting vegetables. In the book, the roasted vegetable recipe includes winter vegetables like broccoli and butternut squash, but I used the technique for summer squash, eggplant, sweet peppers, and potato. Chunks of vegetables were coated in the chile oil and seasoned with salt and pepper before roasting in a 400 degree F oven until tender and browned. One last item was the Salsa de Arbol. Dried arbol chiles were heated in a tablespoon of olive oil and then pureed in the blender with canned tomatoes, a chopped tomatillo, a clove of garlic, and some salt. All of these components came together for the freshest, most flavorful tacos. 

The texture and flavor of the homemade queso fresco was on another level in comparison to the store-bought variety. And, the farm-fresh vegetables roasted with chile oil were addictive all by themselves. But, wrapped in the warm, chile-flecked tortillas with the bright, tangy, and not-too-spicy salsa de arbol and dotted with chunks of queso fresco, they were divine. I’m not sure if I’ll be baking cemitas next or gathering everything for a mole sauce, but I’ll be cooking more things from this book. 

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Friday, June 30, 2017

Everything Biscuit Sandwich with Smoked Whitefish Schmear

Is breakfast the most likeable meal of the day? I think it might be. Or, maybe I’m just a really big fan of eggs and the myriad ways they can be prepared. So, the new book Egg Shop: The Cookbook, of which I received a review copywas sure to be a winner to me. It’s from the New York City restaurant that came about because of a love of egg sandwiches. And, there’s even more to like about this book and restaurant beyond the breakfast menu. There’s a real commitment to best-quality ingredients and a made-from-scratch approach. Of course, you can choose how many items you prefer to make yourself rather than buy, but all the recipes are here for the breads and rolls, cold-press coffee and chai concentrate, nut milk, homemade bacon, pickles, aioli, flavored oils, and more. The recipes range from indulgent to lean and nutritious. After a chapter that covers basic egg cooking and some classic ways to use those cooked eggs, there are sandwiches, bowls, California-inspired dishes, snacks and sweets, and drinks. Did I mention that everything in this book looks like something you’ll love eating? It does. I’ll be trying the Egg Salad Sandwich made with yogurt in the egg salad rather than mayonnaise. This sandwich is layered on multigrain bread with sliced tomato, baby greens, and an optional piece of boneless fried chicken. The Duck Confit Banh Mi topped with a sunny side up duck egg and the Cognac-Cured Gravlax sandwich on seeded rye are two others on my to-try list. On the lighter side, the Warrior One bowl is composed of sweet potato and broccoli salad, Masala lentils, sliced almonds, onion chutney, and a poached egg. And, from the California-inspired dishes, I’m always drawn to Huevos Rancheros. Here, it’s made with Black Bean Smash, a homemade Salsa Ranchera, crispy blue corn tortillas, and salsa-basted fried eggs. Every recipe has considered components lending great flavors and special touches that seem to guarantee deliciousness. I knew the smoked whitefish sandwich would be a savory thrill with all the parts that come together for it. 

First, the sandwich is built on an “everything” biscuit. The toppings from “everything” bagels are here applied to a buttermilk, drop biscuit. The biscuits are baked until a few minutes from being done, and then they’re pulled from the oven, given an egg wash, sprinkled with the toppings, and put back in the oven to finish. That delayed topping procedure prevents any burning of the onion flakes, sesame seeds, etc. The smoked whitefish spread was full of big flavors and several things that could be homemade or not. The whitefish was skinned, boned, and flaked. Rather than making a caramelized onion aioli from scratch, I caramelized some local leeks and added them to store-bought mayonnaise. Also, rather than making my own hot pickles, I used a locally-made, spicy, fermented pickle. For the caperberry mustard, I chopped some rinsed and drained capers and added them to Dijon mustard. The other ingredients in this spread were minced green onion, chopped celery and leaves, zest and juice of a lemon, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. To build the sandwich, biscuits were cut in half and spread with the whitefish mixture, sliced tomatoes were added, a fried egg went on top, and a sprinkling of dill completed it. 

I can assure you this sandwich did not disappoint. The everything biscuit will be the kind of biscuit I bake most often from now on. It made an excellent delivery system for the smoked whitefish schmear and all its tangy, bright flavors. Perfect, local, summer tomatoes and a fresh farm egg rounded the experience. Having breakfast for dinner will come in handy with so many more egg dishes I can’t wait to try. 

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Cookie Dough Bars

These days, I mostly try to avoid refined sugar. Mostly. Of course, it can’t be avoided if I’m inspired to bake an exciting, new cake recipe or if ice cream making is on the agenda. But, most days, I opt for savory over sweet or treats lightly sweetened with dates or a little maple syrup. This approach to sweets has been made very easy by the recipes from Good Clean Food: Super Simple Plant-Based Recipes for Every Day. After writing about this book in April, I’ve tried two more recipes that I have to mention. One of the handy things I’ve noticed about the recipes from this book is that they don’t make too, too much. You end up with a tasty treat made from great ingredients that lasts just long enough for two people to enjoy without overdoing it on sweets for days. First, I tried the Cookie Dough Bars, and they really taste like delicious cookie dough. They’re topped with a drizzle of chocolate sauce that you can either make with raw cacao powder or by melting dark chocolate. The other recipe I tried was the Salted Caramel Bonbons. The date- and almond butter-filled bonbons were dipped in chocolate and were surprisingly filling. I didn’t get quite the same sweet, bitter, salty flavors I know from salted caramel, so I might start calling them by another name, but they were great, little treats in their own right. 

The processes for making both of these treats are similar. For the cookie dough bars, dates were pitted and covered with hot water. In the food processor, raw cashews, oats, coconut flakes, salt, and vanilla were pulsed until fine. The dates were added with some of the water they’d been soaking in along with cacao nibs. The mixture was pulsed again until it formed a dough. This was pressed into a pan, and you can decide how thick or thin you’d like the bars to be. I pressed the dough into an eight-inch square pan, but only filled half the pan. The pan was placed in the freezer for a few minutes. The chocolate drizzle was made by stirring together cacao powder, coconut oil, maple syrup, and a little salt in a double boiler. The sauce was drizzled over the chilled bars, and the pan went back into the freezer for 20 minutes before cutting into pieces. The bars do need to be stored in the refrigerator. 

For the bonbons, dates, almond butter, a little almond meal, coconut oil, and a little salt were pulsed until smooth in the food processor. This mixture was placed in the freezer to firm up for about 10 minutes. Then, the mixture was scooped into balls that were placed back in the freezer while chocolate was melted. Each bonbon was dipped into the melted chocolate and topped with flaked sea salt. These are also stored in the refrigerator. 

Both of these quickly-made treats come in handy when you need a boost of afternoon energy. And, both have great flavor from dates, coconut, and nuts. I know I’ll be making them again soon, and I’m especially thrilled to have learned a way of making a pure chocolate topping that’s sweetened only with maple syrup. Although, there’s probably a decadent, sugar-filled recipe in my near future too. 

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Squash Ribbons with Tomatoes, Peanuts, Basil, Mint, and Spicy Fish-Sauce Sauce

Now that I’ve officially lived in Austin longer than I’ve lived anywhere else, I’m getting used to the growing seasons here. And, I get excited every time a vegetable comes into season. It’s like I’ve never eaten a tomato before when I walk into a farm stand and find heirloom beauties for the first time this year. I get just as excited when the first broccoli shows up in the late fall and for every other vegetable too. The start of each season is special, and the flavor of those first-of-season, freshly harvested vegetables is unmatched. So, I felt like I was reading the thoughts of a kindred spirit when I dove into my review copy of Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables by Joshua McFadden. He clearly has true respect for vegetables, their seasons, and the subtle differences among early-season, mid-season, and late-season versions. After presenting some building block recipes for flavored butters, sauces, vinaigrettes, breads, grains, and pickles, the book is divided into Spring, Early Summer, Midsummer, Late Summer, Fall, and Winter. When each vegetable actually appears will, of course, depend on where you live, but you’ll find delicious ways to use the vegetables from the first harvest through the last. A lot of the recipes incorporate breadcrumbs or croutons or nuts for added texture and flavor. And, the Brined and Roasted Almonds recipe is one that’s already become a favorite for me. It works with any nut, and it’s a simple matter of soaking raw nuts in a salty brine, draining them after 30 minutes, and then roasting them in the oven. I can’t stop making and eating these nuts and telling everyone to do this. Also, a lot of the recipes are perfectly paired with toasted bread slices or flatbread to be used as vehicles for the combinations. Some examples are the Fava Beans, Cilantro, New Potatoes, and Baked Eggs; Potato and Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Olives, Feta, and Arugula; and Israeli-Spiced Tomatoes, Yogurt Sauce, and Chickpeas. Another one on my short-list of things to try is the Carta di Musica paper-thin flatbreads with Roasted Eggplant Spread, Herbs, and Ricotta Salad. This isn’t an entirely meat-free book, but the focus stays squarely on the vegetables. Since our “summer” vegetables arrive early, I’ve already been enjoying summer squash and tomatoes, and I loved the idea of using them in a salad with Asian flavors and lots of herbs. 

I did make one little change to the suggested process. The recipe was intended to make use of thinly-sliced, raw ribbons of summer squash and zucchini. But, I was using the grill that day anyway and liked the idea of adding a slightly smoky flavor to the dish. I gave the ribbons just a minute on each side over the coals before proceeding with the salad. The sauce was a mix of minced hot chiles, minced garlic cloves, fish sauce, water, and white wine vinegar, and it will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator. The rest of the salad components included havled cherry tomatoes, I added some larger tomatoes cut into wedges, thinly sliced green onions, basil leaves, mint leaves, chopped peanuts, and olive oil. Everything was tossed with the Spicy Fish-Sauce Sauce and olive oil and placed on a platter. 

The fresh herbs and crunchy nuts mixed well with the vegetables and the spicy sauce, and the salad was great alongside grilled shrimp. This book was a welcome read thanks to the care with and interest in vegetables at their very best, and the layers of flavor worked into each dish will keep me coming back to try more things. 

Squash Ribbons with Tomatoes, Peanuts, Basil, Mint, and Spicy Fish-Sauce Sauce  
Excerpted from Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables by Joshua McFadden (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2017. Photographs by Laura Dart and A.J. Meeker. 

Serves 4 

4 firm medium zucchini or a mix of zucchini and yellow summer squash 
Kosher salt 
1 pint cherry tomatoes (a mix of colors is nice), halved
1/2 cup salted roasted peanuts, roughly chopped 
1 bunch scallions, trimmed (including 1/2 inch off the green tops), sliced on a sharp angle, soaked in ice water for 20 minutes, and drained well 
1 small handful basil leaves 
1 small handful mint leaves 
1/4 cup Spicy Fish-Sauce Sauce (see below) 
Extra-virgin olive oil 

Using a mandoline, carefully slice the zucchini from the bottom to the top to create very thin ribbons of squash. (If you don’t have a mandoline, just cut the zucchini into very thin crosswise slices, to create rounds.) Toss the squash with 1 teaspoon salt and put in a colander so the salt can draw out excess moisture. Let them sit for 30 minutes. Blot the squash on paper towels to remove the moisture and excess salt. Pile into a large bowl. 

Add the tomatoes, peanuts, scallions, basil, and mint. Pour in the spicy fish-sauce sauce and toss again. Taste and decide whether the salad needs more salt. Add 1/4 cup olive oil and toss again. Do a final taste and toss, arrange on plates, and serve right away. 

Spicy Fish-Sauce Sauce
Makes about 1 1/4 cups 

1/4 cup seeded, deribbed, and minced fresh hot chiles (use a mix of colors) 
4 large garlic cloves, minced 
1/2 cup fish sauce 
1/4 cup water 
1/4 white wine vinegar 
2 tablespoons sugar 

Stir everything together in a small bowl until the sugar dissolves. Taste and adjust so you have an intense sweet-salty-sour-hot balance. Ideally, make this a day ahead, then taste and readjust the seasonings on the second day. The chile heat is likely to get stronger. The sauce will keep for a month or two in the fridge. 

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Sunday, June 4, 2017

Seafood Salad with Lemon-Garlic-Herb Dressing

As soon as we have a hint of summery weather, seafood salad is on my mind. I really believe it’s an ideal meal when it’s hot outside. In fact, if I could spend every day of summer sitting poolside with a supply of such a salad in a nearby refrigerator, I’d be extremely happy. Sadly, there’s no pool in my backyard, but whipping up more seafood salad every few days is definitely doable. I had just read about a lovely-sounding version in Tartine All Day: Modern Recipes for the Home Cook, and the time was right. During this late spring-not-quite-summer yet season, the local farms have fennel, celery, onion, and new potatoes. And, all of those things happen to be perfect elements of a seafood salad. For the main attraction, the seafood, you can pick and choose whatever combination you prefer. This time, I kept it simple with just shrimp and squid, but chunks of halibut, some scallops, and clams would have been great mixed in as well. What I really liked was the preparation method of the recipe in the book. 

You begin my making a quick and easy court bouillon with water, bay leaves, thyme sprigs, sliced lemon, chopped shallot, a few peppercorns, and some salt. The seafood was cooked in batches in the simmering stock. By cooking the shrimp by itself before cooking the squid by itself, you have better control of the timing and can pull everything out of the stock with a slotted spoon at just the right moment. As the seafood drained and cooled a bit, new potatoes were then cooked in the same court bouillon. This was a great idea for adding flavor to the potatoes and for making the process efficient by only using one pot. After the potatoes were tender but not mushy, they were drained and allowed to cool. The dressing was a mixture of lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, chopped oregano, minced shallot, and salt and pepper. I wanted to give it just a bit of thickness, and so I added some mayonnaise. In the book, the salad is just those items: the seafood, potatoes, and dressing. I added thinly sliced raw fennel and chopped celery and served it with dressed arugula on the side. 

Two lessons I learned from this were: always cook some potatoes in a court bouillon after poaching seafood; and, when you have fresh, local celery, potatoes, and fennel, put them in a seafood salad. I just need to work on getting a pool into my backyard, and I’ll be set. 

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Monday, May 29, 2017

Corn, Green Beans, and Parmesan

I do read cookbooks for the stories and to daydream about when and why I might make the recipes some day in the future. But, I also do a lot of cooking from cookbooks. With the new book from Elisabeth Prueitt, her hope is that it will be used for both and more of the latter. It’s Tartine All Day: Modern Recipes for the Home Cook, and I received a review copy. Right away, this book felt like a familiar friend I’d be spending time with in the kitchen. The style of cooking is very workable into regular life. Prueitt’s previous book presented pastry recipes from famed Tartine and her husband Chad Robertson’s books are devoted to the breads from the bakery and cafe, but this one is just for cooking at home. Although Prueitt has spent years creating amazing pastries for Tartine, she happens to be gluten-intolerant. So, all of the baking recipes in this book are gluten-free. She is able to eat the naturally-fermented breads her husband makes due to the type of wheat and slow fermentation process used, so some recipes do incorporate that style of bread. I should also point out a formatting note. The recipes have been presented like those in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Rather than having a full ingredient list followed by the method, the ingredients are grouped to the left of the instructions in which they’re used keeping all the information well organized and easy to navigate. Right off the bat, there’s a chapter for Basics that will elevate all sorts of meals. It includes sauces and dressings like Tzatziki and Tomatillo Salsa and quick pickles and jams. From there, the chapters move through breakfast, snacks, soups, salads, main courses, gatherings, and desserts. I love the thought of the simple Goat Cheese-Garlic Spread to scoop onto bread, crackers, or sturdy vegetable slices. And, the Granola Bark, like a super-thin granola bar, is something I need to try soon. The soups range from hearty to light, and our heat and humidity has me gravitating to the chilled Summer Greens Soup made with avocado, bell pepper, herbs, and jalapeno. I made a variation of the Seafood Salad with Lemon-Garlic-Herb Dressing that was delicious, and I have pages marked for the Lemon Pound Cake made with fruit on the bottom and the crumble-topped Jam Bars. First up, though, I want to tell you all about the Corn, Green Beans, and Parmesan salad. 

This dish was an easy choice because when I made it a couple of weeks ago, our local sweet corn had just come into season, local green beans were available, and the recipe involves corn nuts or quicos. I’ve loved corn nuts since forever, but I never think to add them to dishes. That might be because I’m too busy eating them by the handful. The corn was cut from the cobs, and the kernels and cleaned and trimmed green beans were just briefly cooked. The vegetables were added to a big bowl along with sliced green onions, cilantro leaves, lime juice, some hot sauce, olive oil, and salt and pepper. The mixture was tossed to combine, and then placed on plates. I didn’t have nasturtium leaves, so I used some arugula for garnish along with thin shards of parmesan and the quicos. 

For a simple salad, there’s a lot happening here among the flavors and textures. The lime juice brightens things up, and the parmesan brings a savory note while the crunchy quicos make it fun. I stored the leftover salad without any quicos in it so they wouldn’t absorb moisture. I wanted to add them just before eating for full crunch. Whenever I need some cooking inspiration, I feel like I could just open this book to any page. I can’t wait to put that into practice. 

Corn, Green Beans, and Parmesan
Reprinted with permission from Tartine All Day: Modern Recipes for the Home Cook by Elisabeth Prueitt, copyright © 2017. Published by Lorena Jones Books/Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
Makes 4 to 6 servings   

This is another salad that we made when we first opened Tartine Manufactory (see also the Tomato, Shelling Beans, and Cucumber Salad). Our chef, Sam, made this wonderful combination of two kinds of corn—fresh from the cob, and a corn called quicos, or maiz gigante (which also goes by the commercial name of corn nuts). The quicos are dry, crunchy, and salty and are balanced by the lime in the dressing and the sweetness from the fresh corn. Adding green beans and topping it with Parmesan cheese makes it a more substantial dish that could serve as one part of a two-item dinner, paired with a summer soup (such as the Summer Greens Soup), or a simple roasted chicken (see Spatchcocked Roasted Chicken). If you can get them, nasturtium leaves add a very nice peppery flavor. 

3 ears of corn, shucked and kernels cut off cob   
6 oz/170g green beans, yellow wax beans, or a combination trimmed   
3 scallions, sliced thinly on bias 
1 bunch cilantro, leaves pulled from stems 
2/3 cup quicos (corn nuts), coarsely chopped 
2 Tbsp lime juice, plus more as needed 
1 Tbsp green or red hot sauce, plus more as needed  
3 Tbsp olive oil 
Sea salt 
Ground black pepper 
Nasturtium leaves for garnish (optional) 
2 oz/55g piece of Parmesan, for garnishing 

In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook the corn just until heated through, about 2 minutes. Set aside. Prepare a bowl of ice water. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add the beans and blanch until bright in color, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beans to the bowl of ice water and let cool, about 12 minutes. When cool, drain and pat dry. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked corn and green and/or yellow beans, scallions, cilantro, quicos, lime juice, hot sauce, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Taste and add more lime juice, hot sauce, salt, and pepper, if needed. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the nasturtiums.    

Grate the Parmesan over the whole dish and serve. Store in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 5 days. The quicos will lose some of their crunch after the first day. 

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