Barbara McKenzie’s Raw Zucchini Salad

July 5th, 2015

Pauline test drove this recipe and reports she served it as a bed for marinated poached salmon. She says: “It almost seems cooked, but isn’t, and looks beautiful and tastes really good. Great for a hot day, especially, when you don’t want to heat up your kitchen.”

* One or two young zucchinis fresh from the garden
* Olive oil
* Lemon juice to taste along with some lemon zest, or possibly red wine or rice wine vinegar
* Cherry tomatoes cut in half if available

Mandoline the zucchini into thin slices (or use a potato peeler). If they seem bitter, sprinkle with salt, let sit for 5 minutes, rinse, drain, and blot away the excess moisture with a kitchen or paper towel.

Put zucchinin in a bowl, add a good olive oil to taste, salt, and some lemon juice along with its zest, or vinegar if you prefer. Add cherry tomatoes cut in half if you have them and toss. Serve immediately, either on its own or as a bed for fish or shrimp.

Body Armour for Mandolining a Zucchini

You need a mandoline to make very thin slices of zucchini for this salad — so please wear protective gear because you can hurt yourself badly if bare fingers get too near the blade. You can find cut-proof butchers gloves online in various price ranges and you only need a single glove (turn it inside out to make it left-handed). ALL professional chefs wear these gloves when using a mandolin and so should you!

Corn on the Cob with Basil Butter

July 4th, 2015

This is so simple it really isn’t even a recipe. However, it IS my favorite way to eat corn on the cob.

Fresh corn on the cob

Butter at room temperature

Basil, cut into shreds with a sharp knife

Prepare basil butter by chiffonading the basil into thin shreds with a very sharp knife and mixing with softened butter.

If you have a microwave, this is the healthiest and tastiest way to prepare corn on the cob. The earthy fragrance of just-picked corn freshly microwaved in its husks is unbelievable, plus corn microwaved in its jacket retains much more of its nutritional value.

Cut off any excess stem from the stem end  so the corn can rotate on the turntable but do not disturb the husks or try to remove the silk. Microwave on high as follows:

1 ear,  2 minutes; 2 ears, 4 minutes; 3 ears, 6 minutes; 4 ears, 8 minutes, etc.

Remove the corn from the microwave, wrap in a towel and let rest for 5 minutes, then (using a pot-holder or protective gloves) peel off the husks and the silk. Serve with lots of basil butter. The heat of the corn releases the basil fragrance in a wonderful way.

NOTE: Pesto is also a really good substitute for plain butter.

NOTE2: Microwaving is an easy prep for freezing corn right on the cob: nuke the ears (possibly reducing the time slightly), let cool then remove the husks and silk and break cobs in halves or thirds. Freeze solid then pop into freezer bags for winter storage (freezing first prevents them from sticking together so you can unfreeze only what you need).

NOTE 3: Frozen 1″ thick rounds of corn cut right through the cob add a festive South American touch to winter stews.

A Stir-fry with Indian Spices

July 3rd, 2015

2 handfuls baby red, gold & purple potatoes
1 handful green beans
1 cup cooked garbanzo beans
Onion, chopped

Indian Spices (mix & match as you like or use everything as I prefer):
1/4 Tsp Tumeric
1/2 Tsp Black Mustard Seed
1/2 Tsp Whole Cumin Seed
1/2 Tsp Whole Coriander Seed
1 Tbsp Fresh Ginger, cut in match sticks
15 Curry Leaves (optional)
Pinch of Asafetida (optional)
Dash of ground Fenugreek (optional)
Dried Red Pepper

Oil for stir-frying
Melted ghee or butter for finishing (optional)
Fresh coriander leaves & lemon wedges for garnish

Boil the potatoes till just tender, then cool and cut in halves. Steam green beans till they turn dark green. Drain chick peas and dice the onion.

Heat oil in a wok or frying pan over high heat, add the mustard seeds and when they start to pop add the ginger and curry leaves (if using). Add cumin, coriander seed, dried red pepper broken in half and let sizzle for a few seconds. Add onions, turmeric and asafetida/fenugreek if using. Add potatoes and toss with the onions and spices, letting them begin to brown around the edges. Add drained garbanzos, cover and let steam briefly. Remove lid, toss in green beans, and remove from heat. Adjust salt and add a little melted ghee or butter over the top for added flavor if you like.

Garnish with lemon wedges and fresh coriander if using. Serve with warmed Indian flat bread (naan, roti, chapati, parathas), yoghurt, and some mango or lemon pickle, or chutney.

NOTE: Indian flatbreads, curry leaves and mango & lemon pickles are all available at the Indian grocery at 42nd and Walnut next to the Wawa.

Marinated Asparagus Salad

July 2nd, 2015

This cold salad is refreshing and pretty enough for a dinner party. The mustard in the vinaigrette compliments asparagus nicely.

Snap off the woody bottoms of asparagus spears and steam lightly till tender/crisp. Line spears up on a plate all facing the same way and tip so that any remaining moisture drains off.

Make a vinaigrette of olive oil and a splash of unflavored rice vinegar (available in Asian grocery stores). Beat in a large dollop of dijon mustard to make a creamy dressing, and adjust for salt.

Pour dressing over asparagus and marinate for an hour in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally. When ready to serve, garnish with cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half.

Light Potato Salad

July 1st, 2015

I’ve enjoyed this potato salad recipe for many years. It’s from my friend from grad school, Susan Olexiew. The nutmeg and vinaigrette make a fragrant and tasty combination.

* Red Bliss, Yukon Gold, or Andean Purple Potatoes
* Mild onion (Vidalia or Walla Walla) or ordinary white onion soaked in salt water for 10 or 15 minutes, chopped
* Olive Oil
* Rice Wine Vinegar (unseasoned)
* Sea Salt
* Fresh Grated Nutmeg

Chop the onion into a bowl large enough to contain the finished salad. Boil potatoes in their jackets. When done, peel (or not), dice and add the hot potatoes to the bowl with the onions, which will slightly cook the onions and make them mild.

Add lots of olive oil, rice wine vinegar to taste, sea salt, and stir to combine. Grate nutmeg into the salad until the potatoes are fragrant (taste as you go, it will probably require more nutmeg than expected). Let the salad mellow on the kitchen counter till the flavors blend and serve at room temperature.

Phil Grosser’s Japanese-style Dressing for Arugula Salad

June 7th, 2015

Phil uses this dressing to mellow out arugula when it starts getting too spicy this time of year, but it works well with any kind of mixed salad greens.

* Rice wine vinegar (unflavored), about 1/3 cup or however much dressing you want to end up with
* Dash of soy sauce
* Sugar or honey to taste
* Grated ginger
* Heaping spoonful of miso (maybe the Miso Master Organic
Mellow White they have at Essene)
* Sesame oil

Mash the miso into the rice vinegar mixture. Dressing should be thick enough to cling to the greens but still pour easily and not be too thick. Add sesame oil. Arrange greens on plate, pour on dressing, and (optional) garnish with thin salad turnip or radish slices (sliced thin on a mandolin if you dare). Serve.



Raw Beets as a Salad Ingredient

June 4th, 2015

Raw beets have an intense earthy fragrance & sweetness when young and fresh from the garden, and explode with flavor and crunch in your mouth, but they must be sliced very thin to be good — use a mandolin or a potato peeler to get thin shavings.

Here, beets are added to an endive salad along with salad turnips and toasted pumpkin seeds. I used Phil’s Japanese dressing but any sweet & sour vinaigrette (or something with orange juice and zest) would work too.

NOTE: If you use a potato peeler, it’s easier to slice longitudinally (pole to pole) than to slice across.

Mexican Corn Soup

June 1st, 2015

This recipe is adopted from Diana Kennedy’s “The Cuisines of Mexico”. It has the wonderfully fresh and uncomplicated flavor of young corn.

4 cups corn (or kernels from 5 ears)
2 or 3 large green poblano chilies
6 cups chicken broth
1 Tbsp butter (or more)
1/2 cup milk or cream

Garnish: slivered cilantro leaves, strips of roasted poblanos, sour cream, etc.

Roast the poblanos over a gas flame till they begin to char, then wipe off the charred skin with a paper towel. Remove seeds and veins, and if they are very picante soak in salted water for about 30 minutes to remove some of the heat.

Put roasted peppers in a blender, along with 1/4 cup broth. Blend to a puree, then melt butter in a pan and cook puree over high heat for about 3 minutes. Add the rest of the chicken broth (5 1/2 cups) and the corn, and simmer till the corn is cooked, about 20 minutes. [If you want to try Diana's original recipe, stop here. Garnish with poblano strips, farmer cheese, and fried tortilla triangles. Otherwise, continue...]

Return the soup to the blender and blend till smooth, then pour back into the pot and add 1/2 cup milk or cream (or to taste) and heat gently.

Garnish with cilantro slivers and/or a bit of sour cream.

NOTE: If you are out of chicken stock or want a vegetarian alternative, try making a stock from the cobs for a delightful corn-flavored soup base. If you add a dash of soy sauce at the end, you can’t taste it but it perks up the broth nicely. And if you have onion peelings handy, these great to include when you are boiling the cobs.

Basic Cucumber Salad

June 1st, 2015

Summer isn’t complete without garden-fresh cucumber salad. My cucumber-of-choice is a Kirby or other pickling cucumber (I acknowledge that this is open for debate). My onion of choice is one of the sweet varieties like Vadalia or Walla Walla, but ordinary spanish or white or red work equally well.

Here’s all you do: peel, partially peel or don’t, a cucumber. Slice as thin as you can, add thin-sliced onions, and finish off with a bit of dill or mint or other herb-of-choice. Mix and fluff gently, then sprinkle on 5 or 6 tablespoons of unflavored Chinese rice wine vinegar (or other vinegar ranging from apple cider to sherry to an exotic flavored vinegar al la tarragon or raspberry, or Japanese Umeboshi vinegar available at Essene which will make your cucumbers taste like instant Japanese pickles). Salt to taste and add pepper (or not).

If there are leftovers, this concoction ages beautifully in the fridge and will continue to pickle beautifully.

Pasta with Sauce of Uncooked Tomatoes and Basil

May 25th, 2015

Everybody must have a favorite version of this easy supper for a hot summer night. Here’s mine:

Tomatoes fresh from the garden
Generous amount of olive oil, maybe about 1/3 cup
Salt & Pepper
Linguini or spaghetti

Optional: minced garlic added to tomato mixture, crumbled Feta or fresh mozzarella cubes as a topping before serving

Dice the tomatoes into a bowl. Add a generous amount of torn fresh basil leaves. Add salt (this draws juices from the tomatoes and makes part of the “sauce”). Add a generous amount of olive oil — it becomes the second part of the sauce. If you are using it, add the minced garlic.

Let this sit on your kitchen counter for a couple of hours to exchange flavors while you sip iced tea in front of the fan.

When you are ready to eat, cook the pasta and drain, then stir hot pasta into the tomato mixture. The heat from the pasta warms the sauce and releases the fragrance of the basil.

For a more substantial meal, crumble feta or toss fresh mozzarella cubes on top of the pasta.