Tag Archives: summer

Shish Taouk (spiced chicken kebab)

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I imagine I’m sitting outside a tiny restaurant, white-washed stucco walls under a bleached umbrella, on a chair that wobbles on the uneven tile.  I’m in a cotton  maxi dress with tanned skinned under dappled sunlight, wavy salt-blown hair, looking great. (Hey, it’s my daydream-  and in daydreams, everything is clingy but flattering in a way that maxi dresses are NEVER really flattering on me. Just go with it.)

The sky is bright royal blue; the water, striking teal; flawless beaches stretch below rocky cliffs, and seagulls that never crap or chase after you or try to grab your food are calling from high above on the wind.

I know next to nothing about the Mediterranean, but that’s definitely how it appears in my daydreams.  This song always plays in my head when I think of anything coastal Mediterranean.  Ugh.  I’m a stereotype.

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Please, don’t let that embarrassing little daydream confessional steer you clear of this chicken.  Are these Turkish? Lebanese? Vaguely Middle Eastern? I’m not quite sure, but the marinade… it’s got a lotta stuff going on.  It’s complex.  Herby from the thyme, the mint, with some warmth from the aleppo and red pepper flakes. The tomato paste brings a savory-sweet backbone.

I know, the list of ingredients call for a lot of “things,” which is slightly daunting.  Don’t be daunted.  Put your leftover tomato paste in the freezer, save the rest of the bell pepper for easy fajitas, pick off some of that mint that’s taking over… the neighbor’s garden.  She won’t mind.   Breathe.  Marinate.  Open an adult beverage and hit the grill.  You can even put on a maxi dress.

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*Please, if you have time and you like garlic: make some of this two-minute toum to dip your chicken in.  You’ll be eating it on everything for the rest of the week, I promise.

You can start your prep the night before by mixing together all of the marinade ingredients except the fresh mint and refrigerating; then stirring in the chopped mint and chicken to marinate for an hour or so before firing up the grill.

Shish Taouk
Inspired by Saveur
Serves 2-3

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken (white or dark meat- I like a mix of breasts and thighs (!))
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon finely diced red pepper
1/2 to 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint (to taste)
1 tsp. each aleppo pepper, red pepper flakes, sea salt, and dried thyme
1/2 tsp. each oregano and black pepper
1 clove garlic crushed (I use 1/2 tsp. fermented garlic paste)

skewers or a grill pan

Mix together all of the ingredients but the chicken.  Cube the chicken into bite-sized pieces; stir into the marinade and refrigerate, allowing to sit for at least an hour and up to 8 hours.   If you’re using wooden skewers, soak them in warm water.  Before grilling, brush the grates with peanut oil or another high-heat oil to prevent sticking.  Skewer up the chicken and grill on medium high for 5-6 minutes, then flip and continue grilling for another 4-5 minutes, until both sides are nicely charred.  Serve with kachumbar, rice, on top of a salad, or in a pita.  Or however you want.  Leftovers are delicious!

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Filed under Chicken, Clean Eating, Gluten-Free, Main dishes, Summer

Summer Veg (grilled creamed corn and mixed roasted veggies)

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The story of my life:  I’m not sure what I’ve been up to, but I’m sure I’ve been busy.  Part of me actually does like being busy, having a sense of purpose and achievement.  But another part of me hates the part of me that over-glorifies being busy.  I love writing down and subsequently crossing things off a long to-do list, but I hate feeling trapped by the list, not actually caring about the doneness of the things on the list.  Who cares if I bleach the shower curtain?  Or if I put away that load of laundry? It’s just as clean sitting in a pile as it is crammed in a drawer.  Sometimes I’d just rather sit very still and try not to think.

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That being said, I do hate seeing a garden-grown vegetable go to waste, and summer is my time of excess.  I buy too many ears of corn at the market; the extra zucchini and eggplant in the garden look ignored and miffed in the August sun.  But I’ve found yet more ways to cope with my feelings of ineptitude (“I can’t believe I didn’t make eggplant parmesan with homemade tomato sauce on Friday night instead of pizza!” …Um, no.) and my overflowing crisper/garden.  Case in point: Luisa’s roasted vegetables, which make me feel virtuous.  Peppers! Carrots! Zucchinis! Throw it all in- together.  And that’s the brilliance.  But really, the brilliance is that the dish is amazing up front, but then a generous scoop is fantastic in a pan with a couple of eggs for breakfast, they’re delicious cold as a salad topping, and it’s easily and tastily reheated.   Check out her post here for the jist of it, or see below for my preferred ratio/mix of veggies.

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The second recipe I have to share with you is one for grilled creamed corn.  Do not underestimate how good this corn is, or how much fresh sweet corn a grown person can eat once it’s conveniently removed from the cob.  I’ve made this with 4 ears and we both stand over the pan, scraping up the very ends;  with 5 ears there is a small dish of leftovers that I try to nab for lunch before N does.  It’s a perfect accompaniment to anything grilled, as you grill the ears for 8-10 minutes while it’s heating up on high; then put your meat on, and let the corn rest while the main event is cooking.  About 15 minutes before your other grilled goods are ready to be eaten, slice the corn off the cobs and 5 minutes in the pan delivers a slightly spicy, tangy creamed corn with a hint of charred summer goodness.  It’s like sunshine in a pan.  With carbs.  And dairy. Win-win.

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My preferred method for cutting corn off the cob:  balance the ears on a small upside-down bowl that’s placed inside of a larger flat-bottomed bowl or baking pan (picture here is an 8×8 pan).  You elevate the corn so you can cut all the way down the length of the ear without hitting the side of the dish with your knife blade, but you still catch almost all of your corn nibs! Another great idea: use a bundt pan if you’ve got one.  You’re welcome.

Grilled Creamed Corn
Originally posted in summer 2010; updated and with new pictures

Serves 2-3

5 ears fresh sweet corn
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour (I use a generic glutenfree AP mix)
2/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. aleppo pepper flakes (or red pepper flakes)
1/8 tsp. cayenne

Shuck the corn and soak for at least 5 minutes, up to 1 hour.  Heat your grill to high.  Place the corn on the grill with the length of the slats, so the corn nestles in between the grill slats.  Grill for 2-3 minutes until the bottom is partially charred and then turn the cob about a quarter of the way; repeat on all sides of the corn, which takes approximately 8-10 minutes, but be sure to keep an eye on it and turn when needed.  Remove from grill and allow to cool.  Once cool enough to handle, cut the corn from the cobs.  Melt the butter in a large skillet on medium heat; whisk in the flour and allow to cook for about 1 minutes, stirring constantly.  Increase the heat to medium high and slowly pour in the milk and buttermilk, whisking constantly to form a roux.  Once the milk is all in and there are no clumps, stir in the corn, salt, and spices.  Simmer for approximately 5 minutes on medium high heat, stirring almost constantly, crushing some of the corn against the bottom or the sides of the pan with a heavy spoon.  Serve warm.  Excellent reheated as well.

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Summer Veggie Confetti (or, Mixed Roasted Vegetables for Summer)
Serves 2-6, depending on how much you like your veg

Directly from Luisa at The Wednesday Chef, though I like a slightly different ratio of summery veggies, as follows:

1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic  (I use 1 tsp fermented garlic paste)
1 medium tomato
4-6 carrots
1 medium potato
2 small zucchini or summer squash (I like one yellow and one green)
1 small eggplant
1 bell pepper- any color (Luisa calls for red or yellow, but I actually really like a green pepper, or a mix of red and green)
2-3 T. olive oil
1/2 tsp. kosher or crunchy salt (less if using table salt)1 tsp. dried herb/spice blend- I like an equal mix of dried basil, sage, thyme, and red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Quarter the onion, then slice thinly.  Mince or crush the garlic.  Dice the remainder of the vegetables into 1/2 inch to 1 inch pieces, not letting any one piece get to be much bigger an an inch.  Toss veggies in a 9×13 baking pan, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and herbs, and carefully mix to combine (careful not to crush the tomatoes too much).  Roast for 40-50 minutes, stirring twice- once after about 25 minutes, and again 10-15 minutes later.  Gorge. Feel virtuous for eating so many veggies. Repeat.

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Clean Eating, Gluten-Free, Side dishes, Summer, Vegetables, Vegetarian

the long stretch (whiskey-spiked iced tea)

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We’re in it.  Days are bright and hot. Nights are short and leave a film of dew on the yard.  Late nights and early mornings, watermelon and zucchini and peaches, dirty foot prints, darkened skin, gin and tonics.  The long stretch of high summer, July into August, is possibly the most fleeting time of the year, and I always feel a deep need to make the most of it.

Making a pitcher of this tea is possibly the easiest thing you could do to start the weekend off right.  Green and black teas, a couple lemons, a bottle of ginger beer, and our favorite brown liquor.  Whiskey has a firm grasp on fall and winter, but in this drink, it does right by summer too.  I’m particular to Bulleit Rye, but bourbon certainly isn’t bad.

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Whiskey-Spiked Iced Tea
Inspired by Thug Kitchen (nsfw!)
Makes about 84 oz.

2 bags black tea
2 bags green tea (ginger and/or citrus green tea is great too)
2 lemons
1/4 c. maple syrup (or agave or honey)
1-1/2 cups whiskey (rye or bourbon preferably)
1 bottle ginger beer

Pour 4 cups of boiling water over the black and green tea bags and let steep for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, juice one of the lemons and thinly slice the other.  Remove the tea bags, add the maple syrup, and stir to dissolve.  To the tea add 4 cups of cold water, the lemon juice, and the whiskey, and stir to combine.  Add the lemon slices and let chill in the fridge.  Before serving, carefully stir in the bottle of ginger beer, starting with half of the bottle and adding more to taste. (This is for personal preference- I like more ginger beer, but most of my friends preferred less.)

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Beverage, Summer

blubarb + buckwheat crisp (gluten-free)

It’s not too late, is it? I think we’ve got time for one more rhubarb recipe.

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This came about from a recipe that haunts me.  I first saw a link to the world’s easiest blueberry crisp last spring on Dinner: A Love Story (it’s the first link that sadly seems to be lost), and I hesitated before I put it on my weekend list.  I wanted something sweet but quick and easy, disguised as healthy (read: containing fruit), and I already had all the ingredients. But something so simple couldn’t honestly be that good, could it?  Frozen blueberries in a pie dish, a handful of panty staples haphazardly thrown together in a pot- butter, sugar, flour, oats- and popped into the oven.  But then.  45 minutes later your house smells like heaven and before you know it, you and your husband eat the whole dessert, along with a half-pint of softly-whipped cream melting into the divets of the crumble, running into the blueberry sauce, hovering over the stovetop with forks.  Seriously.  The whole thing, straight from the pan, minus a small dish that was set aside for breakfast the next morning.  Okay, not exactly set aside for breakfast… it was only for breakfast because I ate it before my husband got out of bed, because I wasn’t gong to share.  I wish I wasn’t serious.  (Oh, who am I kidding, I’m not even that ashamed, because IT IS THAT GOOD.) (Plus, it was a year ago.  I’ve matured since then.  I wouldn’t do that now, right?)

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So, the problem? Nothing, except a little gluten.  *sigh* But it’s okay, because I’m a tinkerer.  And I’m lazy.  My laziness manifests in the form of Trader Joe’s gluten-free all-purpose mix, which I love for recipes like this.  I understand that this mix is not perfect. A mix of starches and heavier flours (and yes, possibly gums) would be ideal, I’m sure.  However, that would require multiple bags and a food scale, and lots more tinkering.  In this case, laziness beat tinkering.  But in all fairness, for a crisp or a crumble, I don’t need to mimic wheat’s elasticity or tenderness – I just need bulk.  TJ’s gluten-free mix is perfect for this: not grainy, no weird aftertaste, and no gums added!

Of course I added rhubarb, because duh- it’s spring, rhubarb is everywhere, and blueberry + rhubarb is my favorite fruit combination.

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And while I was tinkering (lazy tinkering? “linkering“?), I also threw in some buckwheat.  It’s not really wheat, or even a grain- it’s a seed, and it’s in the rhubarb family- it’s got a bit of a rustic, dusty flavor.  It’s gritty and it adds some heft and chew.  And, of course, there are gluten-free oats, because a crisp is merely a crumble (and therefore inferior) without the addition of oats, in my completely unscientific and unsupported opinion.  If you’re not sure of the gluten-free-ness of oats, I’ve heard that quinoa flakes are a great substitute.  Or, if you’ve got another opinion on the necessities of crisps- chopped nuts, perhaps?- go ahead and tinker with it.

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When the berries and rhubarb cook down, they release lots of water.  Keeping an edge bare without topping around the pan will help some of that liquid evaporate, ensuring that you get a nice thick fruit filling.

Blubarb & Buckwheat Crisp
Inspired by Ruth Reichl’s Blueberry Crisp
Serves 2-8, depending on how greedy you are

In the spirit of the original, I tried to keep things fairly simple, but I did add in a little fancy by browning the butter.  If you’re in a hurry to get this in the oven, feel free to skip it.  But if you’ve got the extra 7 to 10 minutes, do it.  Browned butter and brown sugar… what could possibly go wrong?

Wild blueberries are really the key here. They’re small and sweet and juicy.  The big ones have got nothing on wild blueberries.  If you don’t like rhubarb, shame on you  just use 4 cups of frozen berries, and skip the 1/3 cup of sugar and the tapioca starch.

2 cups frozen wild blueberries
2 cups diced rhubarb
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons tapioca starch (or corn starch)
1 stick (8 tablespoons, 4 oz.) butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
sprinkle of cinnamon
pinch of cardamom and salt
2/3 cup gluten-free all purpose flour blend
1/3 cup buckwheat
1/3 cup gluten-free oats (or quinoa flakes)

Over medium heat in a medium-sized pan, melt the butter.  Once it starts sputtering, lower the heat to medium-low or even low, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently and keeping a close eye.

Meanwhile, butter a pie dish or cake pan.  Preheat your oven to 375 F.  Put the fruit in the pie dish, sprinkle with 1/3 cup sugar and the tapioca starch, and stir to coat evenly.

Once the butter has separated and the solids on the bottom have turned golden brown, turn off the burner and remove the pan from heat.  Stir in the brown sugar vigorously.  Add the cinnamon, cardamom, salt, AP flour, and buckwheat, and stir well.  Finally, stir in the oats.  Scoop the topping over the top of the fruit in the dish, and use the back of the spoon or your hands to even and flatten it out, trying to keep the topping at least 1/2 inch away from the edge of the pan.

Bake at 375 for 45 to 60 minutes, watching closely to ensure you get a thick filling and crispy crisp without over-browning the top.  Mine took close to 60 minutes.  Let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.  Best warm with homemade icecream or softly whipped cream, although I’m particularly fond of leftover crisp straight out of the fridge for breakfast.

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Filed under Desserts, Gluten-Free, Summer

grilled creamed corn

With summer beginning to tie up its loose ends, harvest-time is upon us. Now is the time for laboring in the fields (or farmer’s markets), gathering up every morsel the summer has provided before winter sets in.

This creamed corn recipe is a perfect accoutrement for any grilled meat or veggie meal. You set the corn on the grill right as you turn it on, when the grill is blazing on high to warm up. Rotate it a few times every few minutes, and take the slightly blackened cobs inside to whip together a creamed corn while the burgers are simmering.

Simple, filling, good. My favorite kind of late-summer dish.

Grilled (or roasted) creamed corn
adapted from Macaroni & Cheesecake

4 ears corn, shucked
1 T butter
1 T flour
3/4 c whole milk (can use skim milk but it won’t be as rich)
2 T fat free or reduced fat cream cheese
kosher salt and fresh black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper

To Grill Corn:
Turn grill on to high. Arrange the corn on the oiled grate and grill, turning occasionally, until the kernels are golden-brown and softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Cut the corn from the cobs.

For the Creamed Corn:
Heat a large skillet on the grill or on your stovetop (medium-high). Melt the butter and whisk in the flour to make a roux. Gradually whisk in the milk and cream cheese and cook, whisking constantly, until smooth and thick, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the corn kernels; season with S&P and the cayenne and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Note: I “mush” the corn a bit with my heavy wooden spoon, which I think adds to the creaminess and simulates the consistency of canned creamed corn a little bit.

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Filed under Summer, Vegetables

a weekend in [photo] review

I hope everyone (all 7 of my readers!) had a great holiday weekend!  I am not a huge fan of fireworks, and we didn’t have big plans for get-togethers, but we still made the most of the long weekend.

I found a huge load of goodness at the Farmer’s Market (plus raspberries, snap peas, and red beets)

We went fishing near a bridge with wooden slats that sounded awfully rickety

We saw beautiful skies

We ate all local and homemade meals that were delicious… brats, a beer can chicken on Saturday, and puff-pastry pesto chicken (posted soon)

Plus we spent most of the 3 days working on our garage.  It’s sheeted and wrapped, and the roof is covered in tar paper and ready to be shingled! All-in-all, it was a great summer weekend.

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Filed under Just a Thought