I’ve made a beautiful fruit barbecue sauce to celebrate seasonal rhubarb, as well as local deep purple vinegar made from the blueberry bounty of previous seasons. First order of business is pork ribs – after all, I made the barbecue sauce at the Fat Cow Farm Store with their pasture-raised meats in mind. However, there are more ways than meat to incorporate this sauce into your first lakeside picnic of June, and I’ve included a few below along with directions for using the crock pot if you want to come home to a nice cool kitchen as well as the enticing aromas of summer.
First Swim Blue-Barb BBQ Pastured Pork Ribs (Serves 4)
Season ribs with salt and pepper and sear on both sides in a hot skillet, then brush on 1/4 cup of your sauce. If you are cooking the ribs in your oven place them in a tightly covered baking dish and bake for three hours at 300. Alternatively, place them in a slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours.
First Swim Blue-Barb BBQ Navy Beans (Serves 4)
Navy Beans (1 Cup Dried)
Blueberry Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce (1/2 Cup)
Honey (1/4 Cup)
Red Onion (1 Diced)
Salt & Pepper (1 Teaspoon Each)
Soak beans for twelve hours in cold water with a teaspoon of baking soda to ensure even cooking, then drain. Add to four cups of cold unsalted water, bring to a boil and simmer for up to an hour or until tender. Drain all but one cup of cooking liquid and add remaining ingredients. If you are cooking the beans in your oven place them in a tightly covered baking dish and bake for two hours at 325. Alternatively, place them in a slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours.
First Swim Blue-Barb BBQ Red Cabbage Slaw (Serves 4)
Galangal and kaffir lime leaves can be found frozen at your local Asian specialty market, and are worth procuring. Everything else can be found at the grocery store, and if you don’t see snapper be sure to ask for it. Most of the time this catch will come to the store after having been frozen on the boat, and if it can be thawed immediately before preparation and not left languishing at the fish counter, so much the better. This is a light and delicious dinner, and you can serve it over rice if you wish.
Red Snapper & Bok Choy:
Red Snapper Filets (2)
Baby Bok Choy (6)
Flour (1/4 cup)
Olive Oil (3 Tablespoons)
Salt & Pepper
Thai Coconut Broth:
Ginger (2 inch piece)
Garlic (4 cloves)
Galangal (2 inch piece)
Kaffir Lime Leaves (2)
Lime Juice & Zest (1/2 lime)
Mint (1/2 cup)
Basil (1/2 cup)
Chives (1/2 cup)
Coconut Milk (1 can)
Vegetable Broth Base (1 teaspoon)
Heavy Cream (1 tablespoon, optional)
Onion (1 small) chopped & caramelized)
Thai Coconut Broth:
Wash and peel ginger, set aside the smaller knobs and peels and slice the rest.
Sear ginger peelings in a hot saucepan with a little oil along with sliced galangal, two kaffir lime leaves, two cloves of garlic (smashed), along with the stems and bruised leaves from the mint and basil, and the trimmed ends of the chives.
Once these are getting browned and aromatic, add three cups of water and your vegetable broth base, bring to a simmer, and allow to reduce down to two cups. (This may take over an hour). Add coconut milk and reduce again until slightly thickened. Strain into a clean bowl, add caramelized onion and allow to cool to room temperature.
Finely chop or combine in a food processor your remaining two cloves of garlic, sliced ginger, chopped basil, chives, mint, lime juice and zest. Add this mixture to cooled broth, along with heavy cream, if desired. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
Red Snapper & Bok Choy:
Trim and discard the cut ends of bok choy, allow the outer leaves to separate and halve the heart lengthwise. Then wash thoroughly in two changes of cold water to remove any sand and grit, and dry thoroughly on a clean kitchen towel.
Slice snapper into one-inch thick slices on the bias (always cut into filet side, not the skin side). Dust the skin sides only in flour seasoned with salt and pepper and sear in olive oil over medium-high heat, skin side only just until crispy. Carefully set aside (skin side up). The filet side of the fish will still be raw at this point.
In the same hot pan, add bok choy and cook until the leaves are wilted and stems are slightly softened. Spread bok choy in a baking dish, pour broth over, and place snapper (skin side up) over the top. At this point the dish can be tightly covered and refrigerated or frozen.
To serve, bake uncovered for at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until fish is just cooked through, and enjoy!
I have recently returned from Paris, where I spent two weeks visiting a dear friend in Montmartre while endeavoring to learn first-hand about the Parisian food experience. The French people can be counted on to express pride in the traditions of beautiful food which they, understandably, see as the only proper way to eat. As such, it is difficult to find badly prepared food in Paris, which boasts a timeless beauty and superlative excellence in many corners both lauded and hidden.
Although my trip felt lamentably short, I did find time to learn and rediscover. Despite an abundance of pastries and rich sauces, the food I encountered in Paris reminded me that it is not necessary to rely on salt (or even butter) in savory dishes, nor to lean excessively on sweeteners in desserts, as long as the ingredients you use have the greatest integrity possible.
It is, however, necessary to wander a bit aimlessly in Montmartre, as long as you keep your eyes open. You may be approached by the same sketch-artist repeatedly on the cobblestone streets, but it is only once you’ve recognized that you’ve already approached a certain stairway and fall of flowering ivy from a different direction that you begin to understand how the alleys twist as they cling to the hillside.
I also learned that France is a country where mealtimes must not be confused. If one were to sleep through breakfast and lunch, for example, these meals are simply missed – you mourn them and move on. It is unthinkable, even blasphemous, to sever a meal from it’s corresponding notch in the continuum of time, which is to say that lunch cannot simply be pushed back a few hours and be expected to retain it’s character. Instead one begins to plan a delicious goûter (think afternoon snack) and dinner.
Speaking of time, many shops are closed on Sundays, and in the case of the best boulangerie I visited (Du Pain À Des Idées), sometimes also on Saturdays. It is generally understood that all people need and deserve time to sleep, recharge, and enjoy life, despite the dismay of foreigners who are surprised to find work and rest regarded as equally vital.
It is with all of these values in mind that I have returned to the vocation of cooking revitalized, ready to restructure some business practices in an effort to improve my service, and monumentally excited to offer a new selection of classic Parisian dishes in my menu.
This recipe was written for a client with dietary restrictions, and she said: “Your cod cakes are one of the single best dishes we have ever eaten… The children and I could scarcely believe how delicious they are.” Since it’s also very healthy and not much harder than classic meatballs with marinara, I thought I would share the recipe with everyone. Enjoy!
6 Onions, Diced
3 Cups Tomato Puree
1 Cup Roasted Red Pepper Puree
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme
1 Teaspoon Minced Ginger
1 Tablespoon Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
Make The Cakes:
Preheat oven to 375 and on a sheet pan lined with parchment sprinkle cod with onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper and drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil, then rub the oil and seasoning into the fish.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, let cool, and flake into large chunks. Add egg yolks, sweet potato, roasted red pepper puree, chives and parsley.
Scoop mixture into a very hot pan with the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and turn carefully after one to two minutes browning on each side.
These cakes are fork-tender and will like to fall apart, so move them carefully into the prepared sauce.
Make The Sauce:
Caramelize onions over medium-low heat in 2 tablespoons of olive oil (this will take 30-40 minutes to do at a properly low heat to caramelize, but can also be done in advance).
Add thyme, garlic, ginger and black pepper and cook a further five minutes. Add remaining olive oil, a tablespoon of cumin and a pinch of cinnamon, and turn up the heat to medium-high for five minutes.
Once the spices are toasted add three cups of tomato puree and one cup of roasted red pepper puree and cook for five to ten minutes over medium heat.
Shakshuka is a comfort food that has gained popularity at many chic brunch establishments in the United States of late, but it has long been a staple meal in North African households throughout the world.
This is one of those dishes that one’s mother is always reported to have made best – think of a homey garden tomato sauce and you will be halfway there – and that is just the kind of challenge that I love.
Shakshuka is also an ideal dish for early fall when the best deals to be had are for blemished, slightly mashed and often cracked ripe tomatoes straight from the field (the same reason I’ve added some of the season’s last zucchini) and a good dish to remember during the cold months when canned tomatoes are best enjoyed.
In short, this rustic meal consists of eggs simmered in ripe tomatoes, peppers, and spices and served with a cooling dollop of yogurt (thick, sheeps-milk labneh if you want to be a purist) and fresh bread or pita for mopping up the beautiful sauce created when the tomato mingles with egg yolk.
The dish is mainly seasoned with harissa, a Tunisian chili paste which can be bought at the grocery store for easy – but you should know that it is rather satisfying to make your own, particularly when sweet peppers and chilis are still available locally as they are now.
I have included the recipes below, both adaptations from ‘Jerusalem,’ Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s lovely collaborative cookbook.
Ripe tomatoes (4-6, extra-large dice)
Red sweet pepper (1, large dice)
Zucchini (1, large dice)
Garlic (3 cloves, minced)
Harissa (2 tablespoons)
Tomato paste (1 tablespoon)
Cumin (1 teaspoon)
Salt (1 teaspoon)
Olive oil (2 tablespoons)
Yogurt (1 cup, for serving)
Fresh pita (or other good bread)
Add oil to a hot pan over medium-high heat, then add garlic, red pepper, and zucchini.
Cook, stirring frequently, for 4-5 minutes until the vegetables have begun to brown and soften.
Add salt, cumin, tomato paste, harissa, and tomatoes, stirring well, and turn down the heat to medium.
Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes until the tomatoes have cooked down and the sauce has begun to thicken.
Create small wells in the sauce with the back of the spoon for the eggs. (You may crack them into a small bowl first to avoid eggshell-bits or the occasional bad egg).
At this point you may cover your pan tightly and continue to simmer for 6-8 minutes while your eggs cook, or if your pan is oven-safe you can move it uncovered into a hot oven (about 375) for 4-6 minutes.
(These times are entirely dependent on the size of your eggs, so keep a close eye and pull them as soon as they have set until you are practiced at this).
Serve at once with yogurt and bread and enjoy!
Red onion (4 tablespoons, minced)
Garlic (4 cloves, minced)
Red sweet pepper (Roasted & diced)
Hot chili peppers (2-3, minced)
Tomato paste (2 teaspoons)
Cumin (1 teaspoon)
Coriander (1 teaspoon)
Olive oil (2 tablespoons)
Lemon juice (fresh-squeezed, 2 tablespoons)
Add oil to a pan over medium-high heat, then add red onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until they start to become toasted and brown.
Add cumin and coriander, stir, and allow spices to toast until you begin to smell them.
Add hot chili peppers and tomato paste and cook for one more minute, then remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
Add lemon juice and roasted pepper, and then blend your harissa into a thick paste.
This will make about 1/2 a cup, enough for several batches of shakshuka, and covered tightly and refrigerated will keep for up to two weeks.