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Posts Tagged ‘salad’

When it gets warm — hot enough so that my blood vessels dilate instantly as I step outside (nice weather does come to San Francisco once in awhile) — all I want to do is curl up in a shady spot, and hope for a cool breeze to pass through. If I spend enough time in the heat, my appetite goes out the window (as does my desire to cook in a stifling kitchen). All of a sudden, I can’t stand to think of the foods that I love so much. What shall we have for dinner tonight? Chinese? Bleh. Grilled sausages and fries? Bleh!

On one of these hot summer nights, J suggested making our own Vietnamese summer rolls. We gathered up some boiled shrimp, lettuce, sprouts, cilantro, thai basil, mint, vermicelli, and tapioca starch wrappers, and wrapped up our summer rolls at the table as we ate, dipping them in lime juice/fish sauce and peanut sauce. It was marvelous.

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Another night, we had watermelon salad. Cubed watermelon with tomatoes and avocado, tossed together in lime dressing. An amazing balance of sweetness and acid. We had this with a sliced baguette on the side, and it was the ideal summer supper in all ways imaginable — refreshing, light, and filling.

Watermelon Salad
Makes 2 big portions, or enough for 4 smaller servings
Adapted loosely from here

2 large tomatoes, mostly deseeded and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
2 cups 3/4-inch-cubed watermelon flesh
1 Hass avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
3 large fresh basil leaves, cut into small ribbons
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 serrano chili, finely diced
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper

Prepare watermelon and tomatoes, combining them in a large bowl. Place cut avocado in a smaller bowl. Add to the avocado juice from 1/2 lime, and using your fingers, toss around gently.

In another small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, remaining lime juice, basil, salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the tomato and watermelon and toss to coat evenly. Allow mixture to chill and marinate for 20 minutes.

Before serving, add the cubed avocado (along with the lime juice). Toss gently to mix, and drain excess liquid if you wish. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.

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A good friend of J’s left Seattle for San Diego at the end of August. We said our temporary goodbyes over dinner with him and his wife, and their very energetic boy of three years.

Taking the heirloom tomatoes I found at the farmer’s market, I made a salad of tomatoes, thin slices of honeydew and thin strips of cucumber made with the long strokes of a vegetable peeler. I tossed these in a dab of oil and lemon juice, seasoned with salt and black pepper.

salad of heirloom cherry tomatoes, honeydew, and cucumbers

As promised, I attempted a beet risotto, which came out fantastically. I used a recipe taken from the Health section of the New York Times. I first roasted the beets in the oven the night before, and peeled them the next day. The undersides of my nails remained purple for a day or two. I didn’t realize how beautiful beets look on the inside, too, with concentric rings barely visible in their flesh when I cut them open.

roasted beets

The use of beet greens in this recipe really rounded out the flavor of the risotto. I was afraid that the beets would make the risotto taste too bland and sweet, although this is easily remedied by a squeeze of lemon and the addition of grated parmesan. These dark and leafy greens have a bitter bite on their own, but they are perfect as they mellow out in the creamy risotto. We had this risotto with some ridiculously inexpensive salmon fillets from Costco. (They were farmed — please forgive me!) The salmon was pan-seared and topped with a sauce of shallots, balsamic vinegar, and a spoonful of sugar.

beet risotto with pan-seared salmon

For dessert, we had cherry clafouti. I love saying “cla-foo-tee” (with empasis on the “tee”) over and over again. It makes me feel so French. But I digress. I was inspired to make a cherry clafouti by a dessert I had on an elegant dinner out this summer, and have since made it twice. A classic clafouti is traditionally made with cherries, but can be made with all other kinds of fruits as well. This dessert is so simple to make. It looks and tastes delicious, and yet it is not too indulgent. I would eat it for breakfast every day, if that were possible.

Julia Child’s Clafouti
serves 6-8

1 1/4 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour
3 cups cherries, pitted (some help here may be necessary — J was my designated cherry-pitter)
1/3 cup sugar
powdered sugar

In a blender blend the milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt and flour. Pour a 1/4 inch layer of the batter in a buttered 7 or 8 cup lightly buttered fireproof baking dish. Place in the oven until a film of batter sets in the pan. Remove from the heat and spread the cherries over the batter. Sprinkle on the 1/3 cup of sugar. Pour on the rest of the batter. Bake at 350 degrees for about for about 45 minutes to an hour. The clafouti is done when puffed and brown and and a knife plunged in the center comes out clean. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, serve warm.

cherry clafouti

As the cherry season ended, I was reminded that the last days of summer are drifting into the fall. Farewell, friend! Farewell, summer!

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