Pair unusual grapes with an unusual cheese with delicious results.
Get a load of these grapes.
I sure did when I spied Moon Drops at my neighborhood Whole Foods recently.
How can you not notice these beauties that sport such an unusual tubular shape that do give them a rather otherworldly appearance?
They are juicy, sweet and with just enough tannin from their inky purple-black skin to keep everything in balance.
Moon Drops was developed by the Grapery in Bakesfield.
Incredible, edible Moon Drops.
After buying a bunch, I ate quite a few just right out of hand. But I also saved some for this recipe, “Haloumi with Grapes.”
Black garlic and portobellos are a heavenly combination.
Black garlic is gold.
If you haven’t yet tried this ingredient, it’s high time that you did.
Whole bulbs of garlic are cooked at a low temperature over several weeks to completely caramelize them. The result is garlic without its acrid aggressiveness. Instead, it is the flavor of dark molasses crossed with balsamic, along with the butteriness of garlic. It adds a jolt of umami to anything. The cloves turn squishy, sticky, and yes, black.
Just squeeze the cloves out of their papery skin to use them, chopped or pureed in vinaigrettes, stir-fries, spread on crostini, or rubbed on steaks, chicken or fish before cooking.
Discover the joys of black garlic.
Black garlic is available in packages at gourmet groceries, Whole Foods, and on Amazon.
“Portobello Mushroom & Celery Salad with Black Garlic Sourdough Crumbs” is an ideal way to get your fix of black garlic goodness.
Embrace the steam.
I always think that steaming is an under-appreciated and so often under-utilized cooking technique.
I think people fear that steamed foods will turn out bland, mushy, almost hospital-like sterile in nature.
But when done right, steaming is a gentle way of cooking that preserves moisture and flavor.
Case in point: fish.
I love grilling fish or sauteeing it, especially to get the skin crisp. But being Chinese-American, I also adore steamed fish. There’s nothing like a whole steamed fish brought to the table at a banquet meal. The flesh falls apart with impossible tenderness. Its texture is rendered beyond silky. And there’s just a lovely delicacy to it, no matter how small or large the fish.
Patricia Wells knows fully well the merits of steaming. In fact, the five-time James Beard Award-winning writer and cooking teacher devotes an entire chapter to steaming in her new cookbook, “My Master Recipes: 165 Recipes to Inspire Confidence In the Kitchen” (William Morrow), of which I received a review copy.
A crunchy slaw with loads of flavor to make in a flash.
This slaw may be featherweight, but it’s a heavyweight in flavor.
With a flurry of napa cabbage, sesame seeds, almonds and green onions, it’s a little like Chinese chicken salad. But not.
The secret is freshly grated ginger that really gives a ka-pow of bright, sharp throaty warm heat. Since I’m an avowed ginger addict, I even added a little more ginger, well, because why not, right?
“Featherweight Slaw” is from “Food52 Mighty Salads” (Ten Speed Press) by the editors of Food52.
The book, of which I received a review copy, features 60 recipes for an array of salads perfect for dinner or lunch. There is everything from leafy salads such as “Chard Salad with Garlic Breadcrumbs & Parmesan” and grain salads such as “Brown Butter Brussels Sprouts & Crispy Quinoa” to pasta salads such as “Half-Blistered Tomato Pasta Salad” and meat salads such as “Thai Pork Salad with Crisped Rice.”
Dinner is served — right off the grill.
This might be the ultimate summer dish.
“Planked Wild Salmon with Nectarines, Thyme, Honey, Almonds, and Ricotta” combines summer’s prize of wild local King salmon with some of the season’s most luscious stone fruit — all co-mingled on a cedar plank that imparts a ravishing smokiness on the backyard grill.
Best yet? You can devour it all in good conscience because it’s all sustainable.
The recipe is from the new cookbook, “Lure: Sustainable Seafood Recipes From the West Coast” (Figure 1), of which I received an advance review copy, before it is released publicly in October.
It was written by Ned Bell, who founded Chefs for Oceans to raise awareness for responsible seafood choices, and is a member of the Seafood Watch’s Blue Ribbon Task Force. He wrote it in conjunction with Valerie Howes, the food editor of Reader’s Digest Canada.
Doing the right thing when it comes to seafood can be daunting. Species that seemed plentiful often find themselves over-fished in no time flat. Do we have to give up eating what we love? Or is there another way?