Summer on a plate.
I have developed a serious corn dependence.
But I can’t be the only one buying fresh corn from the farmers market week in and week out.
Whenever I come within a few steps of the stand with its boxes of just-misted ears and kernels so fresh that they squeak, I succumb.
Typically, I tote them home to char on the grill while still in their husks. Sometimes, I take a knife down the length of them to dislodge the milky kernels to saute with garlic, butter and herbs for a side dish or the makings of a room-temperature salad.
Creamed corn is not something I grew up with. Nor ever craved. But one day, with a load of fresh ears staring up at me, I spied a recipe for “Grilled Lime Chicken with Creamed Corn” that nudged me to get to work in the kitchen.
The recipe is from “Culinary Birds: The Ultimate Poultry Cookbook” (Running Press), of which I received a review copy. The book, by esteemed Chef John Ash, was the recipient of a James Beard Award this year. It includes 170 recipes for a wide range of poultry — from duck and goose to even partridge and dove.
Snowy white halibut chunks get grilled with pancetta and artisan bread cubes for a taste sensation.
I like nothing better than working up a sweat by hiking or snow-shoeing through the great outdoors.
But at the end of that, when I’m spent, starved and sweaty, I long for a hot shower (with adequate water pressure) and a real bed (preferably with fine linens).
Which is probably why I confess I’ve only camped once in my life.
And I had to be sweet-talked into it.
That’s why I was happy to find that “The Great Outdoors Cookbook” (Oxmoor House) by the editors of Sunset magazine, of which I received a review copy, is made for die-hard campers, as well as folks like me who’d rather do their outdoor cooking in their own backyard.
The book is divided into recipes for “Campfires,” “Home Fires,” and “Inspired Fires” (when you dig pits and such). There are even tips for foraging and doing a seafood boil on the beach.
“Halibut Kebabs with Grilled Bread and Pancetta” is as easy as it gets. Chunks of halibut are quickly marinated in olive oil and fresh rosemary before being threaded on long skewers with pancetta and bread cubes.
Rosy slices of lamb topped with a vibrant salsa verde.
Let’s face it — bones can be a bit of a pain to deal with.
Just try eating chicken wings gracefully.
Or de-boning a whole fish in front of guests without mangling it.
But bones serve a purpose in cooking. They add more flavor to the flesh as it cooks. They also conduct heat, allowing the meat to cook more evenly with less shrinkage.
So when Superior Farms, one of the largest distributors of lamb in the country, offered to let me try any cut on the house, I went for one with a bone. A big bone.
I chose a bone-in leg of American lamb because it’s not a cut you find all that easily in markets these days. Sure, you can get a boneless leg of lamb with little effort, but one that still has a bone in it often requires a real search. That’s because it’s a lot heftier to handle. It’s also more challenging to carve. But what a dramatic presentation it makes for at the table.
Green beans you won’t be able to stop eating.
Planning a picnic this Memorial Day? Or a backyard barbecue this long weekend?
Then, you’ve got to make these green beans.
I guarantee they will be the talk of the table.
I first made “Green Beans with Miso and Almonds” last Thanksgiving as a novel alternative to the usual green bean casserole. My in-laws couldn’t stop eating it. Each of them kept reaching for seconds, even thirds. Now, whenever my husband sees me trimming fresh green beans from the farmers markets, he secretly hopes they’re destined for this dish.
Big rings of pasta in a creamy, pancetta-fied sauce.
Sometimes I think that surely I must be part Italian.
Because I could eat pasta every week. And I do cook some form of it probably close to that often.
It was on a quest to satisfy my carb craving that I started leafing through “Franny’s: Simple Seasonal Italian” (Artisan), of which I received a review copy recently. The cookbooks is by Andrew Fineberg and Francine Stephens, owners of Franny’s restaurant in Booklyn, and New York Times food writer Melissa Clark. There are recipes for more than 200 Southern Italian dishes, including pastas that require only a few ingredients, making them a breeze to prepare on a weeknight.
“Mezze Maniche with Guanciale, Chiles and Ricotta” is based on a traditional Roman dish. Big rings of pasta are tossed with creamy ricotta, a pinch of chili flakes, a shower of Pecorino Romano, and a load of guanciale, pancetta or bacon. And by load, I mean 12 whole ounces or about 2 generous cups of the porky stuff.