When It’s Too Hot To Cook: Summer Tartines

It’s too hot for cooking. Plus, the Frenchman is away on business in Atlanta (which, somehow, is cooler and less humid than New York, go figure), so I don’t feel like making a big fuss. Dinner the past few nights has consisted of various salads spooned onto toast, usually with a bit of cheese, sometimes with a runny egg.

It’s handy to keep a running arsenal of these minimally cooked, stuff-on-toast ideas for the very middle of summer, when produce is outstanding, but the idea of turning on your oven is more than you can handle right now, do you have any idea how sweltering a NYC train platform is, seriously how long do I have to wait for this stupid train to arrive, thank you very much.

These “recipes” are largely interchangeable–use the bread, cheese, and herbs you prefer. Use whatever fruit or vegetables look best at the market. When you have excellent summer ingredients on hand, it’s sort of hard to screw it up. Read more »

Korean-ish Short Rib Sandwich

Last weekend, the Frenchman and I journeyed to Charleston, South Carolina, and it was delightful. It felt like a proper break, a real disengagement from the ho-hum of everyday, and there is nothing I adore more than traveling avec mon amour. The monsieur travels to Atlanta for work on the regular, but I had never been to the south before.

I loved the narrow houses of Charleston, the skinny side porches, some adorned with hanging plants or wind chimes, some old and listing like a tipsy uncle. I loved the real gas lamps burning, picturesque but inexplicable, in the light and heat of a May day. I loved the properties overlaid with vines, such bombastic vegetation and the smell of honeysuckle everywhere.

I loved the drive to Sullivan’s Island, across the long, modern bridge; rising with airs over the flat brown water and the skeletons of industrial machinery. I loved the walk across the packed, wavy, clay sand, to the receding line of the water where we found razor clam shells as long as a witch’s fingernail.

I loved the heat, thick enough to jar and only May, and the soundtrack of bug callings, and the line of oaks as old as this county: Imagine! they will outlive us all. I loved the weeping tree by the lagoon, the branches so thick and so low they meant to scoop us up and carry us off to who knows where. And then the lick of poppies, in front of the old house and beside the pecan tree, so loud and red and unembarrassed. Read more »

Steak and Ginger-Pickle Sandwich

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This is a sandwich for when the Frenchman is businessing in Atlanta for the better part of the week. While he’s away, you deserve something tasty, but uncomplicated; laborious cooking is less fun for one.

This is a sandwich for when you agree to go to a (rather stodgy) holiday party with your parents, and the only menu item that seems remotely appealing is the surf & turf, a dish you haven’t had occasion to order since, well, ever. And so you eat the lobster tail, and ask the waiter to wrap up the 10-ounce piece of steak still languishing on your plate. Now you have 10-ounces of steak in your refrigerator.

It’s a sandwich for when you think: what can I do with this steak in my refrigerator? And then you decide to make a sandwich, because sandwiches are both easy and, when made properly, glorious. You decide to flash pickle onions and persian cucumbers with cider and rice wine vinegar, and (why not?) fresh ginger dropped in for flair and personality. Read more »

Thanksgiving Leftovers

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Holy macaroni, I am fatigué. Yesterday was full of cooking, cooking, cooking, and a fair amount of eating as well. There was a turkey, of course, rubbed in thyme and rosemary butter, and spiked with cider gravy. And potato puree, strained strenuously through a ricer and laced with cream and butter. I roasted carrots and radishes (with honey and apple cider vinegar) and broccoli florets (with roasty lemon juice and Parmesan).

I vow this year was the last I use bagged stuffing: I’ve done so before out of habit and tradition, but last night I finally had reason to check the salt content, and, well; I already doctor the dish with apples and onions and herbs, why not cut my own bread too? I don’t think the transition will be difficult, although I hope there won’t be backlash from the diners.

There was canned cranberry sauce on the table too, although I am not ready to give that up any time soon. Read more »

Sausage with Apples and Garbanzos

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I am swimming in apples.

I just can’t get ahead of them. The whole kerfuffle started when a friend went apple picking and brought me home a massive bag. Since then, my CSA has provided a steady supply, and well. My recipe-brain has been stretched this fall, trying to think of more and more creative uses for all my apples.

Most often, I eat them simply: to lend a sweet snap to a ham sandwich. Or alone, with cheese and charcuterie (goat cheese and triple-crème are special favorites). They are nice with soups, as the weather turns, like tomato, carrot, or squash.

You can bake them in a crisp until the apple melts into itself, stirred together with nutmeg and golden sugar. Or bake them as they are until caramelized, with butter and apple cider. Top with ice cream or Greek yogurt. Read more »

The Best Veggie Burger Ever

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Yes, yes, the title of this post is bound to invite raised eyebrows. Could this really be the best veggie burger, of all time, ever? Well, I can tell you this with full confidence: this here veggie burger is the best I’ve tasted by some margin.

Because here is the thing–given the choice between a beef or lamb hamburger and a vegetable facsimile, I would never normally choose the later. Ever.

It’s not that I have something against vegetables. In fact, I quite like vegetables, in their natural state, or coaxed with a bit of heat, olive oil and sea salt. But veggie burgers are not vegetables. Veggie burgers have always seemed to me a strange and unhappy amalgamation of rabbit food mash, a strict and humorless attempt to appease those who forgo meat. Read more »

Three Husk Cherry Recipes

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I received a punnet of husk cherries a few weeks ago in my CSA box (their season is September-October around these parts), and I’ll be honest with you; upon first inspection, I didn’t really know what they were. I’d seen them a few times before, adoring desserts in European restaurants, but in those cases I’d pushed them to the side of the plate–surely they were meant more for decoration than actual consumption?

As it transpires, husk cherries (also know as Ground Cherries, Golden Strawberries, Chinese Lanterns, and in French as the very charming Amour-en-Cage, or ‘caged love’) are quite delicious. Read more »

Burrata, Basil, Crispy Egg Sandwich

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Today I offer you a poem and a sandwich. I hope you enjoy them both.

First, the poem:

Wild Geese
By Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves. Read more »