Meticulously Making My Way Through Some Great Recipes
Going big in the kitchen via renewed inspiration and lovely cookbooks
I was in Truro for the entire month of July and into early August, and it’s possibly my favorite place in the world, but the food options are pretty scarce. (Believe me, were it up to me I’d eat fried clams at least once a day, but my wallet and my stomach are vehemently anti.) There’s an okay farmstand with some grocery items not too far from us, and then a Stop & Shop 20 minutes north in P-town, but it’s pretty hard to get good fruits and vegetables. So we did some meal planning, we did some restaurants, we grilled a lot. We made do, and ate pretty well. But clearly we’re spoiled by the convenience of the city.
When we got back from Truro, I got sick with food poisoning (or maybe a stomach bug, who knows) and didn’t eat for a few days, so now I am extremely interested in cooking, and cooking things that feel exciting because they’re new to me. (This is the opposite of my norm, which involves going to the butcher, getting some chicken thighs, rubbing them with salt and pepper and olive oil, roasting them, and eating them with broccoli, also roasted, and a loaf of bread with my boys.)
So I found myself paging through some of the newer cookbooks I have — by new I mean last five years, I’d say — and picking some recipes that looked good, and making them. I liked all of them, and today I share them with you.
I used three books — Dan Kluger’s Chasing Flavor (if you live in the NYC metro area and haven’t visited Dan’s restaurant, Loring Place, it’s a go-to for me and a must-visit. His new spot, Greywind, is great, too, though I’ve only been once); Jody Williams and Rita Sodi’s Via Carota; and Lukas Volger’s Snacks for Dinner. Here are the recipes, all of which make an excellent lunch, as I can personally attest:
— Insalata di Cocomero (Watermelon, Red Onions, and Mint) from Via Carota: Very easy and fast, and the salmoriglio — the dressing — is wonderful and I’ve used it for other salads this week, too. I found a half a red onion to be too much for me, so I cut back; use your judgment. And I used the wrinkly black olives because I don’t like kalamatas. Make sure you get a bit of each ingredient in every bite!
— Farinata (or Socca) with Chicories from Snacks for Dinner: I made this for my mom and Nick for brunch and it was gone in about seven minutes. Also incredibly easy, but note that there’s a couple hours (minimum) sitting time for the chickpea flour mixture before you get to cooking. You could sub in so many different things for the radicchio; I think some chopped broccoli rabe would be great. (And you can find Mark’s love letter to socca here.)
— Celery Salad with Maple-Candied Almond + Shallot from Snacks for Dinner: The almond and shallot clusters in this are outrageous. Try not to eat them all beforehand. I’m going to up the cheese quantity next time.
— Butterhead Lettuce with Cashew Vinaigrette from Chasing Flavor (pictured above): Don’t skimp on the dressing, because it’s pretty special. I don’t know if the lettuce I used was butterhead; I got it at the farmers market and it was at the very least similar to butterhead (and so good).
Insalata di Cocomero (Watermelon, Red Onions, and Mint)
Makes: 4 servings
This savory treatment of watermelon starts a meal or is a nice accompaniment to grilled chicken or seafood. — Via Carota
Half a small watermelon
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
1/2 cup/100 grams black olives, such as taggiasca or kalamata, pitted
12 fresh mint leaves
3 1/2 ounces/100 grams feta cheese
2 tablespoons/30 ml Salmoriglio (see below)
Set the watermelon with the cut side down on a flat surface. Slice it into quarters, then slice off the rounded ends and trim off the rind. Keep the wedges of watermelon flat so they won’t slip out from under your knife. Slice into square or rectangular slabs about 2 inches/5 cm thick, and stack them on a plate.
Soak the onion slices in a bowl of cold water for a minute or two. Drain in a fine-mesh sieve, shake off the water, and pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel. Rinse the olives and pat them dry. Scatter the onions, olives, and mint leaves over the watermelon slices. Crumble feta on top and drizzle the salad with salmoriglio.
Salmoriglio (Lemon and Garlic Dressing)
Makes about 1 1/2 cups (360 ml)
Salmoriglio is an all-purpose summery dressing. We use it in several recipes throughout this book, as a marinade and as a vinaigrette. — Via Carota
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons/90 ml lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
4 garlic cloves, finely grated (about 2 teaspoons)
1 1/2 teaspoons/4.5 grams salt
1/2 teaspoon/1 gram chili flakes
1 teaspoon/3 grams dried oregano
1 tablespoon/15 ml water
3/4 cup/180 ml extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup/60 ml neutral oil such as safflower
a few sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Combine the lemon juice, garlic, salt, chili flakes, oregano and water in a small bowl. Slowly pour in the oils, whisking constantly. Stir in the parsley.
Stir briskly just before using; the lemon and garlic will have settled to the bottom. Salmoriglio is best used the day it’s made, but will keep, refrigerated, for up to 3 days.