Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What Time Is It?! IT'S SUMMERTIME!!!

Nothing says summer like a gorgeous, mouth-watering Watermelon and Tomato Salad.  
My hubby drew my attention to Mark Bittman's NY Times column this past week, The Minimalist, and asked sweetly, "Will you make this, please?"  Well, I'm nothing if not the PERFECT partner, always accommodating my dear husband's needs, wishes, desires, 100% of the time, and vise versa....er, um, some of the time...okay, occasionally?  Well, we DO TRY!
I found myself at the grocery store, (where I find myself oooooooooh 5 days a week), deciding what to make for dinner, and I remembered Jere's request, pulled it up on the 'ole smart phone, and gave it a whirl.  Thoughtful, right?  I amaze myself.
Well, thank you Jere Burns and Mark Bittman!  This salad is easy, refreshing, and, when the ingredients are in season like they are now, finger-lickin' good.  (Proven to me by the nice Whole Foods employee who cut open the watermelon for me to taste, talk about service!)  Luckily, my 3 year old didn't like it, so Daddy and I fought over Henry's plate, after promptly devouring the whole bowl ourselves.  It says it serves four, I guess that's true if you're not Jere or Leslie Burns, because that bowl was E-M-P-T-Y!
You may question these ingredients together, but as Mark Bittman writes, "It turns out watermelon and tomato make spectacular platefellows, and they're even better with a few assertive accompaniments."  He sure said somethin' there!

Doesn't that cool right down just lookin' at it?!


2 1/2 cups seedless watermelon, in 1 inch cubes or balls (Reserve some of the watermelon juice)
1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (but I would add this slowly, as I found I could've done with a little less blue cheese)  You can use a Stilton, Gorgonzola, Roquefort or Maytag blue cheese
1/2 cup minced scallions
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 to 2 pinches cayenne pepper
1/2 cup parsley or cilantro, roughly chopped  (I went with cilantro)

Whisk together 2 tablespoons of watermelon juice, olive oil, vinegar, and cayenne pepper, then add the salad ingredients to a large bowl, adding salt to taste, and garnishing with parsley or cilantro.  Do NOT refrigerate and serve within 30 minutes.

Trust me, your family, company, bbq neighbors, general passers-by, will tell you, "This salad is right on time!"

Friday, July 1, 2011

Pork Again? From the Hungry Jewess?!

This is the perfect duo, a dinner I've made twice in the last two weeks, that's how much my family enjoys it.  The first time was for Father's Day, thanks to my lovely assistant and stepson, Lucas, for a recipe he found via epicurious.com.

Lucas with Brother Henry
My hubby had an outstanding Father's Day, and deservedly so, he's the most amazing father I've ever known.  He awoke to a killer surf, where he "dominated," came home to his favorite smoothie blended, some delicious, simple buttermilk pancakes made by moi, followed by a ride down to Santa Monica, family and dog in tow, to see Luke's soccer game.  Then back home where Luke and I prepared the dinner.  (And Luke was sportin' a pretty smart injury to the quad, but even so, he chopped lively, never complaining, just limping and smiling.  None of us could remember--do you apply cold then heat, or heat then cold to an injury???)  Pretty darn good day for Daddy, in my opinion.  You're welcome, my sweet, lil' pork chop.
Speaking of which, we made:

Grilled Pork Chops with Garlic Lime Sauce, 
and Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa

Pork Chop Ingredients:

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
6 (1/2 inch thick) boneless pork chops*

*(I had the butcher cut the chops in half to make them 1/2 inch thick)

Pat chops dry then season with salt and pepper
Whisk together the lime juice, garlic, red-pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking well.  Whisk in cilantro.

This here is the special sauce
Cook directly on your grill, (oh yeah, you really do need a grill for this one**), over medium-high heat.  Oil grill rack, (beFORE turning on the gas if you like your eyebrows), then grill pork chops, covered, turning over once, until just cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes total.  Serve drizzled with the special sauce, putting the remainder on the side.

**If you aren't able to grill outdoors, chops can be cooked in a hot, lightly oiled large (2-burner) ridged grill pan over moderately high heat.

And now the Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa:

Quinoa Ingredients:

2 teaspoons grated lime zest
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon olive oil (epicurious says vegetable oil, but I try to stay away from that stuff.)
1 teaspoon sugar (obviously, I'd like to stay away from this too, but I figure it's only a TEASPOON, live a little!)
1 cup quinoa (wash thoroughly)
1 can (14-15 ounce) black beans, rinsed and drained
2 medium tomatoes, diced
4 scallions, chopped (optional, can certainly substitute with your favorite type of onion or no onion at all)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Whisk together lime zest, juice, butter, oil, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.
Now, epicurious has these very intricate directions for making quinoa, with a sieve, a towel, a table saw!  But I just prefer to keep it simple and make my quinoa with water, 2 to 1, it's quick, easy and delicious.
Once the quinoa's ready, you add it to the dressing in the large bowl and stir until all the dressing is absorbed.  Then add the remaining ingredients, the beans, tomatoes, scallions and cilantro, salt and pepper to taste.

These two dishes really compliment each other well, it's hearty and tasty, but you can add to it if you like.  As you can see, I sliced up some avocado on the side, but you can steam some broccoli, make a salad, whatevs, you decide.

Try it, you'll like it.  And now I must repent...do Jews repent?