Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Nigella Lawson: Simple, Not Plain, Summer Fare

I watched a couple of her shows on TV but her recipes failed to impressed me. This week, when I was listening to NPR (National Public Radio) Nigella Lawson came up in a segment called "Simple, Not Plain, Summer Fare". I have to confess that my mouth watered as she talked about simple ways to make delicious food in the Summer months. I went to their website later and the photo below is exactly what I pictured in my mind when she talked about it. It's just beautiful and simple. The photo is from the NPR website and the recipe can be found here: Strawberries and Meringue Cream Layer Cake.

Book Sale

My neighborhood had a charity book sale last Saturday. It started at 9 am. I didn't think much of it, I pictured a couple of tables covered with books and people elbowing each other to get them. When I got there a little past 9 am the place was packed. They put up several tents and dozens of tables by subjects. They literally had thousands of books. I didn't even bring a bag with me. Luckily I had my son's stroller to carry the books home - don't worry, my son wasn't under the books in the picture, he walked home. I ended up buying 25 books - Cooking, Politics, Fiction, Entertaining, Children's.

I am in love with a book called Country Weekends by Lee Bailey. The book covers virtually every type of outing you can think of. From picnics in the country to seaside dinners. The pictures are beautiful and Bailey's comments are timeless. He wrote this book in 1983 and died in 2003 (see article on the New York Times). He planned meals based on how much time you want to spend making them. The book tells you how to adapt the menu if something took longer than you expect, it will tell you in what order things should be cooked in, when to server them, what can be made in advance. It's trully delightful.

Grilling Season

Every evening one of my neighbors grills something. I can smell from my back yard. I absolutely love the smell of grilled food. Too bad I no longer have a charcoal grill. I bought a gas grill out of convenience but I do miss the burgers I used to make in my tiny charcoal grill. I don't grill the tasteless burger patties they sell pre-packaged at the grocery store, I find it a waste of time and money. I usually make my own patties with ground beef. I searched all over for a great burger recipe and I found interesting ideas. The first one is made with brisket. Although it was delicious, it didn't really tasted like a burger. It was much closer to a sausage, not only the taste but also the red-ish color after it was grilled. I will definitely make it again.

The Burger Bar (by Tyler Florence)

2 pounds brisket, ground
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 thin slices Swiss cheese
4 hamburger buns, split

Preheat a large cast-iron skillet to medium hot. Take a few paper towels and fold them several times to make a thick square. Blot a small amount of oil on the paper towel and carefully and quickly wipe the hot skillet to make a nonstick surface.

Season the ground meat in a bowl with salt and pepper. Give it about 3 turns in the bowl with your hands or a big spoon and it's done. Shape into 4 patties. When the skillet is hot, put the burgers on the skillet and cook 4 minutes on the first side and 5 for the second side for rare; 7 minutes per side for medium, adding the cheese during the final minute or 2 to melt. Remove the burgers to a plate. Rub the skillet with the folded paper towel again to clean it. Then toast the buns cut side down for about 1 minute, just to mark them. Serve the hamburgers in the buns with the accompaniments below.

Sauteed Mushrooms:
Saute 1 pound thickly sliced mushrooms in 1/4 cup olive oil with 2 sliced garlic cloves and 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves over super-high heat until nicely browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in a couple of drops fresh lemon juice to brighten the flavor.

Caramelized Onions:
Heat 2 tablespoons unsalted butter with 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add 2 onions, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook slowly until well caramelized, 15 to 20 minutes.

Tomatoes with Sea Salt and Chives:
Thickly slice 2 pounds red and yellow beefsteak tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt and 1/2 bunch chopped fresh chives.

Bacon with Rosemary:
Lay out 1/2 pound sliced bacon on a baking sheet, strip leaves from 1 sprig rosemary and throw them on top with lots of cracked black pepper and roast at 400 degrees F until the bacon is crisp, about 10 minutes.

Herbed Horseradish Mayonnaise:
Stir together 1 cup mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish, 1/4 cup freshly minced herbs such as parsley, basil, chives or scallion, 2 tablespoons olive oil, a little squeeze of lemon juice, and salt and pepper.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Strolling Down the Neighborhood

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

World Trade Week 2008 at The White House

I am back and this time for good. After a long hiatus I am back in my kitchen, cooking, having fun, and sharing meals with dear friends.

This post has nothing to do with food or the lack thereof. I attended a Conference at the South Lawn at the White House last week, where the President talked about World Trade, Trade Agreements, and Fair Trade. It was quite interesting and I would like to share my pictures. The Secretary of Commerce, Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of Labor, Ambassadors of South Korea, Panama, and Colombia attended.
Here is the transcript of the event.