Sparkling wine is my aperitif of choice. It’s light and refreshing, it pairs well with just about any starter, and those bubbles always put me in a good mood. Occasionally, I will spring for a glass of French champagne, but I find Italian prosecco, Spanish cava or an American sparkling wine does the trick just as well for, typically, a much lower price, making it possible to enjoy that effervescence in an everyday way.
Two things about this recipe Nigella Lawson on the website Food 52 really grabbed my attention: First, the cooking method. You toss sliced mushrooms in a serving bowl with lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil and a generous amount of salt. And then you let them sit while the pasta cooks. The acidity “cooks” the mushrooms just a little, softening them up, so when you toss in the cooked pasta with a little water clinging to it, you get a juicy sauce with a lot of flavor without grabbing for butter or cream.
Out of all the American inventions — the cotton gin, jazz, the light bulb, the phonograph — I’m going to say that the cocktail is easily my favorite (though there is evidence that the British beat us to it, sort of).
Here’s a recipe for a great summer dessert: Find a perfectly ripe peach. The kind of peach that yields just so when pressed gently at the stem end. A peach that gives off its sweet aroma while it warms up on the kitchen counter. A peach that can barely contain its own juices.
I still remember my first sip of ayran, the salty yogurt drink popular throughout Turkey. It was a beautiful spring day in 2007, and a friend and I were having lunch on the patio of a Turkish restaurant in Menlo Park, Calif. I have a wide-ranging palate, so I ordered the ayran casually, sure that I’d like it. But as the yogurt hit my tongue, I winced, my eyes bulged wide, and I pushed the glass to the far edge of the table. “I can’t drink that,” I said simply. While I loved the whole sea bass, the lahmacun (charred flatbread topped with ground lamb) and the extra-smoky baba ghanouj, I couldn’t brook the drink’s unfamiliar salinity.
Prior to moving to the City of Trees last year, I had precisely two references to huckleberries. 1) huckleberry pie, which I have yet to taste. 2) Huckleberry Hound, that lovable 1970s cartoon character with a slight Southern drawl. Now that I’m here and pouring drinks, some of my guests at Capitol Bar bring me goodies. My latest grab is a bag of freshly picked huckleberries from a couple who love harvesting these tangy, tart and slightly sweet natural treats, despite the fact that bears are busy doing the same thing.
This classic tomato panzanella recipe is the updated version with summer tomatoes and crouton-like bread cubes. Feel free to experiment: use different kinds of breads and vegetables, stir in cheeses like mozzarella, parmesan or feta or add other new ingredients like olives, capers, hard-boiled eggs, pine nuts or whatever else you like in a salad. Add tuna (a traditional Italian addition), anchovies (also traditional) or grilled leftover shrimp for your own version of loaves and fishes. Also, the bread can be torn instead of cut into cubes if you want to go truly rustic. In a pinch, a store-bought balsamic or red wine vinegar dressing may stand in for the homemade vinaigrette. Inspired by an Ina Garten recipe.
In a vast country where there are many regional cuisines but no tradition of haute cuisine, home cooking is the status quo. That also means every cook has his or her own version of a recipe – “no carbon copy recipes exist” – and the country’s immigrant roots are reflected in its dishes.
Done right, fried chicken is a beautiful thing. Unpretentious as this classic comfort food might be, there’s a definite art to it: a tender piece of meat, delicately seasoned and lightly dredged with a dusting of flour, then baptized in a pool of sizzling fat to crisp, golden perfection. And while fans of fried chicken may disagree on the method, we can all agree that it requires technique, time and dedication – fried chicken is not “fast food.”