I’m on a serious cherry kick lately. I can’t get enough of them… We have gone through almost 10 pounds in the last month because they always seem to find their way into my cart. You know, just in case I need more. I’ve been putting them in everything from cakes to oatmeal and this week, I decided to go a savory route. If you are unfamiliar with chutney, let me give you a quick description. It’s like a relish, it has sweet and sour ingredients, usually coming from sugar or fruits and vinegar. It is a blend of sweet and savory. It’s a great condiment to use with grilled meats or vegetables and this chutney went splendidly with a grilled flank steak.
This chutney was paired with grilled meat, but it can also be a great addition to a cheese board or a charcuterie platter or even as a tasty spread on a hearty sandwich.
Cherry season is nearly over, so don’t wait too long to grab a couple of pounds. I’ll be making another big batch before the summer is over to put up on the shelves so I can enjoy them long after they disappear from the stores.
A sweet & sour condiment made from fresh cherries, perfect on grilled meat.
I was in my late 20’s the first time I went to Spain. I remember crossing the border from France onto Spanish soil and the flood of emotion I felt. It was as if I was coming home. But, I had never been there before… It was a surreal experience and I knew right then that I would be back.
I fell in love with Spain. The food, the history, the culture… all of it. I had been studying Spain and Latin America since I was 14 years old. I had a degree in Iberian & Latin American studies (don’t ask me what to do with it), but I had never set foot in Spain. (I did the study abroad program in Guadalajara, México) It was over a decade in the making to be able to finally experience everything I had read in books.
As a proclaimed lover of vegetables, I can’t quite understand anyone over the age of 8 wrinkling their nose at the sight of them. That being said, I have a few clients who fall into that category and it is my job to come up with recipes that will entice them into eating something green.
I’m not a parent, so I can’t imagine what it is like on a daily basis but I can tell you that once a week I find myself trying to figure out what I can cook for vegetable-hating clients that will actually end up on their plates. This one came to fruition solely based on the fact that one of my clients loves anything spicy. I figured if I disguised the flavor of the vegetable with chilies and garlic, maybe I’d have a hit on my hands.
I don’t often think of blogging about food that I cook for clients because the truth of the matter is that I didn’t think people would be interested. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Every pic I’ve posted lately about “client food” has been met with a one-word response: recipe?
Add to that the request from several friends asking for healthy, real food that gets on the table (soup to nuts) in roughly 30 minutes and here you have it. Dinner in about the time it takes to watch a sitcom. This recipe is hardly a “recipe” in that it has a handful of ingredients and it is minimal effort. The most laborious part of it is taking the chicken from the sauté pan and putting it on a sheet pan… whew, I think I broke a sweat just talking about it. Actual hands-on time is roughly 10 minutes, so you can grab a glass of wine and chill out while the oven does all the work.
I had been dreaming about travelling to Spain for nearly a decade, so when I finally landed there back in April of 2000, I cried. The moment my feet touched Spanish soil, I was almost in disbelief. I was so overwhelmed that I could not contain my pure joy. It felt as if the entire universe lined up and planted me exactly where I was supposed to be for that one perfect moment. I wanted for nothing.
When people ask that hypothetical question “If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?” My answer has always been: travel.
After everyone has been taken care of; debts paid off, college funds set up, etc… I would pack a bag, get on a plane and be a gypsy for a little while. Those experiences would be priceless.
I enjoy experiencing different countries through their food, culture, traditions, etc. It reminds me that we are not all that different from one another. I had been studying the language, history and politics of Spain and Latin America since I was 14 years old. I was more than ready to be fully immersed and gain experiences I could not get from a book, no matter how much I studied. Everything was different: the food, the language, the sounds, the smells… and I couldn’t have been happier.
My first stop was a little tapas place in Barcelona. I knew Spanish food, or at least I thought I did back then. There were the obligatory patatas bravas, croquetas and of course the tortilla espanola, but I was in Catalunya and the menu was written in Catalan, not Spanish…
My banana pepper plants have been rather prolific and for this I am grateful. As most of you who are regular visitors to this little space already know, I went a little overboard in planting. I have a tendency to overdo things and this was no exception.
Spending so many years living in an apartment with zero outdoor space, I may have gone a little crazy when I realized that I could grow some of my own food. This had been a goal of mine for a very long time (growing food, not going crazy… that ship has sailed).
I am fascinated by the entire process of planting a seed, taking care of it and watching it grow into something that will actually feed you.
The very first time I had a banana pepper was on a pizza, my Freshman year in college. A small group of us had descended on the pizza place next to campus. We were there under the pretense of “studying” I’m sure. There were pool tables, dart boards (which I became quite skillful at playing), air hockey tables; all the things one thinks of when looking for an appropriate place to “study”.
Anyhow, there we were and one of the guys went to order our pizza and when the waitress came to the table and set it down in front of us, I noticed that it had peppers on it. Not wanting to draw any attention to myself, I dug right in but in my head was this little voice shouting “are you nuts?!”.
In my continuing effort to avoid turning my kitchen into the sweltering fires of hell, I decided that this time I would cheat a little. Just a little, and it’s for the greater good. The heat index is hovering in the triple digits while beads of sweat are pooling at the nape of my neck. The least entertaining thought at this moment is “let’s fire up the oven”.
Store-bought roast chicken: In the winter months, this would be considered sacrilege… but in the blistering heat of summer, it is sweet salvation!
As if buying the chicken wasn’t enough, the food processor is going to do the majority of the work! Yep, this might be the perfect summer recipe. The amount of work involved barely even registers. If you don’t own a food processor it isn’t the end of the world, just a bit of chopping & grating.
The above is one of my favorite quotes from Julia Child, one of the gutsiest broads to ever hoist a meat cleaver. (and I use that term lovingly)
On August 15th of this year, Julia would have turned 100 years old and I’d like to think would still be cooking.
In the 100 days leading up to Julia’s birthday, the JC100 is celebrating this culinary powerhouse and her recipes. Each week, a new recipe is featured and this weeks offering was Coq au Vin… one of my all time favorites.
I remember watching Julia & Jacques and loved her candor and fearless approach to cooking. She made it seem fun and most importantly, possible. She had a way of walking her audience through a recipe that made complex dishes seem effortless and isn’t that all we really want? To feel like anything is possible?
To (selfishly) honor a request for a 5 ingredient or less recipe, I decided to make bruschetta. For those of you who listen to my whining about what I crave (and sometimes tolerate it), it was time to put up or shut up. Bruschetta is one of those things that you can barely classify as a “recipe” but it has clean, simple flavors and when made with great ingredients it is amazingly delicious.
There is nothing worse than using those insipid, pale, cellophane-wrapped tomatoes from the supermarket when summer’s bounty is about to give you the most luscious, ripe tomatoes you could ask for. If you are lucky enough to have any kind of green space or even a pot on a fire-escape you know the joy of seeing those little seedlings bear fruit. Growing your own food is something I long to be able to do, but in the meantime I go to the farmer’s market.
There are farmer’s markets everywhere now and there is a world of difference between a tomato that came from a farm and the aforementioned kind… a tomato that hasn’t been “genetically engineered”. A tomato that actually tastes like a tomato.
For obvious reasons, this is best made when tomatoes are in season. A perfectly ripe tomato is what summer tastes like to me and when making something with such few ingredients, it is essential to have them at their peak.