Ann, senior food editor: Japanese eggplant, green bell peppers, eggs
I was stoked to go home with Japanese eggplant—beautiful,
pale-purple, slender, delicately curved. I love this stuff cooked with
ground pork in a spicy Asian brown sauce. I used our recipe for Steamed Japanese Eggplant with Green Onion-Ginger Sauce
as a starting point. Though I wanted ground pork, all I had on hand
were chicken thighs. So I ground them in the food processor, and cooked
them with garlic and ginger. I steamed the eggplant longer to get it
softer, then I doubled the sauce and added a little cornstarch to help
it thicken, plus dark sesame oil for nutty flavor. YUM. Or at least I
thought so. Full disclosure: My husband and one of my kids didn’t like
The eggs, oh those lovely fresh eggs. I can get down on eggs just as
eggs—scrambled, over-easy, poached—I don’t usually want to “hide” them
in a recipe application. Three days in a row, my husband and I enjoyed
our favorite summer breakfast: toast slathered with Romesco sauce
(I can’t get enough of that stuff!) and topped with garden-fresh tomato
slices and poached eggs. The yolks are so deeply colored they’re almost
orange. And the eggs themselves are like heaven: super-fresh, creamy,
delicate, and fluffy.
As for the bell peppers, I have to say they’re not my favorite. They
certainly weren’t met with the same excitement as the eggplant or eggs.
I’m sliding those in wherever I can. I used one to make sloppy Joes,
and another in tabbouleh. I plan to use the last one tonight in meat
sauce for pasta. Unless I can figure out how to use them in a gin or
bourbon drink, that is.
Confession: I never made the Haricots Verts with Browned Garlic
from last week's share. So the plan was to make them as part of a small
dinner party. Alas, when I checked on the green beans that were to
masquerade as fancy Frenchmen, I found most of them had turned from
vert to jaune (that’s yellow for those of you who slept through French
class). Thinking they were maybe ok, but not wanting to harm my guests
(and, ok, honestly looking forward to more mingling time instead of
shouting “Huh?” and “What did you say?” from the kitchen) I concluded
that les haricots and I just weren’t meant to be together. C'est la vie.
On to more positive pairings: For our main course, I wanted to
attempt grilling salmon on a cedar plank again (my first try went up in
flames). There were sparks, but the result was awesome, especially
accompanied by Tangy Cucumber Sauce.
I was amazed that the salmon was so flavorful on its own with just a
sprinkle of salt and pepper (I’m used to drowning it in marinade). The
cool, tzatziki-like sauce elevated it to make-it-again status. Call me
a cedar plank convert—-they were only a few bucks at Costco—-and am
ready to expand their use with other grilled things.
As an appetizer—and then again as a side, since the yield was so generous—we had Corn-and-Field Pea Dip from Southern Living.
Lesson learned: pay attention to both serving yields (8 cups!) and the
online reader reviews, which recommended halving the recipe. There was
enough field-pea dip to feed an entire football team (if you didn’t
tell them it had peas in it), so it’s a good thing it turned out so
yummy. I swapped cilantro for parsley–primarily because I was in a
hurry and they look similar, but also because I much prefer it. I’d
like it even better with grilled corn and a little squeeze of lime.
recipe called for canned field peas, but since I only had fresh—the
opposite of the situation in which I normally find myself—I found
reliable instructions via our recipe for Cooked Field Peas.
I’m not the best dinner party hostess (Confession 2.0: I’m frazzled and
slightly resentful by the time guests arrive), this menu was pretty
easy to prep ahead of time, leaving me plenty of time for wine and
late-night laughs with my good company.
With five ears of corn, creamed corn seemed like an clear choice, and Creamed
Corn with Bacon and Leeks was named one of our all-time
for a reason. This recipe is fantastic (though cutting the kernels off
all those ears takes some time), but creamed corn always reminds me of
school lunch. So what better to make with it than sloppy Joes? I like
spicy, so I went with Chipotle
Sloppy Joes. The caramelized onion topping is a great idea—try it on burgers or really any kind of sandwich.
real school lunch would probably have included fried okra. Oh well,
mine wasn't authentic. I addressed my okra with my standard go-to
method for roasted
veggies: Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and whatever seasonings you
want, then cook at 450 degrees until done to your liking. This will
work with pretty much any vegetable out there, and fits any meal
because you can change the seasonings to match your main course. It was
very good, and not slimy at all.
obvious choice with the soybeans was edamame, so I made that for a
snack a couple nights after my school lunch dinner. Just boiled 'em for
about 2 minutes, then sprinkled with salt. Yummy, simple, and full of
As soon as I saw the gorgeous picture of the Roasted Vegetable Pizza in our 5-Ingredients, 15 Minutes special edition, I knew that was what I wanted to make this week. The recipe seemed easy enough, but it taught me a few important lessons about cooking.
First, read the directions carefully. If they call for "coarsely chopped" squash, if would be useful to notice that before you've sliced the squash into your prep bowl.
Second, humor is a secret ingredient.
Third, don't be afraid to experiment. When things go wrong, you learn. When things go right, it leads to a sense of confidence in the kitchen. Case in point: I dared to change the recipe by adding roasted red peppers. I don't own a jelly-roll pan, so I used one of the trays from my toaster oven for roasting the veggies. I used a baking stone for the pizza. It all worked out. Except one small thing:
If you are planning to photograph your pizza, go easy on the cheese. (Compare my photo to the professional shot to see what exactly I mean.)
I used the heirlooms in the Tomato, Avocado, and Onion Salad. The heirlooms were so pretty when sliced, and the avocado, onion and basil combined to make a very easy-to-prepare and colorful dish. It gains flavor marinating overnight.