It makes no sense to start a post about cauliflower with a public service announcement about plums. That said, I happened to pick up a bag of methly plums at the market a couple weeks ago; they were juicy and wet, sold as seconds because they were…on the verge. They were begging to be mushed with some sugar and made into jam. So I did it. And friends, that jam is so good, so utterly addictive, that I’m rather heartbroken methly plums are now out of season here. With that, the PSA: if methlys are still growing where you are, get a bag. Combine them with some sugar, some lemon juice, and some ground ginger, or better yet, some ground galangal. Cook until bubbly but still runny. Jar. Smear some on toast with a bit of fresh cheese. Summer has never, ever, tasted this good.

The dish I’m actually here to share with you won’t win any awards for the summeriest dish around, but it’s landed on our table four times in the past month, including twice for company. It’s the thing Adi eats the most of right now – she can’t seem to get enough cauliflower in the belly. And three of our guests have asked for the recipe, confirming that this is good enough to last beyond our family cauli kick.

The florets are blasted in a super-hot oven for a surprisingly long time. You’d think they come out total mush, but instead, they come out browned in spots, very crispy, and fully cooked but still with bite.

But the real magic is the sauce: a beautiful, pink-hued yogurt blended with sauteed, caramel-edged red onions. The onions get soft enough to disappear completely into the yogurt, lending a sweet-savory depth that goes ridiculously well with singed cauliflower. Vinegar-soaked raisins and some mint leaves round out the salad. I can’t get enough of it; none of us can, really.
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How to Summer

by rivka on August 19, 2015 · 0 comments

in techniques, various and sundry

I know, I’ve disappeared lately. We’ve been summering. I don’t have a full post for you today, because doing summer properly in Washington involves lots of time away from Washington: we spent a weekend up in PA, where I snapped the above photo of the team roaming through a lavender field. This is the right answer.

When we are in town, we spend Sundays in a hot kitchen with jars of tomato on the counter and glasses fogged from the steam. Morning canning projects are followed by languid afternoons on the porch, and evenings comforted by a glass (alright, two) of Amaro Lucano where I almost pick up the camera to snap a photo of the roasted cauliflower before it’s devoured, but then I remember the languid part and I don’t get up, and the cauliflower gets polished off, escaping any photographic proof that it existed. We feel full. And tipsy from the amaro. We go nowhere, we do nothing. We summer.

But I assure you, things are getting made. Bellies are getting filled. Of note:

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The tomates farcies from David Tanis via NYT look amazing. I bookmarked them immediately after he published them, intending to make them for the weekend. But the weekend rolled around, and when I lazily googled “tomatoes farcies,” only to be sent to a much meatier recipe from 1981. I didn’t notice that it was the wrong link; I just forged ahead with the new recipe, swapping out pork for cured beef sausage and skipping the cheese. The results were positively divine. Three of us polished off the lot of them one Saturday, after discovering – whoops, summer! – that I’d left them in the oven the previous evening, an entire dish of my Friday night dinner unserved, unmissed, unnecessary. (I am becoming my mother.) Make both.

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The tomato bread soup from the Franny’s cookbook continues the streak of A-grade soups from the Franny’s folks. (You can find the recipe here.) I hesitate to slap the word “sludge” on anything I intend to encourage you to make, but heck: it’s a sludge, the best, summeriest sludge ever.

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If you can get your hands on methly plums – those small, fragrant dark-ruby plums with equally red centers – try your hand at a conserve with either ground ginger or, even better, galangal. I lucked out on about 5 pounds of second methlys from Toigo, a favorite farmer, last weekend. I followed Cathy’s template for plum jam, and ended up with hands down the best jam I’ve made all summer – maybe ever. GO.

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Adi loves nectarines like her mama. We’re not big peach people: fuzz ruins the the experience. But we (sans Adi) did very much enjoy a gin-based cocktail with muddled peaches, basil, and some demerara sugar. Sub mint if that”s your thing.

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I’ve always been partial to basil pesto over the parsley variety, but this summer, I’ve found multiple uses for a punched-up pesto with both herbs. I’ve been using a bit of shallot, some green garlic, equal parts parsley and basil, lots of lemon zest, and some very fragrant Turkish chile, pounding everything together in a mortar and pestle with plenty of olive oil.

I’ve twice found myself ten minutes before serving dinner and at a loss for an appetizer. The solution, both times, has been a simple cucumber-avocado soup. There are many recipes for this, but I’ve ridden bareback: 2 small cucumbers (I like the thin-skinned Persian ones), 1 avocado, juice of a lemon or lime, a slice of jalapeno, salt and pepper to taste. Whir that blender and pour into small bowls. This makes four small bowls. You can add cilantro, mint, or chives if you’d like.

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Mark my words, I will tell you about that cauliflower. Soon, I hope.

Happy summer, friends.

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Mushroom and Kale Breakfast Strata

July 20, 2015
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Turns out, unsettling from the old place was much harder than settling into the new place. Luisa told me that I shouldn’t worry if, for weeks after the move, I still wondered when we’d finally go back home. That’s just what I expected to feel. But those final weeks pre-move were so stressful and sleepless […]

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Barley Porridge with Orange and Black Sesame

June 29, 2015
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This was the big weekend, the one where home changed locations. I keep trying to remember the day we moved out of our first apartment in this city, into a slightly larger, slightly quieter one four doors up the block. I can picture the movers — one in particular, who carried a very tall bookshelf on his […]

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Fennel frond pesto + what to do with those pesky stalks

June 22, 2015
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I love fennel, especially the bright, beautiful bulbs available at my farmer’s market right now. But I do feel a small pang of guilt when I buy whole fennel, because the bulb? It’s so small. And — at least in my case — the stalks are so big. I mean: So you see what I’m dealing […]

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Vegetarian Bahn Mi Sandwiches

June 5, 2015
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It seems like only a few weeks ago that we finally finished our new kitchen. It’s actually been a couple months, but time flies when you’re parenting a six-month-old (!). Back to the kitchen: it has a butcher block, which we “reclaimed” (can you do that if it was yours to start with?) from an […]

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Ramps ‘n’ Eggs Biscuit Sandwiches

May 1, 2015
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Ramps have ridden the wave of foodie obsession. In years past, from the moment the green bundles made their season debut in Instagram feeds, fanatics and curious innocents would rush to the market to purchase their share. The next few days would see post after post of ramp-infused everything. I’ll own it: I played the […]

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Asparagus Toasts with Pistachios and Mint

April 21, 2015
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I think I speak for all of us on the east coast when I say, FINALLY. Winter can see its sorry self out the door for another nine months or so. I’m preoccupied by my true loves, the asparagus that have arrived,* and I can’t bring myself to talk about much of anything else. *As […]

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