Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Season of Bad Jokes

The last couple of days had been hot.

How hot was it? It was so hot …

… the fire hydrants were flagging down dogs for relief. …the cows were giving evaporated milk. … Al Gore said “Screw the Ozone, turn on the air conditioner!”.

It was so hot, the marshmallows melted before we could roast them over the grill.

Ok! Ok! But it was the first real summer heat. Set records in a number of cities around here.

So we had to shift from winter cooking to summer cooking. Put away the heavy pans and sauces. Break out the light salads and grills. I mean, come on – no one serves lasagna after Memorial Day! Surely a culinary Faux Pas if ever there was one!

We were melting away, trying vainly to think of something to make, distracted by the heat, which saps any possibility of concentrating. When Emeril came on TV. Not his hour long ‘Emeril Live!” show. Which is too long and too populist for me. But his much better ‘Essence of Emeril’ show. A much quicker paced, half hour show that generally highlights more interesting food ideas, and which assumes you can chop an onion on your own. In any event, we were too wilted to turn the channel.

And as we sat there in our heat induced stupor, we were all thinking – “Boy, that looks good. And easy. And light.”

And except for the fresh corn and avocados, we had everything on hand.

I was a little skeptical that we could find fresh corn so early. But there is was. Barely June, and fresh corn.

In my younger days, we used to get fresh corn from stands on the side of the road. Just picked from fields that were visible from the car. But in August. Not June. So it always surprises me to find these things, and my initial impression is always that it can’t taste good yet.

But the corn was good. Not great, but good. Better than expected. And the first fresh corn of the year. Always a treat.

The two salads were simple. The first is just what I would call Cajun style grilled chicken breasts on an arugula salad with a light lemon dressing and a few bruschetta style croutons. Aside from grilling the chicken, a 15 minute job. But wonderful fresh flavors, and cool.

The second salad was really intended to be a relish of sorts. The base was fresh corn cut from the cob. Emeril used tomatoes and avocados. We used red peppers and fava beans. Mostly because we had the peppers handy. And the avocados in the market were a long way from ripe. I figured the effect would be close enough. The dressing was a light lemon vinaigrette. We added thyme, just because I like it Again, nice fresh flavor. Crisp taste. And done in no time. A fresh baguette on the side and dinner was served.

The next time I make the corn salad, though, I am going to grill the corn in the husk, and then cut it off for the salad. I think that will add an additional dimension.

So the bad jokes aside, I’m glad it’s grill time. I like the change. Moving away from heavy food and into the open air for cooking and eating. I like the ‘change’ to something I haven’t been able to make for a while, and I like the anticipation of how good all the things I won’t be making for the next few months will taste when the weather cools off again.

Grilled Cajun Chicken on Arugula with Lemon Vinaigrette and Garlic Bruschetta
From ‘Essence of Emeril’, on the Food Network

8 slices of French bread
1 clove garlic, peeled and cut in half
1 large bunch of baby arugula, washed and dried
3 ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
2 lemons
salt, pepper
olive oil
4 chicken breasts, pounded flat between 2 layers of plastic wrap
rub made up of:
garlic powder
onion powder
cayenne pepper
chili powder
dried oregano
black pepper
parmesan curls, for garnish, if desired

Mix the rub ingredients, in the proportions to suit your taste, in a small bowl. Drizzle the chicken breasts with olive oil, and then with the juice from ½ of a lemon. Rub the herb mixture onto one side of the chicken breasts, and let sit for 15 minutes.

Brush the bread slices on both sides with olive oil. Grill over coals or in the broiler until browned on both sides. Rub with garlic clove. Reserve.

Grill the chicken over hot coals, or in the broiler, until browned on each side. Remove from heat and set sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, toss the arugula and tomatoes with the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil to taste, and toss.

Arrange the salad on a large plate. Arrange the bruschetta and chicken breasts around the sides, and sprinkle with the parmesan curls, if desired. Serve. Enjoy!

Fresh Corn and Red Pepper Salad with Fava Beans
Based on a recipe from ‘Essence of Emeril’, on the Food Network
Adapted by surfindaave

3 ears of fresh corn, shucked, and blanched for 4-5 minutes in boiling salted water
2 red peppers, cleaned and diced
2 cups fava beans, peeled, shelled, and blanched for 10 minutes in salted water
¼ red onion, diced fine
1 bunch parsley, chopped fine
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves remove from stem
1-2 lemons, juiced (to taste)
salt, pepper
olive oil

Cut the corn kernels from the ears into a bowl. Add the red pepper pieces, fava beans, red onion, parsley and thyme. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper and toss lightly. Drizzle with olive oil to taste. Toss gently. Serve. Enjoy!

Tags : : : : : :


Blogger Kalyn said...

Hey I just subscribed to your feed. Thanks for having a feedburner button. Makes it so easy.

3:46 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home