Friday, August 31, 2007

Summertime Food

I love eating in the summer. Hell, I love eating during each and every season, but the fresh produce and the warm air of summertime lend themselves to good eating weather. Last weekend I headed up to Inverness to spend the night at a beach house rented by my good friends, J. and E. The house was amazing and they didn't ask me to chip any money in for my stay, so I decided to repay them in fine food. I packed up the car with a cooler, some bags, and three bottles of wine, and headed for the ocean.

I decided to make my olive tapenade, which is actually Thomas Keller's tapenade, but it is the best one I have ever tasted. I love it because the flavors are so fresh, and if you use good quality olive oil it is so delicious. This is great as a sandwich spread, on crackers or veggies, or on fresh bread with cheese. I don't want to post the entire recipe here since I'm sure it is copyrighted - but if you want to shoot us an email at I might be persuaded to send it to you ;). The big difference between this tapenade and others I have made is that he makes a garlic confit first - he boils garlic in canola oil for about 40 minutes, at just a tiny boil, until the garlic is soft and infused with the oil. Then he mixes a tablespoon of that, chopped up, in with pitted nicoise olives, some anchovy (I use paste), a little dijon, and olive oil, processes it, and then stirs in more olive oil along with fresh parsley and chives. I use less olive oil then he asks for. It is simple and OH so delicious.

Next I made one of my favorite appetizers, suggest to me by someone over on the Cooks Illustrated board (though it is not a CI recipe). The recipe is Spicy Shrimp Remoulade on Molasses-Buttered Toasts, from Epicurious. The key to this recipe is finding the westphalian style pumpernickel bread, not spreading too much butter on them, and not baking them too long. If you cook them too long they become SUPER toasted and they are inedible - I have made this mistake once. I made the toasts ahead of time, along with the sauce, and mixed fresh beautiful shrimp into the sauce day of before I left for the ocean. I just cooked my shrimp in a little hot water in skillet until it was pink. I think this recipe would taste almost better with lobster but I've never tried it......

Spicy Shrimp Remoulade on Molasses-Buttered Toasts
Bon Appétit July 2005

Molasses butter
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons light molasses
1/4 teaspoon chili powder

Remoulade sauce
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons finely chopped celery
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
2 1/2 teaspoons drained prepared white horseradish
2 teaspoons minced shallot2 teaspoons ketchup
2 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon paprika
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

24 1 1/2-inch rounds or squares cut from Westphalian-style pumpernickel bread slices

8 ounces cooked peeled medium shrimp, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

For molasses butter: Using fork, mix all ingredients in small bowl to blend.
For remoulade sauce: Mix first 12 ingredients in medium bowl.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Spread molasses butter lightly over bread; arrange in single layer on baking sheet. Bake until bread begins to firm up, about 10 minutes. Cool.
Mix shrimp into remoulade sauce. Top toasts with shrimp mixture. Sprinkle with chives. Place toasts on platter.

Next I made a family recipe, roasted peppers with olive oil and parmesan. I buy bags of small sweet peppers at Costco, though I've seen them as well (for an INSANE price) at whole foods. Basically they look like little red, orange, and yellow jalapenos but they aren't hot at all. The secret to this recipe is to buy as many orange/yellow peppers, and as few red peppers, as you possibly can. For some reason the orange/yellow peppers roast MUCH better than the red ones. I find that the red ones are almost impossible to peel. Get them home and spread them on a cookie sheet. Turn the oven up to 350/400 - and roast them until they are soft and the skin begins to blister. Then throw them all into a paper bag for about a half hour, with the top closed. This will help the skins to release and will make them easier to peel.

Peeling the peppers is really the most painful part of this recipe - but it is so worth it. I get a bowl and a spoon and pour the peppers back onto the baking sheet. I find the easiest way to peel them is to get your thumb inbetween the skin and the pepper in one area and work your way over the whole pepper, then pop the skin off in one piece. Getting the little peels off one at a time is too much of a pain. Use the spoon to scrape the seeds out of the inside of the pepper, as they are bitter. Once you have them all peeled, run a knife and fork through the bowl a few times to get them all into bite-sized pieces.

Next I mix in the tasty ingredients. I just guess on this until it tastes right, so these are estimates - I would say for one cereal bowl of peppers, add a tablespoon of red wine vinegar, 1/4 a cup of olive oil, a tiny clove of garlic crushed or minced, three tablespoons of grated/shredded parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. You can add more olive oil if you think it needs it. You can also make this with your favorite jarred roasted peppers, but really nothing tastes as good as the freshly roasted sweet peppers.

To go along with all of this I made a quick crostini - a big loaf of Acme bread, sliced thin, with garlic infused olive oil, salt, pepper, and parmesan on top. I stuck them in the oven until crisp and then put them all in a big ziplock bag. I also brought along two hunks of good cheese - humbodlt fog goat (my favorite!) and a super-sharp gouda. Lastly, I threw in a salami and a bag of chocolate covered espresso beans into the mix.

Needeless to say we all ate and drank well that night, and I've been munching on the leftovers all week. Three cheers to summer time eating!!


1 comment:

Patch said...

The roasted pepper thing is an Emilia classic and I must say it's amazingly good. Amazingly. YUM!