Radishes with Olive Oil and Sea Salt

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By Freya Bellin

There are certain vegetables that, when very fresh, require little actual “cooking” to make a great bite.  Radishes, thanks to a natural spiciness, are one of those vegetables.  Rather than relegating these little root veggies to garnishes or salad mix-ins, try this simple recipe.  Radishes are crisp and refreshing on their own, and even more so when deeply chilled.  Dipping them in good olive oil and coarse salt adds just the right amount of richness and seasoning to make a nice appetizer or snack.  Try experimenting with flavored salts for more variety.  Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Produce, Recipes

Avocado Salad with Ginger and Peanuts

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Makes: 4 servings

Time: 2 hours, largely unattended

Avocado is so rich and creamy that all it needs is a little acidity to become a “salad.” This sweet and sour dressing, almost a ginger syrup, really does the trick.  And for a more substantial salad, eliminate the cilantro sprigs and put the avocados on a bed of watercress before dressing. Recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

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Posted in Produce

Fish Tacos with Wilted Cabbage

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By Freya Bellin

There’s something about fish tacos that just screams summer to me, and, true to form, the flavors in this taco are fresh, simple, and nearly beachy. Tomatillos are a great choice here if you can find them. They taste fruitier than a tomato, and very tart and crisp, almost like a Granny Smith apple. The tomatillo and avocado combo makes a great simple salsa, and serves as a nice contrast to the soft, slightly spicy cabbage. I used purple cabbage for the color, but green cabbage would work also. For the fish, any thick white fillet is fine. I used a combination of halibut and striped bass, but go with whatever looks freshest. A cold beer (and a beachfront view) makes this meal even better. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Mexican, Seafood

Balsamic Strawberries with Arugula

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Makes: 4 to 6 servings

Time: 15 minutes

In the original How to Cook Everything, I featured these strawberries as a peppery, slightly sweet compote in the fruit chapter. In Italy, where balsamic vinegar originated, strawberries with balsamic are served as a dessert. But the combination is equally fantastic in a savory salad.  Recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

3 cups strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, or more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

4 cups arugula leaves

Salt

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1. Toss the strawberries with the vinegar and black pepper in a large salad bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.

2, Add the arugula, sprinkle with salt, and toss again. Drizzle with olive oil and toss gently one last time. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve.

Balsamic Strawberries with Arugula and Goat Cheese. Before the final toss in Step 2, crumble 4 ounces of goat cheese over the salad.

Posted in Produce, Vegan

Wild Rice with Celery and Steamed Salmon

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By Freya Bellin

Celery truly is underrated. Most people think of it as a mindless addition to salads or soups, but celery actually has its own unique flavor and becomes pleasantly creamy when cooked. This tenderness makes it a great contrast to the grainy, nuttiness of wild rice. You can certainly use water instead of stock for the cooking liquid, but the rice really has a chance to absorb the flavor of the stock, so it goes a long way here.

Steaming the salmon in the same pot as the rice makes this a one-pot meal, and also means that the salmon gets infused with all of the seasonings of the rice, too. I took advantage of a rare opportunity to use a grill and followed the variation for grilled salmon below. Salmon is a great fish for grilling because it stays very moist and cooks super quickly. Just remember that if you’re not steaming the salmon, you can add a little less liquid to the pot of rice. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook. Continue reading

Posted in Recipes, Seafood

Blueberry Pudding Cake

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Makes: At least 6 servings

Time: About 1 1/4 hours, plus time to cool

This is just how it sounds: soft and gooey, with a cakey crust. It’s homey and comforting, especially with whipped cream. Try making it with other fruit, too. Recipe from How to Cook Everything. Continue reading

Posted in Baking

My Grilling Kindle Single Now Only $.99 Until the End of Summer

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I know it’s not officially summer yet, but it sure feels like it. To that end (and for the sake of trying to get as many people outside grilling as possible) I just lowered the price of my new Kindle Single (Bittman’s Kitchen, What I Grill and Why) to 99 cents, where it will stay from now until the end of summer. Happy grilling!

Posted in Mark Bittman Books

Minty Green Tea Granita

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By Freya Bellin

If you’re looking for a way to break the heat this summer, a granita just may be the answer. The beauty of a granita is that it’s sort of a shaved ice/slushie hybrid. It crackles into crunchy, icy layers that can be eaten with a spoon, or melted a little and slurped through a straw. It’s incredibly refreshing, easy to make, and will definitely cool you down. The granita melts quickly, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – you’ll just end up with some sweet iced tea at the bottom. There are endless combinations of ingredients for flavorings – you could skip the tea and just use lemon and mint, or you could add some berries to the steeping step, or serve it with fresh berries. Regardless, this is sure to be a new summer favorite. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Cocktails

Pasta with Broccoli, Cauliflower, or Broccoli Raab

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Makes: About 4 servings

Time: About 40 minutes

Use the same water for the broccoli as you do for the pasta to save cleaning a pot and to make things go a bit faster. Olive oil is not just a cooking medium here but also one of the main flavors. So, in addition to the 1/4 cup used to cook the garlic, I add some to taste at the end, usually a teaspoon or so per serving. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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Posted in Italian, Produce

Greens with Fruit and Mustard Vinaigrette

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By Freya Bellin

Fresh leafy greens are among spring’s treasures. Arugula, mustard greens, and spinach all abound at the farmers market these days, and there’s no better way to honor these flavorful greens than with a simple salad.

Summer fruits like raspberries and strawberries are great salad ingredients, but while we’re still waiting for berries and stone fruit to grace us with their presence, you can use apples and pears or dried fruits for this salad. I tossed red mustard greens with thinly sliced apples and chopped dried dates. The combination was sweet, spicy, and quite refreshing. Try the cheese and nut variation if you’re looking for a bit more heft. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Produce, Recipes