• Simple Garden Recipes: Summer Corn Salad

    Corn on the cob. So easy we almost feel guilty posting it.

    Summer corn salad.

    When you see this, stop and buy some corn.

    On the east coast of the US no other food says “summer” quite like fresh corn on the cob. Farm stands selling corn picked that morning are literally everywhere. And it is quite common (at least with our family and friends) to hear people arguing over what stand has the “best” corn. These arguments sound like wine aficionados comparing appellations and vintages- slightly ridiculous, but great, harmless fun. And while all the fresh corn here is good, there are differences between farms. We are lucky to have so many choices.

    The other argument you might hear is where the best corn comes from. Not surprisingly we are fans of eastern Long Island corn. The weather and soil are perfect, the demand is high and the farmers compete to raise the best corn. A good combination. Now, we also enjoy corn from New Jersey and other mid-Atlantic states, but we know of no other area where the farms are just a few minutes away from most of the people. You can literally bring your water to a boil, drive, bike or walk to the farm stand in less than five minutes and then bring the corn back and put it in the pot. And then you are just three minutes from heaven. And we do mean 3 minutes…

    Why 3 minutes? Well, if you have fresh corn, the best way to enjoy it is to eat it off the cob with minimal cooking. Simply boil the water, drop the corn in the water for three minutes. Once cooked, remove the corn from the water, slather with butter, liberally apply salt and pepper and serve. Perfection. The corn will be cooked but still very crisp and sweet. If you must cook the corn longer we suggest that 3 minutes=”rare”, 3.5 minutes= “medium rare”, 4 minutes= “Medium”, etc. But we suggest that anything past medium will rob the corn of its crisp texture. And the corn’s flavor and texture are some of the best nature has to offer.

    3 minutes- Max!

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  • Simple Garden Recipes: Tomatoes And Green Beans

    Tomato “Steakhouse” Salad.

    Green Beans With Chorizo and Cherry Tomatoes.

    This time of year, the garden mostly dictates what we cook. A welcome snap of heat brought us early tomatoes and green beans, now we need to use them. The tomatoes are easy; the green beans are a bit more of a challenge. Let’s start with the tomatoes.

    Our first tomatoes, the sweet 100s came in and are exactly as you expect, small and sweet. We also got our hands on some early heirlooms, big, sweet and juicy. For the larger tomatoes we usually make Caprese salads, just with an extra dash of balsamic and olive oil. But we also enjoy this “steak house” tomato salad. The recipe is a combination of the onion and tomato salad from the famous Peter Luger Steakhouse in New York and a recipe from Suzanne Goin of Lucques in Los Angeles.

    It is a simple combination of ripe tomatoes (otherwise don’t bother), sweet onion, blue cheese and herb vinaigrette. But the flavors really do sing and are much richer than a Caprese salad. The sweetness and acidity of the tomatoes and onions match well with the rich, tangy blue cheese, while the herb vinaigrette adds tart and earthy flavors. And the mix of soft, crisp and creamy textures make for an excellent overall dish.

    Making the salad couldn’t be easier, but a few quick tips that will improve the overall dish. Simply slice the tomatoes and onions, but soak the onion slices in cold water for a few minutes before assembling the dish- they will be crisper and have less heat. Also slice the herbs and make the vinaigrette at the last-minute. The herbs will not discolor and the presentation will really pop. And this dish looks as good as it tastes.

    As for the green beans, they are more of a challenge. Their flavor is often very “green” and vegetal, and their texture can sometimes be leathery. The small, young beans are often the best, but our beans ripen unevenly and we tend to have a mix of large and small beans. Happily we found a basic technique and adapted a recipe that makes the most of the green beans and is very tasty. Our green beans with chorizo and cherry tomatoes are so good, even our kids eat them. We consider that to be a success.

    Separate small and large beans and cook different times.

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