After kicking off Clay's birthday dinner with that gorgeous chilled pea soup, we knew we wanted to serve a light, summery salad. But we weren't quite sure what kind of dressing we wanted, so we turned to the food magazines for inspiration.
The June issue of Food & Wine has a great little item on their "Best 5-minute Dressings." It's a perfect feature for this time of year, when salad greens and vegetables are so abundant but you don't want to stick to the same salad night after night. And if you're like us, you may be in a salad rut, always making the same dressings.
The dressings in Food & Wine sounded so good and looked so easy that we were quickly confronted with a new problem: how to decide which one to make?
So we didn't decide on one. We decided on three! We ended up serving a trio of mini summer salads for the dinner.
And we started the progression off with this Honey-Lemon Dressing.
In the run-up to the big day, we had lots of conversations about what we should do to celebrate.
Make a reservation? We were lucky enough to be in New York City all last week, and ate at somephenomenalrestaurants, which you may already know if you're following us on Twitter. So we were a bit restauranted out. And because we we had missed our CSA share while we were gone, we were able to take a double share this week. And though we often act as if we expect them to, those vegetables aren't going to eat themselves.
But this one was a little daunting -- neither of us had ever cooked a whole fish before.
We'd had it on our mind recently after seeing a terrific how-to guide about grilling a whole fish in the June issue of Martha Stewart Living. Then, when we saw this whole snapper staring up at us from the seafood counter of our local Harris Teeter, we traded glances, widened our eyes and nodded.
As regular readers of The Bitten Word know well, we're both from the South. We grew up with mothers or grandmothers who would "put up" (as in, preserve) all kinds of food in the grand Southern tradition, from beans and squash and tomatoes to all manner of fruit preserves and jellies.
But it took a trip to Maine before we had freezer jam.
It was the summer of 2007, and the two of us took a little trip to Maine to visit our friends Dan and Wendy, a terrific couple that Clay had known from college. We flew into Boston, rented a car, and leisurely made our way up the New England coast, stopping frequently for all kinds of culinary treats -- lobster rolls, Whoopee pies, Moxie cola.
Dan and Wendy's house, outside the adorable town of Belfast, is a picturesque place -- long and low, covered in white clapboard, with a large barn just off the house. The broad green lawn behind the house stretches down to a small, cold swimming pond before getting lost in a tangle of Maine woods.
Our first morning there, we sat on Dan and Wendy's back deck, drinking coffee and basking in the warm morning sun. Wendy brought out a lovely, simple breakfast: English muffins and a jar of bright red strawberry freezer jam.
The idyllic setting already felt like a dream. The jam made it feel like Heaven.
Last year, we went on a blueberry binge, making pies and muffins and throwing blueberries into just about anything we could. We’ve been a bitobsessed with strawberries lately, but when we recently found blueberries on sale, we eagerly bought four pints and brought them home.
The majority of the blueberries went into cereal, or were just eaten as a snack. But we were most excited that the presence of blueberries in our fridge gave us an excuse to make Cook’s Illustrated’s “Best Blueberry Muffins.”
With a title like that, Cook’s makes quite a claim. Are these blueberry muffins really the best?
Knowing we would likely have anabundance of strawberries once temperatures started to climb, we dog-eared the Strawberry Gelato recipe in May's Bon Appétit, sure we would make it sometime this summer.
Last summer, we made a strawberry frozen yogurt that turned out very well. It had a strong and delicious yogurt-y flavor, but didn't hold up terribly well in our freezer. The first time we ate it, the texture was wonderful. But the second and third times (yes, believe it or not, we didn't eat it all in one sitting), it had become icy and almost chalky. Sure, it was still delicious, but just not what we were hoping for.
Was this Strawberry Gelato destined for the same fate?
Is it just us, or are strawberries freaking everywhere this year?
They are acres of them -- big, plump, bright red -- at our farmers market. (One vendor last week had set up a "Strawberries-Only Express Line.") They're tumbling out of two-for-one pint baskets at the grocery store. Sweet little pink and red ones have been showing up in our CSA bounty.
We've happily succumbed to the berry onslaught. We've been eating strawberries in every way we can think of -- in a citrusy salad, with shortcakes and cream. We made a delicious strawberry rhubarb pie, and we've even canned some strawberry freezer jam. Most nights, we've followed dinner with at least a bowl of strawberries dusted with a little sugar.
But are we suffering from strawberry fatigue? No way! And with these incredible Strawberry Dumplings, you won't be either.
We're in full-on grilling mode, making as many dishes on the grill each night as the weather allows.
Finding things to grill is hardly ever an issue with meat -- the choices of chicken, steak or pork dishes (or even pizza) are abundant. And now that the "Grilling Issues" of magazines have all arrived, we're stocked with new recipes we want to try.
But when it comes to making sides on the grill, we're always on the lookout for new recipes, which is why we loved the idea of these Grilled Potato Slices with Salt and Vinegar.
A couple nights ago, our friend Drew was giving us grief about our recent string of posts. "I went on there to find something to cook for dinner, and all you had was cocktails and, like, desserts. Y'all need a STEAK."