Summer's here! Time to fire up the grill for burgers, brats ... and ginger-glazed chicken livers?
Sometimes we're drawn to a particular recipe specifically because it's unexpected, and because it pulls us out of our comfort zone. And the idea of grilled chicken livers with a fresh-made plum sauce was so surprising, so unexpected and -- okay, we'll say it -- so weird that we just had to try it.
It dawned on us last week that we've now known each other for more than 10 years.
TEN years. A decade.
Can that possibly be true? The gray hairs on our heads would indicate it is.
To mark 10 years of Zach and Clay, we're celebrating with green beans. More on those in a minute.
Ten years ago, things were a bit different. We each had about a year of DC living under our belts. We were both working all-consuming jobs. In a transient city, we were trying to make friends who weren't about to move away.
But the biggest difference between 10 years ago and today? Food. Back then, we both rarely cooked. We lived in teensy apartments with doll-house-sized kitchens, so cooking was hard. When we did make food at home, it was more of the George-Foreman-chicken-breast-with-a-side-of-ramen variety.
As we got to know each other, we wanted to cook more. Eating at restaurants all the time wasn't doing any favors for our bodies, or our wallets. So we turned to cookbooks and food magazines to start learning some new dishes.
What happens to a gelée deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?
No. It melts into one globous, gelatinous mass.
After writing up the post about those Lemony Blackberry-Vodka Gelées, we took them on Sunday to Zach's sister Cassidy's house in Annapolis. She was throwing a crab boil, and we thought these gelées would be a great way to kick things off.
The hour-long drive from DC proved too hot and sunny for our little Jello shots. By the time we arrived at Cassidy's, the individual gelées -- which we had worked so hard to pry out of the bowl and slice into perfect little cubes -- had oozed and congealed into one big mess.
Once the provenance of frat houses and bachelorette parties, gelées now pop up occassionally in the pages of food magazines.
Whatever you do, don't call 'em Jello shots. They always go by their classier, more adult name, Gelée (which sounds like what we might name a baby we adopted from France).
In fact, in our third month of blogging here, more than five years ago, we featured Lemoncello Gelée from Martha Stewart Living at a going-away dinner party. It was love at first shot sight.
We're back with gelées today. The July issue of Cooking Light features the classiest looking gelées. With Fourth of July festivities ahead of us, we thought this might be the perfect recipe to get you ready for fireworks.
There's the incredibly bracing sort, so tart from vinegar and acid that your face puckers a bit.
There's the cucumber salad that pits bracing against sweet in an epic battle to see if it will first pucker your face or rot your teeth (kind of our favorite, if we're choosing).
And there's the bland, the watery, the "is there any dressing on this or did you just serve me a bowl of sliced cucumbers?" salad.
We picked up a bunch of cucumbers at the farmers market recently, and while trying to figure out what to do with them, we ran across this recipe in Cooking Light. We've never featured a cucumber salad here on the blog, so we gave it a shot. There's nothing out of the ordinary about this recipe: sliced cucumbers and green and red peppers get tossed with oil, white wine, lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper, as well as some herbs. It's a pretty basic take on the dish.
But here's the thing about this cucumber salad -- we find it to be perfectly balanced. It's not too sweet, not too tart. The dressing doesn't overpower the vegetables. There's no secret, star ingredient smuggled into the mix to set your taste buds on fire. It's a standard, very good, absolutely ordinary cucumber salad. And we loved it for that.
A winter storm is whipping its way through the area, so we're inside the house, still wearing pajamas, and dreaming about warmer days. And pancakes. But mostly warmer days.
We've been troopers this winter -- not complaining about the cold (well, not complaining too much about the cold). But we're ready for change, for sun, for mornings that don't require four layers of clothing.
It's March. It's time.
And with dreams of spring weather come dreams of spring foods. We're craving them. Earlier this week, in a moment of spring desperation, we bought a pound of fresh snap peas from our supermarket. Though the quality wasn't great (nothing like the peas we'll see at farmers markets come April and May), they were good enough for us, steamed, with a simple drizzle of citrus -- a literal taste of spring.
Those same dreams of warmer days are what drew us to this Artichoke and Pea Sauté. It screams [use your best old timey voice here]: "Spring's a comin'!"
And the best part? The ingredients come from the freezer section.