Summer Grilling; Blenheim Apricots; Raw Cheese
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It's officially summer. In the spirit of kicking back, Good Food revisits some great segments. Shyam Yadav and his gang are saving the world with French Toast. Barbecue master Steven Raichlen explains the 11 commandments of grilling. Living and eating on a container ship -- Rob Long tells us why you'd want to. The five-second rule: fact or fiction? Harold McGee has the answer. Andrew Steiner debunks some cheese myths. The OC's Gustavo Arellano knows how to cool off with some icy Mexican treats. Plus, can a word have a taste? Julia Simner explains a rare condition called synestheisa. And, Laura Avery talks Blenheim apricots at the farmers market.
Market Report ()
Blenheim apricots have arrived at the farmers markets. Mike Cironi of Sea Canyon is one of farmers that brings them to the Santa Monica Farmers Market. They are considered the premier variety of apricots as they have the best flavor and are the most difficult to grow. It's said that coastal breezes help the Blenheims grow and this year has produced the best tasting yet. Mike says that they'll have apricots in the markets for another 3 weeks.
We are in the midst of a "corn gap," where corn disappears from the markets for a few weeks. Oxnard and Ventura farms will start having corn again at the end of July.
Amelia Saltsman has some great ideas for summer melons, including a salad:
Melon, Cucumber, and Mint Salad
1 cantaloupe or other melon (about 3 pounds), cut into bite-sized chunks
4 cucumbers, preferably a mix of lemon and Persian or Japanese (about 1 lb total)
1/2 white onion, sliced paper-thin
1/2 cup fresh regular or lemon mint leaves, torn into pieces
2 to 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon honey
2 oz feta cheese, crumbled
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place the melon chunks in a large bowl. If using lemon cucumbers, peel them, cut into wedges, and cut each wedge in half crosswise. If using Persian or Japanese cucumbers, peel them and cut in half lengthwise. Use the tip of a spoon to scrape out the seeds, then cut the cucumbers crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices and add them to the bowl. Rinse the onion slices in water to remove a bit of their bite, and add them to the bowl. Add the mint, lemon juice, honey, feta, and salt and pepper to taste and toss gently. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Chill for 1 hour before serving.
: To peel a cantaloupe efficiently, cut a thin slice off the top and bottom ends, and stand the melon upright. Tracing the curve of the melon with your knife, slice off the peel in thick strips. Cut melon in half, scoop out the seeds, and then cut fruit as desired.
Makes 8 servings.
Adapted from The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook: Seasonal Foods, Simple Recipes, and Stories from the Market and Farm
by Amelia Saltsman (Blenheim Press, 2007)
French Toast & Hugs ()
Shyam making French toast in Times Square
NYC Cops love their French toast
Shyam Yadav and his dog Daisy started the gang French Toast and Hugs. They've held events in Santa Monica, New Zealand, Downtown Los Angeles, New York and India. His next FTX event is July 4 weekend in Philadelphia at Love Park.
For best results, choose a good challah (egg bread) or a firm, high-quality sandwich bread, such as Arnold Country Classics White or Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Hearty White. Thomas’ English Muffin Toasting Bread also works well. If you purchase an unsliced loaf, cut the bread into 1/2-inch-thick slices. To prevent the butter from clumping during mixing, warm the milk in a microwave or small saucepan until warm to the touch (about 80°). The French toast can be cooked all at once on an electric griddle, but may take an extra 2 to 3 minutes per side. Set the griddle temperature to 350° and use the entire amount of butter for cooking.
8 large slices hearty white sandwich bread or good-quality challah
1 1/2 cups whole milk, warmed
3 large egg yolks
3 Tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter , melted, plus 2 Tablespoons for cooking
1/4 tsp table salt
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300°F. Place bread on wire rack set on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake bread until almost dry throughout (center should remain slightly moist), about 16 minutes, flipping slices halfway through cooking. Remove bread from rack and let cool 5 minutes. Return baking sheet with wire rack to oven and reduce temperature to 200°.
2. Whisk milk, yolks, sugar, cinnamon, 2 tablespoons melted butter, salt and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Transfer mixture to 13" x 9" baking pan.
3. Soak bread in milk mixture until saturated but not falling apart, 20 seconds per side. Using a firm slotted spatula, pick up bread slice and allow excess milk mixture to drip off; repeat with remaining slices. Place soaked bread on another baking sheet or platter.
4. Heat 2 tablespoon butter in 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. When foaming subsides, use slotted spatula to transfer 2 slices of soaked bread to skillet and cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until the second side is golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes longer. (If the toast is cooking too quickly, reduce temperature slightly.) Transfer to baking sheet in oven. Wipe out skillet with paper towels. Repeat cooking with remaining bread, 2 pieces at a time, adding a tablespoon of butter for each batch. Serve warm, passing maple syrup separately.
See a video for this recipe here.
11 Commandments of Grilling ()
While grilling is a fairly simple process, there is an art behind it and a seemingly endless variety of cooking methods and special recipes. That's where Steven Raichlen comes in. This master griller has 11 commandments for divine grilling straight from his Barbecue Bible. An award-winning author, journalist, TV host and cooking teacher who runs the Barbecue U at Greenbrier resort, Raichlen's best-selling cookbook series and Barbecue University TV show on PBS have virtually reinvented American barbecue.
Steven Raichlen's 10 Grilling Commandments
BE ORGANIZED: Have everything you need for grilling -- the food, marinade, basting sauce, seasonings, and equipment -- on hand and at grillside before you start grilling.
GAUGE YOUR FUEL: There's nothing worse than running out of charcoal or gas in the middle of grilling. When using charcoal, light enough to form a bed of glowing coals 3 inches larger on all sides than the surface area of the food you're planning to cook. (A 22 1/2-inch grill needs one chimney's worth of coals.) When cooking on a gas grill, make sure the tank is at least one-third full.
KEEP IT HOT: Remember: Grilling is a high-heat cooking method. In order to achieve the seared crust, charcoal flavor, and handsome grill marks associated with masterpiece grillmanship, you must cook over a high heat. How high? At least 500°F. Although I detail this elsewhere, it is worth repeating: When using charcoal, let it burn until it is covered with a thin coat of gray ash. Hold your hand about 6 inches above the grate. After 3 seconds, the force of the heat should force you to snatch your hand away. When using a gas grill, preheat to high (at least 500°F); this takes 10 to 15 minutes. When indirect grilling, preheat the grill to 350°F.
KEEP IT CLEAN: There's nothing less appetizing than grilling on dirty old burnt bits of food stuck to the grate. Besides, the food will stick to a dirty grate. Clean the grate twice: once after you've preheated the grill and again when you've finished cooking. The first cleaning will remove any bits of food you may have missed after your last grilling session. Use the edge of a metal spatula to scrape off large bits of food, a stiff wire brush to finish scrubbing the grate.
KEEP IT LUBRICATED: Oil the grate just before placing the food on top, if necessary (some foods don't require that the grates be oiled).
Spray it with oil (away from the flames), use a folded paper towel soaked in oil, or rub it with a piece of fatty bacon, beef fat, or chicken skin.
TURN, DON'T STAB: The proper way to turn meat on a grill is with tongs or a spatula. Never stab the meat with a carving fork -- unless you want to drain the flavor-rich juices onto the coals.
KNOW WHEN TO BASTE: Oil-and-vinegar-, citrus-, and yogurt-based bastes and marinades can be brushed on the meat throughout the cooking time. (If you baste with a marinade that you used for raw meat or seafood, do not apply it during the last 3 minutes of cooking.) When using a sugar-based barbecue sauce, apply it toward the end of the cooking time. The sugar in these sauces burns easily and should not be exposed to prolonged heat.
KEEP IT COVERED: When cooking larger cuts of meat and poultry, such as a whole chicken, leg of lamb, or prime rib, use the indirect method of grilling or barbecuing. Keep the grill tightly covered and resist the temptation to peek. Every time you lift the lid, you add 5 to 10 minutes to the cooking time.
GIVE IT A REST: Beef, steak, chicken -- almost anything you grill-will taste better if you let it stand on the cutting board for a few minutes before serving. This allows the meat juices, which have been driven to the center of a roast or steak by the searing heat, to return to the surface. The result is a juicier, tastier piece of meat.
NEVER LEAVE YOUR POST: Grilling is an easy cooking method, but it demands constant attention. Once you put something on the grill (especially when using the direct method), stay with it until it's cooked. This is not the time to answer the phone, make the salad dressing, or mix up a batch of your famous mojitos. Above all, have fun. Remember that grilling isn't brain surgery. And that's the gospel!
DON'T OVERCROWD YOUR GRILL: If you put too many items on the grill at once, you have no place to maneuver if you have a flare up. Steve recommends 30% of the grill open.
Green Lightning Shrimp
2-1/2 lbs jumbo shrimp
1 bunch cilantro, rinsed, stemmed, and coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
4 to 8 jalapeno peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped (for hotter shrimp, leave the seeds in)
1 bunch scallions, both white and green parts, trimmed and coarsely chopped
5 cloves garlic (3 cloves coarsely chopped, 2 cloves minced)
1-1/2 tsps coarse salt (kosher or sea)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter
Lime wedges, for serving
About 12 long (10- to 12-inch) metal or bamboo skewers
1. Rinse the shrimp under cold running water and then drain and blot them dry with paper towels. Peel and devein the shrimp. Thread the shrimp onto 2 parallel skewers, using 2 skewers for each kebab. Arrange the kebabs in a nonreactive baking dish.
2. Set aside 3 tablespoons of the cilantro for the garlic cilantro butter. Place the remaining cilantro, the jalapenos, scallions, chopped garlic, salt, black pepper, and cumin in a food processor and finely chop. With the machine running, add the olive oil and lime juice through the feed tube and puree to a bright green paste. Pour this marinade over the shrimp and let them marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for 30 minutes, turning the kebabs several times so they marinate evenly.
3. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and the 3 tablespoons of reserved cilantro and cook until the garlic is fragrant and sizzling, but not browned, about 2 minutes. Keep the garlic cilantro butter warm until ready to use.
4. Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.
5. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Drain the marinade from the shrimp kebabs and discard the marinade. Place the shrimp kebabs on the hot grate and grill until just cooked through, 1 to 3 minutes per side, basting with the garlic cilantro butter. When done, the shrimp will turn pinkish white and feel firm to the touch. Transfer the grilled shrimp to a platter or plates, pour any of the remaining butter sauce over them, and serve with the lime wedges.
Life on the Hanjin Miami ()
Rob Long is a writer and producer living in Hollywood. He recently spent three weeks on the Hanjin Miami, a container ship sailing from Seattle to Asia. Rob was surprised by the lack of fresh fish aboard the ship. Instead, he and the German officers ate roast pork prepared by the mostly Filipino crew.
Rob's weekly commentary, Martini Shot, airs Wednesdays at 6:44 on KCRW.
Five-Second Rule ()
You drop a tasty cookie on the floor. Shouting "five seconds!" you frantically pick it up, blow on it, and pop it in your mouth –- with the notion that if something touches the floor for less than five seconds, it's still clean and safe to eat. Noted food scientist Harold McGee, author of On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen and The Curious Cook: More Kitchen Science and Lore, recently tested the theory and wrote about his findings in the New York Times. Want to discover more kitchen science? Check-out Harold's website.
Cheese Myths ()
Andrew Steiner owns Andrew's Cheese Shop in Santa Monica. According to Andrew, hard cheeses contain a minimal amount of lactose and should be okay for people with lactose intolerance. Examples of hard cheeses include Parmigiano- Reggiano, Aged Gouda, and Pecorino. Soft cheeses include Brie and Camembert. Raw milk cheese means that the milk was not heated more than 100 degrees during processing. The FDA does not allow raw milk cheeses aged for less than 60 days to be distributed in the U.S. Pregnant women should avoid cheeses under 60 days old. Listeria is a bacteria that can sometimes be found in homemade, young, raw milk cheeses.
Mexican Ice Cream ()
OC Weekly writer Gustavo Arellano samples Mexican nieves (ice cream), paletas (frozen fruit bars) and cocteles de fruta (fruit salad) at La Flor de Mexico in Stanton, California. He is the author of ¡Ask a Mexican!
La Flor de Mexico
7151 Katella Ave
Stanton, CA 90680
Synaesthesia is a genetic condition in which one sense triggers another. In the most common version of the phenomenon, words or numbers trigger colors, Dr. Julia Simner studies a very uncommon form of synaesthesia, in which words trigger tastes.
Synaesthesia is believed to effect about one out ever 23 people, with sensations that are automatic and cannot be turned on or off. People are generally born with the condition, which is not considered at all harmful, and it runs in families. Most synaesthetes could not imagine life without these extra sensations. Studying synaesthesia may help us to understand how the brain segregates and integrates different sensations and thoughts.
For more information and to get the perspective of a synaesthete, link to this supportive and informative website.
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