This list is by no means complete, but these foods are the main ones at their freshest, highest quality during this time of the year. It's cheaper to buy seasonal eats at their peak because there is an over-abundance. It's too bad it's not cheaper to buy a ripe canteloupe in December as it would be to buy a pair of culottes.
I wanted to make soft-shell crabs**, but in my area they are too expensive ($4.99/ea USD) and I wanted 30 of them and the top seafood purveyor in the city couldn't guarantee me that many.
Summer is the best time for salad greens, too. Again, Whole Foods came through with enough greens to make anyone happy. I picked up beets, rainbow chard, arugula, and a prewashed mixed baby green medley (complete with red and green leaf lettuce, frisee, mache, butter lettuces, and spinach leaves). I wanted dandelion or chrysanthemum leaves but the produce guy told me:
"There's a lady who asks us to order some every week and she buys the whole box"
Me: "What day does she or the greens come in?"
Me: "I'll be here Tuesday, then."
I informed my class of this exchange, which was met with a few frowns and disappointed looks.
Me: "I know, I know! I want to know who this lady is, too."
Participant: "Doesn't she know that you need those greens more than she does? So that you can teach us about them?"
Me: "Apparently not. But don't think that I'm above posting up at Whole Foods, to wait for her, so that I can tell her a few things..."
This illicited a few laughs, so I knew what I had picked would suffice for our seasonal cooking purposes.
Sautéed Fish Serves 4
4 (3 ounce) fish fillets (catfish, halibut, tilapia, cod)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Smart Beat buttery spread
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Sprinkle each piece of fish with salt and pepper. Place flour in a shallow bowl with cayenne and garlic powder. Dredge each piece in flour, turning to coat; shake off excess flour.
Melt Smart Beat in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish to pan, top sides down; cook 3 minutes. Turn fish over; cook an additional 2 minutes. Place fish on lined sheet pan and place in oven to keep warm.
Make a salad bed with various salad greens: dandelion greens, beet greens, parsley, arugula, frisee, watercress. Dress with 2 Tbsp of lemon aioli or other fat free dressing. Season with black pepper.
1/2 cup Kraft fat-free mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1 1/2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Place mayonnaise in small bowl. Whisk in lemon juice, lemon peel, mustard, and vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to room temperature before serving
Question: What's the difference between mayonnaise and aioli?
Answer: About $4
Technically, aioli is mayonnaise made with olive oil instead of regular salad oil. In the restaurant business, when you add herbs, fruits, or spices...magically it becomes aioli. Go figure.
This aioli can also be used as a glaze on your fish. It's great on salmon. Just slather it on each piece, broil it, and it becomes a flavorful, opaque, crusty glaze on top. Delish...
I won't be able to make ice cream for my July classes (it's a shame since it's National Ice Cream Month, and all...) so I got in where I could fit in and created one made from country peaches I got from the farmer's market.
Well, actually, there's a story about the actual peaches I used. I got them at 50 cents a pound! They were soft, decidedly the sweetest peaches I've ever tasted. I was excited because that meant I might not have to use the entire amount of agave the recipe calls for. I left them in the demo kitchen last Thursday to use for Tuesday. I tagged all of my ingredients with my name and the class's date. Don't you know that when I opened the fridge that there were only three piddly, measley peaches in a bowl? Someone had taken the entire bag, left me three peaches and had the audacity to put the tag I made on the front of the bowl. To make a long story short, someone went out and got more peaches from the grocery but my country peaches...were pillaged. Sadness. I know.
Cinnamon Peach Ice Cream
Makes about 1 1/2 quarts
2 cups skim milk
12 oz Fat free evaporated milk
2 tablespoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup Organic Blue Agave
2 cups pureed fresh peaches
In a saucepan, heat milks, cinnamon, vanilla, and until boiling. Set aside to cool. Place plastic wrap over the surface of the mixture to prevent a skin from forming. When cooled properly, add agave and peach puree. In an ice cream freezer container, combine all the ingredients; mix well. Freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Freeze any leftovers.
(Please excuse the dirty dishes in the sink. I don't have a sous chef to take care of that kind of thing. In culinary school, after the chef's demonstration, he/she would always make us wash his dishes on top of our own. We could F#&! UP a kitchen, man...)
Cooking the milks isn't necessary. Actually, to save time (heat energy, pots, pans, my sanity) I didn't cook the milk during class. The mixture tasted raw and fresh and cooking the milk gives the base a creamier texture.