Saturday, June 14, 2008

Summer Comfort Food

Sometimes there is nothing more comforting to me than the change of the seasons. It's like clockwork. It's something that will happen no matter what in New England...not always on schedule, but eventually the seasons do change.

It's very much summer in Boston and as a result I have cravings for fresh fruit, veggies and herbs.

It's the time of year when I become a serious slacker in the kitchen (as if that's even possible for me). I want food that requires little to no cooking. I want simple and light.

I'm a big believer in salads in the summer. Produce is at it's peak and nothing is easier to make and enjoy. These really aren't recipes as much as outlines, meaning there is never any measuring and the quantity of fish sauce might increase if I feel especially into that salty quality it bring, the quantity might go down. I might increase the ginger or the basil. Perhaps that's the best part of salads, they allow you to really get creative.

One of my favorite cuisines is Vietnamese. I love the combination of mint and basil, sweet, sour and salty. So one of my favorite salads is one I created with a simple dressing of soy, good fish sauce, a bit of sugar, red wine vinegar, fresh ginger and a splash of canola oil. This dressing is not all that different from the sauce for Asian dumplings.

I chop up a cucumber, red pepper, scallions, a heart of romaine, shred carrot and soak bean threads. Once the bean threads are ready, I drain them and toss it all together. A bit of cilantro and salted roasted peanuts (smashed in a baggie with a wooden spoon -it also just happens a great way to take out any aggression you might have) garnish the salad and I'm ready!

I have a go-to homemade salad dressing that I use. I call it BZ's salad dressing because it was my friend BZ's favorite. The base goes like this, combine:

half a lemon squeezed
half a cup of balsamic vinegar
two tablespoons spicy brown mustard
five-ten shakes of Tabasco
salt and pepper
a splash of olive oil

You can add garlic if you want, a bit of honey to sweeten it, even ginger. You can increase the mustard or decrease the vinegar.

I used BZ's dressing and added a bit of sugar to dress a chickpea, argula, basil, tomato and fresh mozzarella salad I made today.

Oh man. It was good!!!

Later today I needed a snack. Remembering that I had fresh blueberries and plain yogurt leftover from my cucumber and buttermilk soup. I mixed the two items together. It was a bit too sour for my taste! So again, I winged it and added the zest of a lime and some of that ginger simple syrup leftover from my daring baker challenge. Omg, yogurt with ginger syrup, lime zest and blueberries rule!!! It made a refreshing and lovely summer dessert. Ahh, comfort in a bowl, yet so easy. Who knew?

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