My Compliments to the Chef
I was 4 ½-years-old when I first said, “Please give by compliments to the chef.” My mom and I went out for lunch a lot and I heard her say it many times when we enjoyed a memorable meal. It was at Michele’s restaurant in New York City when I first uttered those words. In that very French restaurant, with very French waiters, food and kitchen staff, our waiter did give my compliments to Chef Michele.
He immediately came to our table in his pristine double-breasted jacket and toque blanche to see this little girl for himself. When he asked if I’d like to see the kitchen, I was in awe and can remember the aromas and bustle as if it were yesterday. That experience began my love affair with great food, great settings, great dining companions and great chefs. And, it’s what Flying Aprons Tucson is all about.
While I had to temporarily turn off the Flying Aprons Tucson kitchen lights, I hope the time to throw the switch back on is soon. We may be able to take creative advantage of the summer bounty from our Sonoran Desert. Stay tuned for updates.
During this unprecedented time, have you been spending time in the kitchen? Have you had those days where you stand in front of the open refrigerator thinking, “What will I make today?” Takeout from our fantastic and favorite eateries remains a great option, but today’s blog is about having a little kitchen fun with two easy recipes.
Let’s get cooking!
These recipes come from Williams-Sonoma founder Chuck Williams, who for more than 20 years brought us the tools and equipment that elevated home cooking to a whole new level – from the Cuisinart food processor, Fini balsamic vinegar to the iconic chicken jug – and everything in between. His philosophy and legacy live on that food is best simply prepared using the freshest high-quality ingredients coupled with simple cooking techniques. Cheers to Chuck with these with these unpretentious, yet absolutely yummy dishes!
Grapefruit and Avocado Salad
with Peach Vinaigrette
Peach vinegar heightens the sweetness of the grapefruit and avocado. Use olive oil mild in flavor. If you can’t find peach vinegar, you’ll find a recipe below.
2 Large pink grapefruit
1 or 2 Avocados, depending on size
2 Tbs. Peach vinegar (see below)
½ cup Olive oil
Mixture of small leaf lettuces, enough for 6-8 people
Salt, freshly ground pepper
Peel and section the grapefruit to obtain whole segments without membranes. This is most easily done by cutting off the skin down to the flesh. Then cut along the membranes on each side of a section and pry the piece loose. Work over a bowl to catch the juice.
Cut the avocado in half, remove pit. Cut the avocado halves into even slices and carefully remove from the skin with a spoon.
Place lettuce in a serving bowl. In a small bowl, combine the peach vinegar and olive oil, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and beat vigorously to bend. Drizzle part of the dressing over the lettuce, reserving a little. Mix well and arrange on salad plates. Top with the avocado and grapefruit and sprinkle with remaining dressing.
Serve with the corn sticks recipe below as a first course. Serves 6-8.
For the best peach flavor, it takes a month to develop the taste and beautiful color. It’s also great for a marinade. Really adventurous? Drizzle a little over peach ice cream.
2-3 Ripe peaches per pint-sized jar, skins removed and roughly chopped into 1-inch pieces
White wine vinegar
Large glass jar with lid
Pint jars for finished vinegar
Coffee filter or paper towels
Add all the chopped peaches into the large jar and pour white wine vinegar over them until it reaches almost the top of the jar.
Place the jar in a dark place (pantry or cupboard) for 4 weeks. At least once a week shake the jar to mix the contents.
After the 4 weeks, place the strainer over a large bowl (size depending on how many jars you’re making) and pour the mixture over a strainer to remove the peaches.
Strain the vinegar through the coffee filter or paper towels to remove the remaining peach solids. (As a tea drinker, I use paper towels since I never have coffee filters!)
Pour into clean pint-sized canning jars with lids. Store in the pantry for up to 3 months.
Corn Sticks with Dried Plum Tomatoes
There’s no butter in these and I like them better without it. All the flavors stand out and the texture is slightly crispier than if made with butter. You’ll need a cast iron corn stick pan readily available at the retailer of your choice or you can use a muffin tin.
¼ cup Dried tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup Boiling water
2 Tbs. Melted butter
1 ¼ cups Stone ground yellow cornmeal
¾ cup All-purpose unbleached flour
½ tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Sugar
3 tsp. Baking powder
¼ tsp. Sweet or hot paprika
¾ cup Milk
1 Egg, beaten
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Combine chopped dried tomatoes and hot water in a small bowl. Set aside. Brush molds of corn stick pan with the melted butter and place in the oven for a few minutes to get hot.
Mix in a bowl: the cornmeal, flour, salt, sugar, baking powder and paprika. Combine the milk, beaten egg and the dried tomatoes (with their liquid) and add to the dry mixture beating quickly until smooth. Fill the molds of the hot corn stick pan to the top.
Place in the preheated oven and bake until golden, 10-15 minutes. Repeat with rest of batter.
Wishing you much happiness in the kitchen!