Summertime, and the Eating is Good
“Can you imagine eating a poor little tomato that had to drive all the way across California before it got here?” Gov. Martin O’Malley asked his guests at the fifth annual Buy Local Cookout on Government House lawn on a hot evening last week.
Summer is no time to entertain such thoughts. Desperation may drive us there midwinter. But now Maryland is tomato heaven. The skyscraping plants have leeched enough water out of dry soil to grow dense with foliage and heavy with fruit. Intern Jesse Furgurson, spending his last week with us, has found some nice words for them in his take on From Your Garden, on page 8.
We Marylanders are wetter than many Americans. Much of the nation is parched with severe or extreme drought, and crops perishing, according to the U. S. Drought Monitor. We’re only in moderate drought this scorching summer.
Fruits and vegetables that, like tomatoes, are reservoirs of water are the most satisfying in summer’s heat. They quench our thirst, cool us down and need little or no cooking, so we don’t have to stand the kitchen’s heat to prepare them.
Chefs at this year’s Buy Local Cookout made the best of those qualities. Succulent fruits and vegetables were the foundation chosen by most of the 14 preparing savory dishes for the always-sweltering cookout. They gave accompanying meat and fish a lighter touch. Those, of course, can be roasted and crabs steamed outdoors.
A couple of chefs offered cool cooking alternatives. The scallops served by Joann Redden of Caroline County’s Lily Pad Café took only a moment to sauté. Chef James Barrett of Azure in Annapolis slow-cooked his short ribs in a crock pot, with minimal radiant heat.
In all combinations, the pairings were satisfying and substantial yet light.
Here’s how two of my favorites — all by Anne Arundel County chefs — made culinary magic out of the bounty of Maryland summer.
You can do it, too. Follow their recipes (find them at www.mda.state.md.us/pdf/cookbook12.pdf), altering or subtracting as you like. Or use them as models for your own inventions. All serve four.
Herrington Crab Salad: Chef Michael Arichbald
In a large bowl, combine 1/2 tbs. lemon zest, 3 tbs. lemon juice, 1/2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 tsp. honey 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard, 1/3 tsp. salt and a dash of pepper, stirring well with a whisk.
In another bowl, combine 1-1/4 cup cooked white corn, 1/3 cup fresh basil, 1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper, 2-1/2 tbs. chopped red onion, 1-1/4 pounds jumbo lump crabmeat, 3-1/2 chopped tomatoes.
Pour lemon juice mixture into crabmeat mixture and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Serve chilled.
Bon Appétit’s St. John’s College Tongue & Cheek Tacos
Since you’re not going to believe how good tongue and cheek tacos were (and the preparation is hot and complex), substitute the meat or fish of your preference. That’s what Chef Michael Cleary, formerly chef de cuisine at Restaurant Nora in D.C., does in St. John’s College cafeteria.
Try Roseda Farm Flat Iron Steak, as prepared for the cookout by Chef Patrick Morrow of Ryleigh’s Oyster in Baltimore.
Season all sides of 4 8-ounce flat iron steaks liberally with coarse salt and fresh cracked pepper. Slice in narrow strips and cook over high heat about 4 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes on the second side for medium-rare doneness.
Serve on flour tortillas with bowls of—
Fresh Tomato Salsa: Combine all ingredients: 1 pound diced tomatoes; 1/4 small red onion, diced fine; 1 bunch chopped cilantro; 2 tbs. lime juice; 1 tbs. olive oil; and
Garnishes: Jalapenos, sliced in thin rings; fine diced yellow onion; lime wedges; cut Bib lettuce; thin-sliced radish rounds; sour cream; guacamole.
Sandra Olivetti Martin
editor & publisher, firstname.lastname@example.org