Good morning, good readers. As you feast on delicacies of summer -- watermelon, tomatoes, squash and the like -- consider first a few requests: corn salsa from Cook's Illustrated magazine; crisp-crusted salmon like the salmon served at Cafe on the Corner on Lookout Mountain; cupkies (cookies baked in muffin tins and frosted like cupcakes); and quinoa salad with fruit.
This might be my favorite recipe name. It's from Helen Cooper. Don't tell.
Secret Family Recipe (for grilling meat and vegetables)
1 package Lipton Savory Herb With Garlic soup mix
Extra-virgin olive oil
Chicken or pork tenderloin to grill
Vegetables to grill or bake
Portabella mushrooms to grill
Put seasoning mix in a shaker with large holes, such as a flour or cheese shaker, or shake from the package.
For chicken: Wash, trim and pat dry skinless boneless chicken, either in fillets or strips. Slice it or pound it to a uniform thickness. Put chicken in mixing bowl or on baking pan with a thin layer of olive oil, and shake an even layer of the seasoning over it, coating both sides. Grill 4 or 5 minutes on each side, depending on grill heat and thickness of chicken.
For pork: Use small pork tenderloins, 2 to a pack. Wash and trim, dry and do the olive oil and seasoning shake as above. Grill until internal temperature is 145 F or to your liking.
For portabellas: Wipe mushrooms with damp paper towel and trim stems. Mix 1/2 cup olive oil with 1 tablespoon mix and paint it on both sides of the mushrooms with pastry brush. Grill the same as chicken, about 5 minutes per side.
For vegetables: For 2 pounds of vegetables, use 1 envelope mix. To try: broccoli, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, yellow squash, cabbage, Roma tomatoes.
Wash and drain vegetables except for mushrooms. Cut vegetables into bite-size chunks. The squash should be at least 1/3- to 1/2-inch thick because it gets too soft when cooked if it is sliced too thin. Leave mushrooms whole unless they are very large.
Heat oven to 400 F. Dump all vegetables into large mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil to thinly coat all vegetables. Then sprinkle an envelope of the mix over and stir until all vegetables are well coated. If you have lots of vegetables, you might want to use 2 envelopes. If you use carrots, microwave them for about 2 minutes on high because they don't get done enough without that.
It also is preferable to skin tomatoes, then slice; add them to the vegetables mixture last so they don't get all smushed up in the stirring.
Serve with steamed rice.
This may all be prepared on a grill in a basket; if you use this method, shake or stir frequently to keep mixture from burning.
I suppose watermelon is making an appearance on many local tables. During a recent trip to P&P Produce downtown, I watched an employee thumping watermelons to determine the best melon for a customer. After he chose one for her, I asked him to choose one for me; he did so with artfulness, almost as if playing a drum. "Hear that difference?" he would ask. "I don't know exactly what it is, but you can just tell by the sound."
As proof he handed me a seedless one that was mighty good, firm and positively seedless. I don't think I could emulate his skill.
Here's a question for all you watermelon thumpers: How do you tell a good watermelon?
Here's a final recipe from Peggy Walkup's collection sent from Cleveland, Tenn. There were several popover recipes printed earlier; this is Ms. Walkup's choice.
1 cup Gold Medal flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
Heat oven to 425 F. Grease well deep muffin cups or custard cups. Measure flour by dip-level-pour method or by sifting. Beat all ingredients with rotary beater just until smooth. Overbeating will reduce volume and prevent popovers from puffing.
Fill greased muffin cups 3/4 full or custard cups 1/2 full. Bake 40 to 45 minutes. Serve immediately. Makes 5 to 9 popovers.
-- From "Betty Crocker's New Picture Cookbook"
Editor's note: Watch the popovers carefully; 40 minutes at 425 F seems mighty long, but this is what the recipe prescribed.
Here's a creative quiche recipe from Sue Mickel. I have in the cupboard a huge bag of pistachios from Costco, so I'm tempted by this recipe. I would assume one could also omit the pistachios ... and change the recipe's name.
Spinach and Pistachio Quiche
1 (10-inch) pie shell, unbaked
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 cups whipping cream
1 cup grated Swiss cheese
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
11/2 cups chopped, cooked spinach, loosely packed
1/2 cup shelled and chopped pistachios
2 teaspoons salt
11/2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Grated provolone and Swiss cheese (about 1 cup total) for topping
Heat oven to 400 F. To prevent shrinking, prick bottom and sides of pie shell with fork or line with wax paper and fill with rice. Bake 7 minutes. Remove from oven; reduce temperature to 350 F.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except cheese topping and paprika in order given, mixing well after each addition. Pour into partially baked pie shell and bake until firm, 45 to 55 minutes. Top with grated cheeses and sprinkle with paprika. Return to oven until cheese melts.
Makes 8 to 12 servings.
I happen to know a generous grandmother who has been cooking and entertaining her California grandchildren with remarkable energy; two weeks of serving meals to super-hungry kids who are picky eaters. This is a picture of love. Macaroni and cheese, quesadillas, flank steak, hamburgers, spaghetti and ravioli have been on her menu. This reminds me of a young vegetarian who visited us this summer, who sampled a casserole of what I would consider "grown-up food" and pronounced it "better than mac and cheese." And so here is that recipe.
Rice With Green Chilies
3 cups light sour cream
1 4-ounce can diced green chilies
2 cups raw Jasmine rice, cooked (should yield 4 cups cooked)
Salt and pepper to taste, but generous
3/4 pound Monterey Jack cheese, grated
Mix sour cream and green chilies. Season cooked rice generously with salt and pepper.
Put half of rice in bottom of a 11/2-quart casserole, then a layer of half of sour cream and a layer of half of cheese. Repeat with rice and sour cream. Cover and bake in a preheated 350 F oven for 20 minutes. Remove cover, add remaining cheese and bake until cooked through and bubbly, 10-20 minutes.
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