4 Quick Tricks Banish Boring Summer Salads

Carrot and Radicchio Salad (CAWCOM) (2) The grill is blasting away, people are licking their chops, and you’re asking yourself, “what sides?” A great approach is a salad, of course. But why stop at merely one salad? And too often that salad is one of the heavy mayonnaise-based standbys, macaroni salad or potato salad.

An approach I love is four salads, all of which should be easy to make and easy to make ahead of time. The first is a refreshing and simple salad of julienned carrots and a slightly bitter red radicchio that you can put together while the meat cooks. Young carrots are cut into matchsticks with radicchio sliced into strips and tossed with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and that’s it. READ MORE

Memorable Fried Mackerel Sandwiches from Istanbul

Istanbul-fried mackerel at Galata bridge (00)

fried mackerel sandwiches sold from the boat by the Galata bridge

One of the great cities of the Mediterranean is Istanbul, known as Constantinople before the Ottoman Turks took it in 1453.

Even in the Middle Ages, as well as today, Istanbul had a reputation among Western travelers for marvelous fish, the splendor of its fisheries of Stamboul and Galata, and the quality of the species available to buy. A modern traveler can walk down to the Kumkapı Balik Hali to witness the variety of fish or sit down in any of the fish restaurants in the Kumkapı area, or have a fried uskumru (mackerel) sandwich prepared by the boatmen near the Galata bridge on the Eminönü side–one of the most memorable foods I ate in Turkey. At the Galata bridge, the bridge that spans the Golden Horn in Istanbul and first built in the sixth century, is now a modern bridge, the famous old pontoon bridge having burned down somewhat recently. At the water’s edge, boats are tied up where men sell fried mackerel sandwiches. The cooks in the boats had a large pan filled with some sunflower seed oil and they were frying up mackerel fillets. Customers leaned over giving their money and asking for 1, 2, or 3 fish fillets for their sandwiches. These sandwiches were delicious in loaves of crusty bread with soft white insides. We put some raw sliced onions on with salt with the golden fillets of mackerel, all very fresh.

Some 45 years after I ate them for the first time, I still remember the experience. The weather was windy and cold, the sea choppy, the skies grey, so this tasted all the better. There were about 4 or 5 men on the bobbing boat taking orders and cooking. There were lots of men around eating and watching. Across the Golden Horn was the Galata Tower, an Istanbul landmark, built by the Genoese in 1348. Ferries were lined up destined for various little ports on the Bosphurus.

But we should remember the words of the French historian Fernand Braudel concerning this sight at Galata which we can witness even today: Mais si le spectacle laisse un souvenir aussi vivace, n’est-ce pas parce qu’il est rarissime? (But if the spectacle leaves a lively memory, isn’t that because it is so rare?).

Istanbul-Galata Tower Galata (00)

Gold Horn and the Galata Tower in Istanbul

There is much to this insight. In fact, as I think about it after a lifetime of traveling in the Mediterranean, I decided to write about it because it is still vivid in my memory, and yet, so rare a memory and a sight.

Grill in the Catalan Way with Escalivada!

Escalivada (Catalonia) (3) CROP

The Catalonians have a long tradition of grilling especially starting in the spring when young leeks start popping out of the ground.  One stellar example of Catalan grilling is escalivada, a medley of grilled vegetables dressed simply with olive oil … [Continue reading]

Best Summer Twist on Peaches

Peaches with Ricotta, Pistachio, and Apricot Preserve Sauce (CAWCOM) (3)

Peaches and nectarines are my two favorite fruit about this time of year. Usually I'm not even able to get them into a bowl after their washing as I eat them dripping juice over the sink. But should you manage to think summertime dessert this … [Continue reading]

4 Red-Hot Grilling Surprises for July 4th

Costolette di Maiale 'Riganatu (Sicily) (2)

July Fourth begs for a magnificent grill party. It’s summer, it’s a great celebration of the nation’s birth and everyone is outdoors and in party mode. Why hold back on July Fourth? Why not grill everything? With a couple of days’ planning, you can … [Continue reading]

The Best Meat Lover’s July 4th Grill Party Appetizer

Beef Short Ribs, grilled

When you've got a barbeque going I've always thought it silly and wasteful to spend all that time building the fire and then grilling that steak for all of 10 minutes. Nothing wrong with a steak but letting things cook long and slow--a real BBQ … [Continue reading]

4 Easy — And Cool — Pasta Dishes For Summer

Farfalle with Raw Sauce (CAWCOM) (3)

Everyone loves pasta, but during hot summer days a bowl of steaming pasta doesn’t sound that appealing. Some people make cold macaroni salads, but I think pasta is not meant to be eaten cold and besides, those macaroni salads usually have … [Continue reading]

Old-fashioned Breakfast Eggs Mornay

Eggs on Mornay sauce (2)

There’s nothing wrong with old- fashioned, and eggs Mornay certainly are that. They may seem extravagant for a home-cooked Sunday breakfast, but they are neither hard nor time-consuming to make. A Mornay sauce is a Béchamel sauce with cheese, and a … [Continue reading]

Simple Cast Iron Cooking: Lamb and Broccoli

Griddled Lamb and Broccoli (2)

You can safely say that I've gone cast iron crazy ever since my Cooking with Cast Iron class was produced for Craftsy.   Sure I've owned and used plenty of my cast iron cookware over the years, but since March I hard put my skillet away and just leaf … [Continue reading]

Cast Iron Griddle and a Simple Fish Halibut

Halibut, griddled

Cooking with cast iron is an overlooked, yet simple and convenient way of cooking food.  Here I take a halibut steak and simply place it on a preheated griddle to cook to perfection.  You can learn more about cast iron cooking by taking my Craftsy … [Continue reading]

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