Sun Tea

July 29, 2007

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There are households in sunny climes where sun tea is a summer ritual. Set out your jar in the morning, and you’ll have fresh tea by lunchtime. Make it plain or spicy. Double or halve the recipe. However you make it, it couldn’t be simpler. You don’t even have to boil the water. SAM

1 gallon cold water
9 small tea bags
6 whole cloves (optional)
1 stick cinnamon (optional)

Pour the water into a clear, 1-gallon glass jar, add the tea bags, and the cloves and cinnamon, if desired. Screw on a tight-fitting lid and place the jar in direct sunlight. After 3 to 4 hours, remove the tea bags and spices and serve over ice with sugar, mint, or lemon.
Makes 1 gallon.


Zucchini Cake

July 28, 2007

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With zucchini, it’s all or nothing. One day you’re waiting impatiently for one to come in—the next day you have bushels. What to do with all those squash? It’s kind of like finding homes for kittens. When the neighbors start ducking behind shrubs when they see you coming with your garden basket, that’s a sign it’s time to bake Zucchini Cake! SAM

1/3 cup boiling water
2 cups shredded zucchini (about 3 medium)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup salad oil
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 cup chopped pecans
Cream Cheese-Pecan Icing

In a large bowl, pour the boiling water over the zucchini and set aside to cool slightly. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the zucchini, flour, sugar, oil, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla extract, and eggs. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute, scraping the bowl constantly with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Beat for 2 minutes more, scraping the bowl occasionally. Stir in the pecans by hand and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and ice with Cream Cheese-Pecan Icing.
Makes 15 servings.


Curried Fruit

July 27, 2007

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Dressed in this buttery, sweet curry sauce, even the most ordinary piece of fruit can hold its own against any Cheeseburger Pita, chili dog, or taco on the planet. Use any kind of fruit you’d like. I’ve never tried it on watermelon, but who knows? You might just invent a whole new taste treat. Let me know. SAM

4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 to 2 tablespoons water, as needed
2 bananas, sliced
1 cup blueberries
2 medium peaches, peeled, cored, and diced
2 pears, peeled, cored, and diced

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the sugar, stirring occasionally until dissolved. Add the curry powder and cook for 2 minutes, thinning with water if necessary. In a mixing bowl, combine the bananas, blueberries, peaches, and pears and add the curry sauce, tossing to coat.
Makes 8 servings.


Macaroni Salad

July 26, 2007

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On hot summer days, turn your favorite mac-and-cheese into a cool, refreshing salad. True, we’re adding salad-like things. And there’s not a lot a cheese. But the old, sweet comfort of macaroni is definitely the same—maybe better. ‘Come winter, we’ll figure out a way to bake macaroni salad. Hmmmm, that sounds good! SAM

8 ounces uncooked macaroni
6 large green onions and tops, thinly sliced, with 2 tablespoons of the tops reserved for garnish (3/4 cup)
2 hard-cooked eggs, roughly chopped
2 medium center ribs celery with leaves, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
4 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
1 (2-ounce) jar pimientos, sliced and drained
1/2 cup dill pickle relish, drained with 2 teaspoons of juice reserved
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
Salt and black pepper to taste
Paprika

Cook the macaroni according to the directions on the package and drain. In a large bowl, combine the macaroni, onions less the reserved tops, eggs, celery, bacon, Parmesan, pimientos, and relish. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, horseradish, mustard, and reserved relish juice. Stir into the macaroni mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with paprika and the reserved onion tops.
Makes 6 servings.


Tacos

July 25, 2007

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A sandwich by any other name just might be a taco. As with pita, you can put almost anything inside a taco shell, and contrast is the key. This is a yin-yang thing: hot-mild, fat-lean, smooth-crunchy, raw-cooked. Like structural anthropology but tastier. SAM

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pound ground beef
2 cloves garlic, pressed
Hot-pepper sauce to taste
Salt and black pepper to taste
12 taco shells
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup sour cream
1 cup guacamole
1/4 pound Cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)

In a heavy skillet over medium heat, sauté the onion in the oil until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the chili powder and cumin and sauté until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the beef, garlic, hot-pepper sauce, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the beef browns. Drain and divide among the taco shells. Top with lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, guacamole, and cheese.
Makes 12 tacos.


Hot Dogs with Chili and Cheese

July 24, 2007

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An easy-to-stir-together hot dog chili so good you can eat it by itself. Tuck this recipe away in your ‘Feeding the Five Hundred’ file. You can double, triple, or quadruple it for crowds. Sam

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and chopped (1 cup)
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 pound ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (10-ounce) can tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 tablespoon firmly packed dark brown sugar
8 hot dogs
8 hot dog buns
1/4 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)

In a heavy skillet over medium heat, sauté the onion and bell pepper in the oil until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the chili powder and cumin and sauté until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the beef, garlic, salt, and black pepper. Cook, stirring, until the beef browns. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, beans, sherry, and sugar. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Grill or broil the frankfurters until slightly blistered on all sides and heat the buns. Place the hot dogs in the buns, pour chili on top, and sprinkle with cheese.
Makes 8 servings.


Cheeseburger Pita with Beer and Bacon

July 23, 2007

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Who says a cheeseburger has to come in a bun! SAM

1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup dark beer
1/2 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 dashes hot-pepper sauce or to taste
Salt and black pepper to taste
8 slices bacon
2 pounds ground beef
4 pita rounds, cut in half
1/2 cup sour cream

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter and add the beer. When the mixture is warm, add the cheese and stir until melted. Add the Worcestershire sauce, sugar, curry powder, paprika, hot-pepper sauce, salt, and black pepper. Heat thoroughly but do not boil. Meanwhile, in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, fry the bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels and crumble. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon bacon grease and brown the ground beef in the same skillet. Drain and place in equal amounts inside the pita pockets. Pour the beer sauce on top and garnish with bacon and sour cream.
Makes 8 pitas.