Cooks Corner

Garden recipes put summer’s fresh bounty in a bowl

#summerinabowl: Corn salad with tomato and avocado.
#summerinabowl: Corn salad with tomato and avocado. TheLatinKitchen.com

What do you imagine as summer in a bowl? Do you have a recipe to share?

When I saw this appetizing blend of fresh corn off the cob, tomatoes, avocado and a little nip from jalapeño with the #summerinabowl hashtag, I was hooked. It was exactly what I needed as a side for an al fresco party. Best of all, you make it in a flash. The only thing that could make this better would be grilling the corn, if you have the time.

Another absolute show-stopper in that theme is this gorgeous black rice salad, perfect as we swing into mango season. (And you can change it up with any fruit or vegetables that suit).

Black rice, once served only to Chinese royalty, makes for a visually stunning background for summer produce. You can find it online, or at Asian and specialty markets. I’d never tried it before but besides the visual impact the rice also has antioxidants and a great texture.

The recipe is from a wonderfully different take on Jewish cooking, The Silver Platter by Daniella Silver, with tips from Norene Gilletz. The cookbook combines modern takes on food and health and kosher cooking. So you’ll find old-school brisket brightened with balsamic vinegar accompanied by tips on how to make it in a slow cooker, with notes that it freezes well, is gluten-free and is suitable for Passover.

Every recipe has that kind of detail — from Roasted Asparagus with Poached Eggs, to Chunky Chili and Sesame Ginger Chicken, and even child-friendly offerings such as Halibut Fish Sticks. The presentations are fabulous yet the recipes are straightforward and uncomplicated and use mostly easy-to-find ingredients. Two recipes I’ve already marked are Apple Cranberry Couscous and Fudgy Pretzel Brownies.

For dessert summer in a bowl, try pairing a scoop of vanilla ice cream beside these grilled peaches — fast but fabulous. It’s from Melissa Cookston, arguably the best woman chef specializing in barbecue.

“I’m big on different flavors in the same dish,” she says. “This has the sweetness of the brown sugar, the luxurious freshness of the peaches, and a little kick in the back from the cayenne.”

This would work just as well with mangoes (though the prep of course would be messier!) and perhaps a little splash of dark rum at serving time.

No taste of summer would be complete without a charred burger, so I’ll pass along some grilling tips from celebrity chef Michael Symon, a frequent winner at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival’s Burger Bash. His entry this year featured this bison burger (though the top prize this year was snagged by multiple-time Bash winner Josh Capon of Lure Fishbar in Miami Beach).

▪ Pay attention to temperature. Heat up your grill, with the lid down, for 20 to 30 minutes prior to grilling. This is a good time to take out your meat or poultry, which should be at room temperature before it is cooked. Begin grilling your protein on high heat to give it some char, then finish on low heat so it’s juicy and doesn’t burn. After grilling, let your protein rest to ensure it retains these flavorful juices.

▪ Don’t over-season. Season simply to showcase the meat or veggies: kosher salt, ground black pepper, plus a drizzle of olive oil to help it sear.

▪ Resist the temptation to flip. Whether you’re cooking protein or veggies, you should only turn your food over once when grilling. Allow your food to develop a wonderful char on one side before moving or flipping it.

Tried and New

Before boarding a recent cross-country flight I found myself paying $5 for a handful of grapes and $4.50 for a tiny cup of hummus and chided myself for not being better prepared.

So when I spotted Sargento’s new Balanced Breaks in the supermarket dairy aisle I picked them up for my next trip. You get sealed plastic trays with cheddar or pepper jack cheese cubes on one side and a toss of almonds, peanuts or cashews and dried cranberries or raisins on the other. Small enough to stash in a purse or carry-on, perfect for road trips, and yet packing 7 grams of protein and under 200 calories. A three-pack is $3.69.

Send questions and responses to LindaCiceroCooks@aol.com or Food, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172.

What’s your #summerinabowl inspiration? Tweet @MiamiHeraldFood with your ideas for a chance to win a new cookbook or other prize.

Corn Salad with Tomato and Avocado

2 cups cooked corn kernels (about 3 large ears)

14 grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise

3 green onions, sliced thinly crosswise

1 jalapeño, minced

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 ripe avocado, peeled, seeded, diced

In medium bowl combine corn, tomatoes, green onions, jalapeño and cilantro and mix well. Add red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and mix to combine. Add avocado and mix gently until well combined. Serve cold or at room temperature. Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 234 calories (58 percent from fat), 16.4 g fat (2.3 g saturated, 11 g monounsaturated), 0 cholesterol, 9.1 g protein, 30.0 g carbohydrate, .7 g fiber, 604 mg sodium.

Source: Maria Amalia Garza for the TheLatinKitchen.com.

Black Rice with Mango, Pomegranate and Avocado

3 cups lightly salted water

1 1/2 cups black rice, rinsed and drained

2 ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted, and diced (about 2 cups)

3/4 cup pomegranate seeds

4 green onions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1 ripe Hass avocado

Dressing:

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup pomegranate or orange juice

2 tablespoons honey or agave

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add rice; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 35-40 minutes. The rice should be tender but slightly chewy. Remove from heat, let stand, covered, for 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a large serving bowl; let cool. Add mangoes, pomegranate seeds, scallions, and basil to the serving bowl.

Dressing: Combine ingredients for dressing in a glass jar; seal tightly and shake well. Shortly before serving, peel, pit, and dice avocado. Add avocado and dressing to rice mixture; toss gently to combine. Serve at room temperature. Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: 290 calories (38 percent from fat), 13.0 g fat (1.6 g saturated, 8.2 g monounsaturated), 0 cholesterol, 4.2 g protein, 43.5 g carbohydrate, 5.1 g fiber, 55 mg sodium.

Source: “The Silver Platter” by Daniella Silver with Norene Gilletz. Reprinted with permission from ArtScroll/Mesorah Publications.

Bison Burger with Blue Cheese

1 pound ground bison, loosely packed into burger patties

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 slices blue cheese (Castello offers a convenient sliced version)

4 brioche-style soft hamburger buns, toasted

1 small red onion, very thinly sliced into rings

1 cup arugula

Heat grill to medium-high heat. Season burgers with salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides. Drizzle with olive oil, then place on grill. Cook 3 minutes, then flip. Add slices of blue cheese (1 slice per burger), and let cook another 1-2 minutes. Remove burgers from grill and place patties on toasted buns. Top each burger with slice of red onion and 1/4 of the arugula. Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 605 calories (50 percent from fat), 33.4 g fat (11.8 g saturated, 14.7 g monounsaturated), 146 cholesterol, 37 g protein, 39 g carbohydrate, 1.7 g fiber, 826 mg sodium.

Source: Chef Michael Symon.

Cayenne Grilled Peaches

4 peaches

3 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cayenne

Whipped cream for serving

Prepare a hot grill. Cut the peaches in half and remove the pits. In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, vanilla, and cayenne. Place the peach halves in a baking dish cut side up and spoon the sugar mixture over the peaches. Allow to sit for 20 minutes or until the sugar dissolves.

Place the peaches on the grill skin side down and cook for about 3 minutes or until they develop some char and the sugar is slightly set. Turn over and grill for 1 minute, then quarter turn them to develop a nice diamond-shaped grill mark. Remove, place on serving plates, and serve with a dollop of whipped cream. Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: 44 calories (4 percent from fat), 0 g fat (0 g saturated, 0 g monounsaturated), 0 cholesterol, 0.7 g protein, 10.6 g carbohydrate, 1.2 g fiber, 0 mg sodium.

Source: “Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room: Southern Recipes from the Winningest Woman in Barbecue” by Melissa Cookston (Andrews McMeel Publishing).

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