Posts tagged summer

You go, grill

It’s way too hot outside (112 degrees F/44 degrees C — Can you believe it?), but we’re grilling anyway.

It’s typical, unsurprising fare. No pizzas on the grill or fish on Himalayan salt blocks, no paella or stuffed poblanos — nothing as adventurous as all that. We’ll get there, later.

For now it’s back to basics. And who can blame us when we’ve found the season’s first sweet, white corn? And when it’s been way too long since we’ve had a decent (salmon or beef) burger, fixed up a bit sloppy with layers of avocado and tomato and cheese? (See here for a little cheeseburger-in-Paris inspiration.)

Now, what are you grilling?

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Tomato snob

I don’t know tomatoes. I suppose I know them enough. I eat them and love them and know not to buy them in January, when their bright waxy redness is a little too Stepford.

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But I don’t know tomatoes, at least the be-all-end-all heirlooms. I have no academic knowledge informing me of the distinctions between Mortgage Lifters and Cherokee Purples, between White Wonders and Green Zebras. I’m not a hands-in-dirt kind of person (I have yet, as a card-carrying adult, to grow a single vegetable), the type who might be handy at identifying Brandywines or Black Krims. (And what might those of esteemed tomato knowledge be called anyway? Tomateys [following the pattern of ‘wineys’]? Tom Snobs? They’re out there, self-importantly tomato-name dropping.)

I may be ignorant, but I’m blissfully buying these tomatoes anyway. The girls and I wandered head-on into a great jumble of heirlooms in giant cardboard bins at the market the other day. Of course we stocked up, making our selections based on this quirk or that lump, this variegation or that dottiness. We bought more than we thought we could eat, because how could we choose? This petite yellow pointy one or this weighty burgundy one?

And, even though we don’t know the names of what we’re eating, we’re being rewarded for our dauntless sampling of these tomatoes in all their ornamental and flavor diversity.

The remarkable thing, the thing I can’t stop marveling over? Each tomato tastes different, and none taste just plain ‘tomato.’ One had a rich, winey taste. Another was almost beefy, if that’s possible. One had a definite sour punctuation.

So although names have poetic and practical place, who cares what these tomatoes are called when they taste so good? I’m not about to stop dripping tomato slush down my chin to check my heirloom tomato flashcards.

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Rescue me

[Recipe: Summer Shrimp Tacos]

Nothing says summer — other than a hearty slab of watermelon — like shrimp tacos.

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Not that I need anything to say, “summer,” to me. The sun is blaring it loud and clear with its constancy. My day lilies are hoarsely muttering it, parched after I left them for three long weeks to be tended by an unreliable sprinkler system. Yes, it’s a Southwest summer (read: 110-degree highs), and I’m stranded in the middle of a desert heat island with nothing to rescue me but a bowlful of sticky limes and a freezer full of shrimp.

What we all need in times like these is a good cool-me-down dish. This one’s a no-cook no-brainer, fresh-tasting and mildly spiced.

And it couldn’t be more perfect than when chased by a slice or two of watermelon.

Summer Shrimp Tacos

Serves 4

I’ve never been heavy-handed when it comes to mayo in my seafood. I added a touch here to hold everything together, but in no way does it overpower the other flavors. Need a nice accompaniment? Use your leftover cilantro in a corn and black bean salad.

Whole wheat or corn tortillas

1 lb small cooked shrimp

2 tbsp yogurt or mayonnaise

1 jar salsa (a less chunky variety works best)

juice of 1 lime

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tbsp chopped cilantro

Sea salt

1 C finely chopped cabbage

1 C shredded jack cheese

1 avocado, sliced

1/4 C red onion, chopped

In a medium bowl whisk together yogurt or mayonnaise, 2 tbsp of the salsa, lime juice, garlic and cilantro. Stir in shrimp and cabbage, then add sea salt to taste (try 1/2 tsp to start).

Divide shrimp mixture among warmed tortillas. Top with cheese, avocado and red onion. Serve with more salsa.

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