Appetizer

Grilled Tomatillo Salsa (Video)

The docks were put away this weekend and we've started talking about closing up the Cape house. I'm trying not to think about it too much. As much as I love fall, I'm not ready for summer to be over. So, I'll just continue grilling and mixing gin and tonics and wearing shorts and flip-flops until the very end. 

Salsa fresca used to be one of my favorite warm-weather treats until I started making salsa verde. Tomatillo and jalapeño are grilled and then blended with garlic, cilantro and lime juice. It's a little tart and sweet and spicy. You can dunk tortilla chips in or spoon it over fish tacos or scrambled eggs or serve it with some rice and beans and grilled peppers. Point being: you can put it on just about anything. 

TOMATILLO IMAGE.jpg

Grilled Tomatillo Salsa

Ingredients
1 lb tomatillo, husks removed
1 jalapeño
1/8 cup cilantro leaves
1 garlic clove
Salt
Juice of 1/2 lime.
Olive oil

Directions
Place the tomatillo and jalapeño in a mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat. 

Preheat grill on high for 5 minutes. Place tomatillo and jalapeño on grill and cook, turning occasionally, until charred on each side and the tomatillo gets softer (but not totally mushy). Remove from heat.

Transfer tomatillo and jalapeño to the bowl of a blender. Add cilantro, garlic clove, lime juice, and salt. Pulse until completely blended.

Pour into a bowl and serve with tortilla chips.

Cucumbers in Garlic Sauce

Towards the end of our first date, Eric and I went to a gay bar in the South End. We ordered gin and tonics (or, as our bartender poured them, a glass of gin with a splash of tonic) and found ourselves a table. As we'd already covered most of the big topics... where we grew up, stories from our childhood... it was time to get creative with our conversation. "What's your favorite food?" I asked him. Seemed like a good question. I expected his answer to be ice cream or pizza. You know, something normal. "Cucumbers," he said. Cucumbers. I was intrigued. "Why cucumbers?" He looked at me, shrugged, and said, "I don't know. I just really like cucumbers." I let it go, but I just couldn't believe that of all the deliciousness out in the world, cucumbers was his favorite food.

After all these years of being together, I can honestly say the man loves his cucumbers. Pickled are preferred, but he'll take them however he can get them. His mom makes a cucumber salad that I'm obsessed with (and my parents have become fans too). And we have our new go-to app from our favorite Chinese restaurant that's cucumbers in garlic sauce. This sweet-garlicky (and just a touch spicy) creation is totally addictive and we can't help but order it every time. I figured, though, that it was time that I learn how to make it myself. So, here we have it... my adapted version. Technically, it's vegetarian (take out the fish sauce) and it could easily be made nut-free. And for those who are adverse to cilantro (like Eric), that can be removed too. But I think all three make for a really fantastic combo.

CUCUMBERS IN GARLIC SAUCE

NOTE
One could peel the cucumbers or use Persian cucumbers if you prefer less skin. I prefer the crunch that the skin provides.

SERVINGS
3-4 as a side

INGREDIENTS
3 cucumbers, ends trimmed
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons, soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce, optional

Chopped peanuts, optional
Chopped cilantro, optional
 

DIRECTIONS
1. Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and discard. Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise again and then cut into 2-inch long pieces. Place the cucumber into a bowl and sprinkle with salt and garlic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes. Drain any liquid that has come from the cucumbers. Transfer to a serving bowl.

2. In a bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce (if using) and sugar. Pour the dressing over the cucumbers and stir to coat. Sprinkle red pepper flakes on top, along with the chopped peanuts and cilantro. Serve immediately. 

Sweetened Black Bean Dip with Yogurt and Pomegranate

I've never had much of a desire to make black bean dip.  If I'm going the bean route, it's going to be hummus. Rich and creamy hummus. I haven't met one that I didn't like. However, my views on this have recently changed and I have Bon Appetit to thank for that.  Driving down to New Jersey for Thanksgiving, I started flipping through the pages of the November issue and I came across a little piece about ways to improve on bean dips. And there were some suggestions I'd never thought of... like adding a drizzle of maple syrup on top. So, before the big feast I served a white bean dip with maple. And it was a HUGE hit. Never again would I make one without the inclusion of something sweet. 

I started thinking about what else I could do. I thought about the often forgotten black bean dip and how I could spruce it up. In my mind, I began to build the bowl. The dark puree on the bottom contrasted with some tangy yogurt. Some maple and pomegranates. And a sprinkle of parsley to finish it off. 

SWEETENED BLACK BEAN DIP WITH YOGURT AND POMEGRANATE

SOURCE
Inspired by the November 2016 issue of Bon Appetit


INGREDIENTS
1, 16 oz can black beans, drained of liquid and beans rinsed
1 garlic clove, minced
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
Salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

Pita chips

DIRECTIONS
Using a food processor, puree the black beans, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, 1/4 teaspoon salt and cumin. With the machine running, drizzle in 1 tablespoon of water to thin out the dip. Puree until smooth.

Transfer black bean mixture to a serving bowl.  Make a well in the center of the black bean mixture and scoop in yogurt. Drizzle maple syrup on top. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds on top, followed by chopped parsley. 

Serve with pita chips.