Vintage Velox tomato strainer is a priceless find

As my food processor largely lay idle over the past few years, I’ve relied more on my food mill.

Mine is a low-tech, hand-cranked, stainless-steel model with screens in three gauges that not only puree foods but simultaneously strain out foreign particles. Useful for mashed potatoes and silky soups, the mill provided some peace of mind while I made baby food from prunes and dried apricots that sometimes harbored pit fragments.

But even on its finest setting, the food mill couldn’t eliminate every coarse particle in a puree. For cane berries, I needed a fine-mesh sieve that removed too much pulp. Ditto for tomato sauces free of pesky seeds and core fibers.

I’d long since resigned myself to imperfect tomato sauces until my husband’s penchant for junk-sale shopping bore quite possibly its sweetest fruits to date. Spying a hand-cranked gadget of tomato-red, high-grade plastic, Will knew it was a good-quality piece even before he noticed the “made in Italy” stamp. That alone seemed worth the $2 price tag.

Sarah Lemon photo

A bit of Internet searching identified the World Super Velox as a tomato press and strainer with something of a cult following. Ours was a vintage model, at that, judging by the erstwhile Montedison company’s renown several decades ago for manufacturing Moplen polypropylene. Used models like ours can be had for about $30 on eBay. New ones are about $40 online.

Among the Velox’s most impressive features are an industrial-strength suction cup that wowed Will, even before research confirmed its 220 pounds of compression. Indeed, in the words of one reviewer, when the suction cup is engaged, it’s like the mill is bolted to the counter.

The gauge of the Velox’s single screen, perfect for tomato seeds, also is useful for those vexing cane berries. A quick test of unstrained raspberry puree revealed that the Velox captures the crunchy pips, even if the berry skins sneak through.

The Velox will prove itself, of course, as I replenish our freezer cache of tomato sauce. Another contraption that has captivated us over the past year, the pellet smoker would infuse a refined tomato sauce with a bit of rustic character. The following recipe, courtesy of Tribune News Service, provides instructions for wood-smoking with gas or charcoal grills, as well as pureeing the sauce with a blender or food processor.

Smoky Tomato Puree

1 cup mesquite or hickory wood chips

4 pounds perfectly ripe, small, round tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon salt

Prepare a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium hot. Soak wood chips in water for 15 minutes or more. Add drained chips to hot coals if cooking on charcoal. For gas grills, place drained wood chips on a piece of foil set directly over heat source.

Arrange tomatoes on grill directly over heat. Cover and grill, turning once or twice, until skin is slightly charred and blistered on all sides, for about 10 minutes. Transfer to a sheet pan.

When cool enough to handle, coarsely puree tomatoes (skin and all) with salt in a blender, food processor or food mill. Pack into small freezer containers. Label and freeze for up to several months.

Makes about 4 cups.

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Free-form pie evokes classic tomato sandwich

A surplus of cream cheese spurred me to rekindle a relationship with my food processor.

My neglect since last summer’s batches of pesto and baba ghanoush wasn’t intentional. Although an undisputed multitasker, a food processor just isn’t necessary in my daily cooking routine. But the appliance is about the only way to grind nuts fine enough to encrust cheesecake bars, detailed in a May post.

Pleased with those results, I’m finding fewer reasons to forgo a more traditional pate brisee, which I’ve made only once or twice in my food processor. Recipes like the one below that enrich basic pastry dough with cheeses, spices and other ingredients almost manage to convince me that they’re really not so much trouble.

But I think I’ll still keep a couple of boxes of frozen puff pastry on hand to make this free-form pie on the fly when garden tomatoes are at a surplus. Third place in last year’s Washington Post Top Tomato contest, Austin Williams conceived this savory tart as a riff on summer’s quintessential sandwich.

Photo by Dixie D. Vereen for The Washington Post

Parmesan BLT Galettes

4 large tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, divided

2 teaspoons coarse salt, divided

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided

2 1/4 cups flour

1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 cup regular or low-fat mayonnaise, divided

7 strips thick-cut hickory-smoked bacon

1 tablespoon finely chopped, fresh rosemary

1 1/2 cups arugula, for serving

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Core the tomatoes, then cut them into 3/4-inch slices, transferring them to a mixing bowl as you work. Add the oil, 2 tablespoons of the balsamic vinegar and 1 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper; toss to coat evenly.

Arrange slices in a single layer on prepared baking sheet; drizzle with liquid left in mixing bowl. Roast for 35 minutes, then cool. Drain juices. Tomatoes may be roasted a day or 2 in advance; refrigerate until ready to use.

Meanwhile in bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, 1/2 cup of the cheese, remaining teaspoon of salt and all the butter; pulse just enough to form a mixture that resembles a coarse meal. (Bits of butter should be no larger than peas.) Add 2 tablespoons of the mayonnaise and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper, pulsing just to incorporate.

With motor running, drizzle in 1/2 cup ice water; process to form a dough that comes together in a ball. If mixture remains crumbly, add up to 1/4 cup ice water, as needed. Dough should not be sticky. Transfer to plastic wrap and shape into a disc; wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (and up to 2 days).

Line a plate with paper towels. Use kitchen shears to cut the bacon into small strips (lardons), placing them in a medium skillet as you work. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring as needed. Increase heat to medium to finish browning and crisping bacon, which should take 5 to 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer bacon to paper-towel-lined plate to drain.

Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 400 F. Lay 2 sheets of parchment paper on work surface.

Divide dough in half. Roll out each portion of dough on its own parchment paper to a round 11 inches across (about 1/4 inch thick). Transfer each, on its paper, to its own baking sheet.

In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining cheese and remaining mayonnaise until well-blended; spread half of mixture on each dough round, leaving a 1-inch margin around edges.

Arrange roasted tomato slices in a circular pattern on each dough round, again leaving a 1-inch margin. Sprinkle with crisped bacon pieces and the rosemary. Fold dough in at edges all around. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes or until crust is well-browned, rotating baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through. Cool for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile in a bowl, toss the arugula with remaining balsamic vinegar and pepper. To serve, cut each galette into wedges, then top each wedge with dressed greens. Serve warm.

Makes 10 to 12 servings.

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Savory shortcakes show off summer tomatoes

Buoyed by some recent baking successes, I’m contemplating my kitchen canisters of flour and sugar with more inspiration.

I’ve admitted many times in this blog to being an indifferent baker. The words “haphazard” and “lackluster” also come to mind when I break out my KitchenAid stand mixer and cookie sheets. So homemade sweets are rare commodities in my family. Rarer still is when the treats turn out good enough that we’d make the recipe again.

My dessert jag kicked off the week before Fourth of July when we finally inaugurated a Cuisinart ice cream maker bestowed as a gift more than a year earlier. Because my 3-year-old son loves all things chocolate, he summoned commendable levels of patience to help me concoct the custard base, sieve it and cool it in an ice-water bath before finally churning it.

That process primed him to help a week later with patting an almond crust into a tart pan and straining blackberries for a cheesecake I adapted from a recipe posted in May. The basic concept is one I’d try with any seasonal fruit.

Locally grown peaches are candidates for both cheesecake and ice cream. But our first indulgence had to be cobbler, the biscuit topping borrowed from a recipe posted in 2010 to this blog. I was so delighted with both the ease of preparation — and the results — that I vowed to whip up more batches of biscuits.

An excellent place to start would be with these savory shortcakes. Another finalist in the Washington Post’s 2015 Top Tomato contest, this recipe defies classification as dessert. It’s an indisputably distinctive dish, no matter its placement on summertime menus.

Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post

Tomato Shortcakes

3 large tomatoes

1/4 cup olive oil

1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced

4 tablespoons chopped, fresh basil, divided, plus 8 small leaves for garnish

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

2 cups sifted flour, plus more for dusting

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

2 teaspoons sugar

8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

2/3 cup milk

Sour cream, for garnish

Plunge the tomatoes into a pot of boiling water to loosen skins. Peel, seed and chop, transferring tomato flesh to a mixing bowl along with the oil, garlic and 2 tablespoons of the chopped basil. Stir to combine, then season lightly with salt. Let mixture sit at room temperature while you make shortcakes. Yield is 2 1/2 cups.

Preheat oven to 425 F. Use an ungreased baking sheet, or line sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, sugar and ½ teaspoon salt. Add the butter; use your clean fingers or a pastry cutter to quickly work it in until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the cheese and remaining basil, then pour in the milk; stir with a fork to form a wet dough.

Lightly flour a work surface. Transfer dough there; knead gently, then pat or roll out to a thickness of 1/2 inch. Using a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out 12 to 16 rounds of dough, rerolling scraps as needed; place them on baking sheet, spaced at least 1 inch apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned on top.

Let shortcakes cool slightly, then cut them in half horizontally. Place 2 bottom halves on each plate. Spoon some tomato mixture on top of each one. Top with shortcake tops, then spoon more of tomato mixture on top. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a small basil leaf.

Serve warm.

Makes 6 to 8 servings (12 to 16 small shortcakes).

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Recipes, workshop whet appetites for tomatoes

The earliest tomatoes in my garden are just starting to show the faintest hint of peachy-pink blush.

So it’s a good time to plan for the season’s harvest and whet my appetite on some recipes in this week’s A la Carte. Garlic-mint tomatoes would be a tasty variation on our favorite bruschetta, particularly if served with feta cheese. The BLT with fried green tomato and egg likely would warrant raves from my husband. And tomato popcorn could be my new addiction if I can stash a few tomatoes in the dehydrator to transform them into a powdered seasoning.

These were just a few of the best recipes from an annual contest hosted by The Washington Post. It’s a challenge, for sure, to squeeze a dozen or so recipes onto newsprint. For that reason, local readers likely didn’t see last year’s winning dishes.

But just as tomatoes are biding their sweet time, I’ve been biding my time to celebrate the fruits of last year’s Top Tomato contest. The timing for the following dish, submitted by Laura Santana of Alexandria, Va., happens to coincide with the arrival of a locally raised lamb in my freezer. I can use last year’s frozen tomatoes to braise the shanks for a warming meal when temperatures dip this weekend.

Look for more tomato recipes here this month. And consider the crash course in tomatoes offered next Saturday, July 16, at Southern Oregon Research & Extension service. There are still some spots available.

Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post

Lamb Shanks With Tomato

8 to 10 large tomatoes

8 large cloves garlic (unpeeled)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 lamb shanks (about 4 1/2 pounds total)

1 large onion, peeled and coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh oregano

1 cup water (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 F. Have a shallow roasting pan at hand.

Combine the tomatoes and garlic in pan; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil and a dash of salt. Roast for 45 minutes, until fragrant and tomatoes have broken down and released their juices. Use tongs to pull off and discard as many tomato skins as possible.

Squeeze roasted garlic cloves from their skins into pan, discarding skins. Use a spatula or your clean hands to mash tomatoes and garlic together. Let mixture rest while you prep the lamb.

Season lamb shanks well with the salt and pepper.

Heat remaining tablespoon oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Once oil shimmers, add lamb shanks; sear until lightly browned all over, turning them as needed. Use tongs to transfer them to a plate.

Stir the onion into pot, adding a pinch of salt. Cook for about 8 minutes or until onion is barely translucent, stirring often. Add the oregano, then return the shanks to pot. Add tomato-garlic mixture; if tomatoes were ripe and juicy, there should be enough liquid to cover shanks. If not, add the optional 1 cup water. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours or until meat is quite tender, checking a few times to make sure meat is submerged. (It might fall off bone; that is OK.)

Taste, and adjust seasoning as needed. Discard bones and divide meat evenly if you’re creating 4 portions. Serve warm over pappardelle pasta, polenta or mashed potatoes.

Makes 2 to 4 servings.

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Tarragon is a natural in summer’s spud salads

It wouldn’t be Fourth of July without potato salad.

And it wouldn’t be my family’s typical holiday without making the side dish from scratch.

There’s no disputing that commercially prepared potato salads, in all their goopy glory, have a following — just not with me nor my kin. I had to suppress a gasp when my mom mentioned that, for the first time in her life, she was tempted to buy ready-made potato salad.

I’ll make the potato salad if you’re too tired, I offered. By way of reply, she sighed.

While Mom and I agree that potato salad worth eating must be homemade, we don’t see eye to eye on what constitutes the perfect recipe. She uses baking potatoes for the mealier texture that she enjoys. I use Yukon golds or other waxier varieties that don’t disintegrate into the dressing. Rather than suffer my preference, she managed to muster the energy to prepare it her way.

We do agree, at least, that pickles in potato salad must be dills, mayonnaise must be Best Foods and fresh herbs are a nice touch, if not essential. Although chives and parsley are my go-to choices for summer, tarragon is a natural with potatoes and may earn my endorsement before the season is over.

The following recipe from the Detroit Free Press does strike something of a balance between my salad with waxy spuds and my mom’s, which incorporates celery. Mayonnaise could be substituted for the sour cream, which would play up the lemon’s tang.

To avoid overcooking potatoes for salad try this method from the Free Press test kitchen and Food Network’s Ina Garten: Slightly undercook the potatoes, and drain them in a colander. Place the colander over a large pot, and cover the colander with a clean kitchen towel. Let them sit for 15 minutes, and the potatoes will steam and continue to cook.

Tribune News Service photo

Tarragon-Lemon Potato Salad

2 pounds new potatoes

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

1/2 cup sour cream

3/4 teaspoon chopped garlic

3/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon (or more to taste) lemon juice

2 tablespoons dill pickle relish

1 1/2 teaspoons dried tarragon or 4 teaspoons fresh (or to taste)

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the potatoes in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover them. Cover pot with a lid and bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes are pierced easily with tip of a knife, for 15 to 20 minutes.

Drain potatoes and let cool until you can handle them. When cool, cut them into quarters or halves, depending on size of potatoes.

In a large bowl, toss together the potatoes, celery and parsley. In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, dill pickle relish, tarragon, salt and black pepper. Pour dressing over potatoes and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Makes 6 servings.

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Falafel ‘hash’ is a forgiving alternative to fritters

Falafel, the Middle Eastern chickpea fritter, earned a recent mention in this blog.

Extolling the virtues of chickpeas, I revisited my family’s fondness for falafel, particularly when summer cucumbers, tomatoes and fresh herbs are handy in the garden. For a slightly richer version, I like to pair falafel in pita with sautéed summer squash, eggplant and mushrooms.

But one of the most satisfying variations is falafel as a salad. When I topped a big bed of greens with freshly fried chickpea fritters, a lemony-herby vinaigrette and pita croutons, I wondered why I hadn’t been doing it all along.

Achieving the perfect falafel texture has been my greatest challenge with this dish over the years. On more than one occasion, my fritters have started to fall apart. So I was intrigued to see this “hash,” which dispenses with forming falafel into patties and provides the textural contrast of mashed and whole chickpeas.

Served with a salad and roasted vegetables, this recipe originates with Purple Carrot, the first exclusively vegan meal-kit delivery service to hit the market. With components of roasted eggplant, tabbouleh, arugula and pita accompanying the hash, this plays like a mezze plate and also would make a nice, cold or room-temperature starter to summer meals.

Tribune News Service photo

Falafel Hash With Grapefruit-Arugula Tabbouleh

1/4 cup bulgur

Salt and pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

8 ounces eggplant

1 tablespoon za’atar

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas

1 onion

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Cayenne pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

Handful fresh parsley

2 lemons

1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)

2 whole-wheat pitas

1 grapefruit

2 ounces baby arugula

Handful fresh mint

Heat oven to 400 F. In a small pot, combine the bulgur, 1/2 cup water and pinch of salt; bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and let seep. Check for doneness in 15 minutes; water should be absorbed.

Grease a rimmed pan with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Rinse and trim the eggplant, then slice into 4-inch-long sticks. Spread out on pan, sprinkle with the za’atar and salt. Roast in preheated oven, turning once, until brown, for 20 to 30 minutes.

Put 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Drain and rinse the chickpeas; add to skillet. Trim, peel and chop the onion. Add to pan along with the cumin, coriander, baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne. Add the chopped garlic and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir mixture, then crush about half of chickpeas with a fork or masher. Cook, undisturbed, until bottom is crisp and brown, for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat.

Rinse, trim and dry the parsley, then chop leaves. Rinse and halve the lemons. Add parsley and juice of 1 lemon to chickpea mixture, stir, taste and adjust seasoning. In small bowl, whisk together the tahini, juice of 1/2 lemon, 2 tablespoons water and a sprinkle of salt and pepper; let sit. Wrap the pitas in foil and warm in oven, for 5 to 10 minutes.

Transfer cooked bulgur to a large mixing bowl. Rinse and peel the grapefruit, cut flesh from core and chop it, removing any seeds. Rinse, dry and chop arugula as finely as you like. Rinse and dry the mint; strip leaves from stems and chop them. Add grapefruit, arugula, mint, juice of 1/2 lemon, remaining 1 tablespoon oil and a pinch of salt and pepper to bowl. Toss well, taste and adjust seasonings.

Serve tabbouleh with falafel hash and eggplant alongside; pass pitas and tahini sauce at the table.

Makes 2 to 3 servings.

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Sweet peas, sesame make stunning summer salad

An update on the standard picnic spread’s sandwiches, watermelon and potato salad sets the tone for summer in this week’s A la Carte.

My family’s favorite fresh corn salad would be right at home alongside the black bean salad and “walking chicken tacos” suggested in this week’s story. Like beans, it holds up well in the Rogue Valley’s heat and maintains its texture when dressed several hours ahead.

But before local sweet corn comes on strong, fresh peas could merit the same type of cold salad, perfect for picnics and outdoor dining. The combination of shelling and snap peas in the same dish constituted a recent post to this blog.

While that pasta could be served cold as a salad, this recipe from the Kansas City Star would be a light and sweetly refreshing addition to early summer menus. Once the season for peas has passed, it still would be worthwhile with frozen peas and bagged snap peas found in most supermarkets.

Tribune News Service photo


Peas With Sesame Vinaigrette

2 cups freshly shelled peas or frozen peas, partially thawed and drained

2 cups (8 ounces) sugar snap peas, trimmed

1 medium rib celery, finely chopped

1 medium shallot, peeled and finely chopped

2 teaspoons brown sugar

4 teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar

1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon dark sesame oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Pour lightly salted water into a medium saucepan to a depth of about 1 inch. Heat to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the peas and cook for 2 minutes. Add the snap peas and cook for 2 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Drain and rinse with cool water, drain and place peas in a serving bowl. Stir the celery and shallot into peas.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle vinegar mixture over peas to coat.

Serve immediately, or if desired, cover, refrigerate and serve chilled.

Makes 6 to 8 servings (total 4 cups).

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Chickpeas have crispy, crunchy snack potential

As a candidate for meatless meals, chickpeas are just one of so many legumes, mentioned in a previous post to this blog.

But the chickpea’s status is elevated when it comes to snacking. All those tubs of supermarket hummus have done more for chickpeas’ pop-culture following than millennia of cultivation by humans. Satisfying the craving for thick, rich and creamy foods, hummus shows no sign of falling from the favor it’s only recently earned with Americans.

So it’s the prime time, particularly during the International Year of Pulses, to enjoy chickpeas’ crunchy, crispy side. The fritters known as falafel are a quintessential preparation, one I explained in a 2007 post. Years later, I’ll concede that commercially made falafel mix is fine in a pinch. But I prefer these days to use fresh chickpeas.

For an even quicker crunch fix, simply oven-roast whole, fresh chickpeas. A recipe in the current issue of Oregon Healthy Living calls for coating them in a batter of panko, which heightens their appeal with kids and anyone skeptical of munching handfuls of beans.

Like kale chips, however, roasted chickpeas are positively addictive once you try them. They have a fraction of the fat in nuts, plus more fiber. And they can be seasoned any way you like.

The following recipe from Washington Post suggests the Indian spice blend chaat masala. Or try za’atar, Chinese five-spice, ras el hanout, dukkah, Old Bay, Spanish smoked paprika, nutritional yeast or anything else that strikes your fancy.

Roasted chickpeas can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Photo by Dixie D. Vereen for The Washington Post

Spiced Roasted Chickpeas

3 cups home-cooked chickpeas, or no-salt-added, canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained (from two 15-ounce cans)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed

1 tablespoon chaat masala or spice blend of your choice (see headnote)

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Dry the chickpeas thoroughly on paper towels by gently rolling them, then spread chickpeas in a single layer on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and toss to coat, then sprinkle with the salt. Roast in preheated oven, shaking pan occasionally, until golden-brown and crisp on outside, for 20 to 30 minutes.

Remove from oven. Taste and sprinkle with more salt as needed, then season with chaat masala (or another spice), tossing or stirring until chickpeas are evenly coated.

For maximum crispness, serve warm; once chickpeas have cooled, they will less be crisp but addictively chewy.

Makes 12 servings (makes about 3 cups).

Adapted by the Washington Post from recipes at PulsePledge.com and at TheKitchn.com.

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Bottled barbecue sauces rarely omit liquid smoke

Barbecue-season tips fill this week’s food section. Whether the fuel is charcoal or gas, the top-10 list supplied by Weber grillmeister Jamie Purviance should help backyard cooks fine-tune their craft this summer.

When it comes to grilling, one tenet holds true: Where there’s fire, there’s smoke. Liquid smoke, that is.

Among the hundreds of commercially prepared barbecue sauces, liquid smoke is a ubiquitous ingredient. Such was the lament of longtime reader Chris G., who emailed several weeks back to inquire if I knew of a liquid smoke-less brand of sauce.

My first inclination, of course, was to suggest making her own sauce. It’s a straightforward process with room to perfect the flavor profile according to preference. But out of curiosity, I Googled “barbecue sauce no liquid smoke” and several variations on the phrase. The search returned plenty of recipes, but no references to bottled sauces lacking liquid smoke.

What say you, readers? Any recommendations?

In the meantime, here is a versatile sauce traditionally used on pork in North Carolina. It makes enough for one good-size shoulder or butt for pulled pork, according to Detroit Free Press recipe testers. Or try it as a marinade for country-style ribs. Refrigerate them for 24 hours and then slow-roast them, basting with more sauce.

Barbecue, basting or mop sauces historically hail from specific regions. South Carolina has vinegar-and-mustard-based sauces, St. Louis favors tomato-based sauces while Kansas City, Mo., boasts an even sweeter version. And Alabama has a lesser-known, mayonnaise-based, white barbecue sauce.

But Purviance, author of “Weber’s New American Barbecue: A Modern Spin on the Classics” (Hougton Mifflin Harcourt, $24.99), says sauces no longer define their traditional areas as chefs and barbecue cooks nationwide put their own touch on barbecue according to their roots and experiences.

Tribune News Service photo

Carolina Eastern-Style Barbecue Sauce

3 tablespoons crushed red pepper

3 tablespoons freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons of salt

1/4 cup molasses

4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 quart of white vinegar

In a large bowl, mash together crushed red pepper, ground black pepper, salt, molasses and garlic. Stir in the vinegar; mix. Allow to stand for several hours. Use as a marinade or basting sauce for pork.

Makes 3 cups.

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Combine shelling, snap peas in the same dish

The season for garden peas is upon us, just one reason I’m grateful for recently cooler temperatures. Peas are notoriously intolerant of heat waves. But who isn’t when it’s just two weeks into June?

Freshly picked and shelled, English pea varieties need little in the way of cooking. Just toss them into pasta, rice, soup or other hot dishes for just a few seconds to warm through. Or sprinkle them raw over salads or a side dish of cottage cheese.

Because I rarely amass enough shelling peas to serve as a side dish on their own, they often mingle in my cooking with snap peas. I like both the contrast in textures and visual interest of incorporating the two together, most recently in a pasta dish with shrimp. The following recipe from the Chicago Tribune is similar to mine, only with the inclusion of green garlic, rather than the juicy, just-harvested cloves that I used.

Gemelli With Shrimp, Peas and Green Garlic

Tribune News Service photo

In a large pot of well-salted, boiling water, cook 1 pound gemelli pasta until al dente; drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet; add 1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined. Cook, turning once, until just cooked through, for 3 minutes; remove.

Stir in 6 green garlic stalks (or green onions), chopped; 2 cups peas; 1 cup dry white wine; and salt and red-pepper flakes to taste. Simmer just until peas are tender, for 2 minutes.

Stir in shrimp and drained pasta. Add some pasta water if mixture seems dry.

Makes 6 servings.

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    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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