July 2 – July 8, 2018
Monday: Niçoise Toast
Tuesday: Brazilian Blue Plate Special
Wednesday: Fourth of July Cook-Out –
Guacamole with crudités and toasted Pita / Fromage Fort with Crackers and Cucumbers / Grilled Brats with peppers, onions and sauerkraut / Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwiches Corn Salad / Watermelon and Arugula Salad / Klondike Bars
Friday: Shrimp with Feta and Fennel
Saturday: Butcher’s Steaks with Garlic Butter
Sunday: App of Grilled Shrimp, Herb-marinated Grilled Chicken, Charred Corn with Compound Cream Cheese, Watermelon and Arugula Salad, Klondike Bars
You have heard, no doubt, of the Farm-to-Table movement in cuisine. Today, we’re going to deal with the far more prevalent Supermarket-to-Table reality of home cooking. The Niçoise Toast we had on Monday took a little preparation, but consisted mainly of bread from a store-bought loaf, tuna and mayonnaise from store-bought jars, and eggs from a store-bought carton. We’re all accustomed to making appetizers by putting tasty morsels and spreads on toast, but here is a complete and very filling meal.
But what, you may be asking, are Klondike Bars – store-bought and requiring no preparation, doing on the menu? Surely, Brillat-Savarin never wrote about Klondike Bars in The Physiology of Taste. Well, to begin with, Klondike bars had not been invented by the time that Brillat-Savarin was producing his typically French and snooty writing on food. They were invented (in Pittsburgh) in the 1930s by a family of Swiss-descended dairymen. Second, not being a chef, just a home cook, I sometimes take short-cuts: I confess to rarely baking my own bread, never roasting my own coffee, and not even thinking about raising and butchering my own cattle. Third, Klondike bars are fantastic. If you don’t like them you are in danger of becoming the kind of person who misses the opportunity to eat a hot dog when at a baseball game. Life, my friend, is too short for that sort of attitude.
But what is there to say in a cooking blog about a dessert of Klondike Bars? Well, stop peppering me with questions, sit down and listen and I’ll tell you. There is, to begin with, the choice of what type of Klondike. The choices used to be simple – Plain or Crispy. Crispy was the one with what seemed like tiny pieces of Cracker Jack in the chocolate shell. The choices have multiplied to include Klondikes with chocolate ice-cream (gauche), orange cream (ridiculous) and a version of Crispy where the bits in the chocolate shell are pieces of Heath Bar (brilliant). It should be obvious to any right-thinking American that you want, at the least, the Crispy Klondike. That extra crunch makes all the difference. And while I bow to no one in my rather rigid adherence to tradition and custom, let me suggest that, as Edmund Burke would have put it – a cook without the means to change his ideas is a cook without the means to preserve his cuisine – all of which is to say, go for the Health Bar Klondikes.
Well, I can hear SWMBO asking at this point, “Did you need to take up all that space to arrive at a conclusion you had already noted in the menu list for Sunday?” And who can deny that she has a point – indeed, who would ever deny (within her hearing) anything that SWMBO feels strongly about?
(Pssst! SWMBO has left the room and I can now share with you that, yes, I think the admittedly discursive and somewhat tortured thinking that went into choosing the Heath Bar Klondike, is important to share, and for two reasons. First, it really is the way my mind, admittedly not exactly the Rolls-Royce model of minds, works, and you might as well understand what you’re dealing with. Second, I think that my way of thinking is somewhat more prevalent than, say, Euclid’s.)
But wait, we’re not finished yet. The final consideration when serving or eating Klondike bars is – at what state of frigidity or deliquescence should these babies be eaten? Just out of the freezer is a little tough on most people’s teeth, leading to that feeling that you have just been stabbed between the eyes with an icicle. The other extreme – where the ice cream is so melted that it drips down your favorite Hawaiian shirt front is also to be avoided. Personally, I like them when there is still firmness to the ice cream, and the shell is at the point where it shatters when you bite into it, but then melts as soon as it hits your tongue. But I’d eat these babies at any temperature – like hot dogs, they are too good to be passed up.
NICOISE TOASTS WITH JARRED TUNA
(adapted from bon appétit ‘Summer Grilling,’ June/July 2018)
Timing: 25 minutes or less
Ingredients: Serves 4
2 6-8 oz. jars of drained, oil-packed tuna from Italy (buy the good stuff, it’s the star in this meal)
4 large eggs
1 lb. of tomatoes cut into 1” pieces (as small as 1/2’” will work – but you’ll need a very sharp knife)
1 medium shallot thinly sliced (we used a large shallot – we like them)
Juice of 1 lemon
Pinch of sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
4 slices of sourdough bread
4 Tablespoons of olive oil
For the aioli:
½ cup mayonnaise
1 finely grated garlic clove (we used maybe ¼ clove)
1 ½ Teaspoon Red Wine Vinegar
½ Teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika (substitute ¼ tsp of cayenne)
¼ cup of torn pitted oil-cured black olives (we used more)
Flaky sea salt and pepper
½ cup torn tender herbs (parsley, and dill are a must – we also used tarragon)
Drain the tuna
Toss the tomatoes with the sliced shallot, the lemon juice, a pinch of sugar and a pinch of salt in a bowl (reserve)
Make the aioli by whisky the garlic clove with the mayonnaise and red wine vinegar and hot pepper in a bowl
Prepare a bowl of ice water to cool the boiled eggs
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil and gently lower the eggs with a slotted spoon. Cook 8 minutes (we’re talking not completely hard-boiled here). Transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool.
When cool enough, peel.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium. Cook 2 slices of the sourdough until deeply bronzed on the bottom size – 3 minutes – transfer to a platter and sprinkle the fried side with kosher salt. Add another 2 tablespoons of oil to the skillet and repeat with the other 2 slices of sourdough bread.
Assemble and Serve:
Spread the aioli on the fried side of the bread slices.
Top with the tuna.
Spoon the tomato mixture with some of its juices over the tuna.
Cut the eggs into quarters and set them on the bread, seasoning with flaky sea salt and pepper.
Scatter the torn herbs and oil-cured black olives over everything.
Drizzle with good olive oil and serve.
EXTRA Klondike Bars
If you need instructions for this, you should be focused on more fundamental issues that what to cook for dinner tonight.