July 27 – August 2, 2020
Monday: Pulled Pork with Via Carota’s Insalata Verde
Tuesday: Salad of Red Rice with Cherry Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Corn and Ricotta Salata
Wednesday: Soup of Zucchini with Parmigiano-Reggiano and Basil, Crostini of Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Ricotta
Thursday: Corn Salad with Jalapenos and Avocado
Friday: Dinner at Slavishes, after Golf: Watermelon with Ricotta Salata and Basil / Red Rice with Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Corn and Radishes and Grilled Steak
Sunday: Smoked, BBQ Chicken
Last week(end) was one of those high times – a gathering of friends that led to silliness, serious talk, great and mediocre golf, fine food and drink and a general feeling that we were on the top of our game, near the top of the world, and close to dancing on the tops of tables.
Dick and Hilly were up from LOPL (The Land of Pleasant Living – the Eastern Shore of Maryland), and deigned to play a round of golf with Tim and me on Friday (they are really good at that game), and Hilda and Barbara and Julie cooked and Lily did her canine “pet me” routine and we all had a delicious, candlelit dinner on the patio at Hilda and Tim’s. The food, though simple, was luxurious and plentiful – what we call a BIG FOOD meal.
We must be getting old, because after dinner, instead of the rather seductive dancing that we usually indulge in to the wee hours on these martini and wine-fueled occasions when Hilly and Dick visit, we were home and in bed before midnight.
Note: We also have usually followed the dancing by viewing Tim’s latest music concert obsession. In this way, Tim has introduced us to The Last Waltz, Talking Heads (Beez knew drummer Chris Franz in junior high), The Troubadour Lounge, the Bee Gees, and the large, profusely sweating Barry White (someone should tell him to take off that velvet jacket), among others. I should add that the indirect sponsor of these concerts is really my godson, Peter, who has worked in the music industry since college.
On Saturday, our friends headed to Bedfored Springs to celebrate Hilly’s birthday. (I’m not telling which birthday and, trust me, you could never guess by looking at her.)
At the BIG FOOD dinner on Saturday, Hilda’s horse-doovers and steak and Julie’s dessert were spectacular. And we don’t want you to tarnish their excellence by trying to duplicate them. You can’t – Hilda has a leisurely, attentive approach to hospitality and cooking that are inimitable. So we’ll take a break from BIG FOOD and share a salad we had earlier in the week.
This salad (and many others) come from a cookbook Hilda and Tim gave us which contains recipes from their favorite restaurant in Brooklyn: Franny’s. Although Franny’s is now defunct – the great food they cooked lives on through the cookbook and any dinners that you or we or others create therefrom.
So, in honor of Franny’s (and Peter – yes, he introduced them to Franny’s), here is a fine full meal salad for these dog-days of summer when you feel the need for a break from BIG FOOD:
RED RICE SALAD WITH CHERRY TOMATOES, CUCUMBERS, AND CORN
Adapted from Franny’s: Simple, Seasonal, Italian
Our first adaptation was to substitute regular white rice for red rice – but we kept the name because ‘red rice’ sounds more interesting. And, by all means, use the red rice (an unpolished, wild variety) if you can find it and like that taste. We think the comforting, creamy taste of hulled rice works better, since the cucumber, and radishes give plenty of crunch to the salad.
Timing: 40 minutes to one hour
Ingredients: Serves 4 for dinner, if you add some crostini or bread
1 cup Piedmont red rice – we used Giant Eagle white rice and would recommend it. When we used the wild rice, the salad was not nearly as luscious.
¾ cup mixed, halved red and gold cherry tomatoes (or just red or just gold)
½ cup corn kernels (we used about 1 cup – kernels from 2 large ears)
¼ cup diced cucumber (we used maybe ¾ cup)
¼ cup diced radishes
¼ cup sliced scallions
8 – 12 torn basil leaves
4 teaspoons chopped flat leaf parsley
4 ounces caciocavallo cheese, diced – we used Ricotta Salata, easily available and lending a nice salty kick to the salad
2 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar – with our larger quantity of rice and vegetables, we used, maybe 4 tablespoons
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil – again, we used more olive oil, just what looked and tasted right
Freshly cracked black pepper
Cook the rice – we cooked ours in chicken broth and added a tablespoon of butter and then seasoned with salt. When the rice is cooked, drain it (you may not need to do this, if you’ve nailed the cooking time) and spread out on a sheet pan to cool. Before it cools completly, drizzle it with the vinegar and 3 or 4 tablespoons of the olive oil
While the rice cools, chop the vegetables, tear the basil and husk the corn and slice the kernels off (no need to cook them).
Slice and break the cheese into bite-sized pieces or cubes.
Assemble the Salad:
Put the rice in a large bowl and toss with the tomatoes, corn, cucumber, radishes, scallions, herbs, cheese and another 3 tablespoons of olive oil or more. Season with salt, pepper and more vinegar to taste. Drizzle a bit more olive oil on top and serve.