Monthly Archives: June 2014

Shop Hard, Cook Easy

If you buy the best seasonal ingredients you won’t have to do much to them. That’s the constant refrain of the chefs I interview and those quoted in all the food magazines.

Intellectually I knew that to be true, but I really believed it in my gut when I tasted the tiny, fresh-from-the-farmer’s-market Tristar strawberries that someone brought to a dinner-hour planning meeting of a food organization I attended last night. They were memorably succulent and flavorful, and not just due to the particular species but as much to the fact that they were at their peak.

Some people brought prepared dishes or wonderful treats they’d purchased at retail stores, and all of them were good. But those strawberries, which needed nothing more than to be washed, dried and popped in the mouth, stand out in my mind.

That’s a lesson I’ll try to remember now that the summer growing season is upon us and farmer’s markets are flourishing. It follows that selective shopping can make pulling together a delicious company meal a lot easier.

Can’t Top These Lids

I discovered Charles Viancin® products at a cookware shop on a ski vacation last year and have enjoyed using the lid I purchased all winter. But it occurred to me that it would be especially useful at an outdoor summer party, so much prettier and more functional than plastic wrap for protecting and insulting hot and cold dishes.

Made of silicone, the lid withstands temperatures from -40 degrees to 428 degrees Fahrenheit and it instantly adheres to any rounded container, creating an airtight, waterproof seal. My lid resembles a lily pad, but there are a variety of other artful shapes, inspired by nature, from a sunflower to a snowflake.

Aside from these decorative toppers, the company manufactures many other innovative items that may interest you. Check out the link below to view the whole collection and find a dealer. And, no, in case you’re wondering, this is not a paid advertisement, nor is any entry in which I praise a product.

Sweet Story

Although there were an unusually broad assortment of tempting desserts on display at the community supper held last Saturday in our country town, one had everyone at my table buzzing. It was a platter of what appeared to be thinly sliced coffee cake accompanied by a strawberry sauce.  Buttery and redolent of cinnamon, the cake soaked up the sweet, minty sauce, and the result was a revelation. A neighbor named it the best dessert he’d ever eaten. I had to have the recipe.

When I finally located the woman who had contributed the dessert and begged her to tell me how it was made, first she laughed. Then she explained that the babka was a gift from her dad, who had purchased it from some bakery a few months ago and that it had been stored in her freezer ever since.

She had created the sauce, however, making a simple syrup by combining water, sugar and a little honey, cooking them until the sugar melted and adding some chopped mint. Since she wanted the thickly cut strawberries to seem fresh, she just poured the warm syrup over the fruit without cooking it.

Why am I telling you this story? I’m not sure. Take from it what you wish, if only the suggestion for the sauce.  Perhaps, I’m hoping to remind you…and myself…that something very quick and simple can be very good.