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The Everyday Gourmet

Summer ad-libs

Aug. 4, 2011

By Kim Dannies

 

There has been an alarming increase in the things I can no longer remember or that I know nothing about. That goes double for culinary information. That’s why summertime is perfect for glancing through cookbooks and magazines, and for putzing around the kitchen — I start to remember old tricks, techniques, and even come up with some new and better ways of doing things.

 

Gazpacho

Take for example my last batch of gazpacho. I poured a 64-ounce bottle of V-8 vegetable juice into a large bowl. I diced up a medium-sized zucchini, a yellow squash, and a sweet onion and tossed them in. Then I added 4 minced garlic cloves, 1/3 cup of red wine vinegar, a pinch of salt, and a few shakes of red pepper flakes. Finally, I cube-cut a ripe avocado and stirred that in. With a small dollop of crème fraiche, the soup was fabulous and refreshing. But whoops — I had forgotten to add tomatoes! You know what? The soup had a nicer texture and stayed fresher much longer without the tomatoes. Go figure.

 

Grilled Caesar chicken

This chicken dish happened because it was raining so hard. I pounded 5 boneless chicken breasts flat and set them in my favorite quickie marinade, Ken’s Lite Caesar Dressing. The pouring rain made me grumpy, so I placed the chicken in a roasting dish, doused it with ½ cup vermouth, sealed it in foil and popped it into the oven on 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Then my hubby arrived ravenous. It had stopped raining, so I finished the chicken off on a hot grill. OMG — the result was the juiciest, most delicious grilled chicken, ever.

 

Radishes

My new best friends this summer are radishes. When they are sweet and crunchy fresh from the farmers’ market, they can go into just about any dish. My go-to combination is a mix of fresh parsley, steamed multi-colored new potatoes, chopped radish and a luxurious compound herb butter. I’ve been mixing up batches with Vermont Creamery’s 86 percent butterfat butter, lemon zest, sage and thyme. As my mom likes to say, “This stuff would taste good on a fender.”

Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France.  She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three twenty-something daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.