Fire up the grill for kalbi

kalbi on grill2

Of course you can grill hot dogs and hamburgers at the Fourth of July barbecue. That’s what most people will expect.

There’s a whole world of great grilling traditions to explore, though, if you’d like to try something new.  One of the best is Korean-style barbecue with its sweet and spicy rendition of beef short ribs known as kalbi.

These are the same tasty, tender ribs you may have cooked over a tabletop grill in a Korean restaurant.   They’re almost as easy to make at home and they’re guaranteed to wake up the palates of guests expecting the old standards at the annual Independence Day festivities.  We’re such a diverse nation, who’s to say what’s American food now? Continue reading Fire up the grill for kalbi

Best of June in a crisp

rhubarb crisp2

Rhubarb, strawberries and cherries, oh my!

How I love this time of year, when my favorite fruits are in season.  (Let’s not quibble about rhubarb. It may be a vegetable, botanically speaking, but it cooks up like a fruit.)

I have no desire to spend hours in the kitchen fussing with this bounty, however.  A simple, old-fashioned crisp is just what’s called for when the days are long and the weather balmy.

Rhubarb is the star of this dessert.  Bright and sassy, its refreshingly sour flavor balances out all the sugar in the topping.  I like it paired with the soft, sweet flavors of ripe strawberries and cherries, but it works beautifully all by itself, too. A lively burst of fresh ginger adds character. Continue reading Best of June in a crisp

Savory hummus with favas

fava hummus

Yes, hummus traditionally is made with chickpeas.  Its name, in fact, is derived from the Arabic word for the little round legumes you might know as garbanzo beans.

So this dish doesn’t really qualify as hummus.  Yet fresh fava beans, with their faintly sweet, herbal flavor and beautiful pale green color, make such a terrific variation on the now familiar dip that it would be a  shame to get hung up on authenticity.

In the bowl, the savory spread may look a bit like guacamole, but in the mouth its antecedents are clear.  Garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and the creamy sesame paste called tahini bring classic flavors to this new take on the Middle Eastern original. Continue reading Savory hummus with favas

Wild and brown rice salad for summer

brown rice salad

Suddenly, the days are downright hot at our house and all we want to do for dinner is grill.

A couple of inventively seasoned handmade sausages from our favorite farmers market vendor, Chris LeVeque of El Salchiero, and some seasonal vegetables hot off the Weber make a terrific meal when the temperature hits 90 degrees on the deck.  But I always like to add some complex carbs to the mix, too.

This salad of whole grain rice and crunchy nuts is just right for those evenings.  It offers a fascinating mix of textures and flavors set off by a vibrant orange dressing.  Although it’s ideal for a warm evening at home, it would be just as welcome at a summer potluck. Continue reading Wild and brown rice salad for summer

Sweet cherries, terrific tart

cherries in bowl

June is here at last and in Northern California that means cherry season is in full swing.  I live for this time of year, when I can eat my fill of the sweet, juicy fruit that defines spring in my mind.

Already I’ve seen Brooks, Burlats and the occasional Royal Ann at the farmers market.  The glorious, winey Bings that I cherish are ripening in the orchards that still line the rural roads of Brentwood in Contra Costa County.  We’ll be heading that way later this week to pick our own, which always taste so much better.

The Bings will be terrific in this new tart recipe I’ve developed.  But the Brooks and Burlats have been exceptionally good, too.  And sour cherries should work well if you boost the sugar in the custard a bit. Continue reading Sweet cherries, terrific tart