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Monday, June 25, 2007

Flavor Up

This summer, as usual, I promise to eat beyond the typical American faire that goes on special circa Independence Day. I want you to do the same. Come with me as we go flavor shopping, just in time for the holiday. The name of the store we're going to is GINGER. Next door is the Cilantro Shoppe. Together, these flavors are bright as sparklers and burst on the palate like fireworks in the sky. And they are adored by all who gather at the table outside...kids wrapped up in beach towels or elders sitting back in lawn chair recalling their youth and how it tasted. Don't let this season pass by without cooking memories on the long, warm days of July.

Ginger and cilantro are just two of the flavors to explore this summer. What we typically eat seaside, by the lake, in the Heartland, in the backyard or at the park when July announces her ceremonious self only stand to be enhanced with their addition. I believe many summer foods stand out on their own enough to be non-garnished and served simply - a cracked open, crisp, fibrous melon, a coastal strawberry so sweet it makes you cry - but with all the vegetables, fruits and herbs springing from the ground, why should we?

Four (maybe five) kids chasing each other around my kitchen isalnd tonight, I poured a tall glass of red wine and read the grocery ad - apparently, the purveryors expect us to grill meats this season. Many of the typical staples - boneless, skinless chicken breasts and steak, "colossal" shrimp, are on sale and depicted with grill marks in the ads.

Bring it.

It's not that I dislike barbeque sauce, ketchup or cocktail sauce, really, I do - I just feel confined by them. I want salsas in all variations, I want reductions from sauteed shellfish. To start. And for the grilled chicken that I purchase, I'm making a Ginger-Cilantro-Tomato Relish to accompany when I tell my kids "We're out of Heinz." A mother has to get those 5-a-day in somehow.

I am sauteeing the ginger before I add the colossal shrimp to the pan, then tossing with rissoto. Some would call this fusion, I call it delicious. The edges of the diced ginger begin to caramelize, the shrimp turn pink as sunset, and when added to the creamy risotto, you will be hailed and begged to cook again come Labor Day.

What are summer cookouts about? Can they be reinvented without being irreverent? Just remember to throw the coarse grain salt over your shoulder, it'll be fine.

Add a little ginger, throw in some cilantro - some cooking mojo and plenty of sunshine, and you have all the reverence you can handle.

1 comment:

Kelleyskitchen said...

thank you for talking about my two favorite flavors-ginger and cilantro especially cilantro! :)
ginger is a huge staple here that 'ginger lemonade' is sold at a supermarket here-that's right a ginger drink with lemon!
it's quite strong of course but a good antioxidant for the body.