Category Archives: Cookbooks

Make the Most of Summer

Here In Franklin’s Table has been sadly neglected. It probably would’ve just faded away if not for Nimpipi and her funny comments about it. So from Franklin to New Delhi, this is for you.

I don’t know of any two vegetables that say Tennessee summer louder than yellow squash and tomatoes. I know you can buy them all year ’round, but you shouldn’t. Let the potatoes rule in winter, give summer to the yellow squash and tomatoes.

Here’s a meal that makes the most of summer.

Grilled Mediterranean Chicken

(from this fabulous cookbook–you should get one if you’re always looking for new chicken ideas)

1/2 cup olive oil

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1 medium onion, chopped (white or yellow, not red)

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 good-sized ripe tomatoes

1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried

1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper

Combine all these ingredients. Put half in a nonaluminum bowl or shallow dish and half in a small sauce pan.

Add chicken pieces of your choice–the recipe calls for 1 whole chicken, cut up, but I don’t think there’s enough marinade for that. I use this amount for four thighs.

An aside on chicken parts–if you make this with boneless, skinless breasts, then you have no soul.

Coat the chicken with the marinade and refrigerate for 2-4 hours. Turn the chicken every now and then.

Yum. Raw chicken.

Remove the chicken from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking. Fire up the grill and cook the chicken, skin side down, for a couple of minutes. Baste and then turn when it’s got good color. Cook on side two for a couple of minutes and then move off hottest part of the grill. Baste and cover. Keep and eye on it. Cook for about 20 minutes in all (for thighs), basting and turning 2-3 times. If it seems like it’s not getting done, move back to hottest part of the grill.

While this going on, heat the reserved marinade on the stove. Let it simmer. In 10-15 minutes you’ll have a nice thick sauce.

Grilled Squash

Young yellow squash doesn’t need to be peeled. If you see a spot that’s a little brown, just cut it away.

Cut off both ends of the squash and then cut it into chunks and put in an aluminum baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh dill, kosher salt, black pepper and grated parmesan. Add two or three pats of butter. Give it a good stir and put the pan on the grill with your chicken. It should be tender in about 15 minutes–just test with a fork.

Here’s the finished plate:

It’s not the prettiest, but can I just say that it tasted amazing. Oh, we had blackberry cobbler for dessert:

So that’s what’s cooking  here in Franklin today. The tomatoes, squash and blackberries were all bought at the local farmer’s market and here’s the recipe for the cobbler.

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I Really Like Dirty Books

No…not that kind of dirty book.

I mean books that are physically dirty–spashed with olive oil. Smeared with whole grain dijon mustard. Dappled with red wine.

What I’m talking about are cookbooks. Here are a few of mine:

my cookbooks

I have to admit that there are a couple on the shelves that have barely been opened. They’re mostly on the bottom. Some were well meaning gifts. Some were mistakes of my own. They’re the clean cookbooks. The ones that I imagine saying “pick me, pick me” everytime I cast my eye their way.

Look carefully and you’ll see the trends I fell for.

I went through the blackened phase created by cajun chef Paul Prudhomme. I have a couple of his books. Once glance and it’s easy to see why he weighs a few hundred pounds more than he should–every recipe has AT LEAST 2 sticks of butter in it.

I went through the Silver Palate era in the 80s when formerly unheard of ingredients finally made their way to Little Rock where we were living at the time.

I’m still in the Barefoot Contessa’s orbit…mostly because her recipes are really, really good. But she’s another one with a liberal hand when it comes to butter and cream.

Those trends come and go…but some recipes are constant, like these two for grilled chicken.

 seaside chicken

tomato chicken ii And here’s one I’ve been making for 20 years. It’s from an old Junior League cookbook called Southern Sideboards. Say what you will about the League, but they sure know how to cook. Or at least their kitchen help does.

shish kabob

 If you spill something on your favorite recipe, don’t worry about it. It’s a badge of honor–a sure sign that whatever’s under those splashes and splotches is sure to be good.

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