The ‘Great Apron Attachment’
After trashing numerous greasy shirts and jeans, I’ve learned that for cooks, an apron is as essential as a favorite chopping knife.
My mother always aproned up. Her favorite was a pink flowered one I made in a junior high Home Ec class. Whether squeezing orange juice or stirring goulash, she tied it on whenever she set toe in the kitchen.
After decades of use, this apron disintegrated to a faded piece of stained cloth with a frayed sash. Still, my fastidious mother continued to wear it.
When I became a proselytizing champion of vegetarianism, I gave my mother the “Moosewood Cookbook” with its matching duck cloth apron. She loved the meatless recipes, but refused the new apron. “I can go without meat,” she said in her thick Hungarian accent, “but my pink apron has memories.”
I have several new aprons, but favor the shabby pink flowered one I inherited from my mother. Now it’s dappled with even more memories: frosted birthday cakes, a celebration spaghetti dinner, the time we made truffles as Christmas gifts. Every splotch is family history. Although I hate to admit it, when it comes to the Great Apron Attachment, I’m just like my mother.
I’m headstrong about some things, but always game to try new recipes. Tie on your apron and try these.
Minted Cucumber Soup
Hooray! It’s the beginning of cucumber season. Celebrate with this chilled soup.
4 cups seeded and chopped cucumbers
2 garlic cloves
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup plain yogurt
4 scallions, sliced in thin Os
1 teaspoon minced fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
Salt and pepper to taste
Purée the cucumbers, garlic, buttermilk and yogurt until smooth. Stir in the scallions, mint, caraway and salt and pepper by hand. Refrigerate until chilled and serve.
Ode to a Grecian Pizza
Now that it’s almost summer, I like to play outside in the evening. This easy entrée allows ample Frisbee time and makes a sumptuous dinner when served with Minted Cucumber Soup.
One 20-ounce Boboli crust
6 ounces pitted Kalamata olives
Handful of basil leaves
1 6-ounce jar of marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2 large garlic cloves, shopped
1/4 cup marinated sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
1/4 cup crumbled Feta
Put the crust on a pizza pan and bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes. Purée together the olives and basil. Spread this on the pre-baked crust. Next, artfully arrange the artichokes, tomatoes, garlic and Feta on top. Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees.
Make these next two recipes for a special dinner party.
1 1/2 pounds raw medium prawns
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
3 cups chopped fresh tomatoes (about 6 medium tomatoes)
6 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
Salt and pepper
6 ounces crumbled Feta
Peel the prawns. Sauté them in the oil and garlic for about one minute until just pink. Don’t overcook them! Set them aside.
Put the tomatoes, lemon juice, dill, scallions and salt and pepper in a non-reactive pot over a low flame. When everything is hot, turn off the flame and add the prawns and Feta. Stir and serve immediately. Warning: this dish has been known to make dinner guests swoon.
The subtle orange flavor is the perfect accompaniment to Piraeus prawns.
1 1/2 cups uncooked white basmati rice
1 tablespoon minced cilantro
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup raw almonds
Cook the rice according to the directions (usually it’s 1 3/4 cups water to 1 cup rice.) When the rice is done, let it cool to room temperature.
Add the cilantro, orange juice, and almonds to the rice and stir gently. Spoon the sauce from the Piraeus Prawns over each helping. Feign humility when appreciative comments flow.
Here’s a not-too-sweet dessert made with one of summer’s glorious savories.
3 cups raspberries (even if you use fresh berries, freeze them for easier handling)
3 tablespoons white sugar
3 egg whites (1/3 cup)
3 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon Triple Sec or other fruit liqueur
Heat the raspberries with 3 tablespoons sugar over a low flame. Stir gently until the sugar dissolves.
With electric beaters, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar and the Triple Sec and beat for 1 minute more.
Divide the heated raspberries into 4 custard cups. Top with the egg white mixture. This looks like too much meringue, but smooth down the fluff and it will fit perfectly. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes until the tops are a luscious brown. Hot, room temperature, or cold? I’ve gobbled it all ways.
Time for a swim. Wonder if this apron holds up in chlorine?
To reach Ronnie Paul, e-mail email@example.com.
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