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Thursday, June 13, 2013 09:41 am

It's the time of the season for summer seasonings

art12505

Red onions are easy to pickle and make a great sandwich condiment or salad ingredient.
PHOTO FROM ADBUILDER

For me, summer cooking is about taking it easy – at least until I begin preserving some of the season’s bounty by canning, freezing, etc. Beautiful local produce, locally raised meats and seasonally available fish (think wild salmon) are at their best simply grilled or lightly sautéed to showcase their deliciousness. That said, I like to have a few condiments or seasonings on hand that can accentuate seasonal flavors without obscuring them. Some of the recipes below have appeared in this column in other guises: I recommended making the dukkah to give as a savory (aka not sweet) holiday gift. But all have unique applications that make them appropriate for summer seasonings. Some have a fairly long list of ingredients; regardless they’re all easily made, and in quantities that allow for use several times.

This garlicky French Provençal concoction can now be commonly found on American menus. Too often, though, it’s no more than minced garlic added to commercial mayonnaise. That’s OK, but in France aioli is traditionally made with the first garlic of summer that’s pungent but not harsh. Aioli is not just the condiment’s name, but also a designation of a platter of seasonal vegetables and meats surrounding a huge bowl of aioli, a celebration of summer.     


AIOLI

• 1 large very fresh, locally sourced egg
• 1 tsp. sugar
• 1 tsp. Dijon or stone grained mustard
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 3-4 sliced garlic cloves (about 1 tablespoon) or to taste or 1 green garlic, both white and tender green parts, chopped
• 1 c. extra-virgin olive oil

Combine the egg, sugar, mustard, salt and garlic in the container of an electric blender or food processor. Blend a couple of minutes or until the mixture is thoroughly pureéd. With the motor still running, slowly pour the olive oil in a thin stream into the container. It is most important to add it slowly in the beginning. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

I adapted this barbecue dry rub, a recipe from the Carolinas, for use on whole pork shoulders destined to become pulled pork. But over the years I’ve discovered other applications. People almost swoon when my daughter, Ashley, serves grilled chicken dusted with it. It’s also great to add to baked beans or grilled potato planks. Just be aware when adding it to such things as baked beans that it’s fairly salty.    

BBQ DRY RUB  

• 1/4 c. kosher salt
• 1/4 c. dark brown sugar
• 1/4 c. sweet Hungarian paprika
• 2 T. freshly ground pepper or more to taste
• Up to 2 T. each of various herbs and spices:
• Garlic powder
• Cayenne pepper (use far less than 2 T. of this)
• Freshly ground cumin
• Chili powder
• Dried oregano
• Ground celery seed
• Dried marjoram
• Dried thyme

This relatively easy version of Spanish romesco is absolutely scrumptious as a traditional accompaniment to grilled vegetables. In early summer, Spaniards flock to the countryside to feast on grilled calcots, a special type of giant scallion, that they dredge in romesco before tipping their heads back to eat the calcot without losing its juices combined with the romesco. It’s equally good with grilled or steamed shrimp, grilled fish or pork.


HAZELNUT ROMESCO SAUCE

• 1/3 cup roasted hazelnuts, skinned
• 2 large roasted red bell peppers, peels and seeds removed, either freshly prepared or bottled, about 1 1/2 c.
• 3-4 coarsely chopped garlic cloves
• 2 T. sherry vinegar, preferred, or other wine vinegar
• 1 T. chopped fresh rosemary
• 1 T. chopped fresh marjoram or savory
• 2 tsp. sugar
• 1 tsp. kosher salt
• Cayenne, hot pepper flakes, or other dried hot pepper to taste, optional
• 1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil

Place all the ingredients except the olive oil in the container of a blender or food processor. Process until all the ingredients are finely ground, stopping to scrape down the container as needed. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a thin stream. The sauce should be quite thick. Check the seasoning. You may want to add more salt, sugar, vinegar or hot pepper. The sauce can be used cold, room temperature or gently warmed. (If it gets too hot, the oil will separate.) Makes about 1 3/4 cups.

To roast hazelnuts: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place the nuts in a single layer in a baking pan. Roast just until the nuts have begun to turn a light golden brown and are fragrant, 5-10 minutes. Immediately wrap up the nuts in a tea towel or put in an old (clean) pillowcase. Let the nuts cool a few minutes to help loosen the skins. Take the nuts out and remove as much additional skin as possible with your fingers. You will probably not be able to get all the skin off; that’s OK. Discard the skins.

These quickly pickled red onions originated in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. I first had them as a traditional accompaniment to pit-roasted (an actual pit in the ground) sour-orange marinated pork, which is a real production. But the pickled onions are so easy and delicious, that I often make them for use as a sandwich or taco condiment, salad ingredient or accompaniment for grilled chicken, pork or steak.


PICKLED RED ONIONS

• 1 large red onion, sliced about 1/8 inch thick
• 1/2 tsp. kosher or sea salt
• 1 tsp. cracked peppercorns
• 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
• 1 tsp. dried oregano
• 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
• 2/3 c. cider vinegar
• 6 T. sugar

Put the sliced onion in a saucepan, add 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and water to cover and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, then drain. Return the onion to the pan and add the remaining ingredients. Add just enough water to barely cover the onions and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand several hours before serving. Refrigerate in a noncorrosive container.

Dukkah originated in Egypt, but I first heard about it in New Zealand; there (and in
Australia) it’s seemingly everywhere. The mixture of nuts, herbs and seeds (there are countless recipes and variations) is commonly found alongside a bread basket and dish of olive oil; diners dip the bread into the oil, then the dukkah. But dukkah has countless other uses: to sprinkle on salads or a platter of summer-ripe tomatoes, as a topping for grilled fish or pork and – perhaps best of all – to sprinkle on sweet corn that’s been lightly brushed with olive oil and/or butter.


DUKKAH

• 2/3 c. sesame seeds
• 3 T. coriander seeds
• 3 T. cumin seeds
• 3 T. black peppercorns
• 1 c. lightly toasted walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts
• 1 1/2 tsp. flaky or coarse sea salt, or more or
   less to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Place a skillet over medium-high heat and add the sesame, coriander and cumin seeds and the peppercorns. Toast a few seconds, stirring constantly, until the sesame seeds are lightly browned and the mixture is fragrant. Set aside to cool.

Crush the hazelnuts in a mortar and pestle, spice grinder, food processor or rolling pin so that they’re coarsely ground into irregular-sized pieces. Set aside.

Grind the seeds and peppercorns until they’re completely, but coarsely ground. Combine the nuts, seeds and salt. Store in a tightly covered container. Makes about 2 cups.

Contact Julianne Glatz at realcuisine.jg@gmail.com.

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