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Filtering by Tag: Summer

Summer Salad #3: Art Project

Suzanne Pollak

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Rule #1 - We first eat with our eyes! Contrasting shapes and colors can be a beautiful thing. The cubes of croutons and logs of carrots make this feel like an art project, painting on the plate.  Flavor becomes a balancing act as well. Academy Croutons and roasted Carrots Vichy deliver the satisfying crunch, complementing the buttery texture of tender lettuce leaves.

Academy Croutons can sit in their frying pan for over a half hour after cooking, soaking up extra olive oil. The wait makes the fried bread even tastier, turning each cube into crispy little bombs delivering crunch, fat, flavor all in one bite. If there is still olive oil in the pan, use it to finish the salad.

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To make Carrots Vichy, peel whole carrots - not baby carrots, not woody large carrots in 5-lb. bags, but carrots in bunches with their leafy tops intact. Cook carrots in a sauté pan over medium heat with a little bit of olive oil and enough water to come halfway up their sides. When a knife tip can barely poke inside the carrot and the water is almost evaporated. Add fresh thyme. Wait till carrots are room temperature to use in the salad, either sliced into 1-inch lengths or simply left whole. Know that these beauties are yummy hot, cold or room temperature for apps and dinner. 

There are two ways to finish this sort of salad. For more crunch, you could add celery. Simply slice across the stalks to get a handful or two of pale green half moons. But if you crave more flavor, spice and fat, then salami is your friend! Thickly slice and dice and toss in salad. A little bit goes a long way. (In our latest version, pictured above, we opted for a few nubs of blue cheese. Delicious!)

Summer Salad #1: Plain & Simple!

Suzanne Pollak

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When Summer brings a bounty of perfectly sun-ripened fruits and vegetables, there's no need to overdo it! Even dressings have been simplified at the Academy. These days we pour olive oil over salad, not too much, sprinkle a little coarse salt plus several grinds of black pepper. Then we toss salad with our hands. If a lemon happens to be around we might squirt drops on top but sometimes it's oil all the way!

Buy live lettuce because the head keeps cold for a couple of weeks so a meal can come together in a moment. Perfect when you find yourself too hot and bothered to fool with anything else! In the time it takes you to pour yourself a summer cocktail, your bowl of greens and vitamins will be ready and waiting.

MACHE - these leaves are delicate. Don’t take lettuce out of frig until ready to make salad.

TOMATOES - A Summer salad MUST have the ripest most delicious tomatoes you can find. No skimping or trying to save a dollar. Otherwise the salad will not make you swoon. It will just be ho hum. It is impossible to live a beautiful life without regular doses of swooning. Cut heirloom tomato, farmers market tomatoes, or ones grown in your backyard into wedges.

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BLUE CHEESE - We find already crumbled blue cheese a big flavor disappointment, and expensive to boot. Why is this even an option in a grocery store? Buy a wedge of blue cheese, slice off a hefty portion, and use your fingertips to crumble on top of the salad. In biggish clumps so friends and family know the blue cheese you choose was not pre-crumbled by a machine then stored and shipped in a plastic bag.

AVOCADO - The doctor says ‘eat an apple a day’. The Dean says ‘eat an avocado a day’. An avocado is the exact amount of fat you need per day. When the Dean gets her medical PhD she will prove this medical fact. To make an avocado last a few days, keep in refrigerator. Do not buy rock hard avocados. Why wait so long to eat one?

Cut avocado in half, remove pit, remove peel, slice or thickly dice on top of salad.

 

 

"The Romance of Outdoor Rooms" for VIE

Suzanne Pollak

Photo courtesy of G. P. Schafer

Photo courtesy of G. P. Schafer

Summertime is finally here again! In Charleston, this means lots of lounging in the shade of our (or our friends') porches and piazzas, iced beverage in hand, fresh off a dip in the sea. For the June issue of VIE magazine, Suzanne reflects on a life lived in outdoor rooms, from Tripoli to Ghana to the Carolinas, and the magic of bells, birds, and blue skies experienced in these inspiring spaces.

Read the full article HERE on VIE's site... 

So Long Tomatoes

Suzanne Pollak

Photo by Landon Neil Phillips for CAoDP.

Photo by Landon Neil Phillips for CAoDP.

Invariably there is an abundance of tomatoes at the end of the season. Now is the time to take a day and several bushels of the fruit to make sauce and can juice for the months ahead. A classic seafood stew in tomato sauce couldn’t be easier, quicker or more delicious. It makes a fantastic weeknight, work night, school night dinner. And once you've tasted homemade tomato juice, you will be ruined for any store-bought version. Concoct the world’s most delicious Bloody Mary on football weekends or for a weekend brunch... 

Tomato Sauce

We give no amounts in this recipe because you do not need any! Only common sense. In a large pot over medium heat, sauté a chopped onion until translucent, add a few cloves of sliced garlic and continue cooking until caramelized. Fill pot halfway with coarsely chopped tomatoes and continue cooking uncovered until thick, about 45 minutes. Add course salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. When sauce is cool, pour into Ziploc bags to freeze. 

Squid Stew

Squid Stew is our new favorite go-to stew, but any shellfish or firm white fish will make it delicious. Scallops, clams, shrimp, Dungeness crab, Alaskan King Crab (flesh removed and cut into long pieces), monkfish (tastes like lobster), are all fine on their own, but if choosing is too difficult, combine for a tasty treat. This recipe is loose because it's up to you to decide how many olives you want, how much garlic you like (for us: plenty!), ditto with the capers. 

  • 2-3 cups Tomato Sauce
  • 3/4 lb. Squid tentacles 
  • 1/4 lb. Squid tubes, sliced 
  • Garlic, coarsely chopped
  • Capers in liquid
  • Black olives, pitted
  • Oregano 
  • Pepper

 In a large, heavy-bottomed pot over high heat, sauté garlic, capers and black olives in olive oil. When brown, add squid tentacles and tubes, plus two or three cups of tomato sauce to cover. Turn heat down and simmer until liquid reduces and squid is done, about ten minutes. Never overcook squid! If you do, they turn to rubber bands. Serve in a shallow bowl with a large crunchy crouton on the side. 

Mrs Alice Wanner's (1869 - 1958) Tomato Juice

It was pretty radical stuff to drink tomato juice in Mrs. Alice Wanner’s day. Tomatoes weren’t eaten much before she was born, still recovering from their reputation amongst colonists as purely decorative. (Legend even has it that Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson ate an entire basket of tomatoes on the steps of the local courthouse in 1830, simply to prove to onlookers that they would not send him into fatal convulsions with their poison, as expected.)  So Mrs. Wanner was obviously a domestic diva. This recipe is courtesy of her great-granddaughter, Kathy Phillips, and makes about ten quarts:

  • For the juice, you'll need thirty pounds or more tomatoes. This all depends on how juicy they are; you may need as many as fifty pounds. Wash tomatoes, trim off stems and any dark spots, quarter. Fill a large pot and bring to boil. Boil hard for ten to twenty minutes, until they are soft and liquid-y. Meanwhile, sterilize quart-sized Ball jars and heat flat lids in simmering water.
  • Put Foley food mill or a tight weave strainer over a second large pot. Ladle in tomatoes and crank mill, or use ladle in strainer to mush and push until all juice goes into pot, leaving behind skin and seeds. Keep doing in batches until juice fills pot. Bring juice to boil and then ladle into sterilized, seasoned Ball jars to about 1/2" from top. To each jar, add: 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. celery salt, 1 tsp. sugar, grind of black pepper. Remove bubbles. (Use a teaspoon and go around the edge of the top of the juice where bubbles collect. Then wipe the rim clean, plunk on the flat lid, and screw on the ring.) 
  • Place fresh lids on jars, tighten ring, and set aside to "ping." Then they are sealed and will keep up to about three years. Beyond that they start to lose flavor. This process of cooking tomatoes and making the juice will be done many times, maybe four or more depending on the size of the pots you are using. So use big pots. 

For a Bloody Mary, simply add vodka, Worcestershire, lemon wedge and dash tabasco. Top with to Ms. Wanner's fine juice!

A Case for Tarte Tatin

Suzanne Pollak

A tarte tatin is best of American pie but adds a French twist, perhaps most fitting in these days between Independence and Bastille Day. Since South Carolina peaches are at the peak of perfection, why not try using seasonal fresh fruit instead of the traditional apple?

Adding to the inherent deliciousness of caramelized fruit edges, making a tarte tatin is even easier than pie. For starters, the dough only involves two steps: making the dough and rolling the dough. No fitting dough into a pie pan, stretching it, wondering, Will go up the sides of the pie pan all the way around? Will I have enough dough to make strips for a lattice top? Then there is the chore of decorative edges on the crust using fork tines or thumb indentations. Pies are wonderful, tasty and works of art, yes, but a tarte tatin is all that and more! 

The extra sizzle comes from sautéing the tart when it emerges from its thirty minute bake so that the fruit edges crisp up and turn dark golden. To guild the lily even more, whip up a cup of heavy cream for a side spoonful. Vanilla ice cream is delicious, but if you are sticking with the French theme, then homemade whipped cream is heavenly. Bonus: your arms get a tiny bit of a work out. 

Pies and tarts say and do so much. It's the baker whispering to the eater (even when the eater is the baker herself), I love you, and all is right in the world...at least for this moment. Fruit tarts and pies satisfy, soothe, and signal Summertime. Paired with a cafe au lait, left over slices make a healthy and indulgent breakfast. What else so small can deliver so much satisfaction? 

Find the full recipe for Peach Tarte Tatin HERE...

F.O.M.O.

Suzanne Pollak

The definition of FOMO: Fear of Missing Out.

Are you suffering from FOMO? The Charleston Academy is particularly designed to cure this contemporary malady. Suffer no more! Learn how to build a beautiful and rewarding life so that YOU will start living the life that OTHERS fear they are missing. This is not rocket science, people. With a little guidance and hand holding from the Dean, paths will open that you may not have envisoned for yourself. Relationships, experiences, living spaces, free time, balance, behavior, social ease -- there is nothing we can't improve. The Acadmey is a cure all for this ailment of FOMO. Our solutions:

Step One: Subscribe to periodic newsletters and weekly blogs. Frequent tiny tips are easy to digest, like spoonfuls of great tasting medicine.

Step Two: Plan a social engagement that is easy as PIE. Here's one that will mark you as a person with her/his very own style. We will keep it a secret that you borrowed the Academy's Cliff Notes to stake your territory as the person who knows exactly what to do and is confident enough to pull off something original. 

  • Bake a Summer Pie. Make your own crust, throw in some sugared and spiced Summer peaches, buy some vanilla ice cream, whip some fresh cream. Email the Academy if the way to whipped cream is a mystery! You are giving your guests a choice on how to gild their lily, their piece of pie, in addition to showing off your culinary skills. 

  • Invite a group. Not just your posse. Make sure you invite a person you want to get to know better.  Our tip: schedule last minute (day of or day before) so you only gather people who really want to come. Two important truths you must pay attention to (1) whoever comes is meant to be there and (2) do not freak out that your current crush didn't show up. Word will get around on how cool, original and fun your pie party was. Next jump up you will find yourself turning people away. They will all have their own cases of FOMO. 

  • Set a table/sideboard/porch table/kitchen with the pies, forks, cool dessert size plates, bowl of hand whipped cream, another of ice cream, a pitcher full of sunflowers or tall greens cut from outside, wine glasses...and don't forget napkins. 

  • Play these tunes to set the mood for dessert, from musical wizard Alex Collier* and finally...

  • Serve this wine, which our favorite sommelier Femi Oyediran** describes as "a late harvest wine from South Africa that easily contends as being one of the greatest sweeties out there. Made from the Muscat grape, it is a must-have on the dinner table at the end of a meal. A charming combination of orange peel, honey, and exotic spice, Vin de Constance is the perfect match for peach pie you didn't know you were looking for!"

***These dudes are the definition of cool, and you will be too when you follow our advice. You will be well on your way to making others a little envious of your life, parties and style. You are erradicating FOMO from your life, but possibly spreading it to others. Oh Well, we can only help those who follow the Academy! 

Pie is for Lovers

Suzanne Pollak

A weekly Summer Pie ritual serves as a solution to deliberating over which pie to make -- peach, cherry, blueberry, gooseberry, strawberry or rhubarb?

A weekly Summer Pie ritual serves as a solution to deliberating over which pie to make -- peach, cherry, blueberry, gooseberry, strawberry or rhubarb?

Commit to baking a pie each week. A kitchen habit established for a few Summer months accomplishes the following: happy family members, tasty and healthy (if you adjust sugar amounts) desserts on a regular basis, a handy surprise for last-minute vistors, a comforting practice for you to look forward to, and the inevitable title of Expert Pie Baker. After all, it doesn't take 10,000 hours of experience to become the best pie maker on the block.

To guide you, a few simple rules of the Academy Crust, and everything in between:

  • Frozen butter is your friend, as it keeps dough flaky. You can even grate it into dry ingredients to avoid a mess.
  • Kneading the dough is a good thing, making it supple and easier to handle.
  • Wax paper is a no-no! Instead, use Saran Wrap for storing or rolling out dough.
  • Prepared dough can rest for two days in the fridge or else rolled immediately, filled and shoved in the oven right away. The most discerning baker will neither know nor care.
  • Bake pie in glass pie dish on floor of oven for crust worth devouring.
  • Picking fruits? Juicy, ripe, local are the key concepts.
  • Pies do not like to be stored in the refrigerator. Lay a piece of wax paper on top of pie and leave at room temperature. It will stay good for for up to 3 days, although sure to be devoured in less. 

So many choices are exactly why pie is never boring and much more interesting than cake. Summer pie, Winter pie, tomato pie, even four-and-twenty blackbirds pie! Crostatas vs. crumbles vs. double crusts? What’s complicated here? All are great. Try each and let your children vote. Include your children early and often on important family decisions. Lattice vs. open vs. closed tops? Same as above. Healthy, hearty dinner and dessert conversations will ensue. No one will be on the iPhones when pie is on the table. A difficult discussion coming up? Serve pie to help the medicine go down more easily. 

P.S. There's nothing like sharing a piece of pie with your sweetheart. Two forks plus one slice = love at first bite. Want to seduce a certain someone? Bake them a pie. Serve with a seductive wink. Searching for a heavenly Summertime treat? Start the day with a piece of leftover fruit pie and hot coffee. Rinse pie plate & repeat.

It only takes 5 minutes and 3 ingredients to make 1 pitcher of margaritas...

A. K. Lister

OK, OK, 4 ingredients if you count salt.

Sorry to drill it home but Labor Day weekend has arrived (yes, it officially starts Friday AM, class dismissed!) and Summer is packing her bags while Fall cha cha's in the back door.

But it's still hot as Hades in Charleston, and the rain seems like it might wash us all to sea.  Your life raft: a few friends/neighbors, a sassy hat, and a pitcher of margaritas you can make faster than you can say, "Siri, find me a Mariachi Band."  Sassy hat optional.  Mariachi band...strongly encouraged.

Give that old Summer feeling a proper farewell. 

XOXO, the Deans

P.S.  Pro. Tip #1:  

P.P.S. Pro. Tip #2: Do not drink the pitcher all by yourself.  One margarita usually does the trick, but two could have you feeling ten feet tall, bulletproof, and wild as a hornet's nest.  That's what happened to a friend of ours one time, anyway...

Summer Entertaining Essentials

Suzanne Pollak

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Summer only has a few weeks left, so maximize relaxed extended evenings by throwing last minute dinner parties. There can be too much of a good thing during long nights. Guests cannot relax until they get a sense of the shape of the evening, so if you don’t plan on serving dinner until 10:00 p.m. apprise your people before hand. Remember, if you are in the kitchen the entire time your guests will miss you, and more importantly, they lack a leader. You might not think of yourself as a leader, but anytime you have guests, you are! Guests take all their cues from you.

The Deans reserve the rights to change these essential tips at any time.

Planning.  The great skill of all leaders.  Getting most of the cooking done ahead of time means the meal will be room temperature (perfect for summer.)  You will be relaxed with nothing to do at the last minute, so guests will be too. 

Delegating.  Put someone else in charge of grilling at the last minute.  Men feel so manly stoking a blazing fire. Someone else can also be making the drinks. You can't be doing everything.  If no one is at hand, buy cool six packs of various micro brews. Beer and summer are a match made in heaven.

The Charleston Beer Exchange  - every beer known to man in the coolest little shop in Charleston. 

The Charleston Beer Exchange - every beer known to man in the coolest little shop in Charleston. 

Staging.  Use all your space, inside and out.  Don’t forget industrial fans.  We envy our Alaskan and Adirondack friends this time of year. Those party pros are enjoying perfect weather right now. And Bonus time: Alaskans can stay up all night with no artificial light, while the Adirondackers can blaze a fire every night.  Lucky South Carolinians have to contend with a wind that blows like a hot fire all day and night.

 

 

Learn creative party planning tips and so much more from our book, The Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits: A Handbook of Etiquette with Recipes.