I love making the Southern husband his suppertime favorites. As a result, shrimp and grits are frequently on the menu, along with okra and various things made with scallops, and he’s always perfectly happy with good old fashioned burgers on the grill. But every now and again I remember that he loves beef stroganoff…and then I don’t make it. There’s something that feels so fancy and serious about it that I just can’t pull it together for a Tuesday night. And then one day it occurred to me that maybe the Tuesday night version was not the steak and mushrooms and egg noodles version. Maybe it was the meatballs and shallots and spaghetti version.
Last week I was lucky enough to be able to share a wonderful guest post about the extraordinary Maurice Sendak, along with a recipe for chicken soup with rice. I asked you, my wonderful readers to leave me some comments telling me your favorite children’s books, and I absolutely loved hearing about all of your cherished books…especially since some of your favorites are also come of mine! And even better, now I can tell you the three lucky winners of some classic books from Mr. Sendak.
I know, I know, this is my second post in a row with the word “summer” in it, and technically it isn’t exactly summer yet. But it’s only a matter of days, and there’s nothing like being prepared, I always say. Especially when it comes to summer, and especially when it comes to things like fresh basil and grilled chicken and sweet tomatoes and all the glorious things you can make with them. Things like this easy and delicious summer chicken rice salad!
This fresh and lovely little chowder was actually on my list to share with you next summer. The way this blog works is that I cook and take pictures almost every day…but I only post three times a week. Believe it or not, I already have almost a full summers-worth of recipes lined up for you. So once I finished figuring out this chowder recipe, I was going to park it on the back burner for next summer…until my friend Dennis saw my notes for it on my kitchen counter, and said (and this is a direct quote): “GET THIS POSTED, GIRL!” And because I try and always do what Dennis says, I bumped something else out of the way and here I am with what I am now fondly thinking of as Summertime 2013 (not 2014!) Shrimp Chowder.
This is the time of year when waiting for the fresh, juicy, perfect Jersey tomatoes gets really hard. It’s not so bad in the dead of winter when you know they are months away. But now that the days are long and the fresh produce is working its way into the farmer’s market (hello, strawberries!), it’s making me just that much more impatient waiting out these next few weeks until the first local tomatoes make their appearance. So I console myself with the dependable cherry tomato, which somehow wonderfully and mysteriously manages to stay sweet and delicious all the year round. And one of my favorite ways to have it is tossed into this hearty salad made of avocado, shallots, feta cheese and yes, cherry tomatoes. Not a lettuce leaf in site.
Among the many amazing people I have been lucky enough to know, two of the most amazing are my friend Toni Markiet, and the extraordinary Maurice Sendak. So much as already been said about Maurice that I will only add that in addition to creating some of the most brilliant books the world has ever seen, he made it impossible for me to ever have a bowl of chicken soup with rice and not think about him and smile. As you may know, we lost him just about a year ago, and it’s still hard for me to believe he’s not out there, sitting at his kitchen table with his faithful German Shepherd at his feet. I asked his dear friend Toni, who knew him so very well, if she would share some of her delicious memories with us. And so in Toni’s words…