What I’m Reading Today

Sun is out and it’s time to start thinking about outdoor menus.  Here are a few ideas to rev up your spring and summer entertaining-enjoy.

Amanda Lucidon/The New York Times

Canning can seem like a daunting task.  Sterilize this, boil that, seal this.  I “put up” some strawberry jam last year and it was actually a process I learned to love.  Yes, it takes time but nothing about it is difficult.  In today’s NY Times, Cathy Barrow makes it easy, walking through each step to help you preserve the best of the season.  Think Rhubarb Strawberry Jam (my absolute favorite) or, on the savory side of things, Pickled Asparagus and Spring Onions (hello Bloody Mary!).  You’ll thank yourself in the winter when this spring produce is sitting right in your pantry.

Anne Cusack/The Los Angeles Times

We bought a small outdoor smoker when my husband caught a freezer full of fish in a Alaska a few years ago.  It’s served us well in the seafood department but we’ve yet to test it out with meat.  Now that I’ve found this Smoked Briket recipe, in the LA Times via La Sandia restaurant, I’ve no more excuses.  This is not a last minute recipe-you’ll make a rub and a salsa (both can be done a few days in advance).  Then you’ll let the meat sit overnight with the rub on it before you bake it at a low temp for 12, yes twelve, hours.  The last step is a very quick trip into the smoker to give it that warm, toasty last bit of flavor.  Truth be told, you can skip that step if you don’t have a smoker-the rest of this recipe looks so outstanding you may not even miss it.

Michael Temchine/The Washington Post

Looking for something to serve with that brisket?  Well, when something has to cook for 12 hours you have no excuse for not whipping up a few fabulous sides.  Then again, you could head to the beach for the day, in which case you need a quick recipe or two to make at the last minute.  This Chickpea, Cucumber, Tomato, and Avocado Salad from the Washington Post is perfect.  It’s crunch and acidic bite will balance out the richness of the meat, plus it’s cool and light which is ideal for a summer meal.  The recipe says the salad can be made eight hours in advance but I actually think the leftovers would taste even better the next day.

Happy Reading and Happy Cooking.

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