Chef Jerry Nottage
On weekends, I have friends who’ll hit the market first thing in the morning to see what are the freshest items on display, and then plan their meals around whatever they bring home. In many parts of Europe, this is exactly how meal planning goes. Eating from summer’s harvest is tasty, healthy, and economical, as seasonal produce is generally available in abundance and priced to sell fairly quickly.
You can grill or eat raw virtually any summer vegetable, and combine a variety of veggies to come up with exciting new flavor combinations. Just use your imagination. Try slices of eggplant and portabella mushrooms brushed with olive oil, sea salt and fresh black pepper, thrown on the grill and served with chicken or steaks. You can roast colorful red and green peppers indoors or out, and use them to top Italian sausages or as a tasty relish for any grilled meat. Peaches are a delicious side dish for barbequed pork or chicken and, of course, over ice cream with fresh raspberries. Simply cut the peaches in half, remove the pit and grill on both sides until soft.
Two popular summer favorites that hit their peak in mid- to late summer are corn and tomatoes. It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like corn; its versatility and sweet mellow flavor draws fans across all age and cultural demographics, and it lends itself to countless preparation methods, on or off the cob and in stews, soups, ground into flours and combined with complementary ingredients.
Tomatoes embody the taste of summer, in everything from a batch of fresh gazpacho to the ripest of tomatoes pulled from the garden, sliced and enjoyed with a generous sprinkle of sugar or salt. Make a quick batch of fresh salsa with diced tomatoes, leftover grilled corn and fresh cilantro for a delicious summer snack. You’ll have a hard time going back to the salsa in a jar.
As a chef, I am always looking for new and exciting ways to combine ingredients to bring out the optimum flavors in foods and to impress our guests. One of my favorite flavor combinations is to use corn and tomatoes together. I came up with a cornbread stuffed tomato that goes wonderfully with a variety of grilled meats. We serve this as an accompaniment to the Bone-In Kansas City Strip Steak at Sweet Georgia Brown. You can add fresh corn to the corn bread recipe if you like. Pretty to look at and delicious, dress up your favorite summer meals by trying this one at home:
Crumbled corn bread (made from any basic cornbread recipe)
One half cup to one cup of chicken or vegetable stock to keep moist
1 stalk of fresh parsley,
1 cup of grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese,
cracked black pepper, to taste,
fresh oregano, to taste,
One package Boursin cheese.
Mix all ingredients together, leaving the Boursin until the end.
Lightly fold ingredients together to incorporate.
After folding ingredients together, put dollops of Boursin in the mixture and lightly fold in mixture.
Refrigerate till ready to assemble.
Take 6-8 slightly ripened tomatoes and core about halfway down the center.
Place a half tablespoon of Boursin in center of tomato.
Remove stuffing from refrigerator and mold onto the tomato.
Bake in oven at 350 degrees till tomato is cooked through and hot. Place under broiler for 10 minutes to brown the tops.
Jerry Nottage is the executive concept chef for the Southern Hospitality Restaurant Group, which owns and operates Seldom Blues restaurant and Jazz Supper Club in Detroit’s Renaissance Center; Detroit’s Breakfast House & Grill @ Merchants Row in the heart of Campus Martius; and the Grand City Grille in Detroit’s New Center area. The Southern Hospitality Restaurant Group also operates Sweet Georgia Brown in Greektown and the Woodward Restaurant located on the first floor of the Compuware Building in Detroit. For more information, please visit www.shrg-detroit.com.
Dining in Detroit with the Southern Hospitality Restaurant Group appears regularly in the Michigan Chronicle. Listen to the Southern Hospitality Restaurant Group’s food, wine and dining radio show of the same name every Saturday from 11 a.m. to noon on WGPR-FM 107.5.
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