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Once Again, It’s Home Cooking for the Win

Mark started saying home cooking is, in general, better than restaurant cooking around 1980, and he hasn’t changed his mind since. After a three month international trip, he reflects on this line of thinking, and goes over his top ten meals in Greece, Japan, Morocco, India, China, and Taiwan – including an excellent fish feast in Busan, a meal at Jean-Georges in Shanghai, and a school lunch in Nagasaki.

24 Summer Recipes

Summer officially begins in less than two weeks, and when the weather changes, we all tend to cook differently. Food feels fresher, there’s more and better fruit readily available, maybe you’ve got a grill that gets put to use (Mark uses his in the winter, too). As one of many thank yous we aim to give to our members, here you’ll find our summer recipe collection – a carefully chosen group of 24 dishes, perfect for now.

Summer Pudding

A much lighter, simpler version of a trifle, and among the best ways to showcase berries. Cooking them into a quick compote brings out their sweetness and natural juices, which soak every bite of the cake.

Warm Chickpea Salad with Arugula

Chickpeas frequently get the salad treatment throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East. My version is an amalgam of a few recipes I’ve had and includes ginger, garlic, and cumin. After the season- ings are cooked and the beans warmed, the dressing is finished in the pan, then tossed with arugula leaves to soften them slightly.

Stewed Tomatillos and Tomatoes

Tart green tomatillos play the starring role in this stew, mellowed a bit by the sweetness of fresh tomatoes. The texture is silky and slightly thick. Serve over rice, grits or polenta, or hominy. A good substitute here would be all-green or not-quite-ripe tomatoes.

Food Processor Fruit Sorbet

You don’t need an ice cream maker, or even fresh fruit, to make this sorbet — it comes together in a matter of minutes in a food processor and goes straight to the table. Yogurt adds a silky tang, but you can substitute dairy or nondairy milk. You can also use juice or water, adding just enough to break down the fruit.

Leaving Morocco: The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship

As he winds down, in Morocco, Mark thinks back on his three month trip as a whole: “It would be weeks until we could get a grip on what this trip might mean, and it certainly wasn’t going to happen while we were still traveling. The only thing to do was to keep going.” Plus, lots of oysters, a lunch that was among the best of the whole voyage – including a b’stilla, “which just killed” – and absolutely not resisting the urge to go to Casablanca. Because it’s Casablanca. 

Lemon-Lime Gelée

All sorts of flavors are possible here, from sweet-tart lemon-lime to coffee to coconut, and they’re all perfect on a summer day or when you want something light and refreshing. Freshly squeezed juice is the best, of course; otherwise, use nectar if it’s available.

Sugared Peaches with Candied Ginger Ice Cream

A quick brush with butter and a dredge in sugar turns into a light burnt-caramel crust on the grill. Top each peach half with vanilla ice cream studded with candied ginger bits and you’ve got something simple but special. The size of the peaches will determine how many you need. For peaches weighing in at 8 ounces each or less, figure 1 peach per person; for peaches 12 ounces or more, one peach half makes for a generous dessert serving.

Spicy Glazed Plantains

Plantains are a ubiquitous tropical companion to pork, but also go well with chicken, fish, and green vegetables. Make this with ripe plantains—the soft yellow ones with some black spots—as unripe green plantains tend to dry out on the grill.

Smoked Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese is a no-brainer for any barbecue. So why bother to grill it? The fat in the cheese and milk absorbs the smokiness from the fire like a sponge. To maximize the exposure to the grill, use a broad pan and don’t bother with bread crumbs on the top; you want the cheese sauce naked. And generate lots of smoke right from the get-go.

Grilled Polenta Squares with Chive Sour Cream and Salmon Roe

Elegant and unexpected, these luxe little morsels will have guests singing your praises. And you’ll have time to bask in the spotlight since you made most of it before they arrived. Be sure to cook the polenta to the thickness described in the recipe; otherwise it will never firm up enough for you to slice and grill it.

Grilled Seafood Skewers with Croutons and Orange

You can take these skewers in many directions. Use all fish, alternate fish with sea scallops or shrimp, or mix them all up; the flavors play well together and the cook times are pretty much the same. Oranges bring freshness, especially if you’re grilling in winter. To include onions in the mix, either put wedges on a separate skewer and start them at least 5 minutes before the seafood, or thread single layers of onion between the cubes of fish. This is one time you can’t assemble the skewers too long before grilling or the bread will get soggy.

Sheboygan-Style Bratwursts

Sheboygan, Wisconsin, considers itself the bratwurst capital of the world. Its residents are champions of the fresh pork or pork-and-beef sausage brought over by the German immigrants who settled in the city. This is the classic way to serve them at a brat fry (locals say they are “frying” brats when they grill them)—one brat per roll, or make them “doubles” with two. Wherever you live, seek out the best sausage in your town.

Grilled Chana Chaat Burgers

I love the flavors in aloo chana chaat, the saucy Indian appetizer of potatoes and chickpeas, and they happen to make a wonderful burger, too. No need for a bun; serve these with your favorite chutney.

Grilled Beets and Greens with Lemon Vinaigrette

Be sure to buy beets with their greens still attached and in good shape. A few minutes over the fire tenderizes the leaves, tones down their bitterness, and infuses them with a pleasant toastiness. The stems cook up nicely, too; they’re crisp-tender with an earthy, minerally flavor.

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Fifteen-Minute Fruit Gratin

Holy strawberry heaven (or any other fruit you can get your hands on). Topped with heavy cream and sugar, and then broiled. What could go wrong?! (A note: I somehow thought this would be like strawberries and cream. It’s not. It’s a lot runnier, because, hello, warm juice and strawberry-scented dairy. Eat it in a bowl, solo, or you could even put it on top of, say, a brownie. That would not be bad.)

Whole Fish with Basil-Orange Oil

Whenever possible, I grill fish whole. Whole fish are easy to handle, and the skin crisps and protects the delicate flesh so it stays moist. Start larger fish first over direct heat, then move to indirect after the skin releases.