Summer, that is.
Here's another classic from the archives--August 8, 2012, to be exact--which is perfect for August 2015, with its plentiful sweet corn and its great variety of hot & sweet peppers. In this case, Padrón peppers were one of the stars.
Without any further ado...
If you have the means to get out of town: get thee to a lake. If you can spend a night or two there, all the better. Just make sure to bring plenty of food and drink. And lots of reading material.
Keep the wine flowing.
Eat with regularity.
In both cases, focus on quality over quantity, although the idea is to celebrate summer, so there's no point in being stingy.
As much as possible, keep things simple. You'll find that the dishes that are the most elemental will also often be the most memorable ones.
It doesn't get any more elemental than Padrón peppers, which have been a sensation from Spain to California for years, and which are finally making their presence known in Quebec, thanks in no small measure to the Birri Brothers at Jean-Talon market.
bacon fat or olive oil
Heat the bacon fat or olive oil over medium to medium-high heat in a large pan or skillet. When the fat begins to smoke, add as many peppers as will fit comfortably. Sear them until they are just nicely charred. Toss liberally with kosher salt. Place on a serving platter and add a squeeze of lime juice. Serve immediately. Devour while hot.
Padrón peppers generally aren't hot, they're pretty mild, but they do have some heat to them, and occasionally you might encounter one that might make your lips tingle. Maybe even one that makes you sweat. We call this game Spanish Roulette.
Serve as a side or as a snack.
Bring a charcoal barbecue, too, if you can. There's nothing more elemental than fuel (wood, all-natural charcoal, all-natural briquets) and fire. And if you can find choice oysters in sufficient quantities before you head out to the country, you're really in luck.
fresh choice oysters
sharp cheddar cheese
Shuck the oysters, severing the muscle and making sure to spill as little liquor as possible.
Fry up the bacon until crisp. Keep about one rounded tablespoon full of the bacon fat in your skillet, pouring the rest in a jar for a later use. Mince the fried bacon into bits. [3 strips of bacon made enough bits for 36 oysters.]
Chop the scallions and the herbs and sauté them in the bacon fat until wilted. Toss with the bacon bits. [4 scallions, 1/3 bunch of parsley, 1/2 bunch of chives and garlic chives made plenty enough for 36 oysters.]
Spoon a little of the herb mixture into each oyster.
Top with grated cheddar cheese.
Grill over a hot charcoal fire until the cheese has melted.
Serve immediately. Savour.
I usually make my Mexican-style corn pretty tricked out: lime mayonnaise with premium chili powder (freshly toasted and ground); fresh cheese; aged cheese; cilantro; and grated radishes. But even this stripped-down version is sensational if you start with great corn and you grill your cobs just so.
fresh sweet corn, preferably Grade A Quebec or Vermont
Shuck the corn completely.
Mix your lime mayonnaise. Add enough lime juice to make it just a bit looser than a regular mayonnaise. Add salt and Tabasco sauce to taste.
Place the corn cobs directly over a medium-hot charcoal fire. No need to keep the husk on. No need to soak the corn in anything. No need to brush it with any substances. Being careful not to scorch your corn, roast the cobs over the fire. Rotate them from time to time. Don't worry about cooking them completely evenly. It's okay if some portions are slightly more charred than others. This will only add to the taste sensation.
When the cobs have been cooked on all sides, remove from the grill and slather with the lime mayonnaise.
Allow to cool for about a minute, then serve while still hot.
Repeat as needed.
[If you don't believe this method works, check out this video. I used to fuss around with my corn cobs before I grilled them, and they often turned out great, but Mark "The Minimalist" Bittman made a convert out of me.]
As Michelle put things recently, "18 wines, 4 people, 2 days, 1 lake = perfect weekend."
80 Padrón peppers, 36 oysters, 20 eggs, 18 ears of corn, 2 briskets, 2 racks of ribs, and 1 pound of bacon didn't hurt either.
With this much fun built into your weekend, you won't even care if there's a little rain.
Go swimming anyway.* You might stay in long enough to see a truly celestial display of light.
* As long as there's no threat of a lightning strike, of course.