Holy heck, June has whizzed through my life quicker than you can say chumbawamba. And while we initially thought we’d have a pretty lo-key summer this year, a quick glance at the calendar has proven otherwise. It seems to always be the case, and while it makes for busy times ahead, they’re always good busy times generally loaded with friends, food, beverages, music, road trips, and even a boat or two. [Okay, just one boat, but two sounded fancier.]
It all coincides with the true start of summer, and unlike living in the South whereby summer feels as if it started back in April, the summer season really does seem to start in June around these (Midwestern) parts and therefore we’ve quickly gotten through part of the first month of it, even though it only “officially” started yesterday.
We kicked off our first true weekend of summer with a visit from the in-laws, and since they’ve been here multiple times and knocked out all the “touristy stuff”, we had loads of flexibility. After Friday’s crazy storm, which left me soaked to the bone thanks to a regretful trip to Starbucks when I should have instead gotten on the train, we chilled at home, tossed back some wine and al pastor tacos (wait for it…), and I crashed relatively early thanks to my morning speaking obligation.
As it was, Saturday was the best start to summer I could imagine: my aforementioned good deed, a 10-mile casual biking excursion up and down the lake (thus solidifying my desire to buy a bike once and for all instead of renting one), and another amazing dinner at Bonsoiree. Exactly perfect. Sunday wasn’t much worse, really, and consisted of a trip to Berrien County, Michigan for cherry-pickin’, a surprisingly-awesome lunch, and this perfect-for-summer dinner you see here. Let’s not forget getting to spend it with the World’s Best Father-in-Law on his special day, a treat in and of itself.
With that, let’s enjoy all the things that make summer in the midwest (and probably other parts of the country) so fascinating:
- Spray tan season is over, which means the “orange” population will begin to decrease
- “Beach” time on the lake, which means the beer bellies are out in full force, along with beach volleyballers and for me, hopefully lots more bike riding on my bike
- Economy-boosting road construction (yay!) which means it’s going to take me 40 minutes instead of 20 to drive 3 miles down the street to the grocery store; said new bike needs to have a basket, come to think of it
- Seeing lots of sweat-stained t-shirts, including my own, and realizing that sleeveless shirts are the way to go
- CSA season starts today for us, and so you’ll probably start seeing a lot more random recipes as I try to use all our new meat and produce
- Berries, cherries, and pies, oh my! I gots to get to makin’ a cherry pie, friends
- Last but certainly not least – tourist season – Michigan Avenue is packed tight, which makes the walk to the train oh so enjoyable. Reason number 531 why I need to get that bike.
And so, summer is certainly off to a rolling start in these parts, and we’ll be keeping busy for sure. This weekend we’ll road trip up to Minnesota for some more boat action (trip 1 of 2!) with Cheryl & Luke, next month we’ll visit Rachel & Andy in Milwaukee, and then August is vacation time, and that’s a road trip I am most excited to begin, but more on that later. Interspersed among the road trips are concerts, a wedding or two, and foodie events and before we know it it’ll be apple pie season . Yikes.
Tamarind-Glazed Black Cod w/ Orange-Habanero Salsa
Adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2010; serves 4
I could probably get behind just about anything that uses tamarind. it’s tart and sweet, commonly used in lots of Thai dishes, including pad thai. as Hubs perfectly described, “the cool salsa is perfect with the warm fish, and the flavors go well together. are there leftovers?”. clearly, this dish is a winner, and perfect for the sweat-stained summer ahead .
4 large oranges
1/3 c coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 c very thinly sliced red onion
2 T evoo
2 t red wine vinegar
1 habanero chile, seeded, finely minced
salt and pepper
3 dried ancho chiles
1/2 c hot water
1/2 c fresh orange juice
1/4 c honey
2 garlic cloves
4 T tamarind concentrate*
2 T red wine vinegar
4 T evoo, divided
2 t dry mustard
4 6-ounce black cod fillets, with skin
salt and pepper
salsa: make supremes with oranges (remember our lesson? peel and trim the ends and peel from each orange. Using a paring knife, cut along the membrane on both sides of each segment. Free the segments and add them to a medium bowl. squeeze remainder of orange juice into bowl.). combine all ingredients in small bowl and refrigerate until ready to use (can be made in advance).
heat chiles over gas flame until softened, turning often with tongs to avoid burning, 1 to 2 minutes. Cool. Remove stems and seeds. Tear chiles into 2-3 pieces; place in small bowl. Add hot water. Let stand until softened, about 20 minutes. Place chiles with soaking liquid, orange juice, and next 6 ingredients (2T olive oil, save other 2) in blender. Puree until smooth. Strain into small saucepan; discard solids in strainer. Simmer uncovered over medium-low heat until slightly thickened and glaze measures 1 1/3 c, about 10 minutes. Season glaze with salt and pepper (this can also be made in advance; refrigerate and warm up in saucepan before using).
heat 1 or 2 medium to large sized skillets over med-hi heat; add 1-2 T olive oil. Sprinkle fillets with salt and pepper. when skillets are hot, add fillets, skin side down. sear on skin side 3-4 minutes to create crisp skin, brush with warmed glaze and flip to other side to finish cooking, brushing with glaze until all is used. total cooking time – ~5-6 minutes. serve with orange-habanero salsa.
*tamarind concentrate is available online, from Asian grocers, and even the Chopping Block.