Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Down-home barbecue alternatives

Three fresh takes on summertime get-together recipes.

Posted By on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 3:17 PM

Backyard barbecues don't always have to mean chowing on conventional dogs, burgers or potato salad. Consisting of nearly 200 seasonal recipes, Liz Neumark's cookbook Sylvia's Table (Knopf, 2013) gives home chefs and their kids alternative recipes for those tight-knit gatherings made for the patio.

Released by the Sylvia Center of New York (which Neumark founded), an organization that works with a local farm in its area to give children hands-on experiences with fresh eats, the book is mostly packed with lessons and recipes that Sylvia Center young'uns have learned.

Swap the red meat and fries for these modern food formulas written by Neumark instead.

click to enlarge SYLVIA’S TABLE
  • Sylvia’s Table
Roasted Poblano, Red and Yellow Pepper Salad
with Raisins and Basil
Serves 4-6


1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons golden raisins
2 poblano peppers
2 red bell peppers
2 yellow bell peppers
2 cups baby arugula
1 large bunch of fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Bring the wine to a simmer in a small pot, add the raisins, then remove from heat and set the pot aside to let the raisins plump for about 15 minutes.

Char all the peppers, either over an open fire, under your broiler, or directly on the gas flame on your stovetop. After they are charred, place them in a brown paper bag, close it tightly and let the peppers cool. Peel and seed the peppers over a dish to catch any juices; the charred skin comes off easily with a paring knife, but don’t worry if you don’t get every bit. Cut the peppers into 1/4 inch thick strips.

Drain the raisins, and toss them together with the peppers, arugula, basil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Whisk together the oil, vinegar and any accumulated liquid from the charred peppers; pour the dressing over the peppers, toss the salad again and season with kosher salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Grilled Tamarind Turkey Burgers
click to enlarge SYLVIA’S TABLE
  • Sylvia’s Table

Serves 8


2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon peeled and minced garlic
1/2 cup tamarind concentrate
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons sriracha
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Cooking spray or vegetable oil
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 jalapeno with seeds, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions, white and about 1 inch of green parts
2.5 pounds ground turkey, 1/2 white, 1/2 dark meat
hamburger or other rolls


For the glaze, heat the oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the tamarind concentrate, honey, sriracha and water and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the mixture until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and reduced to about 1 cup, stirring often, about 8 minutes.

Let the glaze cool completely, then mix in the lime juice. Prepare a charcoal fire or gas grill to medium heat or place a grill pan over medium-high heat and coat it with cooking spray or oil. A nonstick or cast-iron pan is also fine for cooking these.

For the burgers, mix together the mayonnaise, ginger, salt, pepper, cumin, jalapeno, cilantro and 4 teaspoons of the glaze in a large bowl, then mix in the scallions. Add the ground turkey and mix it well but loosely with the mayonnaise mixture; do not overwork. Shape the turkey into eight 1/2 inch thick patties (or smaller ones for little people).

Grill the rolls, cut side down, until golden, about 2 minutes; transfer them to a serving platter. Grill the burgers until cooked through and a thermometer inserted into the center registers 160 degrees, about 8 minutes on each side. Brush each burger with the remaining glaze and serve with garnishes, and a spread of your choice for the buns — I like mayonnaise spiked with a drop of two of sriracha.

Eggplant Caponata
click to enlarge SYLVIA’S TABLE
  • Sylvia’s Table

Makes about 3 quarts


3/4 cup golden raisins
1 cup olive oil
4-6 medium eggplants washed but not peeled, diced to yield 12 cups
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cups diced onions, about 3-4
1 1/3 cups peeled and diced celery
3 tablespoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
3 sweet yellow bell peppers, roasted, peeled and diced
3 sweet red peppers, roasted, peeled and diced
3/4 cup capers in vinegar, drained and roughly chopped
1 1/4 cups red wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
3 cups peeled, seeded and roughly chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped parsley


Put the raisins in a medium bowl and cover with lukewarm water to soften. Set aside until needed.

Pour enough oil into a sauté pan or skillet to cover the bottom generously and place the pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the eggplant and sauté, stirring until tender, adding oil as needed; you may need to do this in batches. Remove the eggplant to a bowl, season to taste with salt and pepper and set it aside to cool.

Pour additional oil into the pan and add the onions, celery and garlic, then the thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper and cook, stirring from time to time until tender.

Add the peppers, capers, vinegar, sugar, and tomatoes; drain the raisins and add. Cook until it is slightly thickened. Adjust the seasoning as necessary with additional vinegar and sugar to achieve a pleasing balance of sweet to acid, and season to taste with salt or pepper.

Let the pepper mixture cool to room temperature, then fold in the eggplant.

Fold in the chopped parsley before serving. Caponata can be served warm, never cold. I think the flavors are at their best at room temperature.

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