The Art of the Recipe

I have been collecting recipes all my life. It wasn't so much a conscious effort, nor did I write things down and organize them in the smart way of doing things. it was more a gathering, an observing, a detailed notation in my mind of how people made food. My grandmother Carden didn't work by recipes, but rather by feel and intuition and practice. She made the world's best fried chicken, and as with many good Southern cooks, her process wasn't written down anywhere, but rather committed to sense memory from her own watchfulness as she grew as a woman and cook. My grandmother Long, on the other hand, was an organized soul who wrote down her recipes and organized her index cards to suit with notes and the dates or occasions when she had prepared them. Her matching deviled egg trays and linen napkins suited her more formal style, which was no less or more delicious, merely different. I have spent many an hour hoping for that perfect combination of cooking "off the cuff" and having a foolproof structure. Working in restaurants teaches us both of these methods, for certain, and after years of study, I keep coming back to the glorious art of how to write down what at times seems so fleeting and momentary a process. But reading a recipe is like reading a book, with nuances and drama, and unexpected plot twists. I hope to share some recipes with you here as a way to connect us to all the recipes written before us and all those yet to come.

This recipe seems especially appropriate for the summer months and all the delicious tomatoes you can find if you really seek them out, or are lucky enough to have some in your backyard. I hope you enjoy!

TOMATO ASPARAGUS SALAD

2 TBL pinenuts

1 Big Boy Tomato, or similar large ripe tomato, cut into slivers

½ red onion, slivered thinly

½ bunch asparagus, blanched, sliced into 1" pieces

3 TBL balsamic vinegar

3 TBL olive oil

1 ½ tsp salt and pepper mix

2 tsp brown sugar

 

Combine all together in a mixing bowl and toss lightly. Refrigerate for up to 1 hour before use.

 

SERVE:

With freshly cooked fish as a side

On a bed of arugula and some French bread for a light lunch

On a buffet as a vegetable sid