29 July 2009

I'm Just Here For The Food

Alton Brown is a fun guy to watch. He’s like your goofy cousin who you like to see for an afternoon, but by evening you are kinda ready to go home. He’s a little over the top for me, but until those chefs who shout obscenities and throw things, Brown is a wonderfully happy showman. He always makes you think about the mechanics of the food and you always tend to learn something, even if you just want to cook.

His book, I’m Just Here For The Food, is a great way to have Alton Brown’s information without the kinetic personality. So, I think it is the best of both worlds.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that I am fond of cooking a lot of things that most people leave raw. Melon is one of those things. As you might guess, I watch a lot of cooking shows and this year I have seen numerous competitions and shows where the cook plated a watermelon and feta salad of some sort. Watermelon and feta, like tomatoes and mozzarella, go wonderfully together. With all those plates of salad vying to be different, not a one of them cooked the watermelon.

I urge you to try a cooked melon. If you go into a large grocery, you will often fine those containers of chopped melon, which looks rather hacked up and unappealing. Grab a container of that mixed melon and give this a try.
Hot Melon Salad

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, sliced Lyonnaise-style*
2 cups diced assorted melon such as cantaloupe and honeydew
1 tablespoon basil, cut into a fine chiffonade
Splash red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan over high heat until just browned
Crumbled feta cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the sauté pan and, when hot, add the oil. Add the onion and toss for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the melon and toss until half way cooked, about 2 minutes. Add the basil, vinegar, and pepper and toss for 30 second to 1 minute more. If the melon is still too hard, cover and let it steam briefly. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately toss in the cheese. Turn out onto the serving platter and garnish with pine nuts.
Give this one a try, it's a lovely side for a barbecued chicken.

* Lyonnaise-style cut for onions means to slice them from the root-end to stem-end instead of across.

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