by John Ryan
Okay, I've just ordered seeds for this year's garden. I've got a couple basils coming, a nice carrot variety, and a tomato that sounds utterly delicious. In fact, as the snow falls outside, it's easy to let my mind go to that first tomato, the one I pick some sunny afternoon after watching it slowly morph from a solid green marble into a luscious red orb.
I know that tomato—how it'll be so ripe that it will practically fall off the vine into my hand, how plump and heavy it will feel, how it will be warm and just slightly fuzzy.
And I know exactly what I'm going to do with it. I'm going to slice that puppy and fan it out on a plate. Then I'm going to drizzle it with a deep green olive oil and dust it with kosher salt and a few grindings of pepper.
That, dear reader, is what I consider a first class recipe.
Actually, that's the recipe I'm going to use on the first 20 or so tomatoes. Then I'll start using them in pastas, sandwiches, salads, and whatever comes to mind.
I'm always on the lookout for first class recipes. Not only because they taste great, but because they're often the simplest to make. I put roasted chicken or steamed asparagus in that file. Naturally, I have other recipes for chicken and asparagus. And they're good, but they are second class recipes, recipes I use mostly for variety's sake. (What I don't have are many goofy recipes like zucchini pancakes or asparagus guacamole. Why? Because I don't grow zucchini or asparagus.)
You'd think that first class recipes would be easy to find, that there would be a book of them. After all, many first class recipes are just plain obvious (such as boiled corn or strawberry shortcake). But others arrive, like little culinary postcards. For instance, I've pretty much always liked salmon, but I didn't have a first class recipe for it, one that let great salmon simply taste like great salmon. The ones I had were for variety (salmon cakes) or to show off (salmon wrapped in puff pastry).
Then I learned Roasted Salmon.
Both chef and musician, John Ryan wrote the Just Good Food blog from 1996 through 2001.
This page created April 1999
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