Stay Away From the Stove in August

Each month, Tasting Table’s Monthly Editions explores a single topic from a variety of delicious angles. Our August 2012 issue, Oven-Off, is like edible air conditioning. As the heat climbs, we’ll be putting forth the best ways to stay cool with simple, flavorful dishes and drinks.

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  • Convenience is no longer a sacrifice--not, at least, when it comes to dinner. Growing numbers of grab-and-go operations are taking an upscale approach, offering locally sourced groceries and takeout that rivals the dishes at sit-down restaurants.

    With this new interest in the art of takeaway, we’ve seen a new type of cuisine emerge: one focused on simplicity, with bright, fresh flavors that often require little to no time on the stove. Bringing that philosophy into our kitchens, we tapped three of our favorite recent quick-service spots for a recipe. Altogether, these dishes amount to a delicious, globally inspired picnic.

    From thoughtful sandwiches to vibrant salads, we’ve fallen in love with the idea of eating our food at room temperature.

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    Moroccan Carrot Salad from The Smile To Go,
    New York City

    The folks behind The Smile To Go in New York appreciate a casual environment. Their first restaurant, The Smile, serves three square meals a day, and regulars are known to linger beyond the meal’s end. The Smile To Go, which opened in February, perpetuates this easygoing vibe, but angles it toward the working breakfast and lunch crowd. Chef Melia Marden fills the single deli case with five or six cold dishes a day, in such variations as quinoa with shiitake mushrooms and almonds, or marinated kale with quick-pickled apples. We love her Moroccan-inspired carrot salad alongside half a chicken from the rotisserie.

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    Pickled Shrimp from Butcher & Bee,
    Charleston, SC

    Southerners are experts when it comes to turning off the stove in August, the height of humidity and hurricane season. For Butcher & Bee in Charleston, South Carolina, sandwiches are the bread and butter of the operation. But the shop’s side dishes pay homage to the region’s finesse with produce and preservation. Butcher & Bee’s take on the classic low-country staple pickled shrimp should be a summer go-to in every kitchen.

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    Vietnamese Spring Rolls from Revival Market,
    Houston, TX

    What started as a small-scale meat company has evolved into this amply stocked market. Best of all: While shoppers stock up on boutique vinegars and sourdough starters, they can fuel up with chef Ryan Pera’s delicious menu. In one salad, roast chicken is mixed with dried strawberries and queso fresco, and here a hot dog comes loaded with green tomato relish and chicharrones. But a meatless spring roll packed with fresh herbs is what we’re stuffing in our beach-bound baskets.

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    Melon Agua Fresca

    To complete this menu of lounge-friendly food, we tasked our Test Kitchen team with creating a refreshing beverage. The resulting agua fresca, made from watermelon, cantaloupe and fresh basil, is far better than the traditional grab-and-go vending-machine soda. Ladle it into Mason jars for drinking on the move. Or, if you’re staying put, spike it with vodka.

  • SENT AUGUST 31, 2012


    Push It Real Good

    The latest frozen thing on a stick

    We were always partial to the push pop when the ice cream trucks of our youth came tinkling and trundling down the street. The treat was originally popularized by a brand, called...

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  • SENT AUGUST 24, 2012


    Idling Engines

    Hurry up and wait with these cold-cooked dishes

    Passive-aggressive behavior can be a deal breaker in a relationship. In cooking, though, it can be a saving grace. We've already discovered the delicious results of a “let...

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  • SENT AUGUST 16, 2012


    Thin Sliced

    Beef loses the standoff at the slicer

    The fanciest knife work that we ever wield when making salad is thorough chopping. Not so with a growing number of chefs, who have looked to another dish as vegetable muse:...

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  • SENT AUGUST 15, 2012


    New Rules

    Antidotes to sandwich fatigue

    We use the term sandwich to define pretty much any meal between two slices of bread. But for a category of such breadth, the sandwich world is sure prone to repeating...

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  • SENT AUGUST 10, 2012


    Frosted Sips

    When "wintry mix" is a good thing

    Let's face it: Even a trashy frozen margarita tastes good at the height of summer. The mix of slushy booze and sugar is hard to beat. But when that combination is in the hands of...

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  • SENT AUGUST 8, 2012



    Our new favorite kitchen shortcut

    The power of fresh spices and high-quality ingredients is boundless. Now imagine they were combined in a jar, ready to add to any dish: Introducing sofrito from Chulita’s...

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