|The lovely and extremely
talented Elizabeth Karmel
The 4th of July is upon us and there’s never a better time to fire up the grill and celebrate the joy of being an American. And there’s almost nothing more American than beef. And today I am talking serious beef, not your hamburgers and sliders but a big beautiful rib roast. And what could be more 4th of July than cooking this King of all Roasts on the grill. So today I repeat a post from our first year: It’s a menu that celebrates the holiday with the beef served with some incredibly flavorful tomatoes and a zucchini recipe that turns every plate into a piece of art. What’s exciting to me is that since I first wrote this post, I came to know the author of the Prime Rib recipe, Hill Country Barbecue’s Executive Chef, Elizabeth Karmel. Elizabeth may well be familiar to those of you who watch Chopped Chef where she’s been regularly pressed into service as a judge. It turns out that Elizabeth grew up with a great friend of ours. David has had the good sense to invite Elizabeth to the Hamptons for the weekend and with her arrival, his dinner parties have topped our list of most-appreciated invitations. Her pimento cheese, her 7 layer salads and her artichoke and spinach dip are all ambrosial. But even before I met Elizabeth, I fell in love with her grilled Prime Rib.
It’s still early in the tomato season, but our local farm stand gets a big head start by growing some really good soil grown Plum tomatoes in their greenhouse. They’re still stand-ins for the sun-ripened beauties to come. But one way to bring flavor to the earliest entries is to roast them. From Ina Garten’s “How easy is that?” (Clarkson Potter 2010) comes a wonderful recipe for Roasted Tomatoes with Pesto. Since Basil is flawless this time of year, I made my own Pesto. Ina assures her readers that commercial will be just fine. I am not Sandra Lee enough to believe that. And making pesto is simple and versatile, in that you can alter the nuts you use, the hard cheese you incorporate—you can even substitute the Basil for Cilantro or Parsley or Spinach. It keeps forever in the freezer if you make a batch that’s large enough. So I do include the recipe for Pesto.
Finally, there are the “Tortinos of Zucchini”. This recipe came from the late lamented magazine “La Cucina Italiana” which I loved to read but which died earlier this year, a victim of the battle between print and new media. La Cucina lost. But I’ve kept every copy. “Tortino” means little pie in Italian. Minus the pastry, these cheese and zucchini treats are very pretty. They are, however, quite labor-intensive especially when being made for 12. However, if you are entertaining a smaller crowd, they make a great impression. And they gave me a chance to use my stainless molds that I bought at L’Atelier des Chefs on my last trip to Paris. Here are the recipes:
2. Prepare your grill using the , , or method, using apple wood chunks or chips. Put the remaining salt with pepper and cayenne in a bowl, and rub over prime rib. Place prime rib, fat side up, on grill grate. Maintaining a temperature of 225°-275° (if using a kettle grill or bullet smoker, replenish fire with unlit coals, as needed, to maintain temperature; see instructions), cook until a thermometer inserted in the center reads 130°, 3 – 3 ½ hours for medium-rare.
Remove prime rib from grill and let rest, loosely covered with foil, for 20 minutes before slicing. Serve with sauce on the side.
Core the tomatoes and then slice them across (not through the stem) in 1/2 inch-thick slices. Arrange the slices in a single layer on a sheet pan. Drizzle the tomatoes with the olive oil and sprinkle with the oregano, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and the pepper.
Bake the tomatoes for 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven, spread each slice with pesto, and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Return the tomatoes to the oven and continue baking for 7 to 10 minutes, until the Parmesan is melted and begins to brown. Using a flat metal spatula, put the tomatoes on a serving platter, sprinkle with extra salt, and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.
To make the Pesto:
Place the walnuts, pine nuts, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process for 30 seconds. Add the basil, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use immediately or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top. Makes 4 cups.
Recipe for Tortini di Zucchini from “La Cucina Italiana”
This recipe is for 6 tortini. Double it for 12.
In a large skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, garlic, parsley and pinch salt; toss together to combine. Cook until zucchini is tender, about 3 minutes; remove from heat.
On prepared baking sheet, overlap enough of the zucchini to form 4 single-layered, 3-inch rounds. Sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon cheese. Repeat with remaining zucchini and cheese to form 4 (4-layered) tortini.