With a gazillion seasonal recipes flooding the Internet -- Thanksgiving and Chanukah collided last week, Christmas and New Year's recipes are piling up, and elaborately-decorated sugar cookies just might take over the planet -- I'm here to offer you, quite simply, the very best bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich I've ever tasted. I can't take credit for it; that honor belongs to Picco, a little pizza restaurant across the street from my house in Boston. Their BLT is off the menu until tomato season next summer, but I couldn't wait that long to have it again, and I don't want you to wait, either. Spring for a single out-of-season heirloom tomato at the market, if you must; this BLT is worth it. Salty, garlicky, herby green goddess dressing seduces the crisp bacon, juicy tomato and crunchy lettuce in a way that plain old mayonnaise cannot. Two pieces of toasted or grilled bread (Picco chars theirs in wood-fired ovens) hold it all together. Stairway to BLT heaven, I promise.
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When it comes to salad, I fall in love easily and often, and when I do, I eat the same salad for days until my affections find another to love. I fell hard for this bacon, lettuce and tomato salad, tossed with a creamy dressing made with fresh basil from my herb garden. You'll want to use fairly robust lettuce, the ripest tomato, and just enough bacon to remind you of the best BLT sandwich you've ever had. Don't skimp on the basil; the dressing should be vibrant and herby. If you absolutely need the bread for your BLT, add some large homemade croutons. This is an in-season salad, so enjoy it now with the end of the summer tomatoes and basil. Then, save the recipe for next summer. You'll fall in love all over again.
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What makes a chowder a chowder, and not just a fish soup? The name comes from the French word chaudiere, a three-legged cauldron. When ships returned from the sea, every village had a large chaudiere waiting at the dock; each fisherman added a portion of his catch, big pieces of fish cleaned and cut right on the boat, to be served later as a communal meal. It's a shame that most of us no longer get our fish directly from the docks, and that we make chowder in our own kitchens instead of a communal pot. While our way of life has changed, the basic chowder remains the same: a fish-based soup, thick with big chunks of fish or shellfish. This shrimp, corn and bacon chowder gets a double whammy of smoky flavor from pimentón (smoked paprika) and the bacon. I call it a pantry chowder, because I always have shrimp and corn in the freezer, and a combination of clam and chicken broths from the pantry makes a fine substitute for fresh fish stock.
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Just when I thought I'd made every turkey meatball under the sun, I spied a few strips of leftover cooked bacon from a spinach salad, and voila! BLT turkey meatballs. The essential components of a classic bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich are all here: bacon, of course; sun-dried or slow-roasted tomatoes; parsley standing in for the lettuce; mayonnaise; and bread (crumbs). Form the meatballs small, and serve them as an appetizer. Or, make them large, and stuff a pita with lettuce, tomatoes and turkey meatballs -- a BLT inside a BLT. Turkey meatballs freeze well, so if you have time, cook a double batch. You can reheat them in the microwave for sandwiches, or add to pasta for a quick worknight dinner.
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