Julia's first job out of Ball State University was with Indianapolis Monthly. She spent 11 happy years on the editorial staff before moving to southern California, where she penned freelance articles for a variety of magazines; co-wrote The Encyclopedia of Guilty Pleasures: 1,001 Things You Love to Hate and The Complete Excuses Handbook: The Definitive Guide to Avoiding Blame and Shirking Responsibility for All Your Own Miserable Failings and Sloppy Mistakes. She also contributed to the travel guide Moon Metro Los Angeles, wrote copy for an online marketing company, and served as the staff writer/editor at a San Diego book publisher. After getting all of that out of her system, Julia returned to Indy and IM in 2007.
Diners familiar with the veggie-centric style of Duos indy co-owner Becky Hostetter know that this trailblazer can pull a multitude of flavors out of the simplest ingredients. No surprise that she shines brightest in the summer, even when it comes to just waxing poetic about one of its most underrated crops. “There is nothing tastier than a well-grown summer cucumber,” says Hostetter. “I prefer the English type, or those cute little precious Persian ones, because the traditional variety tends to have tough skin.”
Rook chef Carlos Salazar, a native of the Philippines, applies his playful takes on traditional Asian recipes at the Fletcher Place restaurant that elevates dishes like wild-mushroom bibimbap and brisket ramen to high cuisine. Here, he gives A classic fall starch a fun, street-food makeover—served, of course, on skewers.
“The nice thing about fall is that the vegetables are a little bit harder and more firm,” Carlos Salazar says. Butternut squash, pumpkin, and even those last lingering zucchinis that no one at the office will take all do well when cooked backyard- barbecue style. Remove the seeds, slice, season, and sear each side on a hot grill. “If you can’t hold your hand over it for a few seconds, you know your grill is ready,” Salazar says.
“Wild rabbits have had more of a workout than domestically raised rabbits. This means they are typically bigger. The meat is slightly darker and has more flavor, but can also be slightly tougher,” says Christopher Eley, who explains that the best way to prepare a wild rabbit is to soak it in either a saltwater solution or buttermilk. Saltwater will draw out any remaining blood and start to tenderize it. The lactic acid in buttermilk will provide the same function. “I prefer the salt-solution method when grilling or roasting, and the buttermilk method when braising or frying,” Eley says.
For restaurateur Neal Brown, asparagus is the quintessential spring vegetable—which pokes through the Indiana soil for an eye-blink of a growing season in late April and early May. So Brown, who operates Pizzology, Stella, and the soon-to-open Ukiyo, squeezes as much life out of his favorite vegetable as he can. “I gravitate toward the pencil-thin asparagus, because it gets nice and crispy when you roast it. But I like all sizes of asparagus, depending on how I am going to use it,” says Brown. “And by the way, I eat asparagus with my fingers. I think everybody should eat asparagus with their fingers.”
White asparagus, which is grown in mounds or underground to prevent the stalks from turning green, has a woody outer skin that must be removed before cooking. “You have to peel it all the way down, and there is nothing fun about that,” Brown says. Use a paring knife or vegetable peeler to pull off that top layer in fine strips.