(CBS News) Chef Sara Moulton started out her career learning from the best. She spent time training with the French chef Julia Child. However she didn't start out wanting to be a chef.
Prior to training with Child, Moulton graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in "ideas" but soon went to the Culinary Institute of America. Her mother was a big influence in getting her to go to culinary school because at the time she did not want to leave her current boyfriend.
When she finished up school, in 1979, she was hired to work behind the scenes on PBS' "Julia Child and More Company," she became fast friends with the host and stayed friends with her until she passed away years later.
Moulton co-founded the New York Women's Culinary Alliance, which was designed to help other females in the food field. The organization celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2012.
She spent years working at Gourmet magazine and at the Food Network, and she currently hosts "Sara's Weeknight Meals," which is now in its third season on PBS.
In celebration of the unofficial start of summer, Moulton shares her ultimate dish.
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, sliced (about 1 cup)
Eight 1 1/2-inch crimini mushrooms (about 4 ounces), sliced
Kosher salt and freshly milled black pepper
One 4-ounce can sliced, peeled green chiles, drained
1/3 cup pitted, brine-cured olives such as kalamata, sliced
1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck or round
6 ounces cheddar cheese, cut into 4 slices
1/3 cup beer
4 hamburger buns, split and toasted
1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over high heat until hot. Reduce the heat to medium; add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high; add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms have browned and the liquid they release has evaporated, 4 to 5 minutes. Season the mushroom mixture with salt and pepper to taste and transfer it to a bowl; add the chiles and olives and set aside. Wipe out the skillet.
2. Gently shape the beef into four 4-inch burgers; season with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the skillet over high heat until hot. Reduce the heat to medium-high, add the burgers, and cook 3 minutes. Turn the burgers and cook 2 minutes. Divide the chile mixture onto them and top each with a slice of cheese. Add the beer to the skillet; cover and steam until the cheese has melted, about 3 minutes.
3. Transfer the burgers to the toasted buns and serve.
1 1/2 pounds asparagus
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1. Preheat the grill to high.
2. Cut off and discard the tough woody ends of the asparagus. Peel the stalk of the asparagus spears if they are 1/3-inch thick or more.
3. On a platter, toss the asparagus spears with the oil and salt and pepper to taste. Transfer them to the grill with tongs and grill them, turning them once, until they are lightly browned, about 3 to 5 minutes a side. Transfer the asparagus to the platter, and sprinkle them with the lemon juice.
Quick Herb Saucep>
1 cup packed, rinsed, and dried basil leaves
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup packed, rinsed, and dried fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 scallions (white and light green parts), coarsely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1 large garlic clove, minced (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
1. Combine the basil, mayonnaise, parsley, scallions, garlic, and lemon zest in a blender and puree until very smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
2. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Chopped Salad with Feta, Chickpeas, and Pita Croutons
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp. sweet or hot paprika
Three 6-inch pita breads with pockets
Kosher salt to taste
3 tbsp. sherry vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
6 cups loosely packed arugula
6 cups loosely packed mesculin
2 large red bell peppers, coarsely chopped
2 large yellow bell peppers, coarsely chopped
1 pound cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 1/2 cups cooked or drained, rinsed, and dried canned chickpeas
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta
1 1/2 cups diced dill pickle
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Mix 1/4 cup olive oil with the cumin and paprika in a small bowl. Split each pita bread horizontally into two rounds and brush the rough sides with equal amounts of the oil mixture.
2. Cut the rounds in to smaller triangles or 1-inch pieces and arrange in one flat layer on a baking sheet. Bake until golden and crisp, 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt when they're fresh out of the oven.
3. Whisk the vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper in a large serving bowl until blended. Slowly pour in the remaining olive oil, whisking to form a smooth dressing.
4. Just before serving, pile the arugula and mesculin in the center of the bowl on top of the dressing. Surround with the peppers, tomatoes, feta, chickpeas, and pickles. Add the pita croutons, toss, and serve.
Blueberry Almond Tart
For the pastry:
1 1/2 (5.3-oz) packages Walkers Vanilla Shortbread
4 ounces almond paste, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 large egg, beaten lightly
For the filling:
2/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup water
4 cups blueberries
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Make the pastry:
1. In a food processor combine the cookies and almond paste and process until the mixture turns into fine crumbs.
2. Add the egg and continue processing until the mixture starts to come together in a ball. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch fluted metal tart tin with a removable rim and press the dough evenly in the bottom and up the sides of the tart tin (the dough will be very soft).
3. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
5. Remove the tart tin from the fridge and press the dough again to even it out in the tart tin. Place a sheet of foil on the inside of the tart shell and fill it with pie weights (or rice or dried beans).
6. Bake the tart shell on the middle shelf of the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and bake the shell for an additional 5 minutes or until it is golden. Transfer to a cake rack and let it cool completely while you make the filling.
Make the filling:
1. Stir together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a small saucepan. Gradually stir in the water.
2. Add 3/4 cup of the berries and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a full boil, the berries have popped, and the sauce has thickened (the mixture will be very thick).
3. Remove immediately from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and juice.
4. Combine the thickened sauce with the remaining berries in a medium bowl; transfer to the cooled tart crust and spread the berries to fill the shell. Cool to room temperature and serve or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
1 pound cubed watermelon flesh, about 5 cups
1 quart orange juice, preferably fresh
3/4 cup vodka or to taste
1. Remove all the seeds from the watermelon and place in a blender. Blend the melon until liquid. Pour into an ice cube tray. Freeze until solid, at least 4 hours.
2. In a pitcher, combine the orange juice and vodka. Place 3 frozen watermelon cubes in each glass, pour in the orange juice mixture, and serve immediately.