This June, we sold our Lambert’s Cove home in Martha’s Vineyard, and now, it's August, and we find ourselves across the Island in an enchanting ship captain’s home (yes, it has a Widow’s Walk) on Tower Hill overlooking Edgartown Harbor. Goodbye Breathtaking Sunsets – Hello Gentle Sunrises!
Being in someone else’s home with so many personal touches is a new experience for me, and it has taken me at least two weeks before I began the exploration of personal effects: Family photos of towheaded children proudly displaying recently caught fish, water colors from local artist, Ray Ellis (who at one time owned the house), ship models, A 12 foot Herreshoff and Boston Whaler anchored by their pier, 19th Century Currier and Ives prints – one of which is too current for comfort! - and hundreds of Noah’s Arks seen in toys, rugs, chairs, paintings and sculptures. Its’ ghosts speak of wondrously happy summer days and Scrabble/Monopoly nights!
On holidays like Labor Day, the best dishes to serve friends and family are the ones that take very little effort to prepare. That way you can spend your time enjoying the day not laboring in a hot kitchen.
Versatile salmon can be grilled, sauteed, baked, and braised. More often than not the preferred approach is to simply grill the fish--whole or filleted--with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper, the Italian way. But there are times when a little more seasoning accents salmon's natural flavors.
Spanish style preparations saute the fish with fresh tomatoes, pitted olives, peppers, onions, and parsley. American barbecue relies on sweet-heat. Another approach, one borrowing from South American and Caribbean recipes, marries citrus with honey and garlic in a simple sauce.
Serve the roasted fish with a side of reserved pan drippings and a mango-grilled corn salsa and you'll have the perfect summer meal to be enjoyed with a glass of chardonnay or an ice cold beer.
Tired of your own backyard? Want someone else to help make your weekend "labor-free"? Perhaps one of these events will hit the spot...
September 1, 2014 - 1st Annual Labor Day California Clambake & Cookout
At Whiskey Red's in Marina Del Rey from 1-8pm
Whiskey Red's will savor the season at the first annual Labor Day California Clambake and Cookout fundraiser on the largest outdoor patio in Marina del Rey. Angelenos will enjoy a taste of the Midwest and New England with a traditional clambake and cookout/BBQ, complete with an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet, whiskey tastings, s'mores, food and drink specials, including $3 PBR, live music DJ, cornhole games and more to celebrate the long weekend and raise money for Heal the Bay.
Tickets are $10 for general admission and $45 for the buffet, which includes bottomless clams, mussels, crab legs, shrimp, sausages, potatoes, corn on the cob and more, as well as one complimentary alcoholic beverage and whiskey tastings. A portion of proceeds from the clambake will benefit Heal the Bay and keep Southern California beaches clean.
Click HERE to purchase tickets.
What would labor day be without grilling and hamburgers? Burgers are a mainstay of any backyard get-together. No party, especially one at my house, could ever take place without them. It's hard to believe that September is here and soon summer barbecuing will be over. But while the weather is warm there's still time for one last outdoor party before the leaves start falling. So if you are planning on making burgers, this is a recipe for something different.
Here is a burger with a slight English accent. First the meat mixture contains Worcestershire sauce, the famous condiment originally from Worcester, England. And there's Stilton, the British blue cheese. Any blue cheese would work in place of Stilton, but this cheese is worth searching for. It's strong flavor works surprisingly well with arugula and of course, beef. These burgers are tangy, pungent, and peppery.
Since I like to use lean beef, I bind the meat mixture with eggs and breadcrumbs to keep it from crumbling. The burgers are cooked just until done, rested, and then topped with Stilton, a slice of tomato, and arugula. Serve with buns of your choice. But before you add ketchup, mayo, or mustard, just try the burger as is. You might find it's juicy and flavorful enough to not need any condiment cover-up.
Here it is, the perfect appetizer for your Labor Day Weekend ~ Last Hurrah of Summer bash. There are many reasons this dish is awesome, but reason numero uno (besides taste) is its simplicity. You can make as many as you need, it's ready in minutes and you have the grill going anyway.
And, if your grill-centric partner won't let you near the flames, it's even better. You can send this appetizer outside for them to whip-up, while you finish meal prep in the kitchen. It's also vegetarian, vegan, non-dairy, (sub in vegan-non-dairy veggie cheese) gluten-free, kosher...making it easy to serve to a crowd who have all kinds of dietary restrictions.
A fun variation would be a hot sauce bar, where everyone can choose their level of heat. Since we like it spicy at the Noble Pig house, we chose Sriracha...and it was fantastic.
Magical things happen when you grill an avocado. The buttery inside becomes even creamier and the flesh is infused with the smokiness of the grill. Since the avocado already has a high fat content, sprinkling lime on top is all that's necessary before placing it on the grill.
My son, Eli, and his friends took up fishing a few years back. He has an awesome fishing rod, but he has since retired it. He has replaced fishing for varsity football, work (yes, he works – in a restaurant), and girls. He is 16 1/2 after all! Although he has given up the sport, his friends haven’t. And every time his friend Owen catches something wonderful, he calls me up and asks if he and I can cook together.
This past summer he caught massive amounts of blue fin tuna. I became the lucky recipient of pounds of tuna and when he called, I knew exactly what I wanted to make. Tuna Tartare! Most of the ingredients can be found in the pantry, all that was missing was the fish. I made the ginger oil before he arrived, but waited to chop, cut, and assemble the rest of the ingredients until he arrived.
Upon assembly, I realized that I didn’t have any won ton skins on hand (not really one of my pantry staples), so I sent the teenagers to the market. They couldn’t find the won ton skins(never thought to call and ask…boys), but they managed to bring home 2 pints of ice cream and some other crap, that I NEVER buy and is way too disgusting to mention. I improvised with some tortilla chips. I ate it sans the chips and when the tartare disappeared, they asked for more. With a fridge full of freshly caught blue fin tuna, I couldn’t refuse.
I figure I’ve eaten about 20 pounds of watermelon this summer. Fortunately, it’s 92% water and 0% fat, so my clothes still fit fine.
Even as a kid, I ate a lot of watermelon. Everyone in my family did. I can remember my Dad, his face beet-red from the heat, coming through our back door beaming as he was carrying a colossal watermelon. He always did the same thing: set it down on the kitchen counter and proudly announced its weight – 19 and 1/2 pounds! 23 pounds! Like his lobsta, the bigger it was, the better he liked it.
My brother Chris was always the one to cut the watermelon (seeing as none of the rest of us had his patience). With skills of a surgeon, he extracted every last seed while keeping the melon’s flesh intact. Come to think of it, I don't remember ever seeing seedless watermelons when I was a kid. Did they exist back then?
So as the days of summer dwindle, so does my supply of summer fruit. The bowl that I filled on Thursday with the bounty from the farmers’ market was down to a few lonely items by Sunday.
I was gonna make a cake or a tart or a cobbler or a pie but a) everybody’s so annoyingly calorie-phobic and b) I’m too lazy. (Isn’t Labor Day supposed to be Labor-free?) So I embraced my inner sloth and just threw together something so simple you barely have to be conscious to make it.
The hardest part was locating my cherry pitter, which I’d received as a hostess gift some time in the ‘90’s from someone who didn’t know me well enough to know how seldom that tool would see the light of day.
I only had a few cherries, so the task of pitting them was over before it could become annoying. I threw them into a saucepan, added my two remaining nectarines and what was left of my berry stash and cooked ‘em up with a little sugar, lemon and orange zest. Now I’ve got this lovely, almost labor-free compote and only one task remains. Hint: it involves an ice cream scoop.
It’s the end of summer. And I always get nervous that it’s almost the end of peach season (which is true). So the race is on over here to figure out all the things I can do with peaches before the summer ends.
I spent a summer once on a farm in Pennsylvania. We had fresh yellow peaches every day from the Amish Farmer next door. We ate them for breakfast, sliced with their skins on, in a bowl, with unsweetened heavy cream poured over them (not too heavily, not like cereal) and walnuts if we were feeling adventurous. It was a delicious way to start the day.
There was peach cobbler once a week in the summer when I was growing up. Perfect with a real pie crust on the top. And then when I started entertaining for myself, peach praline pie was one of my favorite things to make.
Here are some of our favorite peach recipes. Tell us yours!
Fresh Peach Tart | Iron Skillet Peach Pie | Peach Galette | Fresh Peach and Cinnamon Ice Cream | White Peach Sherbet | Grilled Peaches Stuffed with Mascarpone Cheese and Rosemary | Grilled Pound Cake with Warm Peach Coulis and Chantilly Cream | Amaretto Peach Bake with Honey-Lemon Olive Oil Cake | Peaches in Sauternes | Blackberry and Peach Crisp | Peach and Tart Cherry Cobbler with Sour Cream Biscuits | Summer's Best Fresh Peach Cobbler | Peach and Raspberry Cobbler
I can, can you? Sure you can! Canning is not hard to do at all, especially if you pick a really easy project like canning fruit. This year I received a box of luscious peaches from Washington state. They were perfectly ripe, but a bit crushed in spots due to poor handling in transit. Instead of canning slices or halves, I used the fruit—some perfect and some not so perfect—to make peach ketchup!
Peach ketchup is a lovely peachy color, but it tastes very much like tomato ketchup. Taste it before you can it, and adjust the spices and sugar to suit yourself. Use really great tasting fruit, it should not be brown or overripe, but if it is soft in spots, that's ok. Use the tangy sweet and sour ketchup just as you would regular tomato ketchup. It’s particularly great on potatoes.
Sweet Preservation ia a great go-to resource for canning and freezing stone fruits, offering how-to-tips, recipes, health information, customizable canning jar labels and more.
This quick and easy dinner was inspired by Aida Mollenkamp‘s Chile Basil Coconut Ceviche. Black Cod arrived from the fish CSA this week, I just bought a can of coconut cream and I was awash in fresh lime juice.
It was, as they say, beshert, meant to be. It never occurred to me to combine coconut milk/cream with lime juice to “cook” the fish. Black Cod is so luscious that I normally wouldn’t use it in ceviche but somehow the idea of combining like with like (rich fish and rich coconut cream) seemed like a good idea.
I looked in the fridge to see what I had that would appeal in the same way Aida’s mixture of mango with coconut appeals. I had a luscious Weiser Ogen melon. Score!
There are few things that taste more like summer than watermelon. I still see such a vivid picture in my mind of my mother's first homegrown watermelon. She stood so proud, holding the melon by the end of the vine, like it was a prize that she'd won. Deciding whether it made a "thump" or a "thud" would make or break what seemed like the longest wait on earth for a slice of juicy watermelon.
These days, we've had a feast of watermelon with almost every meal - perfectly accommodated by natures rhythm to give something so juicy during this heat. Isn't that amazing? Our needs can always been met by what the soil gives us. I can still feel the sun in my skin long after I come inside and begin to cook dinner, so I look for something to deeply cool me from within.
Like my mother's precious watermelon, my prize grows on our fig tree. Each morning we check on the ripeness of the largest fruits that still hang from the branches. We enjoy the slow harvest that gives just a fig or two a day, the perfect slightly sweet snack.
Why doesn’t somebody make a hamburger bun that also fits a hot dog? It would be hinged. That way, if you had a small family, you would only have to buy one package of buns. Here’s what it would look like...
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I don’t know if I would really call this dish a “recipe”. No need for measuring cups, measuring spoons, tons of ingredients, or chopping. I cannot tell you how many times I have thrown some fresh mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, and some basil together to enhance a meal. A little good olive oil, some balsamic, fresh ground pepper, and coarse salt...Read more...
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If your garden is like mine and those of my neighbors and friends, you are finding that those four little tomato plants you planted last spring are now producing on the vine way too many tomatoes for you to eat by yourself! Just how many...Read more...
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Gazpacho, what a perfect name for a chilled soup. Ever since hearing of the exotic "gazpacho," I have been intrigued and perplexed by its very foreign name. I came to learn that the soup's roots lie in Andalusia in the southern region of Spain. Gazpacho originated as a cold soup of stale bread, garlic, oil, and vinegar. Once tomatoes were...Read more...
End of Summer in Edgartown
by Nancy Ellison