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Summer

White Wedding Sangria

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by Matt Armendariz

mango-peach-sangria 456x342This was served at our wedding last year and always delights a crowd, hence the name. Not that we have anything against Billy Idol…. It is fruity, sweet, on the lighter side and can be made more like a cooler if you increase the juice.  Frozen fruit is key here as it keeps the drink cold and stops from becoming too mushy in the liquid. Frozen pre-cut fruit works fine or you can do it yourself.

1 bottle of white wine, something fruity like Chenin Blanc works well
1 cup frozen diced peaches
1 cup frozen diced mango
1 red delicious apple, cored and cubed
1 lemon, thinly sliced and seeds removed
8-12 ounces fruit nectar (anything like peach or passionfruit or guava works)

Mix the wine and nectar in a large container, add apples and refrigerate for at least one hour. When you’re ready to serve add the frozen fruit, give it a stir and serve over ice. Garnish each glass with a slice of lemon.

-- Recipe courtesy of MattBites.com    

 

Quick Fresh Summer Tomato Basil Sauce

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by James Moore

Nothing beats fresh tomato sauce made with your own (or someone else’s) garden tomatoes. The few simple ingredients combine to make a truly delicious and authentic pasta sauce.

This recipe can easily be doubled if you have an abundance of tomatoes, and it freezes really well, so it’s worth making a big batch. Perfect with angel hair, but any favorite pasta can be used.

Homemade Tomato Chutney

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by Susan Salzman

tomatochutneyWhat do I feed 12 boys, ranging in age from 7 – 14 without spending my entire weekly grocery budget on that one meal? We have done away with hot dogs and instead have adopted sausages in it’s place. After much thought, grilled sausages with homemade condiments is the route I will be taking. Setting everything up, buffet style, works with a crowd. Add a big bowl of veggie chips, cut up fresh cucumbers and jicama (spiked with fresh lime + chili powder) and just maybe all of this good stuff will counteract the sugar high that will ultimately be taking over the evening.

I like to prepare for the hectic week ahead and doing as much prep and organization in advance keeps me sane through out the week. Onion marmalade, ketchup, barbeque sauce, teriyaki, and homemade sodas can easily be found in our fridge, stored in glass jars of all shapes and sizes (I hoard glass vessels). I have recently gotten into making chutneys and this tomato chutney has become a a household favorite.

Summer's Best Fresh Peach Cobbler

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by James Moore

peachcobblerThis is a fantastic recipe that makes great use of fresh summer peaches. Cobbler is a classic summer dessert and just about as American as Apple Pie. The clever folks at Cook’s Country have mastered a method that prevents the cobbler from sitting in too much liquid.

Traditional cobblers are usually made with a biscuit-like topping and can be made with almost any fruit, although peaches are my favorite. I usually make biscuits with buttermilk or heavy cream, but the yogurt really works well here.

Top the warm cobbler with some vanilla ice cream and enjoy.

Five Cocktails for your Summer Parties

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by Joshua Lurie

summercocktalksCocktails aren't an afterthought at parties and weddings anymore. Just ask Talmadge Lowe, the co-founder of a roving underground cocktail club and catering company. He's among several bartenders who have built their own drinks catering companies and raised the quality and customization of cocktails at events. 

"People are going to go to the bar first thing they do, and they’re going to go back to the bar several times," Lowe says. "So why not design a bar to be just as special as the menu?"

And since summer's the height of L.A.'s private event season, here are five cocktail caterers who are bringing the craft of cocktails to the party.

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Fresh Strawberry Shortcake with Homemade Biscuits

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by James Moore

biscuitstrawberryStrawberry Shortcake seemed to always mark the beginning of summer when I was growing up.

Although we get strawberries almost year round in California, they always taste best in early summer. We always made our “shortcake” with biscuits.

This is a pretty foolproof method. When you stir slightly cooled melted butter into cold buttermilk, the butter will clump.

Although this might look like a mistake, it's one of the secrets to this recipe.

Summer Pleasures of Peaches

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by Editors

From the LA Times

summerpeachesPeaches and nectarines are kissing cousins. In fact, maybe closer. Plant a bunch of peach pits and a few of them will actually sprout nectarine trees, and vice versa. It used to be said that the difference was that peaches had fuzz while nectarines didn’t. But in supermarkets today, that’s hard to determine since many of the peaches have been mechanically de-fuzzed.

Generally, the flavor of nectarines is lighter and a little more acidic, almost lemony, while peaches are richer and muskier. Ripe nectarines can make you gasp with pleasure, but a great, perfectly ripe peach will make you fall to your knees. Still, you can use them interchangeably. What’s good for the peach is good for the nectarine.

How to choose: Check the background color. Ripe fruit will be golden, not green. Mature fruit that hung on the tree long enough to develop full sugar will have a distinctive orange cast. Always with peaches and nectarines, trust your nose: fruit that is ripe and delicious will smell that way.

When Only Fresh Vegetable Soup Will Do

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by Amy Ephron

vegsoupI’d flown to New York for too short a time and then extended my stay because I had too many things to do and then flew home. Crowded/full flights both ways, a little delay, and by the time I reached L.A., I was flat on my back. Jet lag. No. Fever.

And for me a completely curious thing - since I think the cure for the stomach flu is a chili dog or a hamburger please with French fries - absolutely no appetite. None. I was nervous about that.

I didn’t eat anything for two days – don’t discuss my metabolism, two hours is a long time for me.

But by the third day, I still didn’t feel like I could eat anything.

Unaccustomed to any processed food, maybe blame it on the “cheese plate” if you can call it that that comes packaged on the plane if they put enough on and you can in fact purchase one, I felt only the freshest thing would do. Not even chicken soup. (I have a theory by the way that chicken soup is not a curative but quite the opposite, but that’s another story.)

All I wanted was some kind of broth, no, something slightly more substantial. Home-made vegetable soup. The easiest thing in the world.

Arugula, Baby Spinach and Blueberry Summertime Salad

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by Susan Russo

blueberrysaladMoms and grandmas love blueberries. Think about it. Doesn't your family have cherished recipes for blueberry pie and blueberry muffins? What about blueberry cobbler and frosted blueberry sweet rolls?

Why are blueberries so beloved? It could be their association with lazy summer days, Fourth of July cookouts, or time spent baking in grandma's cozy kitchen. Whatever it is, blueberries are sweet and easy-going, like the girl next door.

But like the proverbial librarian who lets down her hair, blueberries can also be sexy. That's right. Sprinkle plump, juicy summertime blueberries on peppery wild arugula or watercress for a stylish salad.

Guys, Grilled Lamb, and Bobby Flay

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by Susan Russo

lambskewerslemonWhen Jeff watches t.v., it’s typically one of three types of shows: sports (he’s a guy), nature/science programs (he’s a doctor), and cooking competitions (I’m stumped). He’s not so much into instructional cooking shows, though he doesn’t mind Giada’s Everyday Italian (he’s a guy). What he really likes are the cooking competitions, like Top Chef and Iron Chef America.

One night last summer, we saw a particularly inspiring episode of Iron Chef featuring Bobby Flay, Jeff’s second favorite chef after Cat Cora (he’s a guy; Jeff, not Cat, that is). We like Bobby’s creativity and the way he makes ordinary grilled food seem chic.

So the following day when I went to the library, I checked out a couple of his books, including Grilling for Life and Boy Gets Grill. They were mixed in among a 4-foot high pile of cookbooks (including many baking ones) that caught Jeff’s eye when he came home.

Picking through the pile like he was looking for the perfect apple among many bruised ones, he paused upon seeing Bobby’s books. “Hon, why do you have two Bobby Flay grilling cookbooks?” he asked. “Because he’s the guy you really like on Iron Chef, so I thought I’d check out some of his recipes,” I replied. “So, are you planning on just reading them or actually making something from them?” he asked.

“Making something. Why else would I have gotten them?” I said. (Though we both instantly realized the flaw in that argument—for the next three weeks, the closest thing those baking books would come in contact with is dust.)

“But hon, we don’t have a grill,” he said delicately. “I know we don’t have a grill, but we will some day,” I said.

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