The classic triumvirate of tomato, basil and mozzarella is nothing short of divine. I can just imagine Michelangelo snacking on this delicacy whilst carving the David statue. The salad is such a quintessential, Italian dish yet it has become a major part of the American summer menu – especially with the resurgence of heirloom tomato growing!
My Georgia Caprese Salad has a fun origin and pays homage to the old adage “necessity is the mother of invention.” The necessity of mention was supper. A light summer supper for yours truly alone. I was hot. I was tired. I did not want to cook – the thought of being around more heat was as tempting as repeatedly running into the back porch screen – head first mind you – like the bumble bee was doing. My family was scattered with other activities, travel or who knows what and Ol’ Jimmy was home alone – and hungry!
Not only was the thought of cooking with heat unappealing, the thought of eating something hot was equally unappetizing. Enter the “necessity… invention” moment. I rummaged through the fridge and saw I had a block of Pepper Jack cheese from M&T. I said to myself, “Self, you can at least have cheese and crackers.” Then I got to thinking – a dangerous pastime.
Here are a few of my Can't Miss Los Angeles picks for the rest of July:
NOW THRU JULY 26th
Shakespeare LA 's Romeo And Juliet is magical in the outdoor theatre at the Amphitheatre at The Japanese Garden at the VA.
Theatre in the Round under the stars in a Japanese garden in West LA? Fantastic! You can even bring a picnic.
Show starts at 8pm. Tickets begin at $20. For tickets: Click Here.
(I saw it , GO)
SUNDAY July 27th at 5PM
LAST but NOT LEAST ....THE GOSPEL CONCERT to top all Gospel Concerts. It's the Birthday Celebration Concert in Honor of Dr. Henry Jackson, Musical Director of Second AME Church of Los Angeles and choir director of FAME's Brookinaire Gospel Choir.
Gospel greats, Sherwood Sledge, Mel Carter and the Legendary Clara Ward Singers will be performing as well as Dr. Jackson's choirs.
It's a beautiful old church on the south east corner of 54th and Hoover St. The lavender pink paint is peeling on the outside of the building, but inside is lovely, simple and inviting.
SECOND AME 5500 Hoover Street , LA, 90037. For more information please contact: Church Office: (323)753-2451.
And the whole place will be rockin' down that night.
( I 've heard these guys, GO, GO, GO!!!)
Go out and have some fun!
Berries are fragile, which is why we love them so much off the bush or in a bowl But there are a couple of things to keep in mind once you decide to cook them, like in a pie.
First. Often they are less sweet than you imagine, even when they are perfectly ripe. Don’t confuse the full berry flavor with sweetness.
Second. Blueberries tend to need some acid to brighten the flavor and even blackberries can use some for balance.
Third. I believe in adding some starch to thicken fruit pies. I don’t want berry juice to run all over the plate. I want to get it into my mouth. That is the role of starch as a thickener.
I haven’t been cooking. Well, if you call defrosting some homemade marinara and boiling some water for pasta, cooking, then I guess I have cooked a little bit.
Last week was Isaac’s Bar Mitzvah. I planned the whole event, from start to finish, and in the end, the high anxiety and elevated stress level was well worth it. Isaac’s “ear to ear” smile was worth the lack of sleep and the 8 pound weight loss.
As I slowly get back into a routine, I took inventory of what I currently had on hand. A big batch of frozen cookie dough was just what I needed to kick off the first of many summer holiday weekends. With plans to go to friend’s for a BBQ, whipping up a batch of homemade ice cream sandwiches was effortless.
As the cookies baked and cooled, I made a modified version of this “magic shell“. I used all bittersweet chocolate and added a pinch of Celtic sea salt, espresso powder, and some vanilla. Delicious! And additive free!
Our local market recently had raspberries on sale -- 77 cents per half pint. I bought 8.
Since tangy fresh raspberries are highly irresistible (and perishable), Jeff and I have eaten a lot of berries over the last few days in cantaloupe boats, smoothies, berry parfaits, salads, scones, and today's raspberry sour cream cake.
This may just be the perfect summertime cake. It's delightfully quick and easy to make, and it's versatile. I know. I loved the raspberry sour cream cake so much that I made a blueberry buttermilk one too. Most of all, it's delicious.
Underneath the crunchy sugar-dusted top is a pillowy soft interior punctuated by bursts of juicy, tart raspberries. This cake needs no adornment, but a dollop of creme fraiche doesn't hurt.
I love pound cake. I love peaches. I love cooking and baking with buttermilk. Need I say more about my Peach Buttermilk Pound Cake? Not really. It’s a Peach Buttermilk Pound Cake, y’all! But then at the same time, I could elaborate volumes upon volumes simply on the amazing nature that is a pound cake! Oh, the dilemmas of Southern culinary literature! I digress...
Buttermilk is my “go to “ baking liquid for cornbread, biscuits, pound cakes and cakes too. There’s chemistry involved with the acidity and dairy quotients but I shan’t bore y’all with that. I just know that buttermilk is awesome. Instead of further elaboration on buttermilk and its baking prowess, I’ll tell y’all why I love it in this cake in particularly – the zippy tang. It is not strong but there is a slight undercurrent that keeps the cake from being too sweet. A perfect pairing with sweet to tart peaches!
It's not Summer until you've eaten a peach over the sink, nibbled on cherries, and enjoyed a stack of fresh blueberry pancakes. One of the most highly anticipated Summer treats aside from all the luscious fruit, is fresh corn. When I see Brentwood corn, I buy it. It's sweet, tender and pairs wonderfully with all types of shellfish, blueberries, lime and avocado.
Corn is high in starch and carbohydrates but it's also a good source of Vitamins B1, B5, and C, folate, dietary fiber, phosphorus, manganese and protein. I use white and yellow corn interchangeably. White seems a bit sweeter and yellow a has a rounder flavor, if that makes sense. Corn should be cooked as soon as possible, after it has been picked. It's particularly good in fritters, pancakes, succotash and salads. If you eat it on the cob, try squeezing lemon or lime juice over it and dipping it in something spicy like smoked paprika or chile powder. Another way to enjoy it is with crumbled Mexican Cotija cheese. Slather the hot cobs with mayonnaise and dip it in the cheese. Messy, but good.
You never know where you are going to find inspiration when it comes to cooking. However, these past few warm summer days, my muse has been a likely source…my herb garden. I have found myself outside, in the heat of the afternoon, just to smell the herbs made fragrant by the sunshine. The pineapple sage, the peppermint, the lemon thyme and oregano…all smell wonderful in the summer sunlight. And then there was the basil, it was just begging to be harvested and made into something…anything really.
I had a loaf of rosemary-olive oil bread, fresh mozzarella in the fridge and vine-ripened tomatoes on my counter. If you are lucky enough to have a warm, summer tomato picked right off your own vine, lucky you. Your sandwich will taste even better.
The rosemary-olive oil bread really gave a nice, complex flavor to the sandwich. However, you can use any crusty bread you choose. Just make sure it is sturdy. I also sprinkled a touch of Fleur de sel on my tomatoes, just to perk them up. I brushed the bread with olive oil before grilling and rubbed it with a garlic clove when it was warm….so delicious. Pulling out a tray of these at any gathering will cause a great commotion, you have been warned.
A friend brought me 32 peaches. She’s growing them in her backyard in Burbank. I didn’t think much of anything was growing in Burbank except the Disney coffers, but there you go.
While I was very grateful to my friend, I struggled a little to figure out what to do with that pile o’ plenty. They were ripe, ready to eat, so the Peach Project had to begin immediately. But peaches are just one item on the very long list of foods my husband will not eat, so whatever I made, I’d have to scarf it down myself, unless I can organize a quick Peach Party. (NOT.)
I wasn’t equipped (or inclined) to make preserves, and the idea of baking a pie always makes me irritable. I could give some to Oliver, but my dog will not eat a peach unless you can disguise it as a hot dog.
I finally decided to invent a peach salad, with excellent results, which I am sharing with you here. That took care of two peaches. I will get back to you with what became of the other 30.
A simple pasta is a live saver. How many nights are you rescued from eating out of a box just because you know how to throw together a good simple pasta? First tip: Don’t just rely on tomato sauce to coat the pasta. I love good sweet, milky ricotta and when I’m at a store where I can find it I tend to go overboard and buy a bit too much. So it’s ricotta on toast for breakfast, ricotta with fruit for lunch and ricotta as the “sauce” for a quick seasonal pasta.
In this dish I started with ricotta, then saw I had some pesto, added a couple of tablespoons of that, then added some crunchy sweet baby tomatoes and slices of green onion. While I was waiting for my pasta water to boil I discovered a couple of tiny zucchini with flowers attached and an ear of corn that needed to be used up. So I cut the niblets off the corn, sliced the zucchini in half lengthwise and shredded the flowers with my fingers.
I added them during the last five minutes of pasta cooking time. Voila. The (extremely critical) Mom gave it two thumbs up. The big “technique” here is to add a few tablespoons of pasta cooking water to the ricotta mixture to loosen it so that is coats the noodles. I didn’t add parmesan because I wanted the clear flavors of the vegetables to dominate. But please add it if you’re a cheese hound.