Summer

Mom's Blueberry Tart

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by Amy Sherman

blueberrytartBlueberries are intense. Intense color that stains your mouth purple. Intense sweet and tangy juice so rich it almost tastes like wine. Unlike other fruit, such as apples, they don't even need vanilla or cinnamon to give them a boost. They are the boost. The intensity of blueberries make them a nice kind of accent to other dishes, like in a fruit salad or a salsa. They are also great as polka dots in pancakes and muffins but a little trickier in pie. Just too intense. That's why I love blueberry tarts.

When you pick a bucket full you end up with about four pounds, which is a lot of blueberries! I called my mom for a recipe for a blueberry tart. This particular one uses three cups of blueberries and combines them with a sour cream filling that bakes up like a custard. Plopping blueberries into a custardy base, a pastry cream or clafouti seems like the right way to handle them.

I am hopeless when it comes to pie crust. I just don't have the pie crust mojo. So I rely on recipes with graham cracker crusts, and press-in crusts. This recipe has a crust that is no fail. Really. I swear. I'm going to use it as my default pie crust from now on. My mom cut the recipe out of a newspaper over twenty years ago so I apologize for not being able to attribute it properly. I have simplified the instructions somewhat.

Baby Eggplants: The Cute Factor

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by Susan Russo

eggplantbabyThe other day at Sprouts, a local grocery store, a woman saw me selecting baby eggplant.

She asked, "Do you like those?"

"Oh, I adore them," I said. "They're much sweeter and more tender than large eggplants."

"How do you cook them?" she asked.

"Lots of ways," I replied. "You can saute them, stuff them, broil them."

She screwed up her mouth, looked perplexed. "Mmmm... I don't know," she mumbled.

I scanned her shopping cart and noticed she had a bag full of baby eggplants in it. I said, "Well, you must like them too."

"Me? No, I don't really like eggplant," she said. "I only bought these cause they're just too cute to pass up."

Blame it on the cute factor — you know, when you buy something not because you love or need it but because it's too cute to pass up.

Spaghetti with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes & Spicy Garlic Oil for Two

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by Susie Middleton

freshtomsWe wait and we wait and we wait and we wait for the tomatoes to ripen. Not just because, like everyone else, we want to eat them. But because we run a farm stand and every visitor to Martha’s Vineyard in August wants tomatoes, right off the vine (and right now!). Finally our Sungolds and Sweet 100s and Black Cherries are ripening by the hundreds so we can sell some and eat some too. (Of course I am eating a lot of droppers and splitters in the morning when we’re harvesting. Soon we’ll have to start feeding the splitters to the “baby” chickens who actually are now almost four months old and just started laying eggs!)

The farm stand customers are even more eager to get a hold of bigger tomatoes. Fortunately, we have lots of Early Girls ripening now, too, but alas they are not nearly as tasty as the beefsteaks and heirlooms that are still green. (The first Cherokee Purples are coloring up.) Still, I’m harvesting as many Early Girls as I can, often two or three times a day since the late morning and early afternoon sun does wonders. But when we run out, there are some disappointed looks on customers’ faces.

In the meantime, since I will roast anything I can get my hands on, I am already making this delicious and easy recipe from The Fresh and Green Table that features roasted cherry tomatoes. Thought I’d pass it on to you in case you are similarly obsessed.

Watermelon Daiquiri

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by Cathy Pollak

watermelondaiquiriLast weekend we found ourselves sipping on these. It's not like the weather was nice enough in any way, that it would have warranted having such a cool and refreshing cocktail. But the watermelon has been so sweet and I bought so many of those baby seedless ones at the store, I had to do something with them!

I've also always associated the daiquiri as being a frozen drink. However, after a little research, it's really the name for a family of cocktails whose main ingredients include rum, lime and sugar. Maybe I'm just feeling like I'm still on vacation in Florida, close to where the daiquiri became well known.

Story has it the daiquiri was invented by an American mining engineer who was in Cuba during the Spanish-American war. There is an iron mine in Cuba named daiquiri as well as a beach....hmmm, sounds like we have a connection. Miner...working in an iron mine...needs a drink after work...has only these ingredients in the pantry...proclaims it the daiquiri...shares it with all his friends...gains worldwide popularity? Are you feeling the connection?

Anyway, enjoy this drink, it was no nice to sip on!! This could also be made without the alcohol if you choose, making it a great option for any guests who might not be drinking. It would still taste great.

Bluegrass Zucchini Muffins

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by Sue Doeden

bluegrass-zucchini-muffins-019b-1024x682A pleasant, bright fragrance wafted from the work bowl of my food processor as I pulled the top off. I had just whirled granulated sugar and chopped lemongrass through the sharp blade of my faithful workhorse, producing a delicately-scented lemon-infused sugar.

I was preparing to mix up a batch of zucchini muffins with subtle hints of lemon without the tart bite and plump, sweet blueberries.

I have lemongrass growing in my little garden this year. Lemongrass is a staple of Asian cuisines, used like an herb to add aromatic, lemony flavor without the bite of citrus. It looks like grass, but the portion closest to the soil eventually becomes long, thick, pale green and reed-like. This lower portion is the usable part of the plant.

Mini Rhubarb Strawberry Galettes

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by Amy Sherman

minigalettesI like food in miniature. I like dim sum, mezze, tapas and appetizers of all sorts. Working on the latest recipe development project has been an exploration of many things in miniature. One recipe that sadly will not work for my client was a terrific success when it came to ease and taste. It does not work particularly well for vacuum sealing but that's ok. It means I can share it with you here and now.

Rhubarb makes one of my favorite pies and now, my favorite galette, which is pretty much a pie for lazy people. Rhubarb requires some tender loving care to coax out the perfect balance of sweetness and especially texture. While mushy rhubarb isn't terrible, firm, sweet yet tangy rhubarb is fabulous! I like the method of macerating it with sugar. The trick to this recipe is to not let the rhubarb macerate too long. I think you could make it with just rhubarb but a little bit of strawberry really complements it. I also don't cook the filling! You don't need to, it cooks perfectly in miniature.

I'm no genius when it comes to pie crust. I wish I was but it's just not in the cards for me. I have ridiculously hot hands and I don't work with pie crust often enough to get really fast at making it. I do my best, but sometimes resort to premade pastry. I'm ok with that. If you have a favorite pie crust recipe that works for you, by all means, use it.

"Nude" Berry Tartlets and Why I Can't Be a Raw Foodie

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by Susan Russo

fruittartA rawist is a person who consumes primarily raw food, (or all raw food in some cases).

Now a rawist should not to be confused with a nudist. A nudist could be a rawist, but not necessarily so - it really just depends on what they eat. We actually have plenty of both here in California. As it turns out, however, I am neither.

Don't get me wrong, I like raw foods plenty - love peaches, kiwis, cucumbers, and tomatoes. But the thought of eating solely uncooked food seems, well, not fun. I cannot imagine life without grilled eggplant, roasted carrots, or, heaven forbid, stuffed artichokes.

A couple years ago when I was feeling particularly in touch with my natural-girl-self, I attended a talk in LA given by a rawist woman (wearing clothes) who made claims like, "Raw foods will cleanse your system!" "Raw foods make your skin glow!" and "Raw foods will make you healthy and improve your sex life!" I remember during the talk thinking, "Geeze, the only thing raw foods couldn't do is solve the Israeli - Palestinian conflict. Or could it?"

Sangria with Sparkling Wine and Stone Fruit

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by Joseph Erdos

summersangrisFor an excellent summer refresher, perfect for a picnic or party this upcoming Labor Day, how about trying this recipe for sangria? Using in-season stone fruit, this recipe is the perfect way to celebrate (or mourn) the end of summer. Feel free to use whichever fruit you choose, but it is especially nice with fresh, ripe stone fruit such as peaches, nectarines, and/or plums. Mangoes, pluots, or cherries would also make a nice addition. I happened to use a white peach, a white nectarine, and a white pluot.

For the spirit, a peach or plum brandy works especially well (try a plum Palinka from Hungary), but any other brandy works fine too. Many white wine sangria recipes call for the addition of sugar and soda, but there is no need if you use a sweet sparkling wine. Sweet sparkling wines such as Asti, semi-seco Cava, demi-sec Champagne, or Prosecco work the best.

The addition of peach nectar to the sangria is reminiscent of a Bellini, a cocktail of Prosecco and peach purée that was invented in the late 1930s at Harry's Bar in Venice, Italy. So, if like me you were unable to take a trip this summer, grab a glass of sangria and let your mind wander.

Nectarine and Raspberry Crumble. It's Not a Cobbler or a Crisp.

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by Susan Russo

nectarinecobblerIt's that time of year again when people everywhere find themselves completely confused about crisps, crumbles, and cobblers, not to mention brown bettys, slumps, and grunts. I think I'm finally starting to remember. How 'bout you? Think you know the difference yet? Let's find out.

(Click here to cue Jeopardy music.)

1. This dessert has a dough-like crust, which can be enclosed or made as a biscuit topping.
What is a ___________.

2. This dessert is made by mixing fruit with sugar and spices and topping it with a streusel, which is a mixture of butter, sugar, flour, and nuts.
What is a ___________.

3. This dessert is made by mixing fruit of your choice with sugar and spices then topping it with a crisp mix made of butter and sugar and a binding agent such as flour or oatmeal.
What is a _____________.

OK, hands off the keyboard, folks. Let's see how you did.

What to do With Sweet Summer Corn

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by Editors

From the LA Times

sweetcornYou’ll find bins full of corn at farmers markets and supermarkets. These usually aren’t your parents’ ears, though – remember the old advice about the only way to cook it was to have the water boiling when you went out into the field? New varieties of corn have been bred to be sweeter and to hold on to that sugar longer before it converts to starch. It’s convenient corn.

How to choose: Ears should be well filled out (check the tips of the ears to make sure there are kernels), and make sure the silk is still soft, not dried out. Don't shuck the whole ear before buying, though; it makes the farmers really cranky.

How to store: Corn should be refrigerated, tightly wrapped.

How to prepare: If you haven't already tried grilled corn, you really need to.

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restaurant news

Cambria's Best: The Black Cat Bistro
Southern California
by Maylynn Morales

blackcatlogo.jpgWith my weekend plans suddenly cancelled, I got to drive up my beloved Central Coast  for a second visit to Cambria in a month.  Both times, I had one place in mind at which to dine: Black Cat...

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Falling in love with the Vineyard: Out of season pleasures at Atria
New England
by Nancy Ellison

atriamarthasMartha’s Vineyard in the Fall is the secret treasure of Vineyarders. The “summer people (some are not)” have returned to their sophisticated rat races, leaving perfect weather and fabulous...

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Painting the Town Red
New York
by Fredrica Duke

gothamwestI’m obsessed. There’s no way of getting around it. I’m a walking Jackie Mason routine. At lunch, no before lunch, I’m deciding where we will go for dinner. At dinner, I’m wondering if the dessert...

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Fig in Fairmont Miramar
Los Angeles
by S. Irene Virbila

figreview.jpgAgainst all odds, not one, but two excellent hotel restaurants have opened in the last few months. First, we had the Bazaar by José Andrés, the dynamic tapas restaurant in the new SLS Hotel at...

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