Summer

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.

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.

Top crostini with warm goat cheese, fresh blueberries, and rosemary for a sleek summertime appetizer. Add them to a martini made with blueberry vodka for a sophisticated summertime cocktail.

So while they're in season, explore the sexy side of blueberries. Just don't tell grandma. She wouldn't approve.

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.

Summer Tomato Bruschetta

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by Susie Middleton

brushettaProof positive that my patience (or lack of) is worsening by the year (and my memory, too): I checked our records (record-keeping nerd that I am), and, in fact, we picked the first of this years Sungolds and Early Girls EARLIER this year than last year–and the year before! (That’s tomatoes from the garden, not the hoop house. The hoop house ones came almost a full month ahead of the field tomatoes.)

So I must officially stop complaining about the tomatoes (and everything else) being late this year, especially because now they’re officially here! Time for salsa and bruschetta. Finally.

Fresh Corn and Cherry Salad

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by Cathy Pollak

fresh-corn-and-cherry-salad-with-balsamic-vinaigretteI wish there were more savory recipes that feature the cherry. It's sweetness and texture provide the perfect contrast for so many flavors. I love making a pan sauce with cherries and pouring it over pork tenderloin, it's delicious that way. 



But this weekend I was inspired to use cherries in a salad. I happened to serve this Fresh Corn and Cherry Salad alongside my favorite preparation of rib eye steak. Everyone loved it.

Not to mention it was just so beautiful and colorful on the table. 

This recipe serves 8-10 people easily, so it is perfect for a large gathering of friends or family. You'll want to toss it right before serving as the arugula is a delicate green.

Zucchini Chips

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by Amy Sherman

zucchinichipsZucchini is a favorite of gardeners because it's so impressive. It grows quickly and sometimes to staggering sizes. It's not my favorite for cooking with, because it's fairly bland and watery. I do appreciate that it adds great moisture to cakes and muffins as well as soups. I just find it doesn't add much in terms of flavor.

But I have recently discovered my new favorite way to enjoy zucchini! Yes, enjoy it! Because what's more enjoyable that potato chips? This recipe is the zucchini equivalent of potato chips. Ok they aren't as hearty as potato chips and I wouldn't use them for dipping, but they are very crisp and tasty.

Thin slices of zucchini slowly cook, dehydrate and then crisp up in the oven. The results are very crisp thin chips, that have a mild flavor, similar to toasted pumpkin seeds. That makes sense, since both are squash. You may be surprised at how much the zucchini shrinks in the oven. The slices in the photo were next to each other when I put them in.

Old Bay Cauliflower Salad

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by Cathy Pollak

cauliflowersaladMemorial Day Weekend is quickly approaching, which means grilling season will officially commence. I say that with a smirk as the Pacific Northwest has been plagued with rain for the past week-and-a-half. Come back sunshine!!!

Old Bay seasoning is one of our favorites around here. Originally used to flavor crab and shrimp it is now widely used and popular in many dishes. The seasoning mix includes mustard, paprika, celery salt, bay leaf, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, mace, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, and ginger. In the United States it is found in every grocery store but I'm not sure what its availability is in other countries. 

I decided to make a cauliflower salad, something similar to a potato salad but sans the potatoes. This is low-carb and a perfect side to accompany any grilled food you might be serving this summer.

Penne with Fresh Ricotta and Baby Heirloom Tomatoes

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by Susan Russo

cherrytompastaIf the farmers' market were giving out superlatives, heirloom tomatoes would get "most popular." No contest. Today there were several different farmers selling them from $5-7 per pound, and each table had a line of people at least four deep waiting to buy some.

Considering that one tomato weighs about half a pound or more, you could be in for a real sticker shock if you buy 3 or 4 of them! People don't seem to mind though; probably because after years of eating tasteless, hard, dry supermarket tomatoes, it's worth paying a little more to get heirlooms that taste as exciting as they look.

Who can resist brilliantly colored, endearingly odd-ball shaped tomatoes with whimsical names such as Big Rainbow, Green Zebra, and Brandywine? If, however, you don't want to break a $20 just to try a tomato, then consider baby heirlooms instead. These diminutive members of the heirloom tomato family come in a dazzling kaleidoscope of colors. Unlike their larger brethren, however, they tend to be neatly round, oval, or teardrop in shape. Most baby heirlooms are the size of cherry tomatoes, though once in a while, you'll find one the size of a golf ball.

Grilled Corn Has a Second Act as a Salad

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by David Latt

cornatgloriaswedmktBesides outdoor grilling, days at the beach, fried chicken, ripe tomatoes, and ice cold watermelon, corn on the cob is one of the great markers of summer.

When I was growing up, my mom loved to search out road side stands that sold fresh corn. She'd buy a grocery bag full and we'd feast on boiled corn with slabs of melting butter, seasoned liberally with salt and pepper.

I still enjoy corn that way, but now more often than not our corn on the cob comes to the table grilled not boiled.

Shucked and drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with sea salt and pepper, then turned on a grill until lightly browned, the naturally sweet kernels are sweetened even more by caramelization. Yumm.

For a snack, nothing is better than an ear of corn pulled from the refrigerator. But there's more that can be done with those grilled ears of corn. Cutting the kernels off, they can go into a chopped salad and move from side dish to entree.

And on hot days, that's another marker of summer--putting meals on the table with as little effort as possible.

It's Lobster Time!

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by Paul Mones

lobstersLobster season is in  high gear. While lobsters are of course most easily available on the east coast and New England, you can get pretty good live lobster now at reputable markets around the US thanks to purveyors who are not (luckily) locavores.

Folks who sell lobsters know that their product is so good that not even a politically correct eater can stay away from them. For those who are part of the extreme locavoreans, indulge yourself, suspend your obsession for just one meal - it will be worth it. 

Unfortunately, most of us still prepare and eat lobster the same way we have been taught for generations. The pleasures of boiling the lobster and eating it with drawn butter or with mayo in toasted rolls cannot be underestimated.

Lobster Fra Diablo or lobster with XO sauce are great, but merely variations on a theme. Here's a simple recipe for an appetizer/salad  that retains some of the familiar but introduces some nice new twists.

 

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