Summer

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.

Golden Couscous

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by Cathy Pollak

coucoussaladI think couscous is one of my favorite side dishes. I love all of it's possibilities, especially the flavors it can take on when mixed with the right ingredients.

This truly is a "golden" couscous, not just because golden raisins are part of its ingredients list, but turmeric is used to give this dish its golden color. If you are not familiar with turmeric, it is a powder used extensively in South Asian cuisine.

Grilling the green onions in this recipe also imparts a smoky flavor. This dish went nicely with our grilled chicken and salad for dinner. I think you will enjoy it!

I Heart Heirlooms

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by Matt Armendariz

heirloom illustration 3With no attempts to revise biblical history, I have concluded that some religious scholars may have erred. I simply do not believe that the fruit hanging from the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden could have ever been an apple. In my humble opinion there is only one fruit that had the potential to misdirect Eve into morally unsound behavior.

It had to be an heirloom tomato.

Alright, it’s not as romantic and symbolic as the ubiquitous apple and what I’ve written may be considered blasphemy, but when you take that bite of your season’s first heirloom tomato you quickly understand how some things on this planet can just be absolutely perfect as they are and make you want to do bad, bad things just to get another bite.

It might just make you want to write a letter to the editor of the Good Book. Wait, um, on second thought, scratch that.

Heirloom tomatoes have gained popularity in the past decade or so, and that puts one of the biggest smiles on my face. If you’ve never tasted an heirloom (let alone never seen one), you might react by shock and horror and then pure idiotic delight. Simply put, heirlooms are very very old tomatoes, grown from plants and seeds that have been handed down from generation to generation. Because of their lineage, there’s usually a story behind each specific variety.

Asian Slaw, Two Ways

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by Amy Sherman

cabbagesaladpsWhen you start shredding napa cabbage an amazing thing happens. It explodes. Napa cabbage grows so densely that a relatively small or medium head of cabbage not only weighs a ton, it seems to expand when you cut it up. So after shredding two heads there was no room to fit the already shredded red cabbage in the mix. I also realized there might be someone who didn't like cilantro and making two batches would allow for a little more choice of flavors.

The red cabbage cole slaw included shredded red and yellow peppers and carrots. The napa cabbage cole slaw included slivered green onions and cilantro. Both were quite tasty and tasted different though the Asian inspired dressing was exactly the same.

I like to make the cole slaw the night before I serve it. It tastes better if it has some time to mellow out a bit and soften. The other trick to making cole slaw is to add things like cilantro and green onion at the last minute, right before serving, because neither of those ingredients improve the longer they sit around.

Trapanese Pesto

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by Amy Sherman

pesto trapanese sslSummer is bright red, hot, juicy and sweet. So it's ironic that tomatoes don't really become ripe until the last gasp of Summer and into early Fall. To savor a bit more of the flavor of Summer, I recently made a delicious variation on the Genovese pesto recipe, a Sicilian recipe from Trapani with chunks of ripe tomato.

Trapanese Pesto is a twist on the classic and in addition to tomatoes, it includes some mint, almonds, a dash of chili and pecorino instead of parmesan cheese. While I'm sorry I didn't try get to try this pesto when I was in Trapani, I am very glad I discovered it. Trapenese Pesto is spicier and more full-bodied than the Genoa version with cool and hot tones all at once. The almonds give it a distinctive creaminess.

I reviewed quite a few recipes before coming up with my own recipe. Like the more famous pesto there is no definitive version so if you feel like adding more oil or a handful of pine nuts, go right ahead. While sundried tomatoes are available all year round and make a lovely pesto, try this version now while fresh tomatoes are still sweet and juicy.

Sweet Pea Dreams

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by Susie Middleton

img 1047 1Peas, alas, are not a spring vegetable, despite what legions of food writers would have you believe. It is wonderful to think of things like spring pea risotto and minted pea soup in May, but unless you are lucky enough to live in a really temperate climate, you’ll be waiting for fresh peas until late June with the rest of us.

I feel bad being a Scrooge about this. Actually a super-Scrooge, as, these days, I can’t really even get behind those so-called fresh peas (usually already shelled) that arrive in the grocery stores before they do in my garden. I’d rather eat frozen peas. (And I do.)

The reason is that shell peas–or English peas–lose that just-picked sweetness rather quickly and wind up tasting bland and starchy when they travel many miles to get to you.

So right now I have to content myself with staring at the squat little pea seedlings in my garden, imagining what they’ll bring me. I’m very proud of them, actually. Yesterday I noticed that they’ve started unfurling their little tendrils and have obligingly begun to grab on to the curtain of strings I hung for them. Such good peas.

Why Not? After All A Tomato Is a Fruit

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by Brenda Athanus

backyardfarmsBackyard Farms is a 38-acre greenhouse located in a very small, central Maine town that raises the best tomatoes in New England! I have the good fortune to cater their important board meeting luncheons and dinners. They are all great eaters and a few are real epicureans. I love to dazzle them. My motive is always to show them all the possibilities of the fruit that they work so hard at making perfect. Every course is created around the tomato and sometimes it gets very challenging to top the last meal that I have created for them.

Last spring I wrote tomato tarts for dessert into the menu without having a clear idea how that would happen. I had 5 varieties to work with, all colors and shapes to inspire me. I ‘slept on how I would create this’ every night for two weeks until it was show time. The night before I slowly baked ½ thick slices of all five varieties of tomatoes on buttered parchment paper-250 degrees, slow enough to dehydrate them but not too long that they became leathery. It took 2 hours and I let them sit in a cool room overnight because refrigeration would make the texture change for the worse.

I gathered my French tin tart pans out of the back of my kitchen cabinet, buttered them and preceded to take this dessert from the drawing board of my mind to the dessert table. I imagined that every component of this dessert should be seamless, meaning - not any part would dominate the other. So, I made a pastry crust with homemade tomato paste, finely ground and toasted pine nuts and dried basil. Why, dry basil? It is dried already, stable, not over powering and perfect. I know, a bit too much thinking, but this dessert was going to rock!

Summer Vegetable Stir-Fry

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by Joseph Erdos

summervegWith summer drawing to a close, I'm still not ready to say goodbye. My garden, though less productive, has a lot of vegetables that are still ripening. But, alas, the cooler weather and shorter days will bring an end to summer's bounty. But with all the beautiful late summer produce that's currently available at farmers' markets, like squash, peppers, tomatoes, and more, there's a lot of summery cooking that can still be done.

Take the opportunity to make a tomato sauce, a soup, saute or stir-fry. I love stir-frying because it's such a fun and easy method for cooking up a meal quickly. Plus you can pack it with vegetables. For this summer stir-fry, I use zucchini, bell peppers, and oyster mushrooms. And one of my favorite herbs, Thai basil, makes an aromatic and flavorful addition. What could be a better dish for using up summer vegetables than this?

With Thai flavors, much like Pad Thai, I use sweet tamarind paste and savory fish sauce to flavor the dish. Soy sauce, garlic, and ginger round out the flavor profile. It's all served over rice noodles. But there's one thing to keep in mind. The secret to a well-made stir-fry is cooking the dish in smaller portions so that everything stays crisp instead of steaming under the weight of a full wok of vegetables. Take a few minutes to toss together this healthy and colorful dish. You won't be let down by these summer flavors.

Edible Red Corn on the Cob

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by Susan Russo

redcornNotice anything unusual about this corn? No, it's not some nifty Photo-Shop-Curves technique. It's real red you're seeing. That's no ordinary ear of corn. That's an ear of edible red corn.

In the U.S. we typically refer to colored corn as "Indian corn" since Native Americans were the first people to grow corn in the New World. When European colonists came to the New World, they referred to corn of all colors as "Indian corn" to differentiate it from other grains such as wheat and rice. Over time, white, yellow, and bi-color corn replaced colored corn in people's diet, and colored corn became ornamental.

So what makes red corn red? Like red pomegranates and purple grapes, red corn derives its color from anthocyanins, or health-promoting antioxidants. This means that it's both more visually appealing and healthier than traditional corn.

As for texture and taste, red corn has slightly crunchier kernels and an earthier flavor. That's why in this recipe for Red Corn with Cilantro and Cotija Anejo Cheese, I added a touch of sugar. Acidic lime, salty Mexican cheese, and savory cilantro add complexity without masking the corn's unique flavor.

Grilled Pound Cake with Warm Peach Coulis and Chantilly Cream

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by Cathy Pollak

grilledpeachpouncakeI couldn't be more excited for the month of August. August and fresh peaches are synonymous. Yes, peaches are available during other months of the year but there is something special about the August peach; it’s just sweeter. I don’t think I’m imagining it. Maybe I’m fueled by the anticipation of peach cobblers, peach margaritas and the iconic peaches and cream; all indulgences I love to save until this time of year. But in short, peaches are simply sweet, comforting and distinctly summer’s gold.

Each year I try to come up with a new way to celebrate this timely summer crop. I have taken the peach in many directions, both savory and sweet. It never disappoints. This year instead of traditional peach pie I’ve settled on Grilled Poundcake with Warm Peach Coulis and Chantilly Cream. Don’t get scared off by the serious foodie language, coulis is just a fancy French term for a simple but stylish fruit sauce while Chantilly cream refers to a sweetened whipped cream.

This dessert is easy to prepare and truly makes the peach the star of the show. Grilling the poundcake also adds a toasty touch of goodness, while the slivered almonds provide the perfect contrasting crunch. I promise this will be a family favorite for years to come.

 

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