Summer

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.

Summer Pleasures of Peaches

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by LA Times

From 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.

Corn on the Cob Gets Dressed Up For Dinner

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by David Latt

cornonionsWe celebrate summer with grilled meats and boiled corn, the golden ears arriving at the table, resting in silky pools of melted butter, ready for a dusting of freshly ground sea salt and black pepper.

 

Many people hunger so much for corn they eat it every chance they can to such an extent that, sooner or later, familiarity breeds disinterest and even a little disdain.  Where it seemed so celebratory at the beginning of summer, by August they turn away when a platter of corn is placed on the table. 

 

That's pretty much the way it's been for me.

On my last trip to our local farmers market, I hadn't planned on buying corn until I noticed that very few farmers were selling corn and those that were had very little to sell. Arriving late, the corn was almost sold out. Talking with a farmer, I learned that local corn will disappear from the market in a couple of weeks. After that, no more corn until the spring.

Watermelon & Fig Granita

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by Megan Martin

watermelongranitaThere are few things that taste more like summer than watermelon. I still see such a vivid picture in my mind of my mother's first homegrown watermelon. She stood so proud, holding the melon by the end of the vine, like it was a prize that she'd won. Deciding whether it made a "thump" or a "thud" would make or break what seemed like the longest wait on earth for a slice of juicy watermelon.

These days, we've had a feast of watermelon with almost every meal - perfectly accommodated by natures rhythm to give something so juicy during this heat. Isn't that amazing? Our needs can always been met by what the soil gives us. I can still feel the sun in my skin long after I come inside and begin to cook dinner, so I look for something to deeply cool me from within.

Like my mother's precious watermelon, my prize grows on our fig tree. Each morning we check on the ripeness of the largest fruits that still hang from the branches. We enjoy the slow harvest that gives just a fig or two a day, the perfect slightly sweet snack.

 

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