cherrysoup.jpgFor me there is nothing more refreshing on a hot day than a bowl of cold sour cherry soup. Sour cherries are revered in Hungary, where they are made into pies, strudels, tarts, and soups. Since sour cherries are in season right now, I picked up a quart last week at the Greenmarket specifically to make this soup. Cold soups, mostly savory, are enjoyed throughout Europe in the summertime. Sour cherry soup is technically a sweet soup, but because of its tartness it works well as a first course. I prefer it as a dessert but I just eat it whenever I feel like cooling off. I grew up eating my mom's cherry soup, so for me it's something that I love and I can't imagine my summers without it.

Hungarian cherry soup can also be made from dark sweet cherries, but sour cherries are preferred for their zing. The soup is traditionally made with the pits intact, so that is how I make it here. But if you would rather pit your cherries, that's fine too. I always provide guests with little bowls as spittoons. I think leaving the pits in adds to the fun and enjoyment of eating the soup. No one wants to cook in the summer, but trust me, this soup's ten-minute cooking time is worth the trouble. After having a big bowl of chilled sour cherry soup, you will be singing its praises and adding the recipe to your summer repertoire.


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floating-in-the-pool.jpgThe summer that sprang to mind when I first thought about what I read is not this summer at all but one from a number of years ago and it isn’t about something I read exactly but something that my friend Jamie read to me.

It was a brutally hot August day and we were floating in her pool, each of us in one of those brilliant floating chaise lounges with the built-in cup holder or in this case, built-in glass of iced tea holder. I am almost positive that Jamie was one of the very first people I knew to have a floating chaise lounge with the built-in cup holder and in fact she had two; one of which I was in, the other occupied by her.  I know for a fact that there was a very fragrant, perfect sprig of fresh mint in my iced tea glass which I can promise you she grew in her garden.

I was drifting, my head resting on the floating chaise’s pillow, my eyes closed, letting the chair take me wherever it wanted.   Every once in a while, I’d bump gently into the side of the pool, and using my hands as paddles, I’d turn myself around, never once opening my eyes.  The relentless sun and heat had made me feel positively light-headed and the water washing across my legs as Jamie floated past me, her chaise leaving a small but cooling wake, was the only relief.  I was somewhere between conscious and not when suddenly I heard a loud shriek.  “Oh my God!”

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peach-cherry-cobbler1.jpgIn a few days I’ll be hopping on another plane to a place that promises lots of good food, relaxation, sunshine and wine. It’s a trip we’ve been planning for a while, but what I wasn’t planning on was real life enveloping the weeks before and after this excursion. In this case real life means work, and work means travel, and that means I’ll be up in the air and away from home for many weeks. When I return it will no longer be summer but early fall and I can’t help but feel slightly Rip Van Winkelish about the whole damn thing.

I’ve managed to cram quite a bit of summer in the past few weeks. Dinners outdoors with best friends, long walks in the muggy streets of NYC with my blogging family, even one last hurrah at our house just the other night dedicated to the bounty of figs. Summer is my favorite season and I just don’t like to see it ending, footstomp footstomp footstomp!

As a symbolic gesture I picked up stone fruit at the farmers’ market the other day, knowing that it could very likely be the last peach or plum I would buy and cook with at home for some time. Of course I’m looking forward to what’s around the corner but saying goodbye to stone fruit always leaves me a bit melancholy.

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veggies-pickledIsaac and I have established that a burger isn’t a burger without pickles.  We both agreed that our pulled pork sandwiches (last night's dinner) was no exception to the pickle rule.  I love pretty much anything pickled.  I have been a pickle lover ever since I could remember.

Growing up, my elementary school, Erwin Street Elementary had a fall festival each year.  Some classrooms had a different game theme, one classroom housed all the prizes where one could “buy” stuff with the winning tickets.

Yet, my most favorite classroom of all had a huge barrel filled with the fattest pickles I had ever seen.  The classroom with the barrel of pickles was the place I searched out first.  I could still remember what they tasted like.  And I can still remember the feeling I got with that first bite of that sour, tart pickle!

Each summer I end up pickling some sort of veggies.  This past week I choose English cucumbers, radishes, and purple onions.  I also threw in a shallot, sliced thin!  The pulled pork could stand on it’s own, but adding these veggies made it that much better.

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salad.chopped.lascala.jpgGrowing up, eating the perfect chopped salad could only be found at La Scala in Beverly Hills.  I would crave this salad and when I worked as a talent manager in the 80′s, one could find me at lunch time, sitting in one of their big red leather booths, at least once a week.  Other than The Palm, The Grill, Hugos (for breakfast), La Scala was my drug of choice!

It truly is one of the simpliest salads; finely chopped iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced julienne salami, thinly sliced provolone cheese, garbonzos, and one kalamata olive.  If you choose, you could add in sliced turkey, grilled chicken, tomatoes, or basil.  Dressing on the side of course (perfect for dipping their freshly baked bread).  Their salad dressing is distinct, like no other.

When a friend of mine visited from New York, I took her there for that salad.  She put me on a mission to recreate the dressing.  I tried and tried.

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