Summer

redpeppersoupI woke up the other morning craving roasted red pepper soup. Not for breakfast -- that would be weird -- but for dinner.

Since I had recently purchased a dozen bright and shiny red bell peppers, I thought it would be a good idea to roast them first thing in the morning. So by 6:15 am, the peppers were sliced, drizzled with oil, and placed under the broiler. Like wood-fired pizzas or chargrilled burgers, the smell of roasting peppers is utterly enticing. Except when it's not.

You see, that utterly enticing aroma becomes not-so-enticing by three o'clock in the afternoon. You can light vanilla scented candles (which I did) and spray air freshener (which I did). It won't matter. The smell will linger like an unwanted house guest.

So here's my advice: Make roasted peppers only after 12 noon. And then make this soup because it's too delicious to pass up. You could make it with jarred roasted peppers and canned corn, but don't. Roast the peppers. Cut the kernels off the sweet corn. Chop the fresh cilantro. Sure, it will take longer, but you'll be rewarded.

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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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cherries.jpgFor the last couple of weeks, I have been unusually happy. It's not the weather or exercise or Prozac. It's cherries. Here's the deal with cherries: their season is ridiculously short, their price is ridiculously high, but the flavor is ridiculously delicious. Who can deny the pure pleasure of eating a sweet-tart, fresh, juicy cherry? It is prime cherry pickin' time. So here's what you need to know about selecting, storing, and cooking with cherries.

When is cherry season?
Most cherries are in season from late May through late July. The season is short: typically 4-5 weeks, peaking at about week 3.

Why are cherries so expensive?

For good reasons: Cherries are highly dependent upon good weather; they're also highly susceptible to insect damage and disease and often require protection from netting or cheesecloth, which is time consuming for farm workers. Finally, they must be picked carefully and are highly perishable since they do not ripen once harvested. This all adds up to a labor intensive and expensive fruit to produce, which is why the price is high. Don't wait for a big sale on cherries; it might not come. If you love them – and you know you do – then just splurge.

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redpotatosaladMemorial Day weekend has become synonymous with the beginning of summer and usually celebrated with barbecues, outdoor gatherings, or some kind of pre-summer fun.

A great side dish to almost any outdoor menu is potato salad. This version uses a mustard vinaigrette rather than mayonnaise to bind the ingredients - it’s lighter and the abundance of fresh herbs gives it great flavor – and it will hold up a bit longer on a warm summer day.

“Fines herbes” (fēn-ˈzerb) is a classic combination of herbs that is commonly found in French cuisine and usually include fresh parsley, chives, tarragon and chervil. leaves (If fresh chervil isn’t available, substitute an additional 1/2 tablespoon of minced parsley and an additional 1/2 teaspoon of tarragon)

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mozz-onastickI don’t know if I would really call this dish a “recipe”. No need for measuring cups, measuring spoons, tons of ingredients, or chopping. I cannot tell you how many times I have thrown some fresh mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, and some basil together to enhance a meal. A little good olive oil, some balsamic, fresh ground pepper, and coarse salt creates a fresh, tasty, savory, and sweet dish.

Sometimes I will make a bruschetta and add a piece of burrata cheese. My motto – you can’t go wrong with anything that includes burrata. Even without the burrata, there is something special about this combination.

When I read that this weeks dish for French Fridays with Dorie was a salad that included a fruit, I wasn’t exactly overwhelmed. Generally, I don’t really like fruit in my salad. I can’t get into watermelon with my lettuce and PLEASE, hold the mandarin oranges in my chinese chicken salad.

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