Summer

lavendericecreamAll summer long I love to make ice creams and sorbets. I use all types of fruit to create the most fantastic flavors. For ice creams, too, I enjoy creating unique flavors with herbs and spices. These frozen treats are sweet and dessert-like, but they also work to cleanse the palate after a meal. So before the warm weather ends this September, I'm using my ice cream maker one last time.

Typically ice creams are made with a custard base using sugar and egg yolks that are combined with hot milk. You get rich consistency and a luscious mouthfeel from ice cream created this way. But instead of a custard base, this recipe uses crème fraîche to create the rich texture. This French cream is cultured and has a sweet-tart flavor like a cross between cream cheese and sour cream. It makes an exceptional ice cream. But I take this dessert to the next level with the addition of lavender.

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watermelonsaladI wait all year for watermelon and then eat it with reckless abandon every chance I get.  I love buying the small, seedless varieties, they are so easy to cut up and enjoy.  I can't believe how sweet the ones I have already tasted are....so far a good crop!

Anyway, if you have never experienced watermelon with something a little salty and a little oniony, it's about time you do.  It's by far my favorite way to eat watermelon.  And it's totally addictive. You will enjoy it all summer and crave it all winter.  

You must experience this to understand what I am talking about.  You can thank me later!! Believe me when I tell you how surprising and wonderful the flavors are when they come together.

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salsaverdeSalsa Verde makes a perfect dip during the summer and also adds a refreshing burst of flavor to all type of dishes. It is a great marinade and topping for grilled fish, seafood, chicken, beef, and lamb.

Some recipes call for boiling the tomatillos, but roasting adds more flavor to the sauce and is worth the extra step.

When selecting tomatillos, always slightly open the husk to inspect the flesh color and tone inside. The flesh should be firm and without major blemishes and the color should be bright green, with a fresh, fruity smell.

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blackberries.photo.jpg When I was growing up I knew all the best places to pick blackberries within walking distance of my house. Wild blackberries are relatives of the rose, and like rose bushes, blackberry bushes or brambles have thorns making the prize difficult to reach. But so worth the effort. I had a basic formula that I kept to back then--one berry for me, one for the bucket, another one for me, another one for the bucket. Somehow eating them while picking them, they tasted even better than when eaten at home. Of course it also lead to purple stained tongue and fingers as evidence of my consumption.

When asked what my favorite fruit is, I usually say raspberries or peaches but in truth, I probably love blackberries most of all. Because they are in season for such a short time and are usually terribly expensive, they seem like rare jewels and I tend to forget about them. Until they're in season again. Such an intense fruit and so delicate too, they are best used immediately. If stored gently preferably in a single layer, they can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days or frozen. In addition to being delicious, blackberries are a good source of vitamins A and C and also provide vitamin E and minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, selenium and zinc.

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figtree.jpgFor those of us of a certain age, our first encounter with figs came not in life but in a movie theater when Oliver Reed used a fig, deftly cut open from the bottom, to help Alan Bates appreciate the pleasures of sensuality as he struggled with his attraction to Glenda Jackson in the 1969 classic, “Women in Love.”  Watching Oliver Reed spread open that ripe fig was the height of eroticism to a young boy.

After the movie I rushed out and bought a basket of figs and marveled at their round fullness.  The ones that were ripe had a heaviness that made my juvenile heart race with excitement.  But to my young palate, used to simple fruits like apples and pears, figs were much too strong tasting.

I learned to appreciate figs when I lived in a house with a fig tree. I enjoyed watching the fruit slowly form, first as a small bulb attached to a twig, then bulging into a soft, round shape, expanding into a fullness that invited the touch.

In one of my most pleasurable, early food-moments I watched a fig ripen and picked it just as its nectar collected at the bottom. Bitting into its warm sweetness, I was hooked. My breakfast routine after that required only a cup of black coffee, a piece of dry toast, and a trip to the fig tree.

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