Summer

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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grilled_nectarines.jpgDoes anyone remember the scene from the television show "Strangers With Candy" where the tremendously unpopular Geraldine Antonia Blank (otherwise known as Gerri), tries to woo her classmates into coming to her house for a party?

"Anyone coming to my party Friday night? We’re serving hot fruit!"

While the phrase sounds odd out of context and perhaps a bit unpleasant, here’s something that sounds good: grilled fruit.

Ribs and chicken aren’t the only things that should get grill time. There’s nothing quicker and easier than slicing a fruit or two, tossing it on the grill and dressing it with a glaze, syrup or a sprinkle of brown sugar and cinnamon. It’s the perfect topping for a scoop of ice cream and quite a delicious and unusual way of serving summer’s stone fruit. The heat brings out the sweet sugary flavors and the grill lends a tiny bit of outdoor panache.

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blueberrybucket.jpgMy friend, Lynn, rubs up with mosquito spray and grabs a bucket as she heads out each year at this time to pick wild blueberries. She's been doing this for years, so it doesn't take her long to pick enough of those small, sweet berries in her secret spot to make at least a couple of blueberry pies. And, she makes the world's best pie crust. This year, she brought me a small pie that was perfect for my husband and I to share. We savored each bite of flaky crust that held her homemade wild blueberry pie filling. It was absolutely heavenly.

I don't pick wild blueberries, except for the few that grow along my driveway. Too many bears, woodticks and mosquitoes to worry about when one is out in the woods picking berries. And, I don't make pies. I make at least a few dozen of my favorite bluebery muffins each year at this time.

Today, I tried something a little different by baking a whole batch of my favorite blueberry muffin recipe in a springform pan to make a muffin cake.

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herbice.jpgIt is often the simplest of gestures in life that make for elegant entertaining. With amazing refrigerators and ice machines galore in our homes, the old fashioned method of freezing water in ice trays has almost gone to the wayside.

I keep some of those ice trays around for to make herbal ice cubes for drinks. My friends and family are always glad to have a treat in their ice and the presentation is both memorable and aesthetically pleasing.

The crisp shapes and forms of the lovely aromatic leaves bound in ice is the perfect accouterment to sparkling mineral water. Whenever I travel outside the country, I love being asked by the servers if I’d like water “with gas” or “no gas” and this drink reminds me of those travels.

As the ice melts in the sparkling water, the herb leaves release their essence and the scents , bouquets, and flavors meld with the fizz for beverage of pure delight and refreshment. Flavor with a syrup or citrus but trust me, this clean tasting drink is fine on its own.

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lobsterrollI was walking through my local farmer’s market today and saw a new vendor called the Maine Connection Seafood Company.

The prize on their table was fresh Maine lobster – flown to LA the same day that it is caught from the family run fishing business.

Of course, you can buy a whole lobster and cook it yourself, but this is so convenient and incredibly fresh.

Lobster rolls in Maine are almost always made with a top split hot dog bun, but they’re nearly impossible to find in California.

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