Summer

tunatartate.jpgI always think of avocado as one of my top summer foods. On wheat bread with goat cheese and tomato, alongside a quesadilla, on toast, or smashed with a fork into guacamole, avocados at their prime are just the best!

I have been obsessed with the combination of avocado, orange, and raw fish (this recipe may have started it). Usually, we keep the fish plain, with microgreens, avocado, maybe citrus, and a simple dressing, but I decided to take a stab at a tartare with this recipe.

Now I’m not 100% sure if this technically counts as a tartare – it might have poke leanings (feel free to enlighten me!), but whatever it is, this Asian-inspired dish is the perfect appetizer for a warm summer evening!

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brushettaProof positive that my patience (or lack of) is worsening by the year (and my memory, too): I checked our records (record-keeping nerd that I am), and, in fact, we picked the first of this years Sungolds and Early Girls EARLIER this year than last year–and the year before! (That’s tomatoes from the garden, not the hoop house. The hoop house ones came almost a full month ahead of the field tomatoes.)

So I must officially stop complaining about the tomatoes (and everything else) being late this year, especially because now they’re officially here! Time for salsa and bruschetta. Finally.

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blueberrycornbreadThe farmers' markets here in Southern California are amazing -- you can find dates, figs, guavas, kumquats, passion fruit, persimmons, and pluots, but rarely do you see humble blueberries.

I grew up picking and eating fresh blueberries every summer back in New England. Why, I wondered, are they so hard to find in California?

The problem is dirt. Apparently blueberries like to grow in highly acidic soil and Southern California has alkaline soil. This presents a challenge to growing blueberries in Southern California (which explains why most the of the blueberries I buy at the market are from Washington).

New England's acidic soil is perfect for blueberry bushes. I don't know what was better, marching along rows of blueberry bushes, basket in hand, with blue lips and fingertips or standing in the kitchen watching my mom use my very own fresh picked berries to make sweet blueberry buns with lemon icing, old-fashioned double crust blueberry pie, or a loaf of hot blueberry-corn bread (that went straight from the oven to my mouth).

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blueberrysaladMoms and grandmas love blueberries. Think about it. Doesn't your family have cherished recipes for blueberry pie and blueberry muffins? What about blueberry cobbler and frosted blueberry sweet rolls?

Why are blueberries so beloved? It could be their association with lazy summer days, Fourth of July cookouts, or time spent baking in grandma's cozy kitchen. Whatever it is, blueberries are sweet and easy-going, like the girl next door.

But like the proverbial librarian who lets down her hair, blueberries can also be sexy. That's right. Sprinkle plump, juicy summertime blueberries on peppery wild arugula or watercress for a stylish salad.

Top crostini with warm goat cheese, fresh blueberries, and rosemary for a sleek summertime appetizer. Add them to a martini made with blueberry vodka for a sophisticated summertime cocktail.

So while they're in season, explore the sexy side of blueberries. Just don't tell grandma. She wouldn't approve.

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squashblossoms.jpgRisotto scared me at first. My son Franklin brought a box home from a trip to Italy and it sat in the pantry for years. I had the same fear of risotto I had about cooking a duck. Both seemed to require a skill set that was beyond me.

After much hesitation, I finally took the plunge and you know what I discovered, making risotto is easy, requiring only a little more skill than making pasta.

In fact, think of risotto and pasta as two sisters. The key to both is what goes on top.

Just about everything you like with pasta will work with risotto. Most vegetables, meat, poultry, seafood, and fresh herbs if sauteed first can be added to risotto just the way you'd add them to cooked pasta. And both like a bit of freshly grated cheese on top.

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