Summer

vegetabletian.jpgSummer is coming to an end, and as I'm having trouble saying goodbye, I'm comforted by all the beautiful produce still available in the farmers' markets this late in the season. Last week I visited the Tucker Square Greenmarket at the corner of Columbus Avenue and 66th Street. They are a compact market with about six or eight small yet bounteous stands. I couldn't help but notice all the fruits: last-of-the-season white and yellow peaches and a few early varieties of apples, such as honey crisp. But what really caught my attention during this visit was a crate full of beautiful green and yellow zucchini. That's when I immediately decided on making this recipe for vegetable tian.

A tian is technically a name for a type of French earthenware casserole commonly used in the region of Provençe. But the name "tian" also carries over to the meal cooked in the earthenware container. This vegetable tian is possibly one of the simplest recipes that can be made especially with an abundance of late-summer vegetables like zucchini, squash, eggplant, and tomatoes. Similar to a gratin, this casserole features layers of thinly sliced vegetables artfully assembled together, topped with Swiss cheese, and baked until tender and brown.

 

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Lemonade22240I’ve got this Meyer lemon tree in my yard that is dripping with fruit. With a sudden burst of culinary energy (for some reason I’m channeling Rachael Ray) I am doing a lemon project this week, finally committed to using my harvest for something other than dog toys.

First, of course, I made lemonade. While I have often advised my kids (much to their irritation) to make lemonade out of lemons, I have rarely taken that advice myself, at least not literally. I had no idea how much sugar is in the stuff. No wonder it’s so addictive. Best rush since the Easter egg hunt.

I decided to make a couple of lemonade variations that would cut the sugar and add interest. Voila: Chamomile Arnold Palmers and Cucumber Mint Lemonade. Love that basic Meyer Lemonade, but if the sugar has you bouncing like a pinball, try one of its slightly less sweet cousins.

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roastedcornblackbeansaladThis recipe for Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad is brought to you by the fresh corn, leftover cotija cheese and a can of beans. And that lazy feeling that strikes during the Summer for something delicious yet easy. Like most everyone, I love fresh corn. Eight ears for 2 dollars? Sold!

When corn is sweet it's a cinch to prepare. In addition to adding it to a salad, my other favorite ways to prepare it are making corn chowder (I make a different version just about very time) and on the cob, slathered with mayo and dredged in crumbled cheese served with a wedge of lime.

While corn should be cooked soon after picking or purchasing, cotija cheese is the exact opposite. I bought cotija for some recipe or another and found the leftover cheese lasted and lasted. Like other Mexican cheeses, it's inexpensive, and easy to use. Cotija is a crumbly cheese, less salty than feta, but a little goes a long way. The beans in this recipe make the salad feel hearty and substantial. I suppose you could make it with canned or frozen corn all year round, but it really feels like a Summer dish to me. 

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watermelongrilled.jpgI figure I’ve eaten about 20 pounds of watermelon this summer. Fortunately, it’s 92% water and 0% fat, so my clothes still fit fine.

Even as a kid, I ate a lot of watermelon. Everyone in my family did. I can remember my Dad, his face beet-red from the heat, coming through our back door beaming as he was carrying a colossal watermelon. He always did the same thing: set it down on the kitchen counter and proudly announced its weight – 19 and 1/2 pounds! 23 pounds! Like his lobsta, the bigger it was, the better he liked it.

My brother Chris was always the one to cut the watermelon (seeing as none of the rest of us had his patience). With skills of a surgeon, he extracted every last seed while keeping the melon’s flesh intact. Come to think of it, I don't remember ever seeing seedless watermelons when I was a kid. Did they exist back then?

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Berries-225x300I went to the Farmers’ Market on Saturday and I believe I snapped. I bought so many berries, the berry guy can send his daughter to college on his profits.

I bought so many berries I got a flat tire on the way home. I bought so many berries I really have no option but to make several desserts and possibly some jam.

Luckily this recipe uses a lot of berries and is quite delicious. I made it on Saturday, then blueberry muffins on Sunday and I have a waiting list of berry recipes for this week. (I’ll keep you posted.)

My apron looks like a Jackson Pollock paining, his blue/red period.

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