Summer

zucchiniquicheI love zucchini. I always have. My mom used to saute it with butter, tomatoes and onions...it was my favorite side dish as a kid. I use it in everything now, from chocolate cake to pizza...it's a welcome veggie around here.

Now there's this pie. There is no fancy crust to make, you are just going to stir the ingredients together and bake. And it's going to turn out perfect. You'll see.

It's best served right out of the oven, while the crust is crunchy and the inside soft. Even my son LOVED this, I was so glad!

This would also be perfect for brunch in replace of quiche...it's also much easier to make, a guaranteed no fail!

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minigalettesI like food in miniature. I like dim sum, mezze, tapas and appetizers of all sorts. Working on the latest recipe development project has been an exploration of many things in miniature. One recipe that sadly will not work for my client was a terrific success when it came to ease and taste. It does not work particularly well for vacuum sealing but that's ok. It means I can share it with you here and now.

Rhubarb makes one of my favorite pies and now, my favorite galette, which is pretty much a pie for lazy people. Rhubarb requires some tender loving care to coax out the perfect balance of sweetness and especially texture. While mushy rhubarb isn't terrible, firm, sweet yet tangy rhubarb is fabulous! I like the method of macerating it with sugar. The trick to this recipe is to not let the rhubarb macerate too long. I think you could make it with just rhubarb but a little bit of strawberry really complements it. I also don't cook the filling! You don't need to, it cooks perfectly in miniature.

I'm no genius when it comes to pie crust. I wish I was but it's just not in the cards for me. I have ridiculously hot hands and I don't work with pie crust often enough to get really fast at making it. I do my best, but sometimes resort to premade pastry. I'm ok with that. If you have a favorite pie crust recipe that works for you, by all means, use it.

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mintpeasPeas with mint bring back so many fond memories of my travels in England. No matter where I went I always found peas with mint or mushy peas on every menu. A side of peas was always an accompaniment to fish and chips or roast beef. My love for peas as well as English food grew infinitely during my time there. It's funny, because as a kid I despised peas. Luckily as I grew older my tastes matured and now peas are one of my favorites.

Once again I'm growing peas this summer. Peas are so easy to grow. You just start from seed and watch them climb up a fence. There's really no maintenance involved. I have two varieties: shelling peas and sugar snap peas, which can be eaten whole—pod and all. After picking six quarts of peas, I know I've got a lot of cooking to do to use up my haul. Some of my favorite recipes for peas include this creamy soup and this sugar snap pea stir-fry.

I love to serve a vegetable sauté with dinner, because it's quick and easy to prepare. With only five ingredients, this side dish of peas is perfect. Mint is a traditional herb with peas because it adds a fresh flavor. Don't be afraid to use it—a little goes a long way.

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beans.jpgIf there were a contest for worst canned vegetable, chances are good that string beans would be the winner. Or beets, which are equally repugnant.

Canning is unkind to string beans. They become disturbingly gray and mushy. You can't even chew them; they just disintegrate in your mouth. As for the flavor, it's salty at best and metallic at worst. So do yourself a favor, and don't buy canned green beans. Ever. Frozen are much better, but fresh is superior in every regard.

Fresh string beans are appealing: slender, firm, and brightly hued. Though string beans are available year-round, they're especially abundant from late spring through late fall. If available, buy Blue Lake Beans. They've become the darling of chefs who prize them for their sweeter flavor and exceptional crispness.

There is one golden rule for cooking string beans: Do not overcook them. Follow that, and you're good to go.

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Cheese-Filled-Grilled-AvocadosHere it is, the perfect appetizer for your Labor Day Weekend ~ Last Hurrah of Summer bash. There are many reasons this dish is awesome, but reason numero uno (besides taste) is its simplicity. You can make as many as you need, it's ready in minutes and you have the grill going anyway.

And, if your grill-centric partner won't let you near the flames, it's even better. You can send this appetizer outside for them to whip-up, while you finish meal prep in the kitchen. It's also vegetarian, vegan, non-dairy, (sub in vegan-non-dairy veggie cheese) gluten-free, kosher...making it easy to serve to a crowd who have all kinds of dietary restrictions.

A fun variation would be a hot sauce bar, where everyone can choose their level of heat. Since we like it spicy at the Noble Pig house, we chose Sriracha...and it was fantastic.

Magical things happen when you grill an avocado. The buttery inside becomes even creamier and the flesh is infused with the smokiness of the grill. Since the avocado already has a high fat content, sprinkling lime on top is all that's necessary before placing it on the grill.

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