Summer

cornfritters.jpgIf there’s one thing I learned about food while living in North Carolina, it’s that anything can be battered and fried: steak, okra, pickles. Heck, even butter, as Paula Deen, proved, can be battered and fried.

It’s not just Southerners though. Americans love battering and frying all types of foods. New Englanders have fried clams. Midwesternerns have fried pork. Southwesterners have fried chiles. Texans have fried Coca-Cola. Seriously.

Yet, of all these devilishly fried, crispy treats, corn fritters may just be the best. Tender sweet corn is encased in a pillow of sweet batter and fried until doubled in size and tantalizingly golden and crunchy.

With sweet corn season upon us, there is no better time to make Crispy Corn Fritters with Chipotle Cream Cheese Dipping Sauce. They’re impossibly simple to make and impossible to resist.

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tomatosoup.jpgHomemade tomato soup is good, but roasted tomato soup is even better. With the abundance of tomatoes right now in the markets, this makes great use of all those tomatoes and may be the best tomato soup you will ever have.

This method calls for roasting the tomatoes, along with some whole garlic, before making the soup. Roasting the tomatoes concentrates their flavor and adds a depth to the soup that you would not have otherwise.

I used beautiful San Marzano tomatoes for this soup because a vendor at my farmer's market had them. Use whatever nice, ripe tomatoes you have. Any Roma or plum tomato is a good choice.

The parmesan crisps, sometimes called fricos, are a favorite in our household and we use them to accompany salads sometimes (or a glass of Prosecco). These lacy wafers make the absolute perfect flavor compliment to this soup. They are surprisingly easy to make – they only have one ingredient – and fast, too.

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cherrytompastaIf the farmers' market were giving out superlatives, heirloom tomatoes would get "most popular." No contest. Today there were several different farmers selling them from $5-7 per pound, and each table had a line of people at least four deep waiting to buy some.

Considering that one tomato weighs about half a pound or more, you could be in for a real sticker shock if you buy 3 or 4 of them! People don't seem to mind though; probably because after years of eating tasteless, hard, dry supermarket tomatoes, it's worth paying a little more to get heirlooms that taste as exciting as they look.

Who can resist brilliantly colored, endearingly odd-ball shaped tomatoes with whimsical names such as Big Rainbow, Green Zebra, and Brandywine? If, however, you don't want to break a $20 just to try a tomato, then consider baby heirlooms instead. These diminutive members of the heirloom tomato family come in a dazzling kaleidoscope of colors. Unlike their larger brethren, however, they tend to be neatly round, oval, or teardrop in shape. Most baby heirlooms are the size of cherry tomatoes, though once in a while, you'll find one the size of a golf ball.

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blackberrymuffins2Summer fruits and veggies start coming in this mid to late summertime heat. Often, it is not just a lil’ bit of ‘maters or peaches or squash – it’s a bushel and a peck! Blackberries for us are one of those crops. We have stands of wild blackberries down the dirt roads and edges of the woods on our property that fill our baskets with berries and, in turn, give us all sorts of blackberry delights!

From cobblers and crisps to jams and salads, we have found many an excuse to devour blackberries. Aunt Kathy, with her astute culinary prowess, makes these blackberry muffins that we all clamor and beg for during berry season. The whole wheat flour is heartier and holds up better, since the muffins are laden with berries. A citrus sauce makes for the perfect glaze, and I have found that I love citrus with blackberry any ol’ time!

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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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