Category Archives: summer

Simple summer salad with a harissa vinaigrette…

Everything about life has been on vacation mode until this week.  We have been slow to rise, late to bed, seeing the world, tasting the world, beach time, pool time, splash time, snuggle time, books, and baking.  Recently we have been spending a lot of time in our new garden, tending to our seedlings, but mostly just watering and staring at our plants.  We have been pruning our herb garden in hopes of bigger, thicker bushes…and I am hoping “green thumbing” runs in the blood. My father is a plant whisperer.  I have many memories of walking through my hometown woods with my father as a kid. He pointed to plants and gave me both their botanical and common names, taught me how to identify poison oak in all four seasons, and explained the differences between lichen and moss.  We have beautiful oak trees dripping in Spanish Moss (which is neither a moss nor a lichen) of an almost earthy teal if that makes any sense, and a salty fog that feels like home in those woods.  So…I am hoping that gardening, like cooking, and be heritable.  Happy bleated father’s day dad, I love you so.

This salad is dressed with the herbs from our garden, and I will hopefully make it again with our own peppers and cucumbers.  It is super easy to make and tastes like summer.  I might add this tastes super with a cold, Mexican beer out of the bottle.

I apologize for the quick phone photos!

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Simple summer salad with a harissa dressing…

Salad

1 cup dried black beans, soaked overnight and cooked until tender (or 1 can of black beans, rinsed)

two ears corn, grilled and kernels removed (or Trader Joes sells a nice frozen roasted corn)

2 cups dry quinoa, cooked and tossed

1 cup toasted pepitas

2 vine ripened tomatoes, diced

1 large red pepper, diced

two small cucumbers, diced

handful of fresh cilantro, minced

handful of fresh parsley, minced

cumin, to taste

salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients together.

dressing

equal parts olive oil and lime juice, amount will vary, just go little by little.

Harissa (homemade or bought) or harissa powder (you can also use a mixture of Cayenne Pepper and chili powder if you don’t have easy access to harissa)

Salt and pepper

Whisk ingredients together adjusting the spices as you like, and pour over salad, and toss. 

Serve salad with some crumbled queso fresco over the top.

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Eat together, toast to each other, and share!


opal basil and oven roasted tomato pesto..

The first days of summer are marked by that familiar smell of a sun-baked earth. The smell usually rises into the air around the dusk of a fully stretched out day, almost sweet, and where I grew up, with a touch of pine tree.  The earth is fully alive and awake, plants are heavy with fruit, gardens are leafed over in green, and flora and fauna alike are over flowing with energy.  Around this time of year we strive to preserve this internal sense of energy and freedom that summer fosters. We roast and can tomatoes, we pickle cucumbers and zucchini, freeze our corn, and make granitas out of watermelon. All in the hopes of preserving the smells and tastes of that summer heat, so that we can reminisce on winter nights about our barefoot escapades…when we were allowed to be heathens.

I love preserving the heat-treated herbs of summer in an earthy pesto.  I actually freeze it in a covered ice cube tray so that I can savor the pesto all winter long. I will confess however, I do not really use, nor do I really have a recipe to follow, but I can offer these vague guidelines:

Opal basil and oven roasted tomato pesto… 

  • Summer herbs (basil, parsley, cilantro)
  • Toasted nuts (walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, almonds)
  • A salty, hard cheese, grated (Asiago, Parmesan)
  • Roasted garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Cracked pepper
  • Oven roasted tomatoes

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Cover your cherry tomatoes in olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and allow to roast until dried.  At the same time cut a bulb of garlic in half, cover in olive oil, wrap in foil, and place in oven until each clove is just about spreadable.

In a medium pan, toast nuts, whichever variety you have on hand.  For this pesto I used pecans, which gave it a hint of sweetness. 

In a small food processor, add equal parts cheese and nuts, and then pack in as many herbs as you can. For this pesto I used what came in our farm box, opal basil and parsley. Pulse in the processor while adding olive oil little by little.  Once the mixture moves freely you can continue to add olive oil in a stream until it forms a thick paste. 

Add oven roasted tomatoes, about a handful or so, and process. Serve the rest on top of a pasta, or on their own. They are the little red jewels of summer. Then salt and pepper to taste. 

We first used this pesto over pasta. We also used it on the sandwiches we made for our daughter’s first birthday party.  We made the organic wheat bread, and filled the sandwiches with pesto, heirloom tomatoes, feta, and cucumbers.

Eat together toast to each other, and share!

 


Old world plum cake…

I have needed that sense of “home” lately. You know that moment when you wake up, walk out to your kitchen to make some coffee, look out into your space, and that feeling of “home” washes over you? The smells, lights, space, and sounds, all come together in some sort of sensory harmony that somehow cues you that…your world…right now…is alright.  We are getting there, but our space still wants for more…you know boxes in the corner can be awfully discordant. It is amazing how long it takes for us humans to adapt to change, to find our due north again.

So, my remedy to this has been to bake.  Bake bake bake. That is what the women in my family have always done when their axis gets shifted. My grandmother baked bread, my mom made Swedish pancakes. I thought this old world plum tart would help bring some sense of tradition and gravity to my day today. The plums are so tart, balancing out this sweet, simple butter cake.

Happy birthday to the women who was my due north.  Thank goodness that the kitchen is such an amazing compass.

Old world plum cake…

(adapted from Lorenza de’ Medici)

2 ½ cups flour

2/3 cup organic cane sugar

3 eggs

2/3 cup unsalted butter (melted) (plus more for pan)

zest of one lemon

½ tsp ground cardamom

1 tsp baking powder

1/3 cup milk or plain yogurt

3 plums

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Quarter plums and remove pits.  Slice very thinly.Combine all dry ingredients.  Combine all wet ingredients.  Add dry to wet and mix until batter is smooth.

Pour mixture into pan. Arrange plum slices into concentric circles on top of the batter. Sprinkle the top with sugar and it will make a nice sweet crust to house the moist cake. 

Bake until a toothpick comes of clean, about 50 minutes.  Careful not to over bake, the cake will get very dry. I tested mine every couple minutes towards the end,  just to make sure.

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!


KidNote…blueberry and coconut oats…

I try and do my best to make my daughter’s food out of the same ingredients that my husband and I eat…for simplicity’s sake, but also so that she feels “a part of”…that may be an ambitious statement for an 11 month old, but I hope that it will translate into our habits as she gets older.

This kid dish evolved from the blueberry crisp that I posted a couple weeks ago, and it is good for breakfast or as a healthy dessert option. So nourishing and easy, high in protein, good fats, fiber, and antioxidants.

Blueberry and coconut oats…

1 cup organic rolled oats

1 1/2 cups water

1 heaping tbs organic coconut flesh with oil (I use Coconut Manna)

fresh blueberries or other seasonal fruit

dash of cinnamon

Boil oats in water until tender and fully cooked. While still warm add coconut flesh, you will see the mixture turn nice and creamy. Add a dash of cinnamon. Serve with fresh fruit on top! 

Eat together, toast to each other and enjoy!


White Lady peach semifreddo with basil…

Buzzing around the farmer’s market, I can’t help but be amused by the names of fruit/vegetable/root varieties written in sharpie at some of the stands.  I am lucky enough to have been able to ritualize going to the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays to scout out the “Stumps of the Earth”, “Belles of Georgia”, “Yellow Finns”, “Green Zebras”, “Garden Annies”, and there they were, the “White Ladies”.  I know that it can sound quite hyperbolic when I say I could smell these Ladies, these beautiful blushing pink peaches from down the road, but with the right amount of sun and the right ocean breeze…it is not too far fetched of an idea. I bought five of them, and one disappeared on the way home somewhere between my daughter and I, and the four remaining sat beautifully perched on my counter top for a few days until I connected the dots. Hot weather+peaches+sweet tooth= semifreddo.  I love making semifreddo, it is the rustic, no fuss, alternative to making ice cream.  No special equipment, all you need is a bowl, some heat, cream, fresh fruit, and some elbow grease.  I made this thinking about one particular little peach…you know who you are…well at least your mama does…and you are so lucky for that, she‘s a good one, and I can’t wait to meet you this winter and we can dream about summer peaches.

White Lady peach semifreddo…

4-5 peaches, diced

juice of ½ lemon

1 ½ cup heavy cream

1/3 cup sugar

3 egg yolks

dash of vanilla

pinch of salt

sweet basil sauce…

1 large handful of basil

1 tbs agave nectar

1/4 cup water (add more as necessary)

*or you can just do a simple syrup

(puree)

Oil a standard loaf pan, and line with parchment paper, leaving a couple inches of overhang on all sides.  This will help you pull out the semifreddo once it is chilled.

In a medium bowl, beat heavy cream until you form stiff peaks, adding sugar slowly.  Set aside. 

Dice peaches and remove pits.  Place in food processor with the lemon juice and puree. *Note*: I like to leave the skin on the peaches as it adds a beautiful rose color and some texture to the semifreddo, but you can always pass the puree through a sieve. Add a pinch of kosher salt and puree for another few seconds.

 In a metal bowl, over a double boiler, begin gently heating the egg yolks whisking vigorously for 3-4 minutes.  They should turn a softer yellow and expand in volume.  Add the vanilla and whisk for another minute or so.  Take off the heat and whisk until the bowl comes back to room temperature. 

Gently fold the egg yolks into the whipped cream.  Then gently fold in the peach puree into the whipped cream mixture, do not over mix.  Then pour into the lined loaf pan and place in the freezer overnight, or at least 8 hours.  Slice and serve.

Serve with a sweet basil sauce over the top or just basil leaves. 

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!


summer blueberry crisp…

Shortly after World War II in a small Italian town by the name of Reggio Emilia, emerged an approach to early childhood education. After the trauma of war, educators looked to an approach that would give both the community and the children a say in their education and development, a “collective responsibility” built around and with the children.  The teachers, parents, children, and the local government are all considered equal participants in guiding a learning experience and environment.

I had the privilege the other day of attending my nephew’s pre-school, Branches Atelier, a Reggio based school in Santa Monica. It was absolutely amazing to see the skills that this community has developed.  They work together to solve problems that arise, they communicate through art, music, and eloquent speech, and parents can (and are encouraged!) to stay for all or part of they day and help. As a community they are constantly questioning what is happening around them, and experimenting with different ideas to foster learning.

I was fortunate enough to witness children creating costumes, beginning with a drawing and realizing that costume through pattern making, to pinning, and sewing the finished product…something that as an adult I would have a tough time completing.  Interestingly, when one child created a similar project to another child’s, the response by the child was “he was inspired by my work”, there was no “copying” involved. The teachers and parents spend hours and days of dedication to help bring these ideas to fruition, all in a beautifully sun filled atelier that is packed with any creative material you can imagine.

I was also fortunate enough to participate in a community lunch.  Everyone sets the tables, serves the food, and gets the water.  No plastic dishes, the children are trusted with china and breakables, and might I add how delicious, and not to mention sophisticated, was this lunch! We ate lentil salad with fresh herbs and tomatoes, marinated cucumber salad, and vegan pizza with roasted eggplant, zucchini, and other summer vegetables.  For dessert…blueberry crisp.  All seasonal ingredients and delicious. So, I was “inspired by” this experience with this amazing community…happy graduation.

Blueberry crisp…

2 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and picked

1-2 peaches, cubed

juice of 1/4 lemon

4 tbs unsalted butter, room temperature

1/3 cup organic granulated cane sugar

1/3 cup organic flour + 1 tbs

¾ cup organic rolled oats

¼ cup chopped pecans

dash of kosher salt

dash of agave nectar

2 tsp coconut oil (I use organic coconut manna)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a medium pot, over a low flame, heat 1 tsp coconut oil until liquid.  Lightly toast pecans and oats, just until oil is absorbed. Let oats and pecans cool.  Melt 1 tsp of coconut oil and use this to oil a standard loaf pan. Place blueberries and peaches in pan. Squeeze lemon juice and agave nectar over the fruit and mix.  Add 1 tbs of flour to fruit and mix.  For the crumble, cream the butter and sugar together, then add flour. Once cooled, add oats and pecans to butter mixture.  Spread crumble over the top of the fruit. Place in the oven and bake until crumble is a nice golden brown and the blueberries are bubbling with excitement. 

This crisp is perfect alone…we also had it with a little crème fraiche sweetened with agave nectar and a dash of lemon. I imagine vanilla ice cream would also be delish.

Eat together, toast to each other, and enjoy! 


Eat Local Challenge: installment number four: fresh figs and chevre crostini with blackberry compote…

Let them eat…blackberry compote!

Eat Local Challenge: installment number four: fresh figs and chevre crostini with blackberry compote…

4-6 figs: golden acre farms, Harwinton, CT: 14.09 miles

1 basket blackberries: Roses Berry Farm: 16.63 mi

1 4oz log chevre: Beltane farm: 41.11 mi

2 tsp rosemary: own garden

4 tbs honey: Andrew’s Local Honey/Silvermine Apiary: 64 miles

local loaf: Hungry Ghost Bread; 90 miles

pinch of kosher salt

Preheat broiler. Heat honey on stovetop over low heat. Add 1 tsp minced rosemary, and a pinch of salt. Cut figs in half, baste with honey mixture and place in broiler until caramelized.  To the rest of the honey mixture, add basket of blackberries and cook over low heat until berries fall apart.  Toast bread and spread generously with chevre. Top with figs and blackberry compote.  Garnish with the rest of the rosemary.

Eat together, toast to each other, and enjoy!

 


Eat Local Challenge: installment number three: cod en papillote with butter, white wine, jalapeño, and fresh herbs, served over green beans and toasted garlic smashed potatoes…

We waffled for some time about what to make for the main dish for the Eat Local Challenge. Limited in Connecticut by the choice of cooking fat made the decision all the more difficult, as we are not blessed with an olive growing climate.  However, creameries and dairy farms are abundant, and churn the sweetest butter.  I love the idea, presentation, and taste of fish en papillote, literally meaning “in parchment”, so easy especially for fish novices like ourselves. Tender goodness wrapped up in its own envelope of flavor and essence of sweet butter, wine, herbs, and the heat of a jalapeño.  Simply slice open the top of the parchment after baking,  the fish perfectly steamed, for a dramatic and rustic presentation.  The rest of the goods we were able to pick up at the farmer’s market; crunchy green beans and creamy smashed potatoes create a nice complex bight in both flavor and texture.

cod en papillote with butter, white wine, jalapeño, and fresh herbs, served over green beans and toasted garlic smashed potatoes…

Fish:

2 5 oz fillets Atlantic Cod: City Fish Market/Long Island Sound

4 tbs butter: Smyth’s Trinity dairy farm: 27.02 miles

Fresh basil: own garden

4 sprigs fresh thyme: George Hall Farm: 12.03 mi

½  jalapeño (or other spicy pepper): George Hall Farm: 12.03 mi

3-4 tbs white wine (Gentle Shepard): Jerram Winery: 17.21 miles

Kosher salt

Green beans:

¼ pound green beans, cut on bias: George Hall Farm: 12.03 mi

Ice water bath

Kosher salt

Toasted garlic smashed potatoes:

10-12 fingerling potatoes (or other soft skin potatoes) potatoes: (specialty): GeoRoots Solar Growth Farm: 16.14 mi:

¼-1/2 cup heavy cream: The Farmer’s Cow Milk (6 CT family farms)

2-4 tbs butter: Smyth’s Trinity dairy farm: 27.02 miles

3 cloves garlic: George Hall Farm: 12.03 mi

Kosher salt


Recipe (serves two):

Fish:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring butter for fish to room temperature.  Mix in basil, thyme, and minced jalapeño.  Prepare four sheets of parchment paper, each approx 12”x12”.  Place one fillet of fish on a piece of parchment paper, salt both sides.  Cover top of fillet with ½ butter mixture.  Add 1-1 ½ tbs white wine over the top.  Cover fish with another piece of parchment paper, and fold in the sides making a secure envelope.  Place parchment envelopes on a baking sheet, and place in oven on middle rack.  Let cook for 13-15 minutes, until parchment paper is lightly browned and puffed up.  Serve over green beans and potatoes.

Green beans:

Fill small pot with water, and heavily salt.  Bring to boil.  Rinse green beans, and cut on bias.  Blanch in boiling water for 2-3 minutes.  Beans should still be bright green and crunchy.  Place in a bowl of ice water to shock and stop the cooking.  Serve with fish and potatoes.

Potatoes:

Rinse potatoes.  Place in a pot of cold water.  Bring to boil.  Let cook until potatoes are fork tender. While potatoes are cooking, smash 3 large cloves of garlic. Place in 1 tbs of butter, and lightly toast, then form into paste.  Remove from pot into a large bowl.  Smash potatoes, add butter, cream, garlic, and salt.  Serve with fish and green beans.

Eat together, toast to each other, and enjoy!


grilled corn on the cob with basil, lime, and chipotle butter…

Ok. Ok.  I know I said my good byes in the last post, but this corn dish surprised us with flavor and decadence.  Very easy, quick, and the flavors land somewhere in between Malaysian and Mexican.   Simply throw the corn on the grill, this creates depth of flavor by adding a smoky note as well as developing the sugar in the corn for enhanced sweetness.  Save the husks for presentation.  Allow ½ stick of butter to come to room temperature.  Add fresh basil, zest of one lime, chipotle powder, salt, and pepper.  Mix until combined.  Add a generous amount to each corn cob while they are still warm. Then serve them up with a fresh wedge of lime…and an ice cold beer.

I served this family style, all the cobs on one plate with a large salad and a bunch of forks…clearly we’re not scared of coodies.

Eat together, toast to each other, and enjoy!


Eat Local challenge installment two: Summer squash and corn chowder…

Oh yum. Oh yum.  *Sob* *sob*, *sniff **sniff*.  This is me lamenting the waning of the summer heat and sun, and thus the sweetness of New England corn.  Funny, because in my early New England days, I was rather ambivalent about corn, take it or leave it…mostly just leaving it.  However,  a wise friend from upstate New York frankly told me, “well, you just haven’t had good corn then”…and turns out she was right.  Now, I can’t get enough over the summer, and hustle as much as I can from the local farm stands.  The smell of corn on the grill makes me want to walk around barefoot and soak up the sun with friends around the BBQ.

As part of the Eat Local Challenge I paid homage to New England corn with this soup.  Sweet and smoky, with a little tang of feta, and an essence of thyme…oh yum.

Also, no need for a roux as the starch in the corn thickens the chowder up nicely, so easy and delicious.

Summer squash and corn chowder…

2 yellow squash: George Hall Farm: 12.03 mi

2 ears corn: (blackened on grill for depth of flavor): George Hall Farm: 12.03 mi

2 shallots: George Hall Farm: 12.03 mi

1 small clove garlic: George Hall Farm: 12.03 mi

3 tbs butter: Smyth’s Trinity dairy farm: 27.02 miles

1 cup heavy Cream: The Farmer’s Cow Milk (6 CT family farms)

½ cup milk: The Farmer’s Cow Milk (6 CT family farms)

1 tsp each fresh thyme and oregano: GeoRoots Solar Growth Farm: 16.14 mi

2 oz feta: Beltane farm: 41.11 mi

kosher salt

Cook corn on the grill until lightly blackened, turning regularly. Then shave off kernels with a sharp knife.   On your stove, in a medium pot, over medium, heat melt 2 tbs butter. Add diced yellow squash, shallots, and garlic (you can substitute shallots w/ yellow onion if you cannot find shallots locally).  Season lightly with salt, cook until translucent.  Add 1 corn cob worth of kernels to the squash mixture.  Add fresh thyme and oregano.  Then puree mixture in blender until smooth.  Place pureed mixture back in pot.  Add milk, heavy cream, and rest of butter and mix well.  Add the rest of corn.  Season with salt to taste.  Garnish with feta, thyme and a couple of corn kernels. Serve hot


Eat together, toast to each other, and enjoy!