Archive for ‘Summer’

May 25, 2012

Simple Summer Snack | Strawberry Lemon Balm Paletas

There’s only so much jam you can make.  Sometimes, you just need to start eating those 16 or 17 pounds of strawberries you picked.  And maybe you need to enlist the kids, too.  Enter the world’s simplest way to do that: popsicles.

I, of course, can’t just let strawberries be strawberries.  Besides, Cherub loves too much to graze through the herbs in the garden, and she’s going to be eating the bulk of these paletas anyway.

For this first batch, I made a quick mix of strawberries and sugar, boiled it for five minutes and then just ever so slightly pulsed them in a blender for a half a second.  Then I added in a finely chopped bit of fresh lemon balm (but what’s your favorite? mint? lavender? coriander?), poured into molds and froze.

Voila!  The world’s most refreshing snack.  And a great breakfast if you’re feeling generous.  And it’s especially hot.

Paletas de Fresa y Melisa (Strawberry and Lemon Balm Popsicles), inspired by the post at The Parsley Thief.

1 qt strawberries, tops removed and quartered

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May 20, 2012

Precious Little | Strawberry Peony Jam

It’s the time of year that it’s hard to pin me down.  I’m outside.  Busy in the backyard, planting, weeding, sitting, contemplating.  I just want to be outside.  Watching for the return of Chestnut.  Seeing if we have any new baby rabbits in the yard.  I just find so much peace there, that you’re hard pressed to get a post out of me.  I have better things to do.

Because of this I was there, in the backyard, when the peonies bloomed this year.  They are my absolute favorite flower: profuse, heavy blooms; heady fragrance.  I turned the confetti of abundant petals into syrup.  I did this last year, but not as adroitly.

Marry to this that I went strawberry picking with friends last week.  And 17 pounds picked meant there was certain to be some jamming.  Did there happen to be some master pastry chefs along?  Why yes, there were.  (Thanks, B.)  So I asked them how to incorporate my peony syrup into the jam that was sure to follow all that picking.   Add the syrup at the last minute, they said, to keep all the flower essence.   But of course.

Ten cups of strawberries

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September 22, 2011

Farewell, Summer Garden | Gazpacho

Every so often you run across a recipe that begs to be made just as is, such as Spanish maestro José Andrés’s recipe for gazpacho.  Not a more perfect dish than this can be found to send summer off into its nine month hiatus.  Celebrate all that we are losing before the clock strikes 5:05 a.m. tomorrow.  Well, perhaps this post is a bit late for that, but rustle up some of these ingredients this weekend for a quick, albeit belated, goodbye.

I used some gorgeous, juicy yellow tomatoes from a Green B.E.A.N. Delivery box along with peppers and cucumbers from my back yard.  All gone now.

Don’t cry because it’s over.  Smile because it happened.

Playlist included Quiet Town, by Josh Rouse.

September 3, 2011

Extra Time on Saturday | Pasta and Focaccia

The quick and dirty version of a Saturday dinner:

Because I made a veal stock today (with lovely bones from Bluescreek Farm Meats), it meant that there was quite a bit of tasty meat left on the bones after the stock was all said and done.  It was dropped into the quick tomato sauce, that I seem to make quite a bit here in the summer.  (It’s just now about time for the last of those tasty orbs.  Get them fresh while you still can.)  This was poured over some homemade tagliatelle.

Served alongside for sopping up all the extra tomato-y goodness was a bit of rosemary focaccia: (1 1/4 c all purpose flour, 1 large sprig fresh rosemary finely chopped, 3/4 t salt, 1 package dried yeast, 1/2 c water all dumped into a bread machine for kneading, then allowed to rise in a covered and very generously olive-oiled bowl for about an hour an a half; punched down on a baking tray and allowed to rise once again for about 30 minutes and then drizzled with more olive oil and torn rosemary, salt and grated parm; baked at 400F for about 25 minutes).  A simpler, no knead version is here.

Playlist included Misery, by New Jersey’s Big Troubles.  How is it that My Bloody Valentine is now retro?  Are we that old?  Le sigh.

August 30, 2011

My Favorite Summer Corn | Maque Choux

Although summer corn here in Ohio is some of the sweetest and loveliest I’ve ever eaten, I still can’t help but occasionally add to an already great thing.  Gilding the already golden lily, if you will.  This is an easy, flavorful recipe that I’ve made countless times this summer, because it seems to go with everything.  And left to my own devices, I would eat bowls of this all alone for dinner.  It’s so delicious.

Maque Choux (say mock shoe) is a traditional Cajun dish of braised corn, along with

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August 23, 2011

A Quick Pickle | Szechuan and Dill

These are my first pickles.

I thank sites like Hounds in the Kitchen and Food in Jars for giving me the nudge in the direction of preserving and pickling.

What is it about these methods that seem so daunting?  Perhaps it is that you hear stories of the six thousand pints that your grandmother used to make at one sitting. (Who has time?)  Perhaps it’s the old stories that it won’t keep as well as you hope.  Fear mongers.  Truly folks, don’t listen.  You can put up just a few pints at a time, in two hours or less.

And the satisfaction of a pickle from a cucumber you grew or just picked up at a farmers’ market is like nothing else.

I made up my own pickling spice, because I think things can be a bit boring if you go the conventional route.  I like a bit of extra spice.  I also kicked in some fresh ginger in some and a massive quantity of garlic as well.  They turned out crispy and salty and kind of awesome.

PK Szechuan Dill Pickling Spice

1 t caraway seeds

1 T corriander seeds

1 t cumin seeds

1 t celery seeds

5 cloves

10 juniper berries

8 green cardamom pods

1 T black peppercorns

1 T Szechuan peppercorns

2 T dill seed

Lightly crush all larger spices, especially the cardamom pods and juniper berries.  Use in quantities as your pickle recipe advises.

Playlist included My Heart Skips a Beat by The Secret Sisters.

 

August 20, 2011

Simplicity from the Farmers’ Market | On the Grill

Honestly in the summer I can’t be bothered with much.  Dinner of a meat and a veg.  Perhaps a second veg.  If it doesn’t require cooking.  And if Cherub loves it.   Only then.

So if you’re like me and don’t feel up to much, stop by the farmers’ market in your town on Saturday morning and pick up two or three things for a Saturday night grilled dinner: some chicken thighs with the bone removed but the tasty skin left on, some fresh sweet corn and some grape or cherry tomatoes.

If you buy your ingredients from reputable and local farmers, you can be assured of freshness and flavor you wouldn’t normally get at the grocery store.  And if you’re a lazy cook in the summer, these are the greatest things you can buy because you have only the slightest work to make something really tasty.

Spiced Chicken Thighs with Grilled Corn and Lime Butter, serves four

6 chicken thighs, bone removed, skin left on

1 garlic clove

1 T chili powder

1 T whole cumin seeds

1 T brown sugar

1 t salt

2 T olive oil

4 ears sweet corn

4 T butter

1 t chili powder

Zest from 1 lime, juice from 1/2

Salt

Prepare grill (I prefer a charcoal).

In a mortar and pestle combine garlic, all spices and olive oil and mash to a consistent paste.  Rub onto chicken and allow to marinate from 15 minutes to two hours.

Grill chicken for 15 to 20 minutes or until meat is no longer pink and juices run clear.

While chicken is cooking, gently peel back husks to remove silk from corn, carefully replacing husks to cover back over the corn.  Mix lime zest with juice and spices along with softened (not melted) butter to create an even mixture.  Place corn in husks over cooler coals after chicken is cooked and resting and cook for approximately 10 minutes, turning frequently.

To serve, eat outside, for God’s sake.

Remove husks from corn and slather with butter mixture.  Serve with chicken.  And perhaps some of those tomatoes that you didn’t bother to cook, merely wash.  And a wine, maybe an A to Z 2009 Pinot Gris.

Playlist included Thursday, the mixtape by The Weeknd.

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