summer food

Grilled Corn Salad

fullsizeoutput_85e6.jpeg

Now's about the time of year when local corn is at its best. So of course, while corn-on-the-cob is always a good bet, there are reasons to cut the kernels off the cob too:

  • your child or grandchild wears braces
  • your parent or grandparent wears dentures
  • you hate the mess and fussiness of eating corn-on-the-cob
  • you've had your fill of corn-on-the-cob
  • you want a pretty dish to go with whatever else you're serving

Here's what to do: salad. Like this easy one:

Grilled Corn Salad

  • 2 cups grilled or otherwise cooked corn kernels (about 2 large ears of corn)*
  • 1 cup cut up grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon chopped chili pepper, optional
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the corn kernels, tomatoes, red onion, parsley, thyme and chili pepper, if used, in a bowl and toss the ingredients to distribute them evenly. Pour in the olive oil and toss the ingredients to coat them with the oil. Pour in the wine vinegar and toss. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss and let stand for about 15 minutes before serving.

*You can also use raw corn kernels

Makes 4-6 servings

Peach (or Nectarine) Galette

fullsizeoutput_9319.jpeg

At the end of every September I buy a bushel of Rhode Island Greening apples and bake at least a dozen pies over the course of a few days. It's a ritual for me, as constant as making mujadarah for my annual break-the-fast or makfrying latkes on Hanukkah.

But right now, it's the height of stone-fruit season and I bought so many peaches and nectarines! Way too many to have just as a snack. So of course I could make pies.

But I don't feel like baking pies.

I might make a crisp or two. Or maybe some chutney or barbecue sauce. Maybe make a roasted dessert or soaked fruit for weekend company.

Or maybe a pie-like but much easier galette. Yep, that's it! 

Nectarine or Peach Galette

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 8 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 4 cups sliced nectarines or peeled peaches
  • 6 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

For the crust: mix the flour, sugar, salt and lemon peel together in a bowl or food processor. Add the butter and shortening and cut the fat into the flour mixture with your hands or a pastry blender or by processing on pulse until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Add 5 tablespoons milk and mix to form a soft dough. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the dough on a lightly floured board into a circle about 14-inches in diameter (about 1/8-inch thick) and transfer the circle to the prepared baking sheet.

For the filling: slice the fruit into a large bowl. Add 6 tablespoons of the sugar, salt, lemon juice and flour and toss the ingredients to completely coat the fruit. Place the fruit on top of the dough circle, leaving a border of about 1-1/2-inches. Fold the dough over the fruit but not completely; leave a circle of fruit showing, about 7-8-inches. Pleat the dough to give it a rustic look. Brush the dough with the remaining tablespoon milk. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 teaspoons sugar. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Let cool for at least 15 minutes. Best when served warm.

Makes 8 servings

Sweet Soaked Summer Fruit

fullsizeoutput_92ad.jpeg

A few years ago I learned how to make khoshaf, a Muslim (primarily Egyptian) version of compote -- what my grandma called "kumput," (which she made by cooking dried prunes and apricots with sugar, lemon and cinnamon). Kumput was delicious, but sometimes a bit mushy.

Khoshaf isn't cooked -- you pour simmering, seasoned, sweet syrup over the dried fruit and let it macerate for a while. The fruit becomes tender but never gets soggy.

The khoshaf was such a success that I never went back to "kumput."

So, I figured that the soaking/macerating method would work on fresh fruit too.

I was right.

This simple dish -- cut up fruit steeped in a seasoned, sweetened syrup -- is the perfect ending to a meal on a hot summer day, especially when you want a dairy-free dessert. Of course you could always top the fruit with ice cream or whipped cream. But sorbet would be fine too.

I like it plain, as-is, with a small amount of boiled-down, thickened syrup.

 

SOAKED SUMMER FRUIT

  • 2 pounds stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots), approximately
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 vanilla bean, broken
  • 2 orange slices, about 1/4-inch thick
  • 4-5 slices crystallized ginger

Cut the fruit in half and remove the pits. Cut the fruit into bite-size chunks and place in a dish deep enough to hold the pieces plus liquid. In a saucepan, combine the water, honey, vanilla bean, orange slices and crystallized ginger and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Pour the contents of the saucepan through a strainer over the fruit. Let soak for at least 2 hours. Serve as-is or strain the fluids, boil the fluids for 6-8 minutes or until thickened, and pour over the fruit (or let cool first).

Makes 8 servings

 

 

Sour Cherry Crisp

fullsizeoutput_84f8.jpeg

Recently my daughter Gillian brought me some fresh sour cherries. Cherries that are intended for baking, not eating out of hand.

I love sour cherries. In fact I like most foods that are sour -- anything that provides that satisfying pucker in my mouth. 

Mostly, I like sour cherry pie, but I didn't have enough fruit.

Also, I don't have a cherry pitter.

Thanks to some instruction at The Spruce, I learned how to remove the cherry stones using a pastry tube tip, so I decided to make two individual Sour Cherry Crisps.

Notice that the amount of sugar I use is less than what you'll see in most recipes. The point of sour cherries -- for me -- is that they are supposed to be sour, merely mellowed by sugar, not overwhelmed by it. But, by all means, if you like your desserts more on the sweet side, you can add more.

Sour Cherry Crisp

  • 5 cups pitted sour cherries
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1-1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the cherries, sugar and cornstarch in a bowl and mix to coat the cherries completely. Spoon the cherries into 4 baking ramekins (or a small baking dish). In a bowl, mix the oats, all-purpose flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Pour in the butter and mix to coat the dry ingredients. Spoon equal amounts of the oat mixture on top of the cherries. Bake for 28-30 minutes or until the top is crispy and golden brown.

Makes 4 servings

 

Arugula Salad with Grapes and Dates

fullsizeoutput_90a3.jpeg

On the first day of summer, what could be more refreshing than a good salad?

This one is a good fit with grilled meat, chicken or fish but if you're doing a meatless meal add some crumbled blue, feta or goat cheese. Or hard cooked eggs. Or tofu.

Doesn't get much easier than this. 

I used La Tourangelle* avocado oil for this -- it is rich, with a fabulous mouth-feel and is a really delicious vegetable oil for salad. But olive oil would be fine too.

*I did not get paid for this or receive free product. I just love La Tourangelle products.

Arugula Salad with Grapes and Dates

  • 2 cups (packed) baby arugula
  • 2 cups (packed) shredded radicchio
  • 1 cup halved red grapes
  • 12 medjool dates, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 avocado, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil (or use olive oil)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Place the arugula, radicchio, grapes, dates and avocado in a salad bowl and toss the ingredients to distribute them evenly. Pour the avocado oil over the salad and toss to coat them. Pour the balsamic vinegar over the salad and toss again. Let stand about 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 4-6 servings

 

Strawberry Shortcake (Without the cake)

fullsizeoutput_8989.jpeg

The strawberries are fabulous right now -- the local ones anyway. They're sweet, juicy and fragrant. They're small to medium rather than gigantic -- like the year-round supermarket staples, which are dry, tasteless and smell like plastic. The strawberries you can buy now are the kind I remember strawberries from long ago, (especially the ones I picked right off the plants in my parents' garden).

If you are lucky enough to get good, seasonal strawberries, try this recipe. I call it Strawberry Shortcake without Cake because the whipped cream mixture, which is made with mascarpone cheese, is thick, almost like a really moist cake, and yet it is sort of like whipped cream.

So easy too!

Remember this recipe next Passover. Or Valentine's Day. Or July 4th for that matter!

Make the cream part ahead and top it with berries just before you serve it. Lovely with coffee or tea and also an after dinner drink (brandy and so on).

Strawberry Shortcake without Cake

  • 1 pint strawberries
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2/3 cup mascarpone cheese (or use whipped cream cheese)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh orange peel
  • 2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

Wash and dry the berries and remove the hulls. Make incisions into each berry as if to cut slices but do not slice through. Set aside. Whip the cream and mascarpone cheese with the sugar and orange peel until the mixture is thick. Fold in the Balsamic vinegar. Spoon equal amounts of the cheese mixture onto 4-6 dessert plates. Place sliced strawberries on top, gently moving the “almost” slices to fan them slightly.

Makes 4-6 servings

 

 

Cream of Asparagus Soup

fullsizeoutput_8f13.jpeg

I know asparagus are available all year, but they have the most depth of flavor right now, when you can get the local ones that taste like springtime. Like asparagus are supposed to taste.

On the other hand, although I would suggest making this soup now, it's good any old time because its very simplicity gets the most out of the asparagus taste.

The dish is versatile too: make it dairy or dairy-free (see the recipe options).

And easy: 8 ingredients including salt, pepper and garnish.

Makes a lovely first course for summer dinner.

Cream of Asparagus Soup

  • 2 pounds asparagus
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, butter or a mixture of olive oil and butter
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1/4 cup white rice or a small, chopped all-purpose potato
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 13/ to 1/2 cup cream or coconut milk
  • chopped chives, scallions or Aleppo pepper for garnish

Wash the asparagus and chop the spears into chunks. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the shallot and asparagus and saute for 1-2 minutes to soften the vegetables slightly and coat them with oil. Stir in the rice, pour in the vegetable stock and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pan. Cook for about 25 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Puree the ingredients in a blender or with an immersion blender. Stir in the cream, reheat and serve garnished with chives, scallions or a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper.

NOTE: this may be served chilled OR hot.

Makes 4-6 servings

White Asparagus with Tomato Vinaigrette

fullsizeoutput_9071.jpeg

Among the delicious foods I feasted on on our recent trip to Eastern Europe were these: white asparagus, which is in season NOW. In the U.S. too. 

I found these beautiful spears at Fairway and prepared them exactly as I had them for dinner one night in Vienna.

Yes, these were dinner.

Ok, ok, I had a few rolls with a lot of butter too.

And strudel with schlag for dessert.

If you've never tasted white asparagus, you are in for a treat. They are milder and sweeter than the green ones and take a few minutes longer to cook because they are usually thicker. But, if you can't find these, use regular green asparagus (adjust cooking time depending on thickness of the spears).

 

White Asparagus with Tomato Vinaigrette

  • 1 pound white asparagus
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1 hard cooked egg yolk, sieved or mashed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Remove the fibrous bottoms of each asparagus spear. Poach the asparagus in lightly salted water for 8-10 minutes, depending on thickness, or until tender. Drain under cold water and set aside in a serving dish. Whisk the olive oil and wine vinegar together until well blended. Add the tomato and egg yolk, stir and pour over the asparagus. Toss to coat every spear. Sprinkle with parsley, salt and pepper. Let rest for at least 15 minutes before serving. 

Makes 4 servings

Ah! Summer Blueberries!

_DSC9863.jpg

It's impossible to lose weight during the summer. Not when there is so much glorious fruit around and it tastes so good just out-of-hand but SO SO delicious in crisps, pies, muffins, galettes and quickbreads.

Like this blueberry bread. Spiked with orange.

A nice snack all by itself. Sliced for sandwiches smeared with cream cheese. Dessert when topped with ice cream.

Blueberry Bread

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh orange peel
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9”x5” loaf pan. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, orange peel and vanilla powder together into a bowl. Add the coconut oil in chunks and cut it into the dry ingredients with your fingers or a pastry blender. If you use an electric mixer, set it at low-medium speed. In a second bowl, beat the egg and orange juice together until well blended (if you use vanilla extract, add it here). Add to the flour mixture and stir to blend ingredients. Fold in the blueberries. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Makes one loaf

Roasted Nectarines or Peaches with Oat-Almond Crumbles

fullsizeoutput_84fe.jpeg

Mistakes happen. Sometimes it works out well.

Take this dessert, for example. I wanted to grill peach halves and serve them with whipped cream and some sort of crunchy topping. But I couldn't find good peaches, so I bought nectarines. But they weren't freestone, and when I tried to cut the fruit in half the flesh clung to the pit.

No halves.

I had to cut the nectarines into pieces.

That meant no grilling. So I roasted the pieces instead.

All I can say is I wish I had more of this dessert. It was so good that a recipe that is supposed enough servings to feed 8 people only served 4.

But maybe you will all be more abstemious.

 

Roasted Nectarines with Oat-Almond Crumbles

Oat-Almond Crumbles:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, mix the flour, almonds, oats, brown sugar, salt and melted butter. Spoon the mixture onto a rimmed cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes, stirring halfway through, or until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

Roasted Nectarines and Cream:

  • 8 firm, but ripe nectarines or peaches
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the nectarines into chunks and discard the pits. Place the chunks in a bowl. Add the melted butter and all but one teaspoon of the sugar. Place the fruit on a rimmed cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes to caramelize the fruit. Place equal quantities of the baked fruit on serving dishes. Whip the cream with the remaining teaspoon sugar and the vanilla extract until it is thick. Top the fruit with equal amounts of whipped cream. Scatter the crumbles equally on top.

Makes 8 servings (unless you can't control yourself, in which case, maybe 4-6)