Archive for July, 2013

Sumptuous Summer

Posted in Family, Food, Recipes on July 29th, 2013 by nita – Be the first to comment

The farmers markets are full of colorful, bright, and fresh produce right now…. so I am taking advantage of summer’s bounty! When using farm fresh produce, there is no need for heavy seasonings or altercations of flavor. What you see is what you get, and it’s nature’s best representation of the season. Here are some of my favorite summer ingredients in both sweet and savory creations…

Strawberries
Although I first used ripe, sweet strawberries in this recipe in the late spring, I’ve been making this throughout the summer as well with equal success. The sweet fruit shines and is perfectly accompanied by the heat of black peppercorns, and the acidity of the vinegar. Perfect topping for toast or for goat cheese bruschetta! – Credit to old school Gourmet Magazine and Sejal for introducing me to this recipe! Strawberry Preserves with Black Pepper and Balsamic Vinegar: In a small heavy saucepan, combine 2 cups strawberries (trimmed and quartered,) 1 1/2 cups sugar, 3 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 3 tablespoons water, and 1 teaspoon cracked fresh black pepper. Simmer the mixture, skimming the foam occasionally, for 15 minutes or until thickened. Let cool completely – this will keep, covered, for up to a month.

Sour Cherries
While I love snacking on the sweeter bing or rainier cherries throughout the summer season, these tart little gems only have a 2 to 3 week season here in NY/NJ (early July) and are the perfect ingredient for pies, tarts, and preserves! I experimented with a sour cherry salsa which unfortunately accentuated the tart, astringent flavor. More successful was the sour cherry preserves that I made – a great topping for ice cream, or wonderful even in savory appetizers (placed on top of a toast with melted robiola cheese.) One of my favorite desserts is Sour Cherry Turnovers (click here for the recipe.)

Blueberries
We picked blueberries at a local farm the other day – there really are only a few things that can compare to beautiful, ripe, NJ blueberries in July! So, naturally, we brought our stash home, proceeded to snack on them throughout the rest of the day, and stuck a few cups-full in the freezer. I made this blueberry smoothie the next morning – so delicious and the perfect anti-oxidant rich breakfast for my family! Creamy Blueberry Smoothies: Combine in a blender (I use my vitamix for a very smooth texture) – 1 cup frozen blueberries, 1/4 cup skim milk, 3/4 cup plain or vanilla lowfat yogurt, 1 teaspoon honey. Blend until completely smooth, and enjoy immediately! (Throw in some flax or chia seeds for an extra healthy boost!)

Shishito Peppers
I don’t often find these in the markets in NJ, but every now and again I will stumble upon a gorgeous batch of shishito peppers at one of the Manhattan open markets… No matter what my menu is for that evening, I somehow find a way to incorporate these delightful, slightly spicy little peppers! The entire pepper is usually eaten, seeds and all – and the way that I prepare them is just a little olive oil, sea salt, and a hot skillet – blistering them slightly all over. I am getting hungry just typing this! This is a very general recipe – the qty of the ingredients depends on the size of the pan you are using… Blistered Shishito Peppers: Heat a skillet over medium high heat, and add a good amount of extra virgin olive oil to coat the pan. You want the oil to be pretty hot… Add the peppers, and make sure that they are coated with the oil. Then, leave the peppers alone for a minute or two per side. They will blister and after about 4 to 5 minutes total cooking time, they are done. Transfer them to a serving plate and immediately add some flaky sea salt, keep a small empty bowl nearby so that you can discard the stems as you eat… Enjoy!

Sweet Corn
Every summer around this time, I think of the sweet corn that one of the farmers at the Ithaca Farmers Market sold to us a few years ago… He took his pocket knife, cut off a little section of yellow and white kernels from the cob, and offered it to us to taste. It was by far the sweetest, and most savory corn I ever had – RAW too, to top that! We as a group proceeded to buy what seemed to be a truckload of corn from him, and the recipes that week were endless. Click here for a recipe for Summer Corn Pesto that is a great accompaniment to any pasta of your choice. Click here for a fabulous sweet corn soup recipe… I topped it with the meat of grilled langoustines, but you could just roast off some corn kernels to top, or any other accompanying vegetable on top would be great too…

And the list goes on… mangoes, and pineapples, eggplant,  summer squash…… I’ll leave those to my next post – I’ve got to choose amongst a dozen or so tomato recipes so stay tuned! :)

Sweet Corn Soup

Posted in Food, Recipes on July 27th, 2013 by nita – Be the first to comment

Make this soup with the season’s sweetest crop of corn!

Sweet Corn Soup

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
10 to 12 ears of fresh sweet corn, shucked, and kernels cut off of the cobs – this should yield 7 to 8 cups of corn (I used yellow and white mixed – but use whatever you want as long as it’s fresh!)
4 1/2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chives, chopped

Melt butter and olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and fennel and saute until softened, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and saute about a minute until fragrant. Add the corn and mix together with all of the other ingredients, making sure corn is well coated with the butter, oil, and bits of garlic, about 3 minutes. Add water and increase heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer on low, partially covered, for about 15 minutes.

Transfer the soup to a blender (I used my vitamix for a super smooth and creamy result – you may have to do this in portions) and blend until completely smooth. Transfer the blended soup back to the soup pot, add salt and some generous pepper grinds to taste, and keep warm. You may make the soup up to this step, transfer to tight sealed containers and refrigerate for up to one day.

When ready to serve, rewarm soup over medium heat, stirring. Ladle into soup bowls, sprinkle with chives, and serve. We had fresh langoustines from Metropolitan Seafood the day we served this, so we grilled them off and topped the soup with the langoustine meat. I roasted fennel and topped one of our guest’s bowls with that instead instead to keep it vegetarian. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Tart Pockets!

Posted in Food, Recipes on July 27th, 2013 by nita – Be the first to comment

Sweet and Tangy, topped with a decadent scoop of vanilla ice cream – this dessert screams summer and is one of my favorites to make (and eat!) Recipe courtesy of The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet

Sour Cherry Turnovers

Crust
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (unbleached)
1 teaspoon sugar
pinch of salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, diced
1 8oz package of cold cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces

Filling
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups sour cherries, pitted (s/b 2 1/4 cups after pitting)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of the food processor and process until blended. Add the diced cold butter and pulse 10 to 15 times, until the mixture looks like bread crumbs. Add the cream cheese and pulse about 30 times or until large, shaggy clumps of dough form. Turn the shaggy dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead gently 2 or 3 times to create a cohesive dough. Flatten into a 7-inch square (about ¾-inch think) and wrap in plastic. Chill for 30 minutes. Place the dough back onto a lightly floured board and roll into a square about 1/8-inch thick. Trim to a 15-inch square. Using a ruler, lightly score 5-inch increments along all sides of the dough. Cut the dough into 9 (5-inch) squares and chill them while preparing the filling.

Whisk the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a small bowl to blend. Stir in sour cherries, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Toss until the sour cherries are evenly coated.

Retrieve the crusts from the fridge and divide the filling evenly among one-half of each of the squares, leaving a narrow border along the edges.

In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolk with the milk to create an egg wash. Brush a thin coat of egg wash on the outside border around the fruit. Fold the dough in half over the fruit and press the edges with the tines of a fork to seal. Trim with a bench scraper or knife to make the edges even. Transfer all the turnovers to a baking sheet lined with parchment or a Silpat and refrigerate for 20 minutes before baking. While turnovers are chilling, preheat oven to 375°F.

Brush the top of each turnover with a thin coat of egg wash and sprinkle generously with turbinado sugar. Use the tip of a paring knife to cut several slits in the top of each to allow steam to escape during baking. Bake for 15 minutes, rotate front to back, and bake 10-15 minutes longer, until the pastry is golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack. Serve the turnovers warm or at room temperature. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream if desired. Makes 9 turnovers.