Archives for posts with tag: summer

watermelon 2

salad duo makes a meal

basil. watermelon. peach. balsamic.

citrus dressing. garlic prawns. green salad.


I have this compulsion to invite people over and feed them. I am not the most organized hostess and I actually do not even like that word. “Hostess”. It makes me think of forced seating arrangements and jell-o molds. I prefer casual, organic get togethers that occur in nature. Someone caught fish, let’s cook it. I have a plethora of zucchini, let’s eat it. Sometimes I just invite random people that I love over and try new recipes. This week I was inspired by my basil plant I have managed to keep alive in this tropical heat wave, and my dearest friend and her new dietary restrictions. I used 1/2 the case of white peaches I picked up last weekend, watermelon spears (from Trader Joes), fresh chiffonade basil and a little balsamic for the first salad. I sprinkled some black pepper on it as well. It was savory enough for dinner, but could have easily been dessert possibly with added blueberries.

The second salad I needed to avoid some of my salad staples (nuts, cheese). For the base of the salad I used:

Organic mixed greens

Hericot verts

Mixed medley cherry tomatoes

English cucumber

Avocado

The dressing/marinade:

Orange juice

Fresh lime juice

Organic honey

Olive oil

Whisk the ingredients for the dressing, pour half of it in a plastic bag with the prawns, 3-4 cloves of chopped garlic and some parsley. Let it sit for about a half hour. Saute in a pan over medium heat until cooked through and pink. Use the remaining marinade as a dressing.

I served gluten-free garlic bread and grilled corn as well, and we had some amazing halibut to add to the spread as well. We ate family style and managed to eat it all, which just makes clean up easier. I am grateful for nights like this, with conversation and delicious food. Old friends meeting new friends. Finish the evening with a stroll with a view and give thanks, this is the good life.

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Photo Aug 14, 8 25 59 PM

“People who love to eat are always the best people.” – Julia Child

Pizza to me is many things: the ultimate comfort food, my guilty pleasure and a blank canvas. In being a blank canvas, pizza allows the home chef to “get-rid-of” excess produce before tossing it in the compost. I am pretty sure most home gardens are still over flowing with zucchini and squash this week, while I happened to go overkill at the Farmer’s Market and purchased a pre-selected giant bag of the delicious summer staple. Did you know that August 8th is even Sneak Zucchini onto your Neighbor’s Porch Day?

I have been putting zucchini in everything, my eggs in the morning, salads, on the grill, in pasta dishes, and I am down to my last single zucchini and yellow squash. Clearly this calls for thinly rolled pizza dough and squash sliced on the mandolin, with a sprinkling of goat cheese, olive oil, fresh basil, salt and pepper. Voila!

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Tequila, in moderation, is one of my favorite things. I cannot remember when I fell in love with tequila, but spending my college days working at a tequila bar definitely added fuel to the fire. Trying new tequilas can be like tasting new wine, find out what you like and do not believe every up selling bartender or lurker with a black Amex, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to be great. Go with your personal palate and please step out of the Patron box. My favorite silver tequila is Herradura, but I was on a bit of a budget so I used Hornitos silver.
I love how easy it is to infuse the spice and flavor of the jalapeño that keeps you coming back for more. As a bonus, jalapeños are super easy to grow at home, so consider adding them to your veggie garden next time you plant.
For the infused tequila:
  • 3 jalapenos, washed
  • 750ml bottle of silver or reposada tequila, 100% Agave only please
  1. Slice jalapenos into ¼ inch size pieces, including the seeds. Place them in a large quart size jar. Pour in a 750 ml bottle of tequila. Seal the lid and give the jar a good swirl. Keep the jar in a dark place for 2-3 days. I like to swirl the jar once a day to mix. I use mason jars for both infusing the tequila and for creating the cocktails.
  2. After your 2-3 days, pour the tequila through a fine mesh strainer to remove all the pieces of jalapeno and seeds. Funnel the infused tequila back into the jar or bottle for storage.
  3. Refrigerate

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To make 2 cocktails
  • 2.5 oz jalapeño infused tequila (I tend to have a little heavy hand)
  • 3 oz FRESH Pineapple juice, I bought mine at Whole Foods
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
  • Diced jalapeño for extra spice if needed, I’m obsessed with jalapeño and like the fresh pieces in my cocktail
  • Dash of soda water for bubbles
  • Jalapeño or pineapple wedge to garnish
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour in jalapeño infused tequila, pineapple juice, lime juice, Grand Marnier. Shake to combine and chill. Strain into prepared glasses and if desired, garnish with a pineapple wedge,  jalapeño slice or lime.

cherry tomatoes

Heirloom tomatoes are finally here and in abundance. Be careful of storing your summer bounty. When you refrigerate a tomato you damage the internal membrane and create the ubiquitous mealy texture that we connect with bad or off-season tomatoes. The best place to store tomatoes is in the open air, they continue to develop their flavor until maturation peaks a few days after harvest.

I wanted to try out this recipe from Food52 that was originally a Martha Stewart creation. Claiming to create a sauce as it cooked the ingredients in one pot by simply using the appropriate proportions appealed to me, as well as being able to feature the beautiful sungold and cherry tomatoes coming from our local farms.

Here is the recipe

12 ounces linguine
12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
1/2 onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
1 shallot, thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, I used more than recommended for extra spice
2 sprigs basil, plus torn leaves for garnish
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 1/2 cups water
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Combine pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, red-pepper flakes, basil, oil, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and water in a large straight-sided skillet (the linguine should lay flat). Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil mixture, stirring and turning pasta frequently with tongs or a fork, until pasta is al dente and water has nearly evaporated, about 9 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, divide among 4 bowls, and garnish with basil. Serve with olive oil and Parmesan.

I sautéed crimini mushrooms and a little onion in a sauté pan, and added them at the end for a little more substance. This negates the dish being truly a one pot pasta, but I was worried the mushroom flavor would overwhelm the rest of the dish. I made this for my friends with a delicious light salad and everyone was happy and full as we dined alfresco in the Summer air. This became an instant classic, and something I am bound to cook for the rest of my life.