I’ve sat down to write this so many times this week, but things just kept coming up. Still, I wanted to post so badly that I’m just making it happen. Forgive me, though, for the lateness of this post. (Better late than never!) Today I want to focus on dishes that use more of summer’s bountiful produce. (I’m starting to yearn for fall, so this is to help me appreciate the here and now.)
Let’s start with a lovely breakfast shortcake using your preferred stone fruit. The recipe calls for nectarines, but really you can sub whatever looks best, smells best, or just is your preferred fruit. These are made very much like scones, and the end result has a beautiful, soft texture that just starts your day off on the right foot.
Nectarine Shortcakes (from Martha Stewart)
1/2 lb. cut in 1/2 inch piece nectarines
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 c. + 2 tsp. sugar
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. cubed butter
1 c. heavy cream
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the nectarines, lemon juice, and 2 tsp. sugar. Let stand for 15 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and 1/4 c. sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter til the mix forms small pieces. Stir in the cream, then fold in the nectarine mix.
3. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Pat the dough into an 8 1/2 inch round. Using a 2 1/2 inch cutter, cut out 8 rounds and transfer them to a parchment lined baking sheet. (I just decided how big I wanted my shortcakes, then cut them into triangles that size.) Brush the tops of the cakes with cream and sprinkle them with more sugar. Bake til golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. (They don’t tell you to, but I made a confectioner’s sugar glaze for mine.)
This next dish is a somewhat unusual pasta dish that really shows off tomatoes, basil, and almonds. If you don’t like those ingredients, then don’t try this dish. It’s pasta dressed with a raw tomato-almond pesto. The garlic has some nice bite to it, and it’s a lovely way to use up tomatoes. (Next time, I’d like to try it with some slightly roasted tomatoes.) The great thing about this dish is that you only have to turn on one burner and your food processor, and it comes together very quickly.
Linguine with Tomato-Almond Pesto (from Smitten Kitchen)
3/4 c. slivered almonds (They add a great crunch to this dish.)
1 handful basil leaves
1-2 cloves garlic
Several sprinkles salt (I’m serious. You need a good portion of salt to bring out all the other flavors.)
6 quartered plum tomatoes
1/2 c. grated Parmesan
1/4 – 1/3 c. olive oil
1 lb. linguine
1. In a large skillet, saute the almonds in a little olive oil til toasted. Let the almonds cool, then blend them in the food processor til they’re in coarse pieces. Scoop them out of the processor and set them aside.
2. Put the basil, garlic, and salt in a food processor and chop. Add the almonds back in with the tomatoes, cheese, and olive oil and whir briefly. Season with black pepper.
3. Cook the linguine til al dente. Reserve 1 c. of the pasta cooking water and drain the pasta. Immediately toss the hot pasta with the pesto and mix quickly. Add the pasta water to thin if necessary.
Oh, you want to know what that delicious looking green side is? Well, that’s our next dish, zucchini fritters. As I’m sure you know, zucchini is very abundant during summer, and this is a delicious way to prepare it. These were also very easy and quick to prepare, and I’m confirmed in my decision to try more vegetables made into these delicious crispy treats.
Zucchini Fritters (courtesy of the July issue of Bon Appetit)
1 1/2 lb. grated zucchini (about 3)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. chopped chives
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1/3 c. veggie oil
1. Place the zucchini in a colander, toss it with the salt, set it in a sink, and let it stand for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes are up, wring the zucchini dry in a towel. Place the wrung out zucchini in a large bowl and mix in the egg, flour, chives, and cornstarch. Season (liberally) with salt and pepper.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, drop the fritter mix by 1/4 cupfuls into the skillet, flattening them slightly. Cook the fritters til golden and crisp, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the fritters to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt.
So we’ve seen dishes with stone fruit, tomatoes, basil, and zucchini. (And of course last week dealt with our cherries and berries.) So one of the only things left is the abundance of corn. This past week, I decided to make a curried corn bisque. I know that people don’t usually think of making soup in the middle of summer, but I still enjoy it. Of course, that may be because I can be cold in the middle of summer, but I don’t see how that’s relevant. This particular soup balances the sweetness of the corn with the spice of the curry powder. It’s a really tasty dish, that improves when all the flavors have a chance to meld overnight. My only negative comment is that the texture was chunkier than I wanted. If you have a similar problem, you could strain the soup through a fine mesh sieve. (Sorry, I forgot to get a picture of this one.)
Curried Corn Bisque (from Eating Well.com)
2 tsp. canola oil
1 c. chopped onions
1 tbsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. hot sauce
1/4 tsp. salt (Personally, I thought it could use a lot more salt. Taste it once it’s all together, then adjust as necessary.)
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 16 oz. packages frozen corn (Obviously, you could substitute 2 lbs. of fresh corn kernels.)
2 c. chicken broth
2 c. water
1 c. light coconut milk
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, til soft, about 3 minutes. Add the seasonings and stir to coat the onions. Stir in the corn, broth, and water. Increase the heat to high and bring the mix to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and puree in a blender in batches. Pour back in the pot, add the coconut milk, and heat through.
The last dish I wanted to share doesn’t contain a summer ingredient, but it does have that bright, summery feel. My husband recently asked me to make him one of his favorite snack foods, puppy chow. While I did make him regular puppy chow (recipe coming soon), I also made some of this lemon puppy chow. What I love about this snack is that it tastes like lemon bars but doesn’t require as much work. What I wasn’t a fan of was how soft the Chex got from the white chocolate/lemon mix. Still, I would gladly deal with the softer texture for that delicious lemon flavor. Enjoy!
Lemon Puppy Chow (from Chex)
9 c. rice Chex
1 1/4 c. white vanilla baking chips (I used vanilla almond bark since it melts better.)
1/4 c. butter
4 tsp. lemon zest
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 c. confectioner’s sugar
1. Set the cereal aside in a large bowl. In a 1 quart microwavable bowl, cook the vanilla chips, butter, zest, and lemon juice for 1 minute on high. Stir and cook 30 seconds longer or til smooth. Pour this mix over the cereal, stirring til evenly coated.
2. Pour the cereal mix in a 2 gallon Ziploc bag. Add the confectioner’s sugar, seal, and shake til well coated. (I’ve learned from experience that it’s better to leave some air in the bag to facilitate the shaking process.)
I’ve got some big things coming up next week, so hopefully I can share them soon.