Tuesday, August 28, 2012

a busy day

Unable to sleep I got an early start on the day. First, out to the vegetable garden for the day's harvest of tomatoes. I grew them all from Italian seed,  including Costuloto, which compensates for its peculiar, flattish and wedged appearance with great flavor. Then, after a wonderfully satisfying breakfast of fresh figs and yogurt I decided to utilize the last of the season's blueberries in three coffeecakes, two for the freezer. The cakes, baked in eight-inch square pans are comprised of two thin layers of a light batter, the first topped with a generous covering of cinnamon sugar and the second layer topped with the berries,which had been tossed with some panko. Atop that, a streusel. They are delicious!! My next project was a "drunken fig jam", a delightful conserve to be served with cheese. I processed the jars so they needn't be refrigerated. A heady mixture due to the brandy-marinated fruit. Then, out of the kitchen and out to the garden to attack the onerous weeds and some serious deadheading.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

dinner with bill

It's always a pleasure to cook for my friend Bill, who loves food and has a hearty appetite. We started with  a salad  of just-harvested arugula, grown from Italian seed and with a piquant pepperiness. I dressed it with a fig vinaigrette, it's slight sweetness a nice counterpoint to the bitter green. Next, curried chicken with peaches, a perfect dish at this time of year with such a bounty of gorgeous peaches. I served it with rice and roasted pepper strips and put out small bowls of chutney and peanuts. Dessert was a plum tart, the glazed plum slices resting on a lemon shortbread crust. With the scent of the herbs growing just outside carried in by a nice breeze it was a perfect evening.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Saturday night dinner with friends

Good friends Jane and Jim were here for a casual dinner filled as usual when we're together with nonstop conversation and hearty appetites. We started with flatbread pizzas - I used naan - topped with herbed oil and a sprinkle of grey salt, then thin slices of baby eggplant, zucchini and new potato. Atop this,a generous sprinkling of torn basil leaves, more salt and a few turns of the pepper mill, and voila, a tasty and quickly baked appetizer to accompany chilled white wine. At the table, a salad of mixed greens, quarters of marvelously voluptuous fresh calimyrna figs and goat cheese, dressed with my favorite fig dresssing. The garden determined my main course, stuffed chard leaves, the stuffing made up of sauteed chard stems, onions and garlic mixed with drained ricotta, then baked with the lightest of tomato sauces, topped with grated parmesan. Accompanying this, cappelini with tarragon pesto and freshly picked wax beans dressed simply with thyme and olive oil and served at room temp. Dessert was an Italian olive oil and rosemary cake served with a few berries topped with limoncello flavored mascarpone cream. The weather was hot and humid, but in the cool of the house a good time was had by all.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

a summer lunch

August 9, 2012 My good friend came over on this hot and humid day to help with my computer and to have lunch. I wanted to prepare a quck and summery repast that would refresh and satisfy. I pan-grilled some vertical slices of pink skinned eggplant which I did not peel, some sliced young zucchini and a few large mushrooms. I added some corn, garlic and shallots. When it was all beautifully bronzed it went on an oval green and yellow platter decorated with raised ears of corn.I added some lusciously ripe quarters of apricot, sliced yellow tomatoes and cherry and plum tomatoes from the garden, good jarred Italian tuna, chunks of parmesan and a generous showering of basil, finished it off with a generous sprinkling of black pepper and grey salt and served the platter with a carafe of fragrant olive oil. Some grilled toasts completed our summer lunch. Perfect for this day, accompanied by lots of conversation with my good pal.