My friend Sandra grows beautiful cucumbers, practically in one day! My favorite are the Armenian variety. They are so snappy and crunchy and the light green color is so cool and soothing. I like to cut the ends off, slice thickly and eat as a snack with only some good sea salt but I had purchased a melon the other day and I got to thinking about the combination of melon and cucumber. Here is the delicious result, an easy, refreshing summer salad that is a great side with any grilled meat or as a main dish just by adding some poached shrimp, You could even sprinkle with a bit of Feta cheese if you like. After I made this salad yesterday morning, I packed it up and took it to the lake! THE perfect picnic salad for a hot day.
Melon and Cucumber Salad
juice and zest of 1 lime
1 tsp honey
pinch of salt
1 T olive oil
1/2 Armenian or English cucumber or a combination, chunked
1/4 of an orange fleshed melon such as cantaloupe or orange honeydew, chunked
2 T red onion, sliced very thinly
generous pinch of hot pepper flakes
6 - 8 mint leaves, chopped fine
To make the vinaigrette, whisk the lime juice, honey and salt together in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in the olive oil to emulsify.
Put the chunked cucumber and melon in a bowl and add the lime zest, pepper flakes and red onion. Toss with the vinaigrette and chopped mint. Chill and serve within the next few hours. Serves 4 as a side.
Last Monday was a bookclub night for me and my 'bookies'. We always make an evening out of our meetings with decor, drinks and food in the spirit of the book we have read. We just finished reading a book about a Mexican-American family living in L.A. so the theme for dinner was Mexican. I decided to make the Mexican street corn known as Elote. Corn on the cob is shucked, grilled and then slathered with a mayo-sour cream mixture with garlic, cheese and cilantro, and is a beloved street food all over Mexico. It is usually presented on a sturdy stick for eating while strolling around town. This recipe is so easy and delicious, I predict that you will be eating your corn this way all summer long.
Grilled Mexican Street Corn (Elotes)
1/4 c Best Foods mayonnaise
1/4 c sour cream or Mexican crema
1/2 c finely crumbled Feta cheese or Cotija
1/2 tsp chipotle chile powder (any chile powder will work but the smokiness of the chipotle is wonderful)
1 medium clove garlic, finely minced (about 1 tsp)
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems
pinch of salt and pepper
6 ears shucked corn, cut in half or left whole
1 lime, cut into 12 wedges
Preheat a gas grill or get your charcoal started.
Combine mayonnaise, sour cream or crema, cheese, chili powder, garlic, salt and pepper and cilantro in a large bowl. Stir until blended and set aside. When grill is hot, place corn directly over hot side of grill and cook, rotating occasionally, until cooked through and charred in spots on all sides, about 8-10 minutes total. Transfer corn to bowl with cheese mixture and use a large spoon to evenly coat corn on all sides with mixture. Sprinkle with extra cheese and chili powder if desired and serve immediately with lime wedges.
Summer just isn't summer without ice cream. If you're like me, this simple indulgence usually means a trip to the grocery store or the local artisan ice cream parlor. Here's another idea...make it in minutes at home in your food processor! A simple blend of whipping cream, sugar and some frozen berries will have you enjoying this treat in minutes without leaving the house. Another tasty recipe from my friends Peter and Tari and their Roaring Camp Cafe Cooks, cookbook. Too good not to share. Let's all scream for ice cream.
Frozen Berry Cream
1/3 - 1/2 c sugar
1 c whipping cream
1 lb frozen fruit, unsweetened (I used a bag of mixed berries or freeze your own)
2 T liqueur (optional) Triple Sec or Cointreau
Whip cream with sugar in the food processor. When cream is almost firm, start dropping in pieces of frozen fruit. Continue to run the machine until all the fruit is blended in. Add the liqueur if using. Pour into a storage container and refreeze until ready to use.
Press between two chocolate cookie wafers for an ice cream sandwich or put on a sugar cone or in a parfait glass with a few more berries.
Note: Any of the frozen berries work well in this recipe, or a combination of berries. Try with frozen peaches or apricots. Add sugar depending on the sweetness of the fruit.
I never used to be much of a fresh apricot fan, but now I find them irresistible! Available in stores and Farmer's Markets for the next few months, these little darlings of summer are a sweet-tart, beautiful fruit with their happy, orange, sun kissed color. Use them in salads, wrap them in prosciutto or make them into salsa. High in antioxidants, iron and beta-carotene they are super good for you too!
1/2 lb of mixed baby greens, including arugula
1 5 oz chub of goat cheese
1/4 cup toasted, salted sunflower seeds
2 fresh apricots, cut in half and sliced
2 green onions, sliced thinly
Toss all ingredients with the vinaigrette and serve. Make sure the lettuce and the goat cheese are nice and cold, the cheese crumbles better when it’s cold. Serves 8.
2 t Dijon mustard
1/4 c Blenheim apricot balsamic vinegar (available at Marisolio in Murphys & on line)
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
pinch of kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
3/4 c extra virgin olive oil, more as needed
Whisk the mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper together well. Slowly add in the olive oil, whisking to emulsify. This may make a bit more than you need but it’s great to have on hand for the next salad!
When I was in high school, I would sometimes go over to my friend Kim's house after school. She always had a jar of this awesome, ready to spread pizza topping in the fridge.
We would pull out a piece of bread (English muffin, sandwich bread, French bread, whatever!), toast it and then spread this yummy mix on top and put it back into the toaster oven for a few minutes to melt and get crispy. What I love about this 'instant' pizza is just that - once you make a batch, it can hang out and be ready for you anytime you crave pizza...which is all the time for me! Top it with pepperoni for a classic taste or capers, anchovies and hot pepper flakes for a puttanesca style toast. It's also good with parmesan, fresh basil and arugula. I made these into an appetizer for my bocce league friends by using these super cute Naan bread 'dippers' that I found at my local supermarket, but any sort of bread will work. Now "that's amoré"!
Mini Pizza Flatbreads
1 cube of unsalted butter at room temperature
1 small can of tomato paste
1 1/2 c sharp cheddar cheese, grated (you could also use jack)
1 /2 tsp dried oregano
6 green onions, chopped finely
20 Stonefire Naan (flatbread) 'dippers' (or sliced baguette, English muffin, bagel)
olive oil for brushing on the Naan
grated parmesan for topping the pizzas (optional)
hot pepper flakes (optional)
fresh basil, torn (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the dippers on a sheet pan and brush with olive oil.
Bake for 8 minutes to get them on their way to being crispy. Mix the first five ingredients together by hand or in a stand mixer. Spread a tablespoon or so on to the middle of each mini flatbread leaving the edges exposed. Bake for 7 minutes or until starting to brown. Sprinkle with hot pepper flakes if desired and top with a bit of parmesan and fresh basil leaf. Put the leftover spread in a jar for the next time.
As a caterer for over 30 years, I have established a reputation for consistently creating original menus inspired by the occasion and the season, presenting them with an ease and elegance uniquely my own. Fresh, locally-sourced ingredients are the basis of my creative “from scratch” menus, which range from the classically elegant to rustic and whimsical.
"Love your recipes! Pat made your avocado toast a few weeks ago, delish! I'm taking them to a party in a few weeks, although the mushroom crostata looks pretty darn good!"