The bounty of summer is beginning to pour in. Our neighbor has more peaches than he knows what to do with. Now we have more peaches than we know what to do with. And he has invited us back for more. Unfortunately his apricot and cherry trees had no fruit this year, probably because of late frost.
Good friends gave us some delicious plums from their back yard. We will probably get some more when we visit them today. So far, no one has given us any zucchini, but they will come. The tomatoes are in abundance.
This week we went to the market at the Community Farm instead of our usual visit to the farmers’ market at the Rail Yard. The Community Farm is a group of fields and orchards owned by a 90+ year-old man who has contributed their use to the city. Volunteers do all of the work, and so the vegetables are not the perfect specimens that you find at the farmers’ market much less the supermarket. But the produce is put to good use. Most of it goes to the local food bank and a program of meals for house-bound clients. The farm has a public market every Sunday afternoon. We pulled into the driveway and were greeted by a group of volunteers clearly proud of their efforts: piles of fresh vegetables. We bought baskets of fragrant and colorful vegetables, and now we have to make some good stuff from the bounty.
There were lots of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and a red onion in our basket. What could be better to make than a summer soup of gazpacho? Actually, I am not a big fan of most gazpacho. It is often puréed into oblivion and resembles baby food. I much prefer to have identifiable vegetables and crusty garlic croutons. That’s what this recipe is.
Peaches from our neighbors
Plums from our friends
Bounty from Community Farm
Rustic gazpacho with chives snipped chives and sour cream
Rustic gazpacho – don’t forget the garlic croutons
- 6 ripe tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 bell pepper, seeds removed and coarsely chopped
- 1 small red onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
- ½ cup minced parsley
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- juice of 1 lemon
- juice of ½ lime
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cups chicken stock
- salt and pepper
- garlic croutons
- snipped chives (optional)
- sour cream (optional)
- In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, onion, parsley, and garlic.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, lime juice, sugar, and olive oil until well combined. Stir the mixture into the vegetables.
- Stir in the chicken stock. Chill, covered, in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Adjust seasoning with more lemon juice if desired, salt and pepper. Serve, topped with croutons. Garnish with snipped chives and sour cream if desired.
I’m in San Francisco right now, after the California Chili Cook-Off in Lodi. (More about that in another post.) Last night, Sarah, our chef-daughter, cooked dinner. Originally she planned to go to the grocery store, but ultimately decided to clear out her refrigerator. Needless to say, her made-up dish using leftovers and odds and ends turned out to be better than anything I could have cooked. The dish combines chicken and pork chop (left over from my chili cook-off venture) with pasta in a simple but delicious sauce seasoned with herbs de Santa Fe*. The side dish was a tomato and burrata salad with an herb vinaigrette. It was a delicious dinner with very little fuss.
* Herbs de Santa Fe is a mix of lavender, rosemary, thyme, savory, fennel seed, basil, and marjoram. You could substitute Italian seasoning.
Here’s the impromptu pasta recipe:
- 3 tablespoons schmaltz (rendered chicken fat)
- 2 pork chops, cubed
- cooked chicken (breast and thigh), cubed
- herbs de Santa Fe*
- 1 pint hard apple cider
- lemon juice
- olive oil
- kale, chopped
- button mushrooms, sliced
- red onion, diced
- pasta cooked al dente, drained
- salt and pepper
- Heat the schmaltz in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the pork and chicken, browning lightly. Stir in the herbs and hard cider and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a very slow boil and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Add lemon juice to taste.
- Meanwhile, in a small sauté pan, heat the olive oil. Add the kale, mushrooms, and red onion. Sauté until cooked through. Set aside.
- When the cider has reduced, stir in the sautéed kale, mushrooms, and red onion. Add enough pasta to suit your taste. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper. Top with freshly grated Parmesan. Serve immediately.
Filed under Food, Recipes
One of our family traditions – probably a tradition in your family, too – is that for birthdays, the honoree gets to select the menu for the whole day. While we were in Los Angeles, my grand-daughter celebrated her thirteenth birthday. That was a momentous occasion not only for her, but also for her younger brother and her parents. Officially, she became a teenager, but these days that is only semantics. Fortunately, she is not driving yet, but the birthday was a stark reminder that the day for that is not far away.
Included in my grand-daughter’s food selections for the day was bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches for breakfast. Of course, she got to sleep late on a weekend so it was closer to brunch than breakfast. Still, a little odd for my elderly clock, but I freely admit that they were delicious.
These were not your usual BLTs. Challah was the preferred bread. That seemed to be an odd companion to bacon, but nobody blinked.
No one in the family likes mayonnaise, so there was none. How can you have a BLT without mayonnaise? They allowed me my own. The bacon was crisped in the oven, and the lettuce was the tender butter kind. The tomatoes were beautiful heirlooms, almost purple in color.
Everyone in the family is averse to onion as well, but they accommodated me with thick slices of red onion. They don’t like avocados, either, so they sliced a perfectly ripe avocado just for me.
We gathered around a buffet to assemble our personal creations. Mine was an elaborate BLT+ARO. Then we enjoyed a beautiful Southern California morning on the back patio. Gifts were opened, including a new iPhone – every California teenager needs one, I was told.
My special BLT with avocado and red onion
All in all a great way to start a day of celebration.
- 2 slices challah
- 3 strips bacon, fried crisp
- 2 large slices, heirloom tomatoes
- 2 leaves butter lettuce
- ½ ripe avocado, sliced
- 1 slice red onion
- salt and pepper
- Spread the slices of challah with mayonnaise
- Arrange the bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, and red onion on one slice of bread. You may need extra mayonnaise between layers.
- Season with salt and pepper
- Top with the remaining slice of bread for a thick sandwich.
- Eat with plenty of napkins handy or over the kitchen sink.
A week or so ago my post provided the details of a crawfish boil in Silicon Valley. For that great event, my daughter-in-law asked me to make coleslaw. I call her the “Salad Queen” because she whips up the most delicious salads on a moment’s notice, but she claimed that coleslaw was not something she liked to make. I confess that I’m not a big fan of most coleslaw, either. That’s because they often contain the core of the cabbage head, the cabbage is in big chunks with the heavy taste of cabbage, and the salad is swimming in runny mayonnaise.
Years ago I learned the first important lesson for coleslaw from my younger daughter when she was only about ten years old. She was assigned to do the cabbage chopping for a family gathering. We thought she would be finished in just a few minutes, but a half hour later she was still chopping and the cabbage was as fine as I had ever seen it. She had also removed the core of the cabbage before she started the project. Everyone loved one of her first cooking projects.
The second lesson comes from a consideration of the origins of the word, coleslaw. It is derived from the Danish word, koolsla, meaning cabbage (cole) salad ( sla, a contraction of salade). The point of all that is you can use any kind of cabbage or even cabbage relatives you want (especially shredded Brussels sprouts, but also broccoli, rabe, or cauliflower) , and you can put anything else that catches your fancy in the salad. Apples, carrots, celery, and chopped nuts are among the most common additives.
The third lesson for me is that a little mayonnaise goes a long way – much farther than you think. In recent times, I always add less mayonnaise than I think the dish needs. That includes tuna salad, sandwiches, and coleslaw In every instance what I have learned is that less is better, and you can always add more. Of course, homemade mayonnaise is better than bottled, and it doesn’t take too much extra time to make. Another option is not to use mayonnaise at all; freshly made vinaigrette is a refreshing substitute.
For the crawfish boil, I decided to use napa (Chinese) cabbage and red cabbage along with red onion, carrot, bell pepper, and celery for the basic salad. I used vinaigrette with a shot of sesame oil for the dressing. Here is the recipe.
1 large head, napa cabbage, cored, sliced and chopped very finely
1 small head red cabbage, cored, sliced and chopped very finely
1 medium red onion, diced
1 large carrot, peeled, grated, and chopped finely
- 1 bell pepper, seeded, ribs removed, and diced
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 2 teaspoons celery seed
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients
- In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, mustard, garlic powder, and sugar.
- While whisking continuously, drizzle in the olive oil until completely incorporated.
- Stir in the sesame oil, and correct seasonings with salt and pepper
Dressing the Salad
- Pour only about half of the vinaigrette onto the coleslaw and gently stir in until the salad is completely dressed
- Add more dressing as needed, being especially careful not to use too much. The coleslaw should be moistened but not damp with dressing
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Green bell pepper
I’m still working on emptying the freezer. I found more shrimp. I also had some leftover corn on the cob from a cookout the day before. With a can of black beans from the pantry, all of that seemed like the makings of a spring salad. For this recipe, you need to boil the shrimp in their shells, along with some crab boil. My choice is Zatarain’s liquid boil, because it is easy to use, but any brand will work. Don’t cook the shrimp too long or they will become tough. Chill them in ice water before you peel them, and then refrigerate until you are ready to use them. Prepare the corn by cutting the kernels off the cobs. A sharp knife is just fine for the job, but if you are a gadgeteer, you might have fun using a special device for removing the kernels while leaving a beautiful, symmetric cob.
Dress the salad with the accompanying chili-lime vinaigrette to complete the Southwestern slant of the salad. This should serve two to four.
Special corn-cutting tool
Bowl of salad ready to eat
Shrimp, Corn, and Black Bean Salad
- 10 16-20/pound frozen shrimp with shells, thawed
- 2 tablespoons liquid Zatarain’s crab boil
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 cooked ears of corn
- 1 can (14 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup chopped green bell pepper
- 2 ribs, celery, diced
- ½ medium red onion, diced
- ¼ cup pecan halves, chopped coarsely
- ¼ cup sliced black olives
- 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
- salt and pepper to taste
- Add the thawed shrimp to 4 quarts of boiling water to which has been added the salt and crab boil. Return to the boil and boil for 5 minutes. Drain and chill the shrimp in water and ice. When cool, peel the shrimp. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- With a sharp knife or circular corn cutter, cut the kernels off the corn cobs. Set aside until ready to assemble the salad.
- In a large bowl, combine the corn kernels, black beans, bell pepper, celery, onion, pecan pieces, and olives. Add the feta cheese crumbles and toss lightly.
- Dress with the chile-lime vinaigrette, toss lightly, and top with shrimp and tomato halves.
- Serve. Makes 2 to 4 servings
- 1 large lime, juiced
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground red chiles (your choice of heat)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- In a medium bowl, whisk the lime juice and mustard together untill well combined.
- Whisk in the dry ingredients until completely incorporated.
- Slowly, one tablespoon at a time, whisk in the olive oil. Make sure that each tablespoonful is completely incorporated before adding the next.
- Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper. Then use the entire recipe to dress the shrimp and vegetable salad. Serve immediately.