Archives for the month of: July, 2014

We’re going to Martha’s Vineyard on Friday for a week and I can’t wait! My girlfriends from college and I are taking turns vacationing at a rental over three weeks, but this weekend we will all be there together. Between our upcoming trip, a recent day-trip to Jacob Riis Park to enjoy NYC’s surf and sand, and multiple trips to the farmers market I definitely feel like I am in the midst of summer. And, I love it.

The view from the porch of our Vineyard rental

The view from the porch of our Vineyard rental

To celebrate all of the amazing produce that is available this time of year I thought I would do something a little different this week. Instead of the usual meal plan I thought I’d post a bunch of my favorite summer side dishes. I love veggies and fruit all year long, but there is nothing like August when it all seems to be at its peak at the exact same time. These side dishes are great with grilled chicken, steak or fish and can be made for as few as one person to as many as a whole party’s worth.


Panzanella (Tomato and Bread Salad)
Watermelon, Tomato and Feta Salad
Cucumber Salad
Zucchini Fritters

Panzanella (Tomato and Bread Salad)

I have wanted to try this salad for a long time and this summer I dove head first. I tried a few different recipes, but, as I usually do, I ended up tweaking them and turning them into my own. Here’s what I did:

3 tomatoes, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
½ red onion, thinly sliced
2 cups of stale Italian bread, cubed
6-8 kalamata olives, halved
1 TB. capers
2 TB. red wine vinegar
4 TB. extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper

Mix all of the ingredients together and let sit for about 20 minutes. Add more vinegar, oil, salt or pepper to taste.


There is nothing easier than cucumber salad. I usually make it with red wine vinegar; but my Dad makes a killer mayonnaise version that he calls Combination Salad – does this sound familiar to any of my upstate NY readers? I was messing around on Pinterest recently and came across this recipe from Saveur. It reminds me of the cucumber salad you get at a good BBQ place. In a twist from my usual recipe it uses apple cider vinegar, which I think is one of the unsung heroes of our kitchens. My variation is below:

Cuke Salad_Web

Cucumber Salad

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 TB. sugar
1/2 ts. salt
2-4 cucumbers (depending on size), peeled every 1/2 inch of so around and sliced thin
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
ground black pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, sugar and salt. Add cucumber and red onion and toss. Season with salt and pepper and chill.



Zucchini never quite conjures lust the way corn or tomatoes do. And of course, it is the one vegetable that gardeners and farmers inevitably end up with too much of. In fact, just this week my friend Nora posted a photo of her zucchini plants covered with flowers ensuring that she’ll be swimming in squash for weeks. Also, it is a strange vegetable to put away. You don’t really hear of people freezing or pickling zucchini very much. So, what do we do with all of that squash?!

You fry it, that’s what. Sure you could do zucchini fries, but these fritters are so much better. Once again Jack Bishop’s Vegetables Every Day comes to the rescue with the most delicious fritters you’ve ever tasted.

Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini Fritters_Web

1 lb. zucchini, trimmed and shredded with a cheese grater or with the shredding disk of a food processor
1 large garlic clove, minced
3/4 ts. salt
1/4 ts. ground black pepper
1 large egg
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 TB. extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Wrap shredded zucchini in several layers of paper towels or a cloth towel and squeeze gently. Continue squeezing, using new towels if necessary, until the zucchini is dry.

Place the shredded zucchini in a large bowl. Add garlic, salt, pepper and egg and mix well. Stir in the flour.

Heat 2 TB. of oil in a medium, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Fill a 1/4 cup measure with the zucchini batter. Turn the batter into the hot pan and use the back of the spoon to shape the batter into a 2-3 inch patty. Quickly repeat until the pan is full but not crowded. Saute until the fritters are nicely browned on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the fritters and continue to cook until they are nicely browned on the second side, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer fritters to a platter lined with a paper towel to drain. Keep hot.

Briefly heat the remaining 2 TB. of oil in the empty skillet. Add the remaining batter as directed above.

Serve the fritters hot with the lemon wedges.

Patrick is allergic to watermelon so I only make this salad when I’m cooking for a bunch of people. It is all over restaurant menus, but I don’t care. The sweet of the melon and the salt of the feta cheese is great together. It is incredibly versatile too. You can add or substitute with kalamata olives, basil, cucumber or mozzarella, to name a few.

Watermelon Salad_Web

1/4 wedge of watermelon, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 hunk of feta cheese, crumbled
several mint leaves, torn up
2 TB. olive oil
1 TB. lime juice
salt and pepper, to taste

Mix all of the ingredients together and taste. You may want more lime juice or olive oil, but remember you can always add but you can’t take away, so go lightly.

While driving down Route 30 just outside of Townsend, VT a few weeks ago we passed a homemade sign reading “Pick Your Own Strawberries and Raspberries”. If I had been driving all of the day’s plans would have been thrown out the window immediately, but Patrick kept us on track and berry picking had to wait. Fortunately, we didn’t wait too long and a couple of days later we were standing in a huge, open field surrounded by strawberries plants and raspberries bushes. Grabbing a few pint and quart baskets my Mom, Eliza, Patrick and I headed into the fields. What seemed like a full morning’s adventure was over pretty quickly. There were so many berries they practically jumped into our baskets!

Black Raspberries_Web

In less than 20 minutes we had picked tons of berries and had no specific plan of what to do with them besides eat them.

Our Harvest_Web

Fortunately, Eliza, always a picky eater, took this opportunity to decide she loved berries.

Eliza and the Berries_Web

Once we got home I started to search for the perfect recipe for these beautiful berries. I wasn’t up for hours of baking, so I needed something relatively simple and I knew exactly where to go – Smitten Kitchen. Deb Perelman bakes the most gorgeous desserts and while some of her recipes can get complicated her fruit desserts seem to always air on the side of simplicity; letting the fruit do most of the work. Having always wanted to try a galette – basically an informal pie – I was thrilled to see that she had just recently posted a berry galette recipe for the Fourth of July. A few steps later and we were enjoying the fruits of our labor (see what I did there?).

Mixed Berry Galette
Mixed Berry Galette_Web

(Recipe heavily inspired by Smitten Kitchen)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 ts. salt
1 1/2 ts. sugar
Zest of half a lemon
8 TB. (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup yogurt (or ricotta or sour cream)
3 to 4 TB. cold water

2 cups mixed berries (I used raspberries, black raspberries and strawberries)
3 TB. sugar
2 TB. cornstarch
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch of salt

1 egg yolk beaten with 1 ts. water
1 heaped ts. sugar for sprinkling (coarse, if you have it)

Whisk the flour, salt, sugar and zest together in the bottom of a large bowl. Work the butter into the flour with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles a coarse meal and the largest bits of butter are the size of tiny peas. Stir yogurt and 3 tablespoons water together in a small dish and pour into butter-flour mixture. Stir together with a flexible spatula, then use your hands to knead the mixture into a rough ball. Wrap in plastic and flatten into a disc. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour or up to 48 hours.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured counter, roll the dough out into a large round-ish shape, about 14 to 15 inches across.

Transfer round-shaped dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet; folding your dough gently into quarters and then unfolding it onto the baking pan works pretty well.

Stir together all of the filling ingredients and spread them in the center of the dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold the border over the filling, pleating the edge to make it fit.

Whisk egg yolk and water together and brush over exposed crust. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake galette for 30 minutes, or golden all over. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature, preferably with vanilla ice cream.



Pork Tenderloin with Plums and Red Onion

I posted this recipe in the winter using apples instead of plums and apple cider vinegar instead of red wine vinegar. Here’s the original. As you can see, this recipe is wonderful because you can adapt it (are you sensing a theme here?) and even use a combination of peaches and plums, or just peaches.

Note 1: If you are serving this dish for four people I would probably use 1 1/2 to 2 lb. of pork (probably two tenderloins). One pound for four adults doesn’t seem like enough.

Note 2: I think that 2 TB. of vinegar is plenty. Remember, you can always add more but you can’t take it away!

Corn on the cob

Boil water in a pot, put shucked corn in the water, turn off the heat and put a lid on your pot. Wait 10 minutes or so. Eat with lots of butter, salt and pepper.

Summer Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Mozzarella
Summer Pasta_Web

This is such a great dish for showcasing summer’s greatest gift to us – the tomato – and prep is so fast. You can’t eat this any other time of the year because tomatoes aren’t good enough to eat raw. I used to make this recipe without marinating the tomatoes (see below), but once I learned this trick from Jamie Oliver I never went back – it really makes them taste incredible.

¾ lb. pasta (I like penne or rigatoni)
3-4 tomatoes, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Handful of basil, torn up
olive oil, to taste
1/2 lb. fresh mozzarella – cubed

Boil water for pasta, when boiling add pasta and follow directions on the box.

Chop tomatoes, add them to a colander placed over a large bowl or in the sink, and toss them with a decent amount of salt (maybe 2 teaspoons?) and let sit at least 15 minutes while you prep the rest of the your ingredients. Mince garlic and cube mozzarella.

When the pasta is ready, toss tomatoes into your serving bowl and drain the pasta in the colander you used for the tomatoes (the juice that comes out of the tomatoes should be thrown out). Add garlic, mozzarella, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper to the tomatoes and mix. Add pasta and toss.


Grilled Sausages and Summer Beans with Herbs, Tomatoes and Caramelized Onions
Grilled Sausages w Beans and Tomatoes_Web

This New York Times recipe is so easy and delicious. Since I don’t have a grill I broil my sausages for about 5-7 minutes and they are great.

2 lb. your favorite sausages
3 TB. olive oil
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
4 fresh thyme sprigs
salt and pepper
pinch of sugar
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 lb. green and/or wax beans, trimmed
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as basil and parsley

Prepare grill or preheat broiler. Grill or broil sausages until browned and blistered and cooked all the way through, 5 to 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare beans. Heat oil in a large skillet with a cover until shimmering. Add onion, thyme sprigs and a pinch each of salt, pepper and sugar. Saute over medium-high heat until onions are golden in spots and browned around the edges, about 7 minutes.

Add tomatoes and saute until they start to release their juices, 2 minutes. Add beans and white wine and toss everything in pan. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 3 minutes. Uncover pan, add herbs and continue to cook. Toss beans occasionally, until liquid evaporates and beans are done to taste, 5 to 15 minutes, adding water to the pan if it dries out. Garnish with coarse salt if you like and serve hot or at room temperature, with sausages.

This is the best time of the year to cook and I’ve left you all stranded – I’m sorry! The thing is that while it is the easiest time to throw something delicious together, for me it has also been the busiest. In the last four weeks, I’ve been to Ottawa, Omaha, Vermont, Boston and Baltimore! Consequently, I have not had a chance to cook as much as I would like. But in Vermont, which was vacation, I had a chance to make a bunch of great, summertime dishes, many of which will show up here throughout the next several weeks.

Upon my return to New York I was greeted with all of summer’s best – green beans, peaches, blueberries, raspberries, corn and even the season’s first tomatoes! Total inspiration. This week’s recipes take advantage of the season’s bounty and none of them take too long to prepare so you have plenty of time to get out there and catch some fireflies!

I've been waiting all year for this!

I’ve been waiting all year for this!

Meal #1: Grilled Sausages and Summer Beans with Herbs, Tomatoes and Caramelized Onions
Meal #2: Fish Fillets with Tomatoes, Squash, and Basil + Corn on the Cob
Meal #3: Summer Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Mozzarella
Meal #4: Pork Tenderloin with Plums and Red Onion + Corn on the Cob

Note: For the next several weeks you will see a LOT of corn here. The season is so short so we tend to eat either corn on the cob or corn salad every night. You’ve been warned.

Your grocery list, excluding the usual pantry items:

summer squash (such as zucchini and yellow crookneck) – 2-4, depending on size
shallots – 2
red onion – 2 large
thyme – 1 bunch
parsley – 1 bunch
basil – 1 bunch
cherry tomatoes – 2 pints
green and/or wax beans – 1 lb.
tomatoes – 3-4
corn – 1 per person for two separate meals
plums – 4
pasta (penne or rigatoni work well) – 1 box
fresh mozzarella – 1/2 lb.
sausages – 2 lb.
pork tenderloin – 1 1/2 – 2 lb.
skinless white flaky fish fillets (such as Atlantic cod or halibut) – 4 6-ounce fillets
white wine