Grilled chorizo and flatbread with charred vegetables

August 9, 2012 § 14 Comments

Ok, I’m going to come out and say it.  There’s a certain point every summer at which I start to get a little annoyed by the sheer bounteousness of summer produce.  I mean, I love it, I really do, but it’s just so freaking beautiful and abundant.  It’s kind of like that person you know who is really smart and talented and beautiful and then they’re nice on top of it, and and eventually you’re like, “come on!  Can’t you at least be neurotic?!”  I get a little bit that way about summer vegetables.  (Please tell me this doesn’t make me a horrible person, though, clearly, I have issues.)

We put summer produce on sun-soaked a pedestal, cooing over it and the way it needs only a little sprinkling of salt, maybe a drizzle of good olive oil.  We rhapsodize perfect garden tomatoes or fresh sweet corn like we do our first love.  And it’s all true, and completely deserved.  Fresh summer produce is miraculous.  It really would be a shame to do much more than serve it in a minimalist state, an ode to the garden.  And the essays that have been written on the subject, well, I have nothing to add to them that hasn’t been said. « Read the rest of this entry »

Summer squash and rice gratin with salsa verde

June 15, 2012 § 32 Comments

I have waited for almost a year to get to eat this gratin again.  Waiting, waiting, waiting for it to feel reasonable to purchase some summer squash.  Finally I cracked because I just couldn’t wait any longer.  I wanted my gratin!

I first had it last summer when I was home visiting my parents.  It was my mother who suggested making it, and I thought it sounded fine.  Though, how exciting could a summer summer squash gratin really be?  Zucchini and cheese struck me as tasty, but in no way revolutionary.  Just kind of summery comfort food.  (Eep!  That was in no way intended to be a dig at comfort food!  I love comfort food!  But you’ve got to admit, it’s not exciting, per se.  That’s kind of the whole point.)

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Zucchini Ricotta Fritters

September 16, 2011 § 10 Comments

I feel like I’ve been wanting to make zucchini pancakes (or fritters, I’ve seen them called both.  They’re the savory small kind of pancakes, not zucchini bread-esque sweet ones) since approximately the dawn of time.  Though, when I think about it a little bit more carefully, it’s more like since about mid-July.

Remember Sofra Bakery and Cafe, which I mentioned a while back? (More accurately, which I gushed over, swooned over, and nearly asked to marry me, even though Joel, I think, would have been slightly peeved if I had run off with a bakery-cafe.  I, on the other hand, would have been very well fed.  But perhaps starved for conversation.  Anywho…)  When we were there, I watched (I have a terrible staring habit sometimes) as a young woman, wearing aviator sunglasses if I remember correctly, sprang up to fetch her order when her name was called, and walked back to her seat carrying a dainty copper tray laden with a stack of slim golden cakes, flecked with green.  What were they?  Whatever it was, I had missed it.  My eyes darted up to the menu and scanned over it again.  They had to be the zucchini pancakes.  I was instantly consumed by food envy.

Then I turned back to my flatbread, stuffed with cumin-spiced sausage, oranges, green olives, and yogurt sauce, and I was pretty much entirely happy again.  But, zucchini pancakes stayed on my mind.

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Ricotta Gnocchi with Butter Braised Summer Squash

July 18, 2011 § 12 Comments

Some magical things are going on amidst the pots of vegetables on our porch.  One of our tomatoes turned red.  Suddenly.  One day everything was green, and then the next there was a startling splash of red beaming at us from under a leaf!  It looked like something out of a fairytale, as striking as a single red rose on a bush.

And the eggplant is suddenly dangling with tiny eggplants, like charms swinging from a bracelet.  I keep feeling like the plants should give some sort of proud cluck, like a laying hen, before they sprout a fruit seemingly out of nowhere.

But, instead it happens stealthily, in the night.

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Orzo pasta salad with mixed herbs and summer squash

July 3, 2011 § 12 Comments

I’m not much of a 4th of July celebrator.  I don’t love fireworks or watermelon – but don’t worry, I do fully recognize that this makes me a total weirdo.  I do, however, like to get my picnic on as much as the next girl, and this seems to be the weekend for it!  (Or for some of us, a weekend of hauling an unwieldy, heavy new table up several flights of winding stairs while jamming our fingers and muttering curses under our breath.  But, followed by a picnic! As there was most definitely an edict issued from somewhere stating, “thou shalt picnic!”).

Rickety picnic baskets, red checkered blankets, pitchers of lemonade, potato salad, amusing ants elbowing their way through to get to your food, what’s not to like?!  Especially if you throw in a frisbee, and a nice shade tree.

Except, I have to admit that usually my version of a picnic is much simpler than that.  It generally just involves some pieces of bread and some pieces of cheese or perhaps ham or salami.  Simple.

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Summer squash and artichoke caponata

July 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

I have found a new activity to add to my list of favorite summer activities!  Other favorites include: distracting myself from runs and hikes to pick berries, powering various boats via paddles, drinking cold things while sitting in the sun (or shade, depending on the temperature), jumping up in down in the water while singing a little happy song to myself, having sing-alongs on the porch, scrambling on sun warmed rocks, and eating far more ice cream than can possibly be good for me.  My newfound activity is watering the vegetable garden with our hose.  It has to be with our hose, or else with one that is similarly leaky, because an important aspect of the enjoyableness of the whole thing is achieved by getting doused by the spray from around the nozzle, and eventually finding yourself quite as watered as the garden.   You see (I’m sure some of you are seeing this far more clearly than others), it appears that the summer has taken a double-dog dare to be as scalding hot as possible for as long as possible, just to see what we’ll do. And, I’m finding that pretty much the only way to survive is by frequently submerging, spraying, dousing, or in other words, soaking myself with lots of cold water.  Oh, and I also find myself daydreaming about freezing myself (probably naked!) into an ice cube. « Read the rest of this entry »

Vegetable frittata (aka Christmas morning frittata)

December 26, 2009 § Leave a comment

I’m pretty much always the first one up on Christmas morning (originally because I was more ridiculously excited to open presents than anyone else, now it’s because I’m hungry before anyone else!), and while I wait around for all the other creatures to start stirring, I put on a pot of coffee, and I start cooking this frittata for our Christmas Day brunch.

This year, as I sautéed the onions and whisked the eggs, the ghost of Christmas past beckoned me to look back on young Emily, back when we first started serving this dish for Christmas.  I had no idea what a frittata was in those days.  I just knew that this thing that we were eating was, creamy, flavorful, and delicious and made me feel like it wasn’t even so very horrible to be eating something with vegetables, even for breakfast!  I also loved the word “frittata,” and ran around saying it dramatically, as though I was casting a spell.  “Frittata!” (Yes, I was an obnoxious little kid.) « Read the rest of this entry »

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