Obtainable. Obtainable and overwhelming. That pretty much describes this summer. We can obtain great memories this year by creating a fun summer in spite of all of the social distancing. It just takes a lot of inspired thought to reconsider what we think it should look like. To open our minds to something different. To rethink and redo all the plans, goals and ideas I had for this summer is so sad, it’s incredibly overwhelming at times. Especially when the zucchini I planted has failed to produce and the rabbits gnawed the tops off all the green bean plants and the slugs….aaagh! the slugs! It just adds to the sadness and the sense of failure. Damn it. The only way to soothe this achy heart is with a full stomach.
A crispy crust with some cheese and herbs is all I really want. But then all there are a lot of fresh vegetables that are sitting on my kitchen table to consider using up like the massive summer squash my neighbor foisted on me and perhaps some roasted peppers that have been hanging out in the refrigerator.
This is a forgiving recipe so that you can use whatever you have on hand and it will still come out tasting delicious and satisfying for dinner especially when paired with your favorite chilled rose. (Just a suggestion!) Easily swap out the flour in the crust for King Arthur Gluten Free Measure for Measure Flour to make it gluten free.
Top Chef fans may remember Carrie Baird from season 15. The Colorado chef who won challenges with her ideas and execution with toppings on toasted bread. Her humble nature and kind attitude made you want to root for her and the judges seemed to absolutely love any concoction that she expertly put on toasted bread to the point where it seemed to annoy less successful “chef-testants”.
Remember the campaign “Eat More Kale!” back in 2001? A crazy t-shirt designer named Bo Muller-Moore who clearly loved the stuff came up with this mantra to get America to eat healthy and to make a few bucks. I was so offended by it and it pissed me off. I really hated kale. Ever since I was a kid and my mother made kale soup for my dad (He was the only one who liked and requested it.), I had a deep dislike for its pungent, strong flavor. She grew it in her garden and tried to get us kids to like it, all in vain. We turned up our noses at Portuguese Kale Soup, a staple on Cape Cod. Which is weird considering that I absolutely loved to eat spinach which holds it’s own when compared with hearty, green, leafy vegetables. But I never wore a t-shirt that implored others to partake. Not even a Pop-eye or Olive Oil shirt which could have been acceptable considering I grew up in the 1970’s when Saturday morning cartoons were king.
My grandmother would invite us over for “cocktails and hors d’oeuvres” and sometimes dinner would follow. She never said the word, “appetizers”. How boring. Although the hors d’oeuvres were often stale Triscuits and a can of Cheez-Whiz or or a tub of WisPride port wine cheddar, not exactly fancy stuff. The cocktails were a base of vodka, whiskey or rum (your choice) and an array of mixers: cranberry juice, ginger ale, Coke and 7-Up. But sometimes, if it was a holiday or the night after a big party, there were other treats on the table. Continue reading →
At this time of year, after Labor day, when the nights are much cooler and the days are sunny and dry, we drift into the end of tomato season on Cape Cod. Like many, I anticipate the arrival of tomatoes ripened on the vine, warmed by the sun, so juicy they sometimes crack open at the touch. I cannot wait to make a tomato sandwich with slices stacked so high, I can barely get my mouth around it. Tomato and cucumber salad, tomatoes with just salt and pepper as a side dish, tomato tarts and tomato pies. The possibilities seem endless for this versatile fruit. Until they don’t. Until I get tired of all of the tomato recipes I cannot wait to make while I pine away thinking about them during cold winter months. But I also cannot stand to see any go to waste. That is why I now make tomato jam. It’s fast, easy and works with all types of tomatoes even those sad looking store bought cherry tomatoes on supermarket shelves in February. But the best tomato jam is made and devoured right now in September. Continue reading →
Before I ever saw this recipe, I could never imagine treating fresh from the garden green beans this way. Aside from quickly blanching them until bright green, adding a plop of butter and sprinkling them with sea salt, I never did much else before putting them on the table. Then, last summer I came across this recipe that implored in the head note for readers to just try it at least once considering that the longer cooking time and high heat was against the current popular way of preparing fresh summer vegetables with as little interference to their natural state as possible. I dared to dive in. Continue reading →