Summer squash caprese

imageA mix of ingredients fresh from the garden and the market, what can be better than that?

Sunday mornings, as the city just starts dragging itself out of slumber – and I, myself, probably need a large iced almond latte to get going – is the best time to have your pick of the fruit and vegetable stand offerings.

Pattypan squash are a rare late summer-early fall luxury, and they remind me of my childhood back when they were abundant and we would pickle them for winter (try it, they make for a delicious, crunchy pickle!).

And, really, the light, lingering spice of the squash ribbons and the colorful plate simply make me happy.

Summer squash caprese

You’ll need:

  • 1 small pattypan squash
  • 1 lb small, colorful tomatoes (preferably, the heirloom variety)
  • fresh mozzarella
  • fresh basil (I used Thai basil from my herb garden)
  • olive oil
  • 1/3 t chili flakes
  • fleur de sel

1. Peel and core the squash and use a peeler to cut it into long ribbons. In a small bowl, toss the ribbons with chili flakes and olive oil. Set aside.

2. Cut the tomatoes and mozzarella into rounds, arrange on your serving plates, and season with a little bit of salt.

3. Place little ‘nests’ of the squash ribbons on top of –  or next to – the cheese

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4. Top with torn fresh basil leaves and drizzle with a little more olive oil.

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And enjoying further farm stand bounty… there was a little plum pie for dessert.
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End of summer watermelon, raspberry and feta salad

IMG_1589Why mess with a classic? Especially in the last few weeks of true summer when all the fruit tastes just as beautiful as it looks.

The saltiness of creamy Greek feta (get the best kind that you can find) paired with the fresh crunch of watermelon and the sweetness of raspberries, with a minty zing thrown in… in my book, there is nothing better to eat in August.

Well… besides peaches and tomatoes, with more cheese and more mint. That’s right.

Watermelon, raspberry and feta salad

You’ll need:

{Note: exact amounts depend on how much you’re making, but keep the proportion to watermelon:raspberry:feta about 3:2:1}

  • watermelon, cubed
  • fresh raspberries
  • creamy & smooth lightly salted Greek feta
  • fresh mint, picked
  • a tiny bit of salt
  • a tiny bit of honey

1. Cube the watermelon into slightly larger than bite size pieces. Crumble the feta, using your hands.

2. Chiffonade the mint leaves and toss with watermelon and feta. Dress lightly with salt and honey.

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3. Add the raspberries.

Toss gently to combine and let stand, refrigerated, for about half an hour.

Serve chilled.

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Postcard from Texas

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{hello from Marfa, TX!} a really unique town with a modern art legacy and a vibrant young community.

It’s been fascinating to visit and engage with the blurring yet very much existent lines between the “old guard” and the newcomers – the artists, filmmakers, and food entrepreneurs – coming to town.

I’ve always wanted to visit the Chinati Foundation and see the significant works of some of my favorites like Donald Judd and Dan Flavin that are housed there. Housed is, perhaps, not quite the right word, as they are purposefully placed among the natural habitat and the once abandoned army barracks in Marfa.

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As the hipsters move in, so does the excellent, strong (and almost NY-priced) coffee at Do Your Thing Coffee and the veggie garden salads and homemade desserts of Cochineal, which I could have every day (and that may very well be the case as it can be the only restaurant open on, say, a Monday). I swooned oven the ginger-lemon pot de creme and the date pudding and the blueberry pie (and you know I love pie).

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Roasted tomato and yellow plum gazpacho

IMG_1527The ultimate summer soup, gazpacho has as many incarnations as a cook’s creativity allows.

This one gets its depth of flavor from slow-roasted heirloom tomatoes, cheerful yellow plums, and a ton of (mostly) traditional Spanish seasonings.

Serve it very, very cold for the ultimate refreshment.

Roasted tomato and yellow plum gazpacho

(serves 2)

You’ll need:

  • 2 large ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 jalapeño
  • 1/3 white onion
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 4 -5 yellow plums
  • a handful cilantro
  • 1/4 cup salted blanched almonds
  • 1 t powdered pimento pepper
  • olive oil
  • salt

1. Slow roast the tomatoes at 350F for about an hour and a half to two hours. You want them soft , pliant, and lightly blistered. Let cool before incorporating into soup.

2. Chop the remaining ingredients roughly. Chop several tablespoons worth of cucumber and plum more finely and set aside for topping.

3. Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor, blend until smooth. Taste for seasoning.

Toss the topping “salsa” with a little bit of oil, salt, and cilantro.

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Top with the fresh cucumber-plum salsa and/or some fresh cilantro.

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Peach season + recipe round-up

It’s peach season and I couldn’t be more excited – peaches are one of my favorite things to eat and cook.

There is something transportive about the scent of fresh peaches, taking you right back to the hot days and evenings of late summer here on the East Coast.

There is also something equally seductive about biting into a ripe peach or scooping up a gently baked warm peach together with a spoonful of cold, cold rich ice cream.

Here are some peach recipes, both sweet and savory, to make the most of the season.

Savory:

Peach and cheddar grilled cheese

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Green tomato and peach salad

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Peach & avocado salsa

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Tomato and peach summer salad

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Sweet:

Peach melba (for breakfast!)

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Strawberry & peach pavlova

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Gently poached peaches

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Almond-coconut peach crumble

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Bon appetit!

Market salad

IMG_1526It’s actually pretty funny that some of my favorite things to eat at two of my most often visited meat-centric NYC spots (The Meatball Shop and Mile End Deli) are the ever-changing market vegetables, done so creatively and deliciously.

A visit to the greenmarket this morning resulted in this simple salad, brought together by a lavender honey mustard vinaigrette and flaky sea salt.

But don’t treat this recipe as a “shopping list”  - that’s not what a market salad is all about.

Go explore your local market offerings, pick up whatever catches your eye, and keep the textures light and crunchy.

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Market salad

  • 1 cup Korean watercress
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 heirloom tomato
  • 5-10 cherry tomatoes, depending on size
  • 1/3 cup of radishes
  • sea salt
  • pink peppercorns
  • for dressing: lavender honey + dijon mustard + olive oil

1. Wash everything well, particularly any greens or lettuces. Slice the radishes fairly thinly and use a vegetable peeler to cut the cucumber into long strips.

2. Slice the tomato and/or leave the cherry tomatoes whole. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl, season, and toss gently.

3. Make the dressing by whisking together 3 parts olive oil to 1 part mustard. Taste, then add about teaspoon of honey and whisk to combine.

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Dress the salad lightly.

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Apricot almond tart

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With the recent homemade vs store-bought debate in French restaurant legislation, puff pastry falls on the side of quality items that restaurants are generally allowed not to produce in-house.

At home? It’s your own call. Puff pastry is time consuming and requires a certain finesse and, personally, I don’t see anything wrong with having some waiting for you in the freezer.

It certainly makes baking this tart much faster. Just roll out the pastry thinly and flour lightly.

I love apricots and this tart is all easy sunshine and sunny indulgences. Bon appétit!

Apricot almond tart

You’ll need:

  • one sheet puff pastry
  • 1 egg (for egg wash)
  • 10-12 ripe apricots, depending on size
  • 1/4 cup vanilla sugar
  • 2 T honey
  • 1/3 cup water
  • a handful (or more) blanched whole almonds

1. Roll out the pastry thinly, flour lightly, prick lightly with a fork all over, and drape into whatever cake pan or baking dish you’re using. Refrigerate while making the filling.

2. Wash and pit apricots, cut them in half (or smaller, depending on size) and divide up in half – keep half fresh and cook the rest.

3. Heat up a deep pan, place half of the apricots face down in the pan with 1/3 cup water. Sprinkle with vanilla sugar and honey.

Cook until the apricots are tender and syrupy, but not falling apart.

4. Preheat oven to 365F.  Take the dough out of the fridge. Layer fresh apricots “face” up in the middle of the tart. Place an almond inside each half. Then, place the cooked apricots all around in a single layer. Top with most of the syrup, reserving about a T for glazing later.

5. Crimp the edges of the tart and brush with egg wash. Bake until golden brown and puffy.

Let cool slightly, then glaze with remaining syrup – this will give the tart a nice sheen.IMG_1514 Top with a few more almonds, if desired, and serve on its own or with a lot of fresh whipped cream or a scoop of greek yogurt.

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Playing catch up {+ this week on s&h}

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Still running around playing catch-up and feeling constantly under caffeinated, by French standards.

But trying to take a deep breath after the past week of travel nightmares and jet lagged adventures.

This week I am excited about a few lovely al fresco dinners and an upcoming feature on The Besty on my favorite places around town.

I am also working on an ochre-colored crowd-pleaser of an apricot tart for you that tastes like today’s perfectly diffused summer sunshine.
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Did I show you the pot de crème – a whole big pot of freshly whipped cream – that came with my much more modest apple tart at dinner in Cagnes?

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That’s serious stuff.

Look out, I am going to make it a mandatory part of any future tart and pie recipes!

And here is one more unbelievable sunset for you. {We really try our best to capture a mood or a moment with photos, but capturing nature is close to impossible…}

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Cauliflower tabouleh

photo 1I’ve owed you guys this recipe for a while now, but have been working on making the dressing subtle yet still punchy.

I think this version really makes the most of all of the lovely, wholesome ingredients and, yes, everyone will still have their I-can’t-believe-this-is-cauliflower moment.

Although this is far from a traditional tabouleh, the herbs and texture are still what make this salad shine. So don’t skimp on the lemon juice or the greens!

Tips: The tabbouleh also keeps well (in case you have any leftovers). And if you’re in the market for a slightly more traditional take, these bulgur tabouleh wraps are a great easy weeknight meal and another Meatless Monday alternative.

My sojourn is coming to a close and I’ll be back in NY almost as soon as you read this. Already missing the easy family dinners and daily trips to the market and that startling pink light settling over the sea.

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Cauliflower tabouleh

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 head of large cauliflower (peeled, trimmed)
  • 1/3 cup of light red grapes, halved
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins, rehydrated (see below)
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced and diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 t pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or both
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • a lot of lemon juice (to taste)
  • labne (or another strained, tart yogurt)
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper

1. Chop cauliflower in a food processor or, alternatively, grate to the size of very small grains on a grater. Prepare the rest of the ingredients.

2. Rehydrate the raisins by placing them in a bowl, covering with boiling water, then draining well.

3. Make the dressing by mixing olive oil with lemon juice, a good pinch of salt, and a few tablespoons of labne. You don’t want the salad to drown in the dressing, but you need it to help combine all of the flavors – so use that as your guide to the amount you make.photo 3

4. Combine all of the ingredients, toss gently with dressing. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper accordingly.
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Summertime in Provence

20140715-215047-78647300.jpgSummertime in Provence is ripe with the smell of honey, lavender, and tomatoes.

And then there is the salt of the sea and the sea marshes that whiffs over with the late morning breeze, as well.

Away from the coast, I’m back for a visit to the farm in Les Baux and the goats (who have grown up quite a bit since last month!). But I’ll be honest, I’m actually back just for the golden apricot jam.

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And if I happen upon my favorite mango ice cream dessert along the way, well, that’s even better.

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