My father loved summer. He loved the heat and the sun and the holidays and everything that went with the stretch of time from May to September: fishing, swimming, gardening, parades, flags, fireworks, bathing suits and gin and tonics. Summer was suspension of the rules time, the season of freedom from convention. From Memorial Day to Labor Day he wore his summer outfit, which included the most awful red and blue tattersall pants. They were his lucky pants, he said. He was wearing them when he hooked a marlin once, so they became standard dress for his favorite leisure time activities. He was every trite Father’s Day card, with his cigar in his mouth, his shirt buttoned crooked and those tacky pants, rolled up at the ankle so the sun could help his psoriasis as he puttered under the summer glow.
To match his tacky pants, he perfected a tacky gardening technique: he put pantyhose over all of his tomato plants. He cut them and stretched them on wire hangers to protect his precious fruits from the pesky birds and raccoons. His favorite tomato variety was beefsteak, the king of summer produce, which he sliced thickly right after picking, sprinkled with salt and ate while the fruit was still warm from the sun.
I have more luck with cherry tomatoes and gave up on trying to grow any larger varieties. For those I have to comb farm stands on the side of the road, looking for that perfect big bright fruit like the ones my dad grew. When I find one, I take it home, slice it thickly, sprinkle it with salt and smile remembering the king of summer, tacky pants and all.
Week of July 15| 2013
|Fig | Sausage | Goat Cheese SaladIn a large glass bowl combine about a half a red onion, thinly sliced, 8-12 fresh figs, quartered, crumbled goat cheese and about ½ cup French-style vinaigrette dressing (Briana’s brand is good; Penzeys also sells a Country French Vinaigrette base that is delicious and easy to make). Let stand for about 30 minutes while you grill 4 sausage links (apple/chicken is our favorite) and wash 8 cups of fresh salad greens. Toss greens with fruit/cheese/dressing just before serving. Top with sliced grilled sausage.|
|Summer Salad with Buttermilk DressingIn many ways iceberg lettuce is a non-food, but in the heat of summer its cool crispness just tastes good. Chop and wash a small head of iceberg lettuce and keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve. In a glass bowl mix 1-2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved, a bunch of scallions, chopped, and a fresh cucumber, cubed. Toss with buttermilk dressing (make from scratch or try Penzeys prepared base, which is yummy). Let stand in refrigerator for about 20 minutes then toss with lettuce and serve.|
|Shrimp Salad RollsBoil, peel, devein and coarsely chop 1-2 pounds large shrimp. Place in a large glass bowl and allow to cool. Chop a small bunch of scallions (top dark green removed) and 2-3 stalks celery; add to shrimp. Mix ¼ c. (or a bit more) mayonnaise with ½ c. (or a bit more) buttermilk. Pour over shrimp and salt to taste. Serve in fresh crusty rolls or croissants. Would also work in Bibb lettuce wrap.|
|Pound CakeCakes and cupcakes really aren’t hard to make, and homemade ones taste so much better than any you’ll find in a store. My go-to recipe is the Perfect Pound Cake in Rose Levy-Beranbaum’s Cake Bible (Harper Collins, 1988), which I’ve modified just a bit: cream 12 Tbsp. butter (room temp) with ¾ c. sugar; in a separate bowl, sift together 1 ½ c. flour, ¾ tsp. baking powder and ¼ tsp. salt. In a glass measuring cup mix lightly 3 Tbsp. milk, 3 eggs and 1 ½ tsp. vanilla. Add half of the flour to the butter/sugar and mix to combine, then add half the milk/eggs. Repeat, alternating flour and milk. Pour into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350° for about an hour. Cool & wrap.|
|BLT | Iced TeaNo summer is complete without at least one bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. We like them on fresh sourdough bread. Sometimes we use lettuce, sometimes basil. Now that summer is in full swing there are plenty of great heirloom tomatoes available for large, thick sandwich slices. As an alternative, cherry tomatoes cut in halves will also work, using a bit of mayo to hold them together. Luzianne may claim to be less cloudy, but we’re Lipton tea people and keep it in the fridge all summer.|
|all content copyright jennifer balink 2013|