Here in North County our summer has arrived and has let us know it with a blast of heat. But, not to worry, we know how to stay cool. Our menus have changed from warm soups and stews to cool salads and fruit cobblers.
One thing we are blessed with here in our county is an abundance of good fresh produce provided by our farmers markets.
July is my red, white, and blue month. I love using my red dishes to entertain, mixing them with dark blue and crisp white salad bowls, glasses, and saucers. I have lots of tablecloths in those patriotic colors to mix and match when I set up for a picnic party.
I’s a fun month---a time to celebrate our country; to pull out the grill and experiment with fresh fruits and vegetables; to crank up some ice cream; to reunite with family; or to just have an old fashioned picnic while enjoying a “Saturday Night Concert” in Templeton Park, with friends.
The recipes this month are varied, using produce that you can find at the Templeton Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. I hope you’ll find one you’ll want to try. Enjoy!
Nectarine-Blueberry Pie (Great for the 4th of July!)
3 ½ pounds nectarines, halved, pitted and sliced ½-inch thick
¾ cup blueberries
¾ cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling
3 tablespoons Quick-Cooking Tapioca, ground
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 pre-made pie crusts (9-inch) (one for bottom crust and one for top crust)
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk for egg wash
Heat oven to 450 degrees and adjust oven rack to lower-middle position. Place the nectarines in a large bowl and toss with the blueberries, ¾ cup sugar, tapioca, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Set aside for 15 minutes, then drain. Fit one of the crusts into a 9-inch pie plate, fill with the fruit, and top with the second crust. Seal and flute edges and brush the top with some egg wash. Slice a few decorative slits in the top crust and bake 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 425 degrees and bake 25 minutes, then brush with remaining egg wash, sprinkle on 1 tablespoon sugar and continue to bake until golden brown, about 5 more minutes. Cool on a wire rack before serving.
Fresh Peach Cobbler
Note: A cobbler is a fruit pie without the fuss of pastry---just sweet ripe fruit and a sweet biscuit crust.
7 ½ cups quartered pitted ripe peaches (about 12 peaches)
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter,
cut into small pieces
2/3 cup light cream or half-and-half
Position a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking dish. Set it aside. Prepare the peaches. Toss the peaches in a bowl with the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla. Set aside. Prepare the topping: Sift the flour, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, the baking powder, and the salt together into a bowl. Using an electric mixer add the butter and combine until it is evenly distributed, 1 minute. Add the cream and mix until the dough just comes together, 30 seconds. Spoon the peach mixture into the prepared baking dish. Crumble on the topping mixture and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbly, 30 to 40 minutes more. Serve warm or at room temperature.
This next recipe uses those wonderful golden tomatoes and that abundant zucchini we see at the summer markets. The word concasse comes from the French concasser, “to crush or grind”, and is a cooking term meaning to rough chop any ingredient, usually vegetables. This term is particularly applied to tomatoes, where tomato concasse is a tomato that has been peeled, seeded (seeds and skins removed), and chopped to specified dimensions. From Wikipedia.
Zucchini Pancakes with Golden Tomato Concasse
1 pound golden tomatoes, skinned, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 ½ pounds zucchini
1 medium red onion
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons unbleached white flour
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Light olive or canola oil, for frying
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Place tomatoes in a colander over the sink and strain the juices, saving the juices for future use. Set aside. Grate the zucchini and onion in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Let stand for 10 minutes and then squeeze out any excess water. Combine with all the remaining ingredients except the oil and the tomatoes. In a heavy-bottomed skillet, heat ¼-inch of oil until it is smoking and very hot. Drop a ¼ cup of the zucchini batter into the hot oil. Flatten if necessary. Let the pancake completely brown on one side before flipping to brown the other side. Remove tomatoes from colander. Salt and pepper them, to taste. Serve tomato concasse on top of or under zucchini pancakes. Makes 8 to 10 pancakes serving 4 to 5 as an appetizer.
I am always looking for new potato salad recipes and this one should be served at all of those family reunions this summer!
Reunion Potato Salad
12 to 15 russet potatoes (8 pounds total), peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
12 carrots, peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice
1 ½ pounds green beans trimmed and cut into 1/4 –inch pieces
3 cups peas, thawed if frozen
12 radishes cut into small dice
12 large sweet gherkin pickles, cut into 1/4 –inch dice
6 hard-cooked eggs, coarsely chopped
3 cups prepared mayonnaise, such as Hellmann’s or Best Foods
3 cups low-fat sour cream
Coarse (kosher) salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¾ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Using a skimmer, remove them from the pot to a colander. Run under cold water to stop the cooking. Drain, pat dry, and set aside in a large bowl. Do the same procedure with each of the vegetables separately. Cook the carrots about 2 minutes in the potato water and follow the procedure and place in the bowl with the potatoes. Cook the green beans in the same boiling water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes and follow the procedure and place in the bowl with the carrots and potatoes. The peas should only cook for 1 minute. Drain them and repeat the cooling and drying process and add them to the other vegetables. Finally add the radishes, gherkins, and hard-cooked eggs to the bowl of vegetables. Combine the mayonnaise and sour cream in a separate bowl. Add this to the vegetables and gently fold all of the ingredients together with a large rubber spatula, seasoning the salad generously with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.