A perfect summer day

I’m lucky really, despite my current “situation”. I live in a great neighborhood in one of the best cities in the world. I also have a car. Now that alone would make some of you (ok, MOST of you) think I was more crazy than lucky. “A CAR?! Where do you park it? Do you REALLY do that alternate side of the street crap? You pay WHAT for parking?!” But all that aside, I’m still lucky. Because with a car you can escape the best city in the world when it gets too sticky, stinky, stressful, or it’s just a perfect day for the beach. Today was such a day. And as I was driving I was reminded of another summer day. Eighteen, sitting in the back of a  convertible, top down (the car’s, not mine), ducking down to light a cigarette (off a match…that’s talent!), “Black Dog” booming out of the 8-track (yes, I am THAT old), cruising down the highway to the beach. PERFECT!! So as I drove east early this morning I opened the roof, turned up the classic rock station to just under ear-bleeding volume, and sang at the TOP of my lungs. I wonder what the folks driving to work next to me thought…probably something like “lucky gal…” 🙂

(**See the end of this post for a little slice of heaven, just for you…)

Here are some favorite recipes for a perfect summer day (fabulous strappy sandals on feet, unless they have been kicked off because toes are snuggled into the warm sand…)

Farmer’s market frittata

Serves two, or a very hungry one

  • 6 egg whites
  • 2 oz. cheddar, shredded or sliced thin
  • 1/3 cup chopped red pepper
  • 2 -3 medium cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ cup of fresh sweet corn kernels (yield from one ear of sweet corn)
  • 1/3 cup fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup sliced cooked potatoes
  • ½ TBSP butter
  • ½ TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP chopped fresh basil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Heat butter and oil over medium heat in a non-stick oven proof pan (this is going to go under the broiler and a melted handle isn’t pretty). When the butter is melted, add the pepper, mushrooms and corn and sauté until the veg start to soften just a little and the mushrooms start to brown.  Add in the spinach and sauté a minute until it just wilts.

Add the basil, a good pinch of salt and a small pinch of pepper to the egg whites, whisk in and add the eggs to the pan. Swirl the pan so the eggs cover the bottom of the pan and the veggies are well distributed. Cook over medium heat until the eggs are set and the bottom is starting to brown. While the eggs are cooking, turn on the broiler. When the eggs are ready, sprinkle over the cheese and put the pan under the broiler until the cheese has melted and started to brown, about 3 minutes. Don’t walk away – it can go from yummy to a burnt waste of good groceries quickly.

When the cheese has melted and the top of the frittata has started to brown, remove the pan from the broiler CAREFULLY – that handle is hot! I’ve learned this one the hard way, and have the scars to prove it. What I like to do to prevent trauma is leave my potholder, oven mitt or folded kitchen towel on the handle when I move from broiler to stove top. That way, I actually remember that sucker is red hot!

Run a spatula under the frittata to loosen it, slip it onto a cutting board and cut into 4 wedges. Any frittata can be served hot or at room temperature. I like it better once it has cooled down a bit, and the leftovers make a terrific breakfast or lunch on a nice crusty roll, eaten while watching the surf!

Calories: 270/serving for 2 or 540/serving for 1.

Variations: Since this recipe is based on what you can find at a farmer’s market, it’s highly adaptable. Onions, other hearty greens, different peppers, mushrooms, etc. are all fine here. The only thing you should be careful with is something like zucchini that could add a lot of water. If you want to use it, be sure to remove some of that water before adding to the pan by either sprinkling the chopped squash with a little salt and sitting in a colander for a while to drain, or using leftover grilled zucchini.

Pasta with fresh tomato, feta and caper ‘sauce’

Serves 2

  • 6 oz dry pasta — the sauce is pretty hearty and works well with the chewier pastas – bucatini is my favorite, penne works well too.  It also is terrific with whole-wheat pastas since they tend to have more bite.
  • 10 oz of fresh tomatoes, chopped (use a variety of reds, yellows, different sizes, whatever you like)
  • 1 TBSP capers, roughly chopped
  • 1 ½  oz. feta  (a piece about ¾ inch to an inch thick and 4 inches long), cut into cubes
  • 1 TSP lemon zest
  • 1 TSP pesto
  • 1 TBSP chopped fresh basil or mint, plus a little more for sprinkling on top
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • ½ TBSP good extra virgin olive oil (a flavorful one you’d dress a salad with works best)
  • 2 TSP balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TSP finely chopped garlic* (*Raw garlic and my stomach don’t get along well so I’m light on it here. If you like more, have at it.)
  • 2-3 TBSP water from the cooked pasta

Cook the pasta according to package directions.

While the water coming up to a boil, toss together all of the ingredients (except the pasta and pasta water). Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Let sit while the pasta cooks.

When the pasta is al dente, add 2-3 TBSP pasta water to the tomato ‘sauce’. Drain the pasta, add to the sauce and toss. The dish can be served hot, or room temperature, and leftovers are a great picnic-ready pasta salad. Calories: approximately 430/serving.

Variations: You can use the tomato mixture as a salad, or bruschetta topping. For bruschetta, toast or grill some thick slices your favorite artisan bread (I like ciabatta, pain au levain or a sourdough baguette).  Rub the toasted bread with the cut side of a clove of garlic, drizzle on a little olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt.  Pile up the tomato salad on the bread and dig in!

Wine-marinated melon

Makes 6 one cup servings

  • 1 medium-sized, ripe, seasonal melon, seeded, rind removed, and scooped out with a melon baller, or cut up into bite-sized chunks (it’s a lot easier). You should have about 6 cups
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup Riesling
  • 1/4 cup Grand Mariner or Cointreau
  • 1 large slice fresh ginger (a disk about 1/8 inch thick)
  • A 3-4 inch strip of lemon, orange and lime zest (just the zest, no white pith)
  • 2 TBSP fresh orange juice (from about 1/2 a medium orange)
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh mint (for garnish)

Combine sugar, Riesling, liqueur, ginger, zests, orange juice, and vanilla in a saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until sugar has dissolved, about 3 minutes. Let the syrup cool completely before continuing. Place melon in a bowl,or a large Ziploc bag. Pour cooled syrup over fruit. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to a day. I like to serve the cold melon in a wine glass with some of the syrup and a little chopped mint. Calories: Approximately 175/cup of melon with syrup.

Melon with lime and salt

This isn’t really a recipe but it is a favorite way to eat ripe watermelon or honeydew.  I just squeeze fresh lime juice over it and sprinkle with a little sea salt. I like to use gray or Malden (something with a bit larger and coarser grain than kosher salt, but that works in a pinch too, pun intended.)

**Here you go, as promised……ahhhh


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