Archive for the ‘summer’ Category

Spiked Italian Ices

Are they a drink?  Are they a dessert?  I think they are probably both.  But one thing these grown-up flavored italian ices definitely are is delicious!  I made them for a BBQ we had and they were a great treat at the end of the night.  Cold and light, sweet and fruity, but with a kick.  They are super, super easy to make, and that plus the fact that they aren’t that big means you can make and everyone can try a couple different flavors.  They are completely portable and you can easily halve, double, etc., the recipe.

The ices keep well in the freezer, but I’d recommend covering them as the directions specify, otherwise they start to evaporate.  I also made a few that were virgin for the expectant mothers and they were delish as well.  Only difference is that they freeze a bit harder, but in the hot summer sun, no one minded!  Finally, I cut the sugar way down from the original recipe…I’d recommend starting with the amount below and tasting before you add more.

Mojito Italian Ices

Ingredients:
½ tablespoon finely grated lime zest, plus 1 ½ cups fresh lime juice (about 9 to 10 limes)
1 ½ cups water
⅔ cup sugar
1 cup chopped fresh mint, plus extra mint for garnish
¼ cup light rum

Directions:
Puree lime zest and juice, water, sugar, and mint in a blender. Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Stir in rum. Divide among twelve 3-ounce paper cups. Freeze on a rimmed baking sheet for at least 5 hours. Garnish with mint sprigs.  Ices can be frozen, covered with plastic wrap, for up to 2 weeks.

Strawberry Daiquiri Italian Ices

Ingredients:
1 pound (4 cups) strawberries, rinsed and hulled, plus extra for garnish
⅔ cup light rum
½ cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
Pinch of coarse salt

Directions:
Puree strawberries, rum, water, sugar, lime juice and salt in a blender until smooth. Divide among fourteen 3-ounce paper cups. Freeze on a rimmed baking sheet for at least 5 hours. Garnish with strawberries.  Ices can be frozen, covered with plastic wrap, for up to 2 weeks.

Margarita Italian Ices

Ingredients:
⅔ cup sugar
1 cup water
1 ½ cups fresh lime juice (about 9 to 10 limes), plus extra lime wedges for garnish
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup tequila
¼ cup Cointreau or other orange-flavored liqueur

Directions:
Heat sugar, water, and juices in a small saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves, about 4 minutes. Let cool.  Stir together citrus syrup, tequila and Cointreau in a pitcher. Divide among twelve 3-ounce paper cups. Freeze on a rimmed baking sheet for at least 5 hours. Garnish with lime wedges.  Ices can be frozen, covered with plastic wrap, for up to 2 weeks.

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, June 2011.

Strawberry Shortcakes with Chantilly Cream

There is really not a lot to say about strawberry shortcakes.  They are delicious.  They are simple.  They are a perfect summertime dessert.

I’ve tried many a recipe and this is probably the best.  The biscuit is very simple to make and is perfectly balanced between a traditional biscuit and a dessert biscuit with just a hint of sugar.  But really, who am I kidding?  The recipe had me when I saw there was heavy cream in the shortcake.  I’ve never seen that before and its wonderful.  So, go find yourself some strawberries and make yourself this dessert that is a true celebration of summer.

You can make the shortcakes a day in advance, simply wrap them in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.  The Chantilly Cream can also be made a day in advance, covered and refrigerated, but it will lose some of its thickness the longer it sits.  Lightly whisk before serving to restore to original consistency.

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
grated peel of 1 lemon
6 tablespoons  cold unsalted butter
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream, divided
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound strawberries, rinsed, hulled and sliced

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

To make the shortcakes, combine the flour, salt, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, the baking powder, and the lemon peel in a large bowl.  Cut the butter into 1-inch pieces and add it to the dry ingredients.  Using a wire pastry blender or the paddle attachment to an electric mixer, or two knives or a fork, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the butter is pea sized.  Add 1 cup of the heavy cream and stir until the dough comes together.

Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface.  Pat or roll it out to 1 1/2 inches thick.  Cut the dough, using a cutter or round glass,  into 2 ½ inch circles.  (The original recipe is for 8 servings, but I like my biscuits a bit taller, so I usually get 6 out of this.)  Place the dough circles on the prepared baking sheet at least 2 inches apart.  Using a pastry brush, brush the tops with the remaining 1 tablespoon heaving cream and then sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar.  Bake the shortcakes until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

To make the Chantilly Cream, whisk or beat 1 cup of heavy cream, 2 tablespoon sugar, and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract in a large bowl until soft peaks form. The cream should hold its shape but still be satiny in appearance.

To serve the shortcakes, heat them in a preheated 300 degrees oven for 10 minutes if they are no longer warm.  While the shortcakes are baking or heating, rinse, hull and slice the strawberries.  If they are not naturally sweet enough, add some of remaining sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired sweetness is reached.

Cut the shortcakes in half horizontally.  Place the bottom of a shortcake on a dessert plate  and spoon some fruit and then some Chantilly Cream on top.  Place the second shortcake half over the cream and serve immediately.

Adapted from A Passion for Desserts.

Cherry Tomato Salad

My spider mite battle has been going fairly well…I haven’t yet sent them into extinction like I want to, but I seem to be holding them in check, at least.  This is terrific news because I hate them it’s allowed my cherry tomato plants to really flourish.  I’ve been picking about four pounds of tomatoes from the two plants every week.  It’s glorious.  Have you ever had a Sungold cherry tomato?  They are small and bright orange and the best tomatoes I’ve ever tasted.

For BK and myself to eat four pounds of tomatoes a week, it requires some creativity.  This recipe is great because it uses a lot of tomatoes, plus it really lets  their taste shine through.   And although it’s a bit more involved than one would think it would be for a simple salad, it’s worth it!  Very simple ingredients highlight the tomatoes’ sweetness for a great side dish to any meal.   And I totally agree with Annie that, although I love love love kalamata olives, they would over-power the tomatoes in this recipe, so I left them out as well.

Ingredients:

2 pints ripe cherry tomatoes, quartered (about 4 cups)
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 medium shallot, minced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Ground black pepper
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced into ½-inch chunks
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
1-2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

Directions:

Combine the tomatoes, salt and sugar in a medium bowl; toss to combine.  Let stand for 30 minutes.  Transfer the mixture to a salad spinner and spin until the seeds and excess liquid have been removed, about 1 minute.  Stir to redistribute the tomatoes during spinning as needed.  Return the tomatoes to the bowl and set aside. (If you don’t have a salad spinner, put the tomatoes in a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and gently shake the bowl to remove the excess seeds and liquid.) Strain the tomato liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a liquid measuring cup, pressing to extract as much liquid as possible.

Combine ½ cup of the tomato liquid with the garlic, oregano, shallot and vinegar in a small saucepan set over medium heat.  Simmer until the mixture is reduced, about 6-8 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.  Whisk in the oil, and season with pepper to taste.

Add the cucumber, feta, dressing and parsley to the bowl with the tomatoes.  Toss gently and serve.

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, via The Way the Cookie Crumbles and Annie’s Eats.

Tuna Cakes

When I go out for lunch during the work day, I tend to eat a good amount and am sometimes not terribly hungry for dinner.  There are days that despite this, I make a big dinner, eat a big dinner, and then feel sort of full and crummy afterwards.  And then there are better days where I make something light and delicious that perfectly fits the bill.  This is a recipe that helps me get to the better days!  The tuna cakes are crab cake-esque and get all nice and crispy on the outside.   And they make great leftovers the next day for lunch.

The tuna in olive oil does give a better flavor to the cakes, but tuna in water works as well.  This recipe makes about 5 small/medium cakes, so it’s not that much food, especially for two people.  Feel free to double.  The original recipe suggested serving these with salsa, but we didn’t care for that.  We liked them plain, but I think a tartar or aioli sauce would work well.  I usually make my tomato, corn, and pepper salad as a side, as well as some nice french bread.

Ingredients:

4 (5-ounce) cans tuna in olive oil, drained and flaked
1 large egg, lightly beaten
½ cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped, plus sprigs for garnish
⅓ cup plain breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons light mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 jalapeno chile (ribs and seeds removed), finely chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions:

In a large bowl, stir together tuna, egg, cilantro, breadcrumbs, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and jalapeno.  Mix gently until ingredients just hold together.  Shape into 5 cakes.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium.  Working in batches if necessary, cook cakes until golden brown and crisp on the outside, about 2 minutes per side.  Serve hot, with sauce of desired, and garnish with cilantro sprigs.

Adapted from marthastewart.com

Brazilian Lemonade

When I saw the recipe for this drink, I was sort of scared.  I had never heard of brazilian lemonade.  Yet, it was the author’s favorite drink…ever.  It’s lemonade, but it’s not made with lemons.  And it mixes lime juice with sweetened condensed milk.  What?!?!  I could not compute.

Never fear, I recovered and made it the other weekend.  And was very surprised.  First, I figured that 5 pulses of a blender to mix the limes and sugar water wouldn’t do that much.  Well, it absolutely pulverized the limes and gave the water a great lime flavor.  I am considering using this as my new method for making all limeades and lemonades.  Then I went to stir in the sweetened condensed milk and thought “this is never going to dissolve.”  It did…pretty easily.  Then I was still sort of scared to taste it.  But it was very good…very different from anything I’ve every tasted, but very good.   After drinking a virgin glass of it in the afternoon, I added rum to it for an adult version with dinner.  Although all  I had was spiced rum and I was worried it would taste weird, it was actually great.  Sort of pina colada-esque

The original author said that this doesn’t keep well, but we had a busy weekend and I had the last virgin vestiges of mine two days after I made it…it may have tasted even better!

You, too, are probably scared of this recipe right now.  So I’ll tell you what…just make a half or quarter recipe at first…not a big commitment if you don’t like it.  But you will.  I know it.  (You’re welcome.)

The only change I made was to cut down the sugar a bit.  But as noted below, the amount of sugar and milk you need depends on the limes you use.

Ingredients:

4 juicy limes (try and find ones with thin, smooth skins; they’re the juiciest and the thin skin cuts down on the chance of your drink being bitter)
⅔ cup sugar
6 cups cold water
6 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
rum to taste (optional)

Directions:

Mix cold water and sugar very well and chill until ready to use. This step can be done ahead of time.

Wash limes thoroughly with soap (dishwashing soap or regular hand soap is fine). Cut the ends off the limes and then cut each lime into 8ths.

Place half of the limes in your blender.  Add half of the sugar water, place the lid on your blender, and pulse 5 times. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a pitcher (the one you’ll serve the lemonade in) and pour the blended mixture through the strainer and into the pitcher. Use a spoon to press the rest of the liquid into the pitcher. Dump the pulp and stuff in the strainer into the trash. Repeat with remaining limes and sugar water.

Add sweetened condensed milk.  Taste test and if it’s bitter, add some more sugar and a little more milk.  Add rum if desired.  Serve immediately over lots of ice.

Slightly adapted from Our Best Bites.

Tomato, Basil, and White-Bean Salad

Another summer side-dish fave of ours is tomato, basil, and white-bean salad.   BK actually eats everything in this dish, plus it is protein-based!  Bonus!  It really highlights the summer tomatoes and basil, and you will especially appreciate that if you grew them yourselves.  The dish takes no time to make, but is best if it gets to sit for at least half an hour for the flavors to meld. It’s very easy to cut in half for just two people, which I tend to do, since on summer weekends I always have so many recipes to try that I end up cooking 4 different dishes for one meal and it’s too much food :) You can also double/triple/etc. the recipe for a party…it’s always been a hit when I’ve brought it!

Ingredients:

2 cans (19 ounces each) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
⅔ cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground pepper
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced

Directions:

Combine beans, tomatoes, basil, and salt in a bowl, and season with pepper.  Heat oil in a skillet over low. Add garlic, and cook, stirring, until fragrant but not browned, 2-3 minutes. Pour over bean mixture, and gently toss. Let stand at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.  Salad can be covered and kept at room temperature up to 4 hours.

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, June 2007.

Sparkling Strawberry Lemonade

This past weekend was *unbearably* hot.  So hot.  So humid.  No wind.  U-n-b-e-a-r-a-b-l-e.

So, obviously, I stayed inside, right?  No.  (Insert eye roll).  It’s summer!  I love summer so much that I just can’t stand the thought of sitting inside on a summer weekend.  I have all winter to stay inside!!!  I must enjoy the sweltering warm weather to the fullest while we have it!  So, I sat on our deck.  BK came out to make sure I was still alive and said we should charge admission and tell people it was a sauna.  He also told me that I needed to hydrate.  I was happy to comply and came down into the air-conditioning to make an anti-fainting agent, also known as strawberry lemonade.  Yes, another fruity drink recipe!  Berries + lemons or limes + seltzer water = deliciousness in many, many different combinations!

As in the past, I cut down the sugar because I like the drink a bit more tart, but I included a range so that you could taste test for your sweet tooth and berry sweetness.  It’s verrryyyy hot again today, so make some of this and take full advantage of your summer days!

Ingredients:

For the strawberry syrup:
1 heaping cup chopped strawberries
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons cold water
Pinch of salt

For the lemonade:
1 cup very hot water
½ to ⅔ cup sugar
1¼ cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
4½ cups cold sparkling water or seltzer

Directions:

To make the strawberry syrup, combine the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, water and salt in the bowl of a food processor or blender.  Puree until smooth.  Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds, pressing down to extract as much liquid as possible (my strainer still let some seeds through; not a big deal, but if you really don’t want seeds, you’ll need a very fine strainer).

To make the lemonade, combine the hot water and sugar in a pitcher.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Mix in the lemon juice and water.  Stir in the strawberry puree.

Garnish with sliced lemon or strawberries if desired.  Serve immediately.

Adapted from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book, via Annie’s Eats and Pink Parsley Catering.

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