Posts Tagged ‘summer recipes’

Beets with Greens_DSC_6222

We’ve been visiting friends who have their first garden growing on their deck in large planters.  We have been watching the beets grow and were beginning to see the glorious red globes peeking out of the earth when we left.  Beets have always been a favorite vegetable for me and now they seem to hold that same allure with my grandchildren – except the littlest one who hasn’t yet decided that vegetables are part of the necessary food groups.

My mother loved to make Harvard Beets which was the only way I refused to eat them.  I called them slimy….  You never see them anymore and, as far as I am concerned, this is with good reason.  If you’re not familiar with them Harvard Beets are diced cooked beets cooked in a very sweet, slightly vinegary cornstarch-thickened sauce.  Why any cook ever decided to add sugar to an already sugary beet is a mystery to me.

I am so delighted that beets are beginning to appear at the green market.  They will be on our table throughout the summer and early fall.  I prefer to bake them in their skins, wrapped in foil.  When done, I push off the skins, slice them and either pickle them or give them a quick sauté in butter, season with salt and pepper and toss in some fresh dill, parsley or tarragon.  So, yummy.


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I’ve been thinking a lot about avocados —- well, you know, it is a time of isolation when our thoughts can run amok!!!!  Why avocados?  I don’t really know but I would guess it is because during this extraordinary time people have taken to cooking and blogging and social mediaing about their favorite or, often, most challenging dishes.  Among the top 2 have been avocado toasts and sourdough bread.  I have never done an avocado book but I have done a couple of classic bread books – The French Culinary Institute’s Fundamentals of Bread Baking and Master Baker Lionel Vatinet’s A Passion for Bread and you would think that I would have, by now, mastered not only sourdough bread but tons of others.  Instead I just make my own traditional white batter bread that my mom and probably my grandmother made.  So, that leaves avocados.

Even when I was a wee one, avocados were a favorite.  Before I had teeth, my mom would slather a saltine with mashed avocado as a treat.  I’m told I would lick off the avocado and hand the cracker back for more until the cracker folded….  I still love avocado slather on a saltine.  However, when our Aussie friends introduced us to their national breakfast dish, avocado toast, I took to it like that proverbial duck to water.  There are so many versions that it is hard to keep an up-to-date list but my favorite remains any that combine avocado, tomato and/or olives.

Another favorite is individual nacho-like avocado chips.  All you need is a fresh tortilla chip (I lie, you can use bagged tortilla chips.), mashed, well-seasoned avocado, some cooked chicken or pork, grated cheese and some kind of zesty salsa/sauce to drizzle as you snack.  A perfect nosh with a chilled margarita!

A note on the latter – fresh tortilla chips are so so so so so much better than packaged chips.  And, easy to make.  Cut small corn tortillas into triangles or even break them into random pieces.  Season with a little oil and salt, tossing to coat.  You can add some ground cumin, cayenne or chili powder if you like.  Lay them out in a single layer on baking sheets and bake at 300°F, tossing and turning occasionally, until they are crisp and lightly colored.  They are addictive!


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Everybody I know has a favorite pesto sauce recipe – just because if you grow basil you have to have something to do with it when it goes summer haywire and bolts to the sky. And, although I hate giving a name to a traditional dish that I’ve messed around with I don’t quite know what else to call my pesto. I guess I could just call it green pasta sauce. To my version, I add a few mint leaves and a bit of fresh green chile – the former for a bit of freshness and the latter for a bit of the heat that we love. It still tastes like pesto, but with a bit of pizzazz. Try it, you might just like it.


3 to 4 peeled garlic cloves

½ hot green chile, seeds and membrane removed, optional

½ cup pine nuts – toasted if you have the time

3 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves

About 10 mint leaves or more to taste

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

¾ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Combine the garlic, chile, and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process, using quick on and off turns, until coarsely chopped. Add half of the basil and again using quick on and off turns process to coarsely chop. Add the remaining basil along with the mint and, with the motor running, begin adding the oil, processing until a thick green sauce forms.

Add the cheese, season with salt, and give a quick couple of turns to incorporate.

If the pesto is too thick for your taste, add more oil. If too thin, add more basil and, perhaps, a bit more cheese. The flavor is yours to decide.

If not using immediately, scrape the sauce into a nonreactive container. Smooth the top and cover it with extra virgin olive oil to prevent discoloration. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.

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