Saturday, August 28, 2010

A seasoned has peaked
Oh, the bounty coming forth
Look at that --- what to choose

Grilled Eggplant and Whipped Feta Torta - serves 6
3-medium sized eggplant – peeled and cut into 1/2” rounds
1/2-pound Yukon gold potato
2 garlic cloves - crushed to a pasted
1/4-cup garlic chives
2 lemons - zest and juice
1/2-cup olive oil
1-pound Greek feta
Salt and pepper to taste

On a very hot grill cook the eggplant rounds to mark them nicely, and then transfer them to a baking tray. Brush the rounds with olive oil and finish cooking in a 350-degree oven until tender. This prevents the eggplants from getting too charred on the grill. Let the eggplants cool to room temperature.

Peel the potatoes and cook in boiling water until fork tender about 15 to 20 minutes. Place the potatoes on a baking tray and place in a 350-degree oven for 5 minutes to evaporate off any excess moisture. Mash the potatoes to smooth and set aside.

Place the garlic, chives, lemon, zest, olive oil, feta, salt and pepper in a food processor and blend until creamy. Mix the feta and potatoes together, by hand, to thoroughly incorporate. Correct seasoning.

To assemble place a slice of eggplant on a plate and place a heaping tablespoon of the feta mixture on top. Then place another eggplant on top of the feta cheese mixture, and
another heaping tablespoon of the feta cheese mixture. Place a third eggplant on top of this one. Serve with a dollop of multi-herb pesto.

Multi-Herb Pesto - yields approx. 3 cups
1 cup tightly packed watercress leaves
1 cup tightly packed Italian parsley leaves
1 cup tightly packed fino basil leaves
1/4 cup tightly packed thyme leaves
1/4 cup tightly packed oregano leaves
1/2 cup macadamia nuts - chopped (or blanched almonds or pine nuts)
4 to 5 garlic cloves - roughly chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese - grated
3/4-cup olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Wash the herbs and dry. When plucking the leaves from their stems make sure you do not use any of the thicker woody stem as it will not blend up well. Place all ingredients in a food processor. Blend until still fairly coarse.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A summer day

So, I woke to a summer sky hidden behind a complete blanket of grey spitting warm droplets. I have been waiting most of the summer for a morning like this. The past few months it has been a quintessential start -- the skies have been dotted with lofty, wispy clouds on a background of the gentlest of blues. I will never take prefect, new days for granted for it is only too soon that autumn’s damp chill will be the standard.

I have been hoping for this moment all summer – the eight old in me has been waiting for it at least. It is a day to walk around, sans umbrella, getting soaked but not cold. It remains me of the summer days when I was a kid, and finally I would run the bases. On these ideal rainy days I’d enjoy a slide into home base getting covered in mud, and allowing the walk home to wash me clean – not necessary to my Mother’s pleasure.

The only thing that could take my giddiness to ecstasy would be the applause of thunder and lighting approving my juvenile romp. However, secured in my freezer are some cookies I made last week that totally speaks to the kid in me, and I guess I will just have a naughty afternoon drying out watching 1961’s Godzilla and cleaning up crumbs.

Summer’s Cookies – yields approx. 2-dozen
6-ounces unsalted butter
3/4-cups sugar
2-whole eggs
2-teaspoons vanilla extract
2-cups flour
2-teaspoons baking powder
1-teaspoon baling soda
1/4-teaspoon salt
8-ounces chopped white chocolate
1-pint raspberries
1-pint blackberries
In a standing mixer or using a hand-held beater whip the butter and sugar together until it is pale and fluffy. Then beat in the eggs one at a time, incorporating the egg before adding the next one. Mix in the vanilla.

Sift the flours, baking powder and salt together. Mix the sifted flour mixture into the butter to just combine. Then mix the white chocolate. Refrigerate the dough for an hour.

Pre heat the oven to 400 degrees.

On a parchment lined baking tray place a heaping teaspoon worth of the dough keeping at least two inches between the cookies. Gently flatten the cookies so they are about
1/4-inch thick. Then dot each cookie with four to five berries each. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the cookies to a cooling rack, and allow them to cool completely.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


The dog days of August are definitely underway, but then it seems since summer's start this year we have had an extended period of the three “h’s”….hazy, hot and humid. I have gotten use to the perpetual clamminess of my skin and the curly-q dangling over my right eye – regardless have much gel I slather on.

I am downing liters of water a day timing my departure with a visit to the WC to make sure I will make to my next destination. I have sat with a bowlful of sorbet on my chest not sure if it is meant to be eaten or allow its radiant cool work with the opposite effect of a hot water bottle.

The market is filled this time of year with thirst quenching peaches, plums, ears of corn, and sugary blackberries and raspberries. The growing season of the dog days also offers the ultimate satisfying bite – watermelon. Filled to bursting capacity with water, sugar and icon seeds that immediately takes the edge off any droopy day.

Always look for a well-defined spot on its bottom for that is the indicator that this Kalahari Desert native has sat on the baking earth long enough to ripe. Then I hold it judging its heft for its size – water does give it weight. Then behold a fruit I refrigerate to a deep chill before slicing and commencing the seed-spitting contest.

Watermelon Salad – serves 6
3-cups diced watermelon (seeds discarded)
1 English cucumber – diced
1 small red onion – finely diced
3 scallions - minced
1 Serrano chili – minced (seeds discarded to lower heat)
1-tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
1 lime – zest and juice
1/4-cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl mix all the ingredients together, and then refrigerate to chill thoroughly before serving.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Old friend

There are times when you expect an old friend to pop back up in your life. Then there are those un-anticipated moments when a knock on the door reveals a face you have not seen in a long time returning from out of the blue. Irrespective, if that rap uncovers the anticipated or not, both deliver a rush of excitement.

A sense of history makes these rendezvous all the richer, and gives a framework from which to re-start a conversation. Of course, the key to a successful re-connection is moving the relationship forward, and integrating from the past into the present and hopefully, the future. Feasting on the past satisfies for a period, but ends up becoming stale all to quickly. All that came before while vital to working to create a complex life tapestry is but just a line on a panel that hopefully never gets completely finished.

I have been surprised in the last week from both sides of the coin. An old beau reached to rekindle a flame that petered out years ago – and I think I might actually offer a lighter to help that fire build. And, then, my favorite, dearest aunt arrived plump, and rosy. Aunt Ruby is hands-down my most desired tomato of any season. She is a green-skinned big, meaty girl that when ripe has a beautifully blushing bottom. Simplicity is key here sliced and drizzled with a bit of fruity olive and I am enraptured by her return.