July 22, 2008

Summer Soups

I love soup! During the Summer there's no shortage of fresh veggies and this is the time of year that eating your soup cold is welcome.

Veggie stocks are a simple 30 minute step, rather than the house warming 3 PLUS hours for meat stocks. In some cases like my Gazpacho, freshly juiced tomatoes and a drop or two of sherry vinegar with a splash of water creates the base, no need for even turning on the stove.

As I wrote about in a past posting, I've been testing recipes from Dana Slatkin's The Summertime Anytime Cookbook, this is where I found this creamy bite of summer on a spoon, Chilled Avocado-Corn Soup with Cilantro Oil. Another one of my favorite resources is (but of course!) bon appetit magazine, this August issue is brimming with Summer recipes. Dorie Greenspan shares a recipe for Summer Corn Soup from the kitchen of her summer house on Connecticut's shoreline, no stock here, simply whole milk.

So enjoy this trio of Summer Soups. Turn off the stove and get used to using that blender!

July 20, 2008

Fig & Berry Jam

Preserving Summer

A two day process somehow makes preserving Summer's bounty a breeze. My good friend Whitney gave me this storybook of recipes, Preserving Memories: Growing Up in My Mother's Kitchen by Judy Glattstein, last Christmas along with a tin full of a delicately scented rose crabapple jelly (so divine) and a sweet and spicy apple butter.

Glattstein's book is like having a good friend in the kitchen with you. She shares her recipes with stories. Think of when you've received a recipe from a friend....It's typically sent along with a little tidbit, a memory or why it is a favorite. She adds a personal touch to everything from Peaches to Pectin.

Today I made a couple of her simple recipes, Fig Jam and Strawberry Jam. Somehow, my third time around preserving left me with no jitters. I didn't fear, chipping or breaking the jars when they tapped and danced their way around the bottom of my pot (my first time preserving I padded the inside of my pot with dish towels). I didn't worry about my missing canning vessel (Travis and I couldn't squeeze it in our car this past Christmas so it's sitting at his parents' house in Seattle). Nor did I fret about the consistency of the jam prior to canning.

I did sweat! Stirring and stirring over a bubbling vat of sugar and fruit will do that, especially when the weather is in the 90's. I must admit I'm happy to sweat for this treasure of sweet Summer.

While cleaning up, the pop pop pop of my properly sealed jars made me a believer in Glattstein's simple approach to preserving.

July 5, 2008

Watermelon Popsicle Bouquet

Refreshing Watermelon Pops will keep you cool on a summer day. Simply puree watermelon in a blender. Strain using a medium sieve. If the melon is sweet enough for your taste then pour into a popsicle mold, add a few mint leaves and pop in the freezer for a few hours. If they are not as sweet as you like, then sweeten with agave, honey or a mint-infused simple syrup.

For simple syrup bring 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar to a boil until the sugar dissolves. For the mint infusion place a half bunch of mint into the hot syrup, cover the pan, turn off the heat and let steep for 30 minutes.