Oh, hello. It’s been a while. Life has been moving at warp speed since we returned from our recent trip to Los Angeles to bring our daughter to school. And no sooner have we unpacked our bags than we need to pack them again. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you about our time on the west coast, which was remarkable for many reasons. We got our daughter her first car. We shared precious memories before saying goodbye for what may be many months. And we got to eat some great food. I mean, some really great food. I won’t delay here—there are too many amazing places to tell you about. However, I do want to say this: after my week on the left coast, I’m convinced LA must be one of the best food cities in the country right now. The proof is in the pudding…butterscotch budino, to be exact.
Chilled Corn Soup with Créme Fraîche & Basil Oil
As the sun begins to fade and days get shorter, I’m already waxing nostalgic for this glorious season. Of childhood summer memories, one of my fondest dates from when my family and I lived in upstate New York. In late August, it became a favorite ritual for us to drive to a farm stand to pick up local corn—only the Irondequoit variety would do. The later the harvest, the sweeter the corn, my parents would say. They would joke about having a pot of boiling water at the ready so we could throw the ears in as soon as they were shucked, allowing us to enjoy the sugar at its peak. There was nothing like it: the steaming cobs only called for a sprinkle of salt, no butter necessary. To me, this simple chilled soup captures that very essence of sweet corn goodness. Every part of the corn is utilized, kernels and cobs, to fully enhance its flavor. A drizzle of fragrant basil oil and satiny créme fraîche makes a perfect finish to this best of summer in a bowl.
Farro Tuna White Bean Salad
Summertime and the living is…lazy. Blame it on an abundance of hot, not humid days and cool moonlit nights. I’ve been in the mood to keep life easy, spending many afternoons soaking up sun on my favorite patch of sand: a summer read in my lap (Bossypants, by Tina Fey, is my latest diversion) and pop tunes blasting on my headphones. What I’m not in the mood to do is spend a lot of time in my kitchen. A bit of a dilemma if you happen to be a food blogger like me. The trick then becomes to prepare a delicious meal with as little effort as possible. Enter this lemony, bright salad of earthy farro, Italian tuna and creamy white beans, which is as good for you as it is delicious to eat. Best part? It’s easy to throw together with almost no cooking involved. I think I’ll pack some up for the beach tomorrow.
It’s kind of a family joke. My grandma, who was an otherwise decent cook, would indoctrinate new members of the family by serving them cold fruit soup. No one is quite sure where she got the idea to offer these unusual concoctions, but I think she was just hoping to make a good impression. Or maybe it was a test. My husband was welcomed to the fold with a bowl of chilled cherry soup. Sounds lovely, right? Not so much. The sweet brew had a murky milky base and the cherries were still plump with pits, which had to be indelicately spit into a napkin. Ah, maybe that was the test! Cold soup has come a long way and this mouthwatering gazpacho is proof of that. The interesting ingredient here is tomatillo–also technically a fruit, but a savory one that adds an unique twist to this no-cook recipe. Tangy, creamy and bright, this chilled green wonder is perfect for right now.
Pickled Cherry Salad
I’m feeling rejuvenated after a brief hiatus. We had a lovely visit with family in Montreal, city of great restaurants and magnificent open air markets. My pantry is now packed with delectable European jams, mustards, oils, and foie gras and ready for new challenges. Coming home, I was tickled to discover my blog featured in a roundup on bon appétit.com. Funny how the universe works sometimes. This recognition encouraged me to finally take the leap I’d been debating and invest in some new equipment. Now armed with a fancy camera and tabletop lighting, I’m feeling slightly overwhelmed. Practice makes perfect, they say—I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it. In the meantime, I offer to you a delightful little salad featuring a surprising ingredient: pickled cherries. Piquant and juicy, these marinated summer fruit complement bitter greens, creamy brie and crunchy almonds in a tantalizing way and they take no getting used to.