Thursday, September 16, 2010

Summer is Going ... Going ... Gone!

(my monthly food column for Heartland Women)
September 2010

One day it’s summer and the next thing you know – it’s gone! Overnight, it seems, the temperatures are too cool for the pool. The sunlight casts longer shadows. The kids leave the house early in the morning and are gone all day. Suppertime is earlier and there’s homework for dessert. And it is a challenge to cram a week’s worth of fun into a single weekend of fall festivals, craft fairs, parades and sports.

As the pace of life picks up for families, and even those of us who are students or empty nesters, it’s easy to lose track of things like fading-but-still-productive summer gardens. The frenzy of juggling school, extra-curricular activities and suppertime all on the same night consumes our thoughts as much as, or more than, what we will actually be eating.

Inside the narrow window of opportunity between the beginning of fall semester and the kick-off of football season, I like to go digging through my files looking for good recipes for using the last little bits of herbs, tomatoes and squash from the garden. And I try to recall some of my favorite recipes or those I’ve set aside to try for heartier foods, tailgating treats and easy weeknight suppers.

To me, September is the perfect time of year to kick the kitchen into autopilot. I don’t want to have to spend time planning meals, when all I want to do is sit outside and relish the last warming rays of the sun, unencumbered by humidity.

Long time readers may have kept some of their favorites from past issues of this column, but newer readers may not be familiar with these seasonal dishes for late-summer. In that case, I have decided to bring some of them back around, as a reminder of what’s good this time of year – for new and old readers, and every kind of cook.

So here are a few of my favorite seasonal recipes that I think are worthy of a second look. But if you don’t see exactly what you’re looking for – or you want more, more, more! – please go to the archives on for more delicious dishes to make before summer is completely gone. 

4 red peppers, roasted
4 cups tomato juice
4 cups V-8 vegetable juice
pinch of sugar
2 tablespoons fresh herbs (any combination of
basil, thyme, oregano, parsley)

Roast the peppers and remove the skins, cores, and seeds. Puree peppers in a blender with a little of the tomato juice. Place pureed peppers and remaining ingredients in a saucepan and heat. Serve with a garnish of fresh herbs. 

Adapted from Libby’s
1 can (15 oz.) Libby 100% pure pumpkin
1 ½ cups chicken broth
1 tsp. ground sage
1 can (12 fl. Oz.) Carnation evaporated milk
¾ cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1 large green onion, finely chopped

Cook pumpkin, chicken broth and sage in large saucepan, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil. Stir in evaporated milk and cheese. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring frequently, until most of the cheese is melted. Sprinkle with green onion before serving. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Soup may be warmed in a slow cooker until serving time.

romaine lettuce
apples or pears, cored and diced
pecans or walnuts, chopped
blue cheese, crumbled
Italian salad dressing

Wash and dry lettuce. Tear into bite-sized pieces. Assemble remaining ingredients; toss together with salad dressing just before serving. 

Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, by Ina Garten
zest and juice of 1 large navel orange
zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 lbs. Granny Smith apples
3 lbs. McIntosh, or other red apples
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ lb.unsalted butter
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground allspice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the zest and juice of the oranges and lemon in a large bowl. Peel, quarter, and core the apples and toss them in the juice. Pour the apples and juice into an ovenproof enameled or glass dish with a cover. Add the brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, and allspice and cover the pot. Bake for 1 ½ hours, or until all the apples are soft. Mix with a whisk until smooth. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

1 eggplant
kosher salt and pepper
½ tsp. thyme
6 tbsp. chopped parsley
1 onion, finely chopped
2 red peppers, finely chopped
6 large tomatoes
16 oz. sliced mozzarella cheese
1 ½ cup cream, half and half, etc. (your choice)
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

Peel and slice eggplant. Dredge in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Fry in hot, deep oil until nicely browned and soft. Place half the eggplant slices in a large oblong baking dish. Season with salt, pepper, a pinch of the thyme and 2 tbsp. chopped parsley. Peel, seed and slice tomatoes. Cover eggplant slices with half the tomatoes. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt, pepper, more parsley, half the onion and half the peppers. Cover with half the cheese slices. Repeat layers ending with cheese. Beat the cream, eggs egg yolks and nutmeg together. Pour over layered ingredients. Bake in 425-degree oven 30-40 minutes or until the custard is completely set and cheese is deeply browned. Remove from oven. Let rest 5 minutes before serving. Makes 6-8 servings. 

adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties! by Ina Garten
3 tbsp. or more Olio Santo or other good extra virgin olive oil
1 loaf dense French bread, cut or torn into bite-size pieces
kosher salt
2 or more large ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-in. chunks
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, cut into 1-in. chunks
1 large red, green, and/or yellow bell pepper, seeded, cut into 1-in. chunks
1 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
small bunch of basil leaves, coarsely chopped

½ - 1 tsp. finely minced garlic
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
½ cup Olio Santo or other good extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Heat enough oil to cover surface of a large pan. Add the bread; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently for about 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. More oil may be needed to coat bread cubes. Remove bread cubes to paper towel or brown paper and salt lightly.

Whisk together the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a bowl large enough to hold all the salad ingredients. Add the tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and basil to the blended vinaigrette and toss to coat. Add the bread cubes and toss again. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let stand, at room temperature, for about 30 minutes (or longer, if necessary) for the flavors to blend before serving. Excellent for a light supper with grilled chicken, fish or shrimp.

(Make the day before serving for full flavor)
1 lb. ground ham
1 lb. ground pork
2/3 cup milk
2 eggs
2 cup crushed crackers
½ cup tomato juice
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup vinegar
2 tsp. dry mustard

Mix ham, pork, milk, eggs and crushed crackers and shape into a loaf pan. In a small bowl, mix brown sugar, vinegar and dry mustard to use as basting sauce. Pour tomato juice over the loaf and bake at 350 degrees for 1 – 1 ½ hours, basting frequently with sauce mixture. Remove from oven to cool. Refrigerate meatloaf and juices in pan overnight. Remove solid fat, if any, and reheat in 350-degree oven, basting with remaining juices from pan. Note: Mix up extra sauce ingredients and reduce over heat; use as sauce when serving ham loaf. 

adapted from
1 cup + 3 tbsp. pure Grade B maple syrup (or commercially prepared maple syrup)
1 cup + 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 pork tenderloins (12 – 14 oz. each)
1 tbsp. powdered or rubbed sage
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp. + 1 tbsp. butter

In a small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, 1 cup cider vinegar and Dijon mustard to blend; set aside. Rinse pork tenderloins and pat dry. In another small bowl, blend sage, salt and pepper and rub all over the pork. Melt 2 tbsp. butter in large skillet over medium-high heat until hot and bubbling. Add pork tenderloins and cook, turning to brown on all sides – about 6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until thermometer inserted into pork registers 150 degrees, turning occasionally -- about 10-15 minutes longer (OR place entire skillet with tenderloins into a 350 degree oven for 15 –20 minutes to reach 150 degrees). Transfer tenderloins to a platter; cover to keep warm and make the glaze. Add remaining 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar to the skillet over medium-high heat to deglaze the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add reserved maple syrup mixture and then pork to the skillet and turn until coated in glaze – about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Transfer to cutting board and slice into 1-in. thick slices. Stir remaining 3 tbsp. maple syrup and 1 tbsp. butter into glaze. Arrange pork slices on plates or platter. Spoon some glaze over the pork and serve additional glaze in a bowl.

Adapted from
¼ cup maple syrup (choose Grade B pure maple syrup, if available, or commercially prepared maple syrup)
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ cup good balsamic vinegar
6 4-oz. salmon fillets
¼ tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 F. Lightly coat a baking pan with cooking spray. In a small saucepan over low heat, mix together the maple syrup, garlic and balsamic vinegar. Heat just until hot and remove from heat. Pour half of the mixture into a small bowl to use for basting, and reserve the rest for later. Pat the salmon dry. Place skin-side down on the baking sheet. Brush the salmon with the maple syrup mixture. Bake about 10 minutes, brush again with maple syrup mixture, and bake for another five minutes. Continue to baste and bake until fish flakes easily, about 20 to 25 minutes total. Can also be prepared on the grill. 

2 cups flour
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
½ cup milk
¼ cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped apple
½ cup honey
½ cup brown sugar
¾ cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease or spray mini or regular size muffin pans. In bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. In another bowl, combine milk, butter, eggs and vanilla until blended. Stir dry mix into wet mix until just moistened. Fold in chopped apple. Spoon into pans and bake 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Meanwhile, heat honey and brown sugar to a boil in a saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Dip warm muffins into hot glaze, then into a bowl of chopped pecans. Makes 36 mini muffins or 12 larger muffins.

1 comment:

Debra said...

I always know when summer is ending because the sun shines in our bedroom windows on my blue summer bedlinens - bespoke! They can't be spoiled by the sun & so I hustle them off, with regret, to their winter home.