Italian meatball stew.


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At first, I didn’t know what to call this. It’s a veritable mash-up of three other meals I like a lot: soup with tomatoes and Swiss chard, spaghetti and meatballs, and gnudi with greens. When I thought about how I could best explain what the ideas were that spurred me to make it, I keep coming back to the word stew. Essentially composed of a jar of home-canned tomatoes, braised chard, delicious pork meatballs and delicate ricotta gnudi, I think ‘Italian meatball stew’ is the simplest, best description. I wanted the impression of comforting, all-day-simmer goodness and a ratio of chunky ingredients that was equal to or greater than the broth component. I also wanted a meal that could be simplified enough to make even on the busiest night. I got everything I wanted, and created a dish so good we spent most of dinner discussing what else we could add (mushrooms! leftover rice in place of pasta? artichoke hearts!) and how many times a week we could justify having this for dinner.

I happened to have some gnudi dough ready to go, but this could be made with store bought gnudi or gnocchi or any other noodles you enjoy. I think tortellini would be especially good. The meatballs are tender and so easy to put together; I used ground pork and would also recommend turkey, ground beef or a mix. Swiss chard is always in my refrigerator, and I love how it tastes with tomatoes and how it holds up in soup, but any dark greens would be at home here: spinach, kale, even broccolini or rapini. I am so jazzed about this stew and foresee many bowls on my dinner table this winter. It is even better left over! With time for the ingredients to meld, the stew takes on a new depth. With elements that are easy to make ahead or buy premade, this can plausibly be a 15-minute dinner, but it tastes like you stirred and chopped for hours. Impress your family today.

Italian meatball stew

Italian Meatball Stew (serves 4)

For the meatballs:

  • 1 lb. ground pork (or beef, or turkey)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • generous pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 c. fine breadcrumbs

For the stew:

  • 1 large bunch of Swiss chard, stems diced, leaves roughly chopped
  • 1 pint (16 oz.) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 c. chicken broth
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 T. red wine vinegar
  • 6 – 8 oz. pasta (gnudi, gnocchi, tortellini, etc.), cooked and drained

Start by making the meatballs: in a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix (preferably by hand). Don’t overmix; you’re done when the dry ingredients are incorporated and the mixture looks uniform. You should be able to form a ball that holds its shape; if your mixture is too wet, add more breadcrumbs a few tablespoons at a time, but be careful not to go too dry. Form 14-16 uniform meatballs with a scoop or your hands. Heat 1 T. olive oil over medium heat (you can use the pot you plan to make the stew in so all the flavor stay put) and brown the meatballs in two batches, turning at least once, for about 8 mins. per batch. They *will not* be cooked through but will finish in the stew. Set aside.

The meatballs can be made a day ahead and kept in the refrigerator or several days ahead and frozen. (Defrost in the refrigerator before continuing with the stew.)

To make the stew, heat 1 T. olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. (You can continue with the same pan you used for the meatballs, and may not need to add more oil.) Saute the Swiss chard stems for 1-2 mins. Add the chopped leaves and stir, then cover and allow to wilt for about 3 mins. Stir in the tomatoes, broth, pepper and salt; cover again and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 8-10 mins. Stir in the vinegar and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Place the meatballs in a single layer in the stew and gently stir so they are coated in sauce but remain whole. Cover again and cook for 8-12 mins. to ensure the meatballs cook through. Gently stir in the cooked pasta, heat for just a minute to make sure everything is warmed through, and serve.

Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Spicy peanut sauce.


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September is often a busy month and this year has been no exception. For the most part, I am looking toward my kitchen gadgets, Dutch ovens, special baking dishes and tagine longingly and defaulting to quick and easy meals I’ve made many times before– I don’t have the luxury right now of long afternoons spent playing at the stove. But… I have this brilliant new peanut sauce in my life. Peanut sauce is not something we take lightly in our house: it must be sweet, it must be spicy, it must be salty and creamy and have just the right amount of peanut flavor. After many recipes tried and tossed, this one is a winner. It is everything I just mentioned and more– perfectly pourable for your noodle dishes, thick enough to be a delicious dip for satay skewers or raw vegetables (snap peas in peanut sauce? yes, please!) and so tasty you might be willing to forego every vehicle other than a clean spoon. It’s also easy, did I mention that? You could have it ready for dinner tonight. My current favorite way to serve this peanut sauce is over a bed of rice or rice noodles topped with wilted dark greens (spinach, tatsoi, Swiss chard, etc.) and sometimes chicken. It reminds me of the Swimming Rama I order so often at our favorite Thai restaurant and is both comforting and filling. I feel like I should stop explaining and get to the recipe already so you can make some! Sometimes all you need to get through a busy month is a good peanut sauce recipe, and here is mine.

Spicy peanut sauce, over wilted tatsoi and rice.

Spicy Peanut Sauce (adapted from this recipe; makes about 2 c.)

  • 1 T. red or panang curry paste (I like Mae Ploy brand)*
  • 4 T. creamy peanut butter
  • 3 T. fish sauce (I like Red Boat brand)
  • 2 T. brown sugar
  • 1 14 oz. can of coconut milk, preferably not low-fat, well-shaken
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh ginger* or 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 T. rice wine vinegar (unseasoned)

In a small saucepan, mix the curry paste, peanut butter, fish sauce and brown sugar until you have a smooth paste. Stir in the coconut milk a little at a time (this helps to ensure a smooth sauce), then stir in the ginger. Over medium heat, bring the sauce to a lazy boil, stirring often; it will begin to thicken slightly but does stay quite thin. Add the rice wine vinegar near the end of the cook time. The sauce is ready to use immediately or will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Update: I made this again using a different brand of curry paste and found it slightly salty. As such, I reduced the amount of the fish sauce in the recipe to 3 T. If you find it needs more seasoning, add another 1 T. fish sauce -or- a pinch of kosher salt.

*Fresh ginger is spicy in its own right and will add another level of heat to this sauce. If you want a milder heat, consider using ground ginger and reducing the amount of curry paste to 2 tsp.

Pork verde with taro.


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Pork verde, named for the fragrant green sauce that defines the dish, is a bridge between summer and autumn cooking. The ingredients say summer: shiny, crisp chiles in a variety of shapes and sizes, fresh tomatillos, abundant cilantro. The cooking method says fall, an all-afternoon slow bubble on the stove. The final product is so good you will want to eat it any day of the year.

The taro, though not traditional, is my favorite part of this dish. Simmered in the piquant verde sauce, it becomes tender and creamy but holds its shape. I found myself picking out a few extra chunks to put in my bowl. Speaking of tender, I haven’t had pork like this in years. The acidity of the tomatillos is partially responsible; the slow, lazy cook also helps. My husband used leftover pork to make sandwiches for several days and is already asking me to make this dish again. Despite the quantity of chiles in the recipe, I would not consider this an overly spicy dish. The heat is balanced by the sweet onion, starchy taro, tart tomatillos and herbaceous cilantro. I listed my preferred blend of mild to medium varieties, but you can adapt the mix to your own taste. When Hatch chiles are available, they’re my first choice; any combination of available chiles will work. You can substitute a green bell pepper for the poblano if you want and jalapenos, Anaheims or serranos for the others. We used leftover sauce on rice with some quickly sauteed seasonal vegetables– corn, zucchini and summer squash– and it was as satisfying as the bowls with pork and taro. The versatility of pork verde is wonderful: in the course of a week we ate it as a stew, with polenta, in sandwiches, as saucy tacos (with corn tortillas and avocado) and with rice.

With very little preparation time, pork verde is a fairly simple meal that tastes as good for Wednesday lunch as it did for Sunday supper. I know that this will become a staple dish in our house and I hope you will enjoy it as much as we do.

Pork Verde with Taro, served with polenta

Pork Verde with Taro

  • 1 T. canola oil
  • 3 lb. boneless pork shoulder roast, fat trimmed, cut into 1-2″ chunks
  • kosher salt & black pepper
  • 1 medium sweet onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 T. cumin seeds
  • 3 c. chicken broth
  • 1 lb. tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed and quartered
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and roughly cut into pieces
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and roughly cut into pieces
  • 4 Hatch chiles, roughly cut into pieces
  • 1 c. cilantro leaves and stems, packed
  • 3 green onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 lb. taro, parboiled, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces*
  • polenta, rice or tortillas to serve (optional)
  • sour cream to serve (optional)

Begin by searing the pork: in a large Dutch oven or similar heavy and large stew pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Season the pork liberally with salt and pepper and sear in your hot pan until you have good brown color on at least two sides, which takes about 5-7 mins. Work in batches to prevent overcrowding the pan, which could cause the meat to steam instead of browning.

While the pork sears, begin the verde sauce. In a food processor or blender, combine the tomatillos, garlic, half of the chopped chiles, cilantro, green onions and 2 c. chicken stock. Blend until smooth and set aside.

When the pork is all browned, add the onion to the pan and cook over medium heat for 7-10 mins., until translucent. Add the cumin to the pan and cook for another minute or two. Add the remaining half of your chiles and stir, then return the browned pork to the pot and stir again. Add the remaining 1 c. chicken stock and use a wooden spoon to gently get all the good brown bits off the bottom of the pot, then stir in 2 c. of your verde sauce. Bring to a gentle boil, then cover the pot and lower the heat to a low medium. Simmer the pork verde for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

At this point, you can pause the cooking process, cool the pork slightly and transfer to the refrigerator for up to 48 hours.

To prepare the taro, bring 4 c. salted water to a boil and gently drop in the whole taro roots. Cook for 3 mins. and drain. When the taro is cool enough to handle, remove the fibrous peel and cut into 1″ chunks. Don’t skip the parboiling step! Taro contains oxalic acid, which is neutralized by cooking but can irritate your skin if you try to handle it raw. Taro should never be eaten raw.

Add the taro chunks and remaining verde sauce to the pot and cook for another 35 mins., until the taro is fork tender. Taste for seasoning and add salt, if necessary. Serve immediately, over polenta or rice or with tortillas, garnished with sour cream and additional cilantro, if desired. Leftover pork verde will keep in the refrigerator for at least five days.

*There are many types of taro. I prefer and usually buy the small round variety, sometimes called eddoe. If you have trouble finding taro, substitute an equal amount of potato or parsnip and omit the parboiling step.

Spicy watermelon salad.


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Because it is September but I want to extend the summer vibe a bit longer, I’m sharing our favorite discovery of the year thus far: spicy watermelon salad. I have used watermelon to make gazpacho before, so I knew it could stand up to savory flavors, but this salad was a revelation nonetheless. With sour citrus and cool mint to round out the sweet and spice, I can’t help but think of this dish as a culinary perpetual motion project– you take a bite, feel the tingle of spice in your mouth and take another bite to cool off with refreshing watermelon. Repeat, repeat.

When I go out for Thai or Vietnamese food, I always order a green mango or papaya salad if it’s on the menu. They have the same heat-and-sweet flavor profile I enjoy so much in this watermelon salad. I added some shredded green papaya to one of my salads this summer for some texture and color variation; you can also use jicama or cucumber, or just stay with all melon. Served with grilled shrimp, fish or chicken, this will be a salad people ask you about. They will want the recipe. It may be September, but there will still be sunny weekends and warm evenings for picnics and cookouts, and melons are abundant and so good at this time of the year. Try something new, fresh and surprising for your next potluck or barbecue.

spicy watermelon salad

Spicy Watermelon Salad (adapted from Scaling Back Blog)

  • 4 – 6 cups watermelon, rind removed, cubed or balled
  • 1 c. shredded green papaya, jicama or cucumber (optional)
  • 2 T. fresh lime juice
  • 2 T. fresh orange juice
  • 1 T. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 T. fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. sriracha
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • kosher salt to taste
  • 1/4 c. torn mint leaves
  • 1/4 c. torn rau ram leaves (optional)*

Prepare the watermelon as desired and put into a large bowl. Add shredded green papaya, cucumber or jicama if using. (Green papaya is in the picture.) In a smaller bowl, whisk together the lime juice, orange juice, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, sriracha and black pepper. Pour the dressing over the watermelon and gently toss to combine. Taste and add salt, if necessary. Transfer to a serving dish (or hollowed watermelon rind for a fun presentation) and allow to sit for at least 30 mins., up to 2 hours.

Just before serving, toss in the mint leaves and rau ram, if using. Spicy watermelon salad is best the day you make it but will keep in the refrigerator for a day or two.

*Rau ram can be found in the produce section of most well-stocked Asian specialty markets. If you can’t find it, add a little more mint or some Thai basil, or just omit.

Blueberry lavender ricotta pound cake.


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That’s a big name for a little cake! Let’s pretend that every word in the title of a recipe adds an extra kick of flavor to the finished product, because that’s certainly true for this cake. When I found a container of fresh ricotta in the refrigerator a few days before vacation, I started researching baked goods. I’ve been dreaming of the perfect ricotta cake for months and it just sounded like the best possible idea. I found this recipe for a pound cake flavored with orange and almond, but that’s not quite what I wanted. A few tweaks and a cup of blueberries later, I present my blueberry lavender ricotta pound cake. I left a loaf for our fabulous friend, who took great care of our pets while we were in Maine, and can now say that it also makes a wonderful gift!

Ricotta adds some beautiful moisture and texture to the cake without making it heavy. It is vaguely reminiscent of a cheesecake, but the pound cake title is much more appropriate. I was deliberately light-handed with the lavender, to prevent a soapy flavor, and I think it was a great choice, the perfect accent for sweet blueberries. Serve a slice of your cake with coffee or tea, with ice cream and extra berries for dessert, or lightly toasted for a decadent breakfast treat.

blueberry & lavender ricotta pound cake

Blueberry Lavender Ricotta Pound Cake (makes 2 loaves)

  • 12 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 c. whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. culinary lavender
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice (about half a lemon)
  • 1 1/4 c. + 3 T. flour
  • 1 T. cornstarch
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 c. fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter or spray two 8″ x 4″ loaf pans and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, ricotta and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Mix in the lavender, lemon zest and lemon juice.

Sift together the 1 1/4 c. flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. With the mixer on a very low speed, add the dry ingredients to the bowl in small amounts. Stop the mixer as soon as the dry ingredients are mixed in.

In a small bowl, toss the blueberries with the remaining 3 T. flour. Use a large wooden spoon or spatula to fold the blueberries and any loose flour into your batter. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans. Bake for 40-50 mins., rotating the pans after about 20 mins.; the cakes are done when they begin to pull away from the sides of the pans and a knife comes clean from the center. Cool on a rack for at least 20 mins. before attempting to remove from the pan.

The blueberry lavender ricotta pound cake will keep, tightly wrapped, at room temperature for up to three days and in the refrigerator for slightly longer. Bring to room temperature before serving, for best results. Although I haven’t tried freezing the cakes I imagine they would freeze well.

Roasted Mediterranean vegetable salad.


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I love the combination of zucchini and tomatoes. One of my go-to summer meals is a casserole of sliced zucchini with tomato sauce and various seasonings, draped in melted cheese. I like both zucchini and summer squash sauteed briefly and tossed with tomato wedges and fresh herbs, drizzled with olive oil. And recently, I tried a lasagna using sliced zucchini instead of noodles, with a thick marinara and lots of fresh ricotta. It’s safe to say that any meal I plan with zucchini is likely to have fresh or sauced tomatoes somewhere within– but it’s still a good idea to keep trying new combinations of the two complimentary ingredients. For this salad, I decided to experiment with a mix of tender roasted vegetables and raw, fresh ingredients and serve everything cold. My instincts were right; this salad feels fresh and summery but benefits from the sweetness cherry tomatoes get when cooked. It is reminiscent of caponata, a cousin of Greek salad when crumbled feta is added, and just plain tasty. Using a mix of yellow, orange and red cherry tomatoes and equal amounts of summer squash and zucchini makes it stunning to look at, as well. Use any color bell pepper you like to play up the rainbow effect.

Your roasted Mediterranean vegetable salad can be a side dish for just about any meaty entree you make. Try it served on a bed of barley or lentils for a heartier option; add cubed roasted chicken or salty feta for a boost of protein. You can make it ahead: I recommend reserving the dressing to add until just before serving. Here’s another versatile, colorful, delicious side dish to take advantage of all the summer bounty from your garden or farmers’ market. Enjoy!

roasted Mediterranean vegetable salad

Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable Salad (serves 6-8 as a side)

  • 1 lb. zucchini or summer squash or a mix, cut in half lengthwise and then into half-moons (about 3 medium or 2 medium-large squash)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, preferably mixed varieties
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. dried mint
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced bell pepper
  • 1/4 c. olives, pitted (I used a mix of Nicoise and lemon-stuffed green), halved if large
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 2 T. red wine vinegar
  • 5 T. olive oil
  • 2 T. fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 oz. crumbled feta cheese (optional)

Plan to roast the vegetables the day before you eat the salad, or at least several hours in advance. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put the cut zucchini and/or summer squash in a shallow 2 qt. casserole dish, or similar, and add the cherry tomatoes. Drizzle 1 T. olive oil over the vegetables and sprinkle with dried mint, dried oregano, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Roast for 30 mins.; remove from the oven and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap or transfer to a container with a lid and cool completely in the refrigerator, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Add the bell pepper and olives to the cooled roasted vegetables. In a small bowl or jar, whisk or shake together the honey, vinegar and 5 T. olive oil. Just before serving, or up to an hour in advance, dress the vegetables; you may not need all of the dressing, so start with half and add more to taste. Garnish with fresh parsley; serve with crumbled feta, if desired.

Leftover salad will keep in the refrigerator for about 3 days.

“Sunrise” galette, with peaches & strawberries.


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I used to think of strawberries as a spring fruit, peaches as a late summer fruit, and never the two shall meet. Thank goodness for everbearing varieties which give us another strawberry crop later in the summer! They allowed me to make this lovely galette. I couldn’t help but be reminded of sunrise when I was mixing up the fruit filling: yellow from the nectarcots, a range of shades of orange from the peaches, red from the strawberries. It looked like the sky on a “sailors take warning” summer day.

The best thing about galettes is the ease of putting one together. If you need a quick dessert or a way to finish up a few cups of ripe fruit, it’s a great option. Use your favorite pie crust here; for me, that means the classic crust from First Prize Pies, though I’d like to try this cream cheese crust someday soon. I think it would be incredible with strawberries and peaches. Remember that most recipes make enough for a double-crust pie, so plan to halve the recipe, freeze the other crust– or make two galettes! In the filling, I borrowed one of the best tricks I learned from Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book and added bitters to the fruit. Though optional, it’s a way to balance the tart fruit and sugary sweetness and just give your galette a little something extra. I used rhubarb bitters; you use any you have on hand or what sounds good to you. Similarly, I had a handful or perfectly ripe nectarcots to use but know they can be a difficult fruit to find; replace them easily with yellow plums, apricots or extra peaches. Just think: a little bit of slicing, a few crimps of crust and a half hour in the oven is all that stands between you and an edible sunrise.

"sunrise" galette with peaches and strawberries

“Sunrise” Galette with Peaches & Strawberries

  • 1 9″ pie crust
  • 2 c. strawberries, hulled and sliced (about 1 dry pint)
  • 2 c. ripe and fragrant peaches, pitted and sliced (2 -3 medium peaches)
  • 1 c. nectarcots, pitted and sliced (from about 3 whole)
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. bitters (optional)
  • 1/3 c. sugar*
  • 2 T. flour
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • whole milk for the crust
  • demerrara or raw sugar to garnish

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. I like to use a 10″ pie plate; it prevents all the delicious juices from running out and burning, and preserves the shape of even the juiciest of galettes. If you don’t have a plate that large, or plan to remove the galette to a platter to serve, you can also use a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Roll out your crust to at least a 12″ circle and make sure it is evenly thick. Circular is helpful but not vital; this is a rustic dessert. Set aside about 12 pieces of beautiful fruit for the top. Combine the rest of the fruit in a large bowl with the lemon juice and bitters, if using. Whisk together the sugar, flour and kosher salt and sprinkle it over the bowl of fruit; toss gently until you can no longer see dry flour. Pour your filling into the prepared crust, leaving a 1″ (or slightly larger) border around the edges. Fold the crust in over the filling, making sure that overlapping pieces are not too thick; ruffled folds are beautiful, but consistency is key. Leave a circle of visible fruit in the center. Brush the crust with whole milk to promote even browning. Arrange the reserved pieces of fruit in the center space; dust the entire galette with demerrara or raw sugar for a little sparkle, if you like.

Bake the galette for 25-30 mins., until the crust is golden brown. Remove and cool for at least 15 mins. before serving. Leftovers can be kept covered at room temperature for a day or so, or refrigerated for up to three– but it’s always best the day you bake it.

*If your fruit is especially tart, you can go up to 1/2 c. sugar. I like some pucker in my filling, which is what I get when I use the 1/3 c. called for in the recipe. Alternately, if you have the sweetest fruit of the year, 1/4 c. sugar may suffice.

Apricot jam with raspberries & Chambord.


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Apricot preserves are my favorite to make. I find apricots easy to work with: you don’t have to peel them, the pits/kernels come out easily, and they’re juicy and sweet but not particularly messy. Ideal! I tend to buy a case each summer when I find one for a reasonable price; this year, I waited a little too long and only found a half case (10 lbs.), but the fruit was glorious. Fragrant, flavorful, beautiful, unblemished– I only had to decide which jams to make.

In the past, successful apricot preserves have had additions of vanilla bean, lavender, almond liqueur, habanero pepper, orange blossom water or lemon verbena, or have been left plain. This year, I made a batch of plain, some with chamomile and rose as a variation on the floral accents I like so much with apricots, and this gorgeous jam with fresh raspberries and Chambord. The color may be the best part. It is bright tangerine orange, studded with rosy berries, sweet and good. I purposefully waited until the jam was nearly ready to jar before adding the raspberries; I wanted to see the berries studded in the apricot jam rather than have a homogeneous mixture. Though I often use liqueurs as an optional ingredient and suggest replacement options, I am not going to do so here. The Chambord rounds out the flavor and highlights the raspberries without overwhelming the delicate apricots. The jam will be good, but not the same, if you leave it out. And this is a jam worth trying– I would have to say it’s one of the more sophisticated jams I’ve made, as stunning in the jar as it is complex when tasted.

Could you mix the berries in with the apricots right from the beginning? Absolutely. The fruit will break down some no matter what you do. Should you get a few pounds of apricots and make some of this jam this summer? Absolutely. Your family, friends and taste buds will thank you for the effort.

apricot jam with raspberry and Chambord

Apricot Jam with Raspberries & Chambord (makes about 6 half-pints)

  • 6 c. apricots pieces (about 3 lbs. whole fruit)
  • 2 c. sugar, divided
  • juice of half a lemon (at least 3 T.)
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. butter (optional)
  • 1 c. fresh raspberries
  • 2 T. Chambord*

Day 1: Combine the cut apricots, 1 c. sugar and lemon juice in a non-reactive container. Cover tightly and macerate overnight (or as long as 3 days) in the refrigerator. I do not recommend skipping this step.

Day 2, or when you’re ready to cook: Clean your jars and start your water bath. Transfer the macerated apricots to a large jam pan or Dutch oven, making sure to get all the juice and any undissolved sugar as well; add the additional cup of sugar, salt and butter, if using. (Butter helps to cut down on foam accumulating on top of the boiling fruit.) Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the jam is almost done. For me, that means the bubbles are “lazy” and less frequent, the surface of the jam appears glossy and the consistency is noticeably thicker. If you hold up a spoonful of jam, it should drip off slowly in a thick sheet instead of quickly in drops. Cooking times vary depending on weather, stoves, pans, etc., but expect at least 15 mins. and very possibly longer. Add the raspberries and continue to stir, being careful not to break up the berries any more than they will anyway. Cook for another few minutes; add the Chambord, stir and remove from the heat.

Ladle the hot jam into hot, sterilized jars; wipe the rim of each jar carefully and affix the lids. Process the jars in a water bath for 10 mins.; remove to a clear, towel-lined counter and allow to sit untouched overnight. Check that each jar is sealed; refrigerate unsealed jars immediately. Properly sealed jars will keep in a cool, dark cupboard for up to a year.

This is intended to be a loose-set jam. If you’d like a firmer consistency, there are instructions in the Pomona’s pectin box for adding some to any fruit jam.

*Chambord is a black raspberry liqueur that should be readily available wherever spirits are sold. I’ve even recently seen “travel” bottles with just a little more than what you would need for this recipe– though by all means spring for a larger size. You could make some truffles, too.

Flatbread with peaches and feta.


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I debated posting this because it’s such a simple recipe, but it really is too good to keep to myself. Cooking with peaches used to mean cobblers, pies and preserves, but now my first thought is savory– because peaches are my new favorite topping for pizza or flatbread. They have sweetness, juiciness and acidity like tomatoes do, but with a little something else that I love. Paired with creamy fresh mozzarella, a little bite of minced garlic and salty feta cheese, peaches will make your pizza night the most popular on the block. Recently, I’ve been making small flatbreads with IndianLife naan (I like the spinach and garlic flavors here) because they’re so quick and easy– they bake up in about 20 mins. or can even go on the grill. Instead of naan, if you like, you can use any flatbread base, or even fresh pizza dough. Adjust the baking time if you’re working with raw dough, or a larger flatbread.

If you want to take this idea even further, try adding ham or prosciutto to your pie. Arugula and basil add a nice bitter green bite if you want to further contrast the sweet peaches. Honestly, I like the basic version best, and will eat it as often as I can while peaches are in season. For a quick lunch or a fun summer dinner, it’s hard to find something more unexpectedly tasty than flatbread with peaches and feta.

flatbread with peaches and feta

Flatbread with Peaches and Feta (makes four 6″ flatbreads)

  • 4 IndianLife naan flatbreads, or similar
  • 2 fresh, ripe peaches, washed and cut into thin wedges
  • 2 small cloves of garlic, minced (a scant 2 tsp.)
  • pinch of kosher salt (optional)
  • 4-6 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced or shredded (I like BelGioioso brand)
  • plenty of freshly ground black pepper
  • crumbled feta to garnish (1-2 oz.)
  • good quality extra-virgin olive oil to garnish

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the naan flatbreads on two baking sheets, lined with parchment or foil if you wish. Arrange the peach slices in a single, even layer on the naan. Sprinkle the minced garlic over the peaches, about 1/2 tsp. per naan. Sprinkle sparingly with salt; omit salt if your feta is especially salty. Divide and arrange the mozzarella cheese over the top of the peaches. Bake for 15-20 mins. until the cheese has melted and is bubbling gently. Additionally, you can broil the baked flatbreads for 2-3 mins. to brown the top, if desired. Remove from the oven and top each with a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle each flatbread with olive oil, about 1 tsp. or so apiece, and garnish with crumbled feta. Cut and serve immediately.

If you prefer, these toppings will make one 13″ – 16″ pizza; just use pizza dough instead of the naan flatbreads. Adjust the oven temperature to 425 and bake for 18-23 mins. If you’re adding ham, put it on after the garlic, before the mozzarella. Prosciutto, basil and arugula should go on after the flatbreads have been removed from the oven.

my current favorite flatbread base: IndianLife naan

Grilled salad turnips.


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This may not be the most sensational, squeal-inducing recipe you’ve seen today; I think it takes a special person to get really hopped up for turnips. I guess I must be that person, because these grilled turnips are the dish I crave more than any other this summer. We have some at least once a week, with a few variations I will mention later, and I’ve started to worry about the length of the salad turnip season. But let’s not be negative. While they’re around, get yourself a bunch or three of the pearly white turnips called Tokyo or Hakurei in many markets, simply salad turnips in others. They are not woody, stinky and tending toward bitter like the turnips you may associate with winter stews and Thanksgiving dinner, but cool and crisp, wonderful raw and even better on the grill.

You read that right, I grill my turnips. The best results have come in foil packets: the vegetables get brown and caramelized on the bottom and steam to perfection on the top, resulting in a tender, sweet, wonderful side dish. Whenever we have a reason to fire up the grill, I throw some turnips in foil; even cold the next day, they are a refreshing addition to salads of all kinds. Now let’s talk about those variations I mentioned before: you can add diced garlic scapes (or chives, or thinly sliced shallots), and I highly recommend that you do. You can add a cup of small or halved cremini mushrooms, preferably in addition to the garlic scapes. You could replace the salt & pepper with shichimi togarashi or World Spice’s Osaka seasoned salt. If you want a dairy-free option, replace the butter with olive oil, just make sure you get the garlic scapes and/or shichimi togarashi in there for flavor. These are just a few of the ways I’ve made grilled turnips this summer and you can bet I’ll keep experimenting with other options.

I used to fall into the trap of thinking of turnips as “boring” and referring to them as “humble”. No more, my friends: grilling takes turnips into a new, modern, dare I say exciting realm. I am terribly bummed out about the burn ban in Washington campgrounds this summer, for obvious dry, hot, scary reasons, but also because I was so looking forward to eating campfire turnips! I’m tempted to book another trip if the ban is lifted. Until then, I’ll have packets on the grill at home as often as I can; let me know you’re coming and I’ll make enough for you, too.

Grilled salad turnips with garlic scapes

Grilled Salad Turnips 

  • 2 bunches of salad (Hakurei) turnips (about 1 lb.), washed, roots trimmed, greens removed*, halved or quartered
  • 2-3 whole garlic scapes, cut in small pieces (or 1 small shallot, sliced)
  • 1 c. small or halved cremini mushrooms, cleaned (optional)
  • 2 T. cold unsalted butter, cut in small pieces (or same amount of olive oil)
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • generous freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt (or shichimi togarashi)

Tear off a piece of aluminum foil about 1 foot wide. Put the garlic scapes in the center of the foil. Pile the turnips (and mushrooms) on top of the scapes. Dot with butter and sprinkle vinegar over the top. Season with salt & pepper, or shichimi togarashi. Meet the long ends of the foil in the middle and fold over three times (or more if necessary) to seal the packet. Crimp in the sides to close. Place the foil packet on a medium-hot grill** on direct heat for 5 mins., then rotate the packet 180 degrees and cook for another 5 mins. Move to indirect heat and cook for 8-10 mins. Remove the packet from the grill and keep it closed until you’re ready to serve. (It will hold for 15-20 mins.) Open carefully, being mindful not to burn yourself on escaping steam, and serve immediately.

Grilled salad turnips

*If you are lucky enough to find bunches with the greens still attached, don’t throw them away! Turnip greens are so good sauteed or steamed; you could make a really nice warm salad with them, your grilled turnips and other seasonal vegetable. And turnip greens are good for you, packed with vitamins K, A and C as well as folate, fiber, calcium and more. If you don’t want to make a salad, serve them as you would any other cooked greens– for instance, you could make some empanadas.

**All grills are different. I use a small hibachi-like model and these are the times and temperature that work for me. If your grill is particularly powerful, the cook time may be different for you.


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