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    Celebrating beauty in everyday living

    The Perfect Easy Summer Menu, Full of Farm Stand Freshness

    Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

    With all the goodness spilling over from gardens and farm stands, I feel a menu  in my heart…

    A hand-written menu is a nice touch, a keepsake, and a handy reference for staff, which in this case would be me.

    Maestro, cue Porgy and Bess: Summertime, and the cookin’ is easy / Bacon’s fryin’ and the corn is high / ‘Maters burstin’ and zucchini’s good lookin’ / Set your pretty table / Company’s nigh.

    Okay that was dorky. But the menu is grrrreat, trust me. Recipes below.

    Peanuts and pickled okra are my go-to hors-d’oeuvres. (go-d’oeuvres?) I order Aunt Ruby’s peanuts  from North Carolina because they are the best in the solar system. The okra is Talk o’ Texas from the grocery store.

    My mother said heavy hors-d’oeuvres were a sign of insecurity. 

    Cold Cucumber Soup. The addition of bell pepper, jalapeno, and fresh herbs take it somewhere new.

    The soup you make ahead, and yes you can freeze it. The pasta you prep ahead and assemble last minute, no big deal.

    Pasta With Bacon, Corn, Tomatoes, and Zucchini. A variation with olives and feta cheese is also delicious.

    Make a simple lettuce salad with homemade vinaigrette. Take the cheese out early so it is room temp when served. I do one firm, like Gruyère or Cantal; one gooshy brie or triple-cream; and a goat or sheep’s cheese. Slice a baguette and that’s that.

    Use store-bought ice cream bars or popsicles to lend a certain I-have-nothing-to-prove charm.

    Cold Cucumber Soup
    Serves 6
    The bell pepper, jalapeno, and fresh herbs make this ol' cucumber soup tangy and bright. It's a lot of ingredients but really so simple. This is one of those recipes you can experiment with--as I did with Emeril Lagasse's original.
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    Ingredients
    1. 5 pounds cucumbers (about 5 cucumbers) peeled, seeded, coarsely chopped (10 cups)
    2. 1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, coarsely chopped
    3. 4 green onions, chopped
    4. 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
    5. 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
    6. 1 tablespoon chopped mint
    7. 1 tablespoon chopped dill
    8. 2-3 garlic cloves, mashed to a paste with 1 teaspoon salt
    9. 1 teaspoon salt
    10. 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    11. 2 cups plain yogurt
    12. 2 cups sour cream
    13. 1/2 cup buttermilk (or substitute*)
    14. 3 tablespoons olive oil
    15. 2 teaspoons wine vinegar
    16. 2 tablespoons chives, minced
    Instructions
    1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except chives and puree by batches in blender. Chill at least 2 hours, then taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve sprinkled with chives.
    Notes
    1. To substitute for buttermilk, add 1/2 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice to regular milk. Unsweetened almond or soy milk work, too.
    Adapted from From Emeril Lagasse, via FoodNetwork.com
    Frances Schultz http://www.francesschultz.com/
    Pasta With Bacon, Corn, Tomatoes, and Zucchini
    Serves 6
    Bursting with summer goodness and easily adapted to what vegetables and herbs you have on hand, give or take. Use what you have and don't worry about it. Any short pasta will do--cavatappi, campanelle, conchiglie, farfalle, whatever-i. Pictured is "calamari" similar to paccheri.
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    Ingredients
    1. 12 ounces uncooked pasta
    2. 6 pieces of bacon
    3. 2 tablespoons olive oil
    4. 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
    5. 2 garlic cloves, minced
    6. 1 1/2 cups fresh corn (about 3 ears)
    7. 1 - 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
    8. 2 small zucchini, cut lengthwise into quarters and sliced
    9. 1/2 cup slivered black or green pitted olives (if desired)
    10. 1 cup Parmesan or Feta cheese, divided
    11. 1/2 cup chopped basil, loosely packed
    12. 1 tablespoon chopped mint
    13. 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
    Instructions
    1. Cook pasta by package directions for al dente.
    2. Meanwhile, in large skillet over medium high heat, cook bacon until crisp. Remove to drain but keep drippings in pan. Add oil to drippings.
    3. Add onion and garlic to pan and saute 2 minutes.
    4. Add zucchini and cook about 3 minutes.
    5. Stir in corn, tomatoes, and olives (if using), and cook about 5 minutes, until tomatoes start to burst.
    6. Add pasta to vegetable mixture and stir to heat through, about a minute.
    7. Remove from heat and add half the cheese, herbs, and salt and pepper, and toss to combine.
    8. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
    Notes
    1. I also tried this adding olives and substituting crumbled feta for Parmesan. The saltiness of these two balanced the sweetness of the corn and tomatoes, and to my palate, made a good thing better.
    Adapted from From a recipe for Cavatappi With Bacon and Summer Vegetables via CookingLight.com
    Frances Schultz http://www.francesschultz.com/
    Vinaigrette
    The best basic salad dressing there is. Also good on cold vegetables, asparagus, artichokes etc., and even cold beef or fish.
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    Ingredients
    1. 1 garlic clove, minced
    2. 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
    3. 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    4. 1/4 cup wine vinegar (red or white)
    5. 3/4 cup olive oil
    Instructions
    1. Whisk together garlic, salt, mustard, and vinegar.
    2. Add oil in a steady stream, continuing to whisk until emulsified.
    3. Alternatively, whir all ingredients together in a blender, or shake them up in a jar.
    Notes
    1. Once you see how easy and good this is, there is no reason to buy bottled dressing. Ever.
    Frances Schultz http://www.francesschultz.com/

    Posted in Blog, Entertaining, Food & Recipes | 18 comments

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