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Archive for July, 2009

Just Eat Them

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These little babies are Pluot plums.  Beautiful mottled skin, light green, amber, and well, plum.  Their flesh is this intense pink/red, full of juice, tart, sweet, so good to eat.  They’ve never made it in my kitchen long enough to cook with.  And that’s okay.  I think that should be the policy from now on.  Just eat them.  ‘Cause you see those little innocent looking things?  Those plums are a nasty piece of work!  Here’s the deal…

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That’s what I purchased at the farmer’s market this week.  Oh, and Pluot plums, but more on them in another post.  It’s summer.  It’s time for lighter food, and easy preparation.  It’s time for the freshest, most available, and abundant fruit and vegetables we can find.  They don’t need a long and involved cooking process and in some cases, like this, they don’t need cooking at all.  This is tomatoes with Italian burrata cheese.  Drizzled with your best olive oil, and sprinkled with coarse salt.  Amazing. The burrata cheese comes from The Truffle on 6th Ave. here in Denver.  I’ve been buying heirloom tomatoes for a couple of reasons, the local tomatoes haven’t really come into their own just quite yet and these taste more like summer tomatoes right now, and  second, they’re pretty!  They’re deep, deep purpley red, and striped green, bright yellow with red centers, orange……so great looking on your plate.  The cheese is the basically mozzarella  with a ricotta center.  It’s so soft and luscious.  It fills your mouth with a clean fresh cream taste, the perfect foil for tomatoes (and very nice on slathered on grilled bread).  No cooking involved, slice, plate, drizzle, sprinkle.  You, your guests, and your mouth will be so very happy.  And you’ll have time to put your feet up, drink another glass of wine, and watch the sun go down.  I’m so happy summer is here.
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Not very attractive, huh?  They don’t look much like flowers do they?  All twisted and crooked, hardly what you’d want to take time to cook, never-mind put in your mouth!  But wait, there’s more!  There’s more than meets the eye here.  These are squash blossoms, lovingly picked early in the morning by a grower who understands their charm and value.  And there are legions of fans of squash blossoms out there, scouting the markets and stalls to find them.  You will most often see them stuffed and fried, and they are so good prepared like that.  But I wanted something different when I got these.  I have been thinking about making a sauce with them, and when I checked the Internet, low and behold, a dozen or more recipes popped up.  So I studied them, consulted the pantry, and came as close to the sauces I read about as I wanted to.  I’ll link the ones I consulted below, so you can check them out for yourself.

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I love peaches.  I’m so happy when they come into season, and Colorado peaches are truly wonderful.  I’ve been known to stand over the sink eating them with the juice running down my arm and a blissful look on my face.  I buy pounds at a time, trying to get them in varying degrees of ripeness so that I always have a perfectly ripe peach to scarf down.  What?  They’re only here for a short time, you need to eat them almost every day.  As much fun as eating them over the sink is, I’m also always looking for things to do with them or put them into.  So when I stumbled upon this recipe I knew I had to try it.

I put it all together, baked it off, and impatiently waited for it to cool to cut into it.  My first impression?  Not so much.  The streusel on the top seemed a bit too crunchy, and it was a little too soft for my taste inside.  Almost like it wasn’t set enough, but I knew that I had baked it for more than the time called for.  The flavor seemed a bit muted and I was disappointed.  I was hoping for a slam dunk that I could rave about.  Oh well, I put it in the refrigerator, not even covered, and thought I’d deal with it the next day.  

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Yeah!  The farmer’s markets are here.  Every year I wait for the opening day.  My friend Toni and I have been going for several years now, getting up on Saturday mornings to meet at 7:30.  We go early, before the crowds, before the veggies have been picked over and handled by everyone, before the vendors have completely finished setting up.  It’s cool, and mostly quiet still, everyone’s day is just starting.  It takes  till June and July before the local produce starts coming in, but there’s something wonderful to be found every week.  Take a look….

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For some unknown reason, it had never occurred to me to eat asparagus raw.  I’ve been eating it for most of my life and loving it, in every preparation I’ve had. But raw just never happened, and now that I know better I’m both delighted and sad.  I’ve been missing out on this for how long?  That is so sad.  But happy days are here now!  This salad is everything you want in a salad.  Fresh, simple and sublime.  I’m not kidding, you need to make this.  In season, out of season, grab the next bunch you see and make this salad!

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P1020451Roasted vegetables are a passion of mine.  I don’t think I’ve met a roasted veggie that I didn’t like.  A really hot oven does magical, mystical things, a crisp exterior, a bit of caramelized crunch and intensified flavor.  A few minutes in the oven and you’ve got something very yummy on your plate.

I was entertaining friends and family one evening, and while they were all drinking wine and getting excited about the pasta that was cooking, I was chopping vegetables.  Bread was being piled into baskets, a warm tomato and garlic scent swirled through the air, and I was excited about the veggies on the baking sheet.  Not one whit of attention was being paid to my lovely vegetables.  I drizzled them with oil, and tossed them with spices while guests were inspecting desserts and sneaking fingers through icing.

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