WND – Sumer is icomen in

May 8, 2008

Summer is my favorite time of year. I love everything about it. I love the colors. I love the fabrics and the clothes. I love the heat. I love the humidity (yes I know I’m crazy, it’s been pointed out to me before). Most especially, I love the food. By the end of winter I’d be willing to engage in minor felonies for fresh fruit and vegetables.

Summer to me is ice tea in the fridge, melon for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and tomatoes bursting with so much flavor you could almost eat them for dessert. It’s open windows and the smell of freshly cut grass, and planning your meals so that you don’t have to turn the oven on more than necessary. It’s letting the heat soak in to your bones so that you can store it up against next winter’s cold.

Massachusetts is gracing us with a real spring this year, and summer feels like it’s around the corner. The days are (with a few exceptions) warm and sunny. There’s been enough rain to turn everything green, but no so much that I feel like I should be contemplating the logistics of building an ark. It’s not quite summer yet, but I can see it from here.

I stopped up at our local farm* on Monday and spent far too much money on tomatoes that were redolent with sun and the promise of summer (hot house sun in Maine, but still localish sun and a tomato that tastes like a tomato and not colored cardboard). I bought fiddleheads for the first time – verdict is they’re fun to look at, but I’m not quite sure what all the fuss is about. I splurged and got early strawberries whose origin I’m choosing not to contemplate. And, more prosaically, I got apples because it may be warm enough to wear short sleeves, but it’s still the tail end of winter and we haven’t achieved soft summer fruits quite yet.

* Genuinely local farm – it’s three miles up the road in Lexington (with additional fields somewhere in New Hampshire). It doubles as one of the many local gourmet grocery stores but since it’s also an independent farm I feel slightly less like the petit bourgeoisie shopping there than I do at Whole Foods.

Devilled Eggs Hard Boiled Eggs
Curried Chicken Salad
Tomatoes & Mozzarella
Roasted Asparagus with Oranges

I don’t really know why, but biscuits are very much a summer food for me. There’s nothing in them that’s seasonal but I never seem to think to make them during the winter. Of course I make up for this during the summer when I make them about every other week.

Recipe previously given here: Farewell to Summer Dinner

Devilled Eggs
You’d think I’d never made devilled eggs before given the problems I’m having with them. The last time I tried to make devilled eggs for Dinner they smelled funky so I threw them out and started over. This week I peeled and halved the eggs and made the filling on Tuesday night but when I came home Wednesday evening to fill the shells, the eggs had done things I have never seen eggs do. The shells were weeping liquid and slimy. The filling was gummy and a dark orange yellow color it had not been the night before. I decided discretion was the better part of valor and threw them away and made hard boiled eggs instead. Maybe the third time will be the charm?

Curried Chicken Salad
Normally I make this with some kind of soft fruit, but it’s not that summery yet, so I used apples instead.

Recipe previously given here: Farewell to Summer Dinner

Tomatoes and Mozzarella
Exactly what it sounds like – sliced tomatoes, topped with sliced mozzarella and strips of fresh basil.

It is much too early to find really great tomatoes, but I stopped up at our local farm on Monday and found hot house tomatoes from Maine that smelled amazing. My conscience had no issues with these tomatoes.

You can top this salad with just a little balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt/pepper, or you can make salad dressing and use that. Either way you want to be abstemious about how much you use, you’re not looking to drown the tomatoes, just liven them up a little bit.

Roasted Asparagus with Oranges
I ran across this recipe on epicurious and it sounded interesting. I wanted another vegetable with dinner and I couldn’t face the ubiquitous leafy green salad that I make every week. At this point asparagus season is a little past it’s prime, but it’s close enough that I don’t feel an overwhelming amount of guilt for buying them (and again, they’re from our local farm so it’s probably reasonably locally grown).

1 pound asparagus, trimmed
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 oranges
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons sesame oil
1 ½ teaspoons grated tangerine peel or orange peel
1 garlic clove, pressed
¾ teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons finely chopped dry-roasted peanuts

Preheat oven to 450°F. Place asparagus in medium bowl. Pour enough cold water over asparagus to cover; let stand 15 minutes. Drain.

Spread asparagus in 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan; drizzle with oil. Roast asparagus until crisp-tender, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes. Transfer asparagus to platter; cool.

Using sharp knife, cut peel and white pith from tangerines. Cut between membranes to release segments. Arrange tangerine segments atop asparagus.

Whisk tangerine juice, vinegar, sesame oil, peel, garlic and ginger in small bowl to blend. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.

Drizzle over asparagus. Sprinkle with peanuts and serve.

Notes: I’m not entirely sold on the dressing, although other people seemed to like it. The asparagus and the orange is delicious and gorgeous. The peanuts add a nice texture contrast, although really their function is mostly decorative. I think it’s the sesame oil in the dressing that I wasn’t wild about, and next time I make this I’ll use olive oil instead. The recipe also made far more dressing than I thought was necessary. I used maybe a quarter of what I made.


One comment

  1. Ooh, don’t get Mrs. A started on Fiddleheads. They’re one of her all-time favorite foods. I like them OK–they’re kind of asparagus-esque. You definitely have to cook them long enough (or else they’re bitter) but not so long they lose their color, and then put a lot of melted butter on them.

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