All Posts In In Season

In Summer Denial

by in In Season, August 28th, 2012

blueberries
As far as I’m concerned, summer continues until the squash varieties on the tables at the greenmarket outweigh the piles of tomatoes and corn. In an effort to prolong summer, I revert to the classics — the recipes that make me close my eyes and feel it can’t be any day other than the Fourth of July. This recipe for Blueberry Coffee Cake does that more than any other. It tastes even better as leftovers or warmed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. You can substitute with other fruits like plums, nectarines and peaches, but it’s best with good ol’ blueberries.

Blueberry Coffee Cake

My mother is a New England gal and I always marveled at the way she ate this dish. While my father and I have been known to eat this as-is or pile on whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, she would put a slice of this cake into a bowl and pour some heavy cream (like a moat around a castle) on it. The unsweetened cream, in its purest state, really highlights the spices and blueberries themselves — try it!

Get Alex’s recipe

There’s More to Melon — Summer Fest

by in In Season, August 22nd, 2012

fish tacos with watermelon salsa
We’re teaming up with food and garden bloggers and our friends at HGTV Gardens to host Summer Fest 2012, a season-long garden party. In coming weeks, we’ll feature favorite garden-to-table recipes and tips to help you enjoy the bounty, whether you’re harvesting your own goodies or buying them fresh from the market. Today we’re exploring melons.

Picture this: You’re strolling through the produce section and the melon selection is juicier than ever. They’re so sweet and juicy, in fact, that they deserve a little more than a simple slice.

As you know, “melon” is an umbrella term, bringing to mind all of our thick-skinned, juicy-on-the-inside favorites, be it watermelon, cantaloupe or honeydew. Of course, nibbling unadulterated watermelon to the rind, wrapping cantaloupe in prosciutto and balling honeydew into a summer fruit salad are tried and true, but keep in mind that there’s more to melon at this time of year. Go for preparations that are entirely unexpected.

If you plan on growing your own melons, be sure to check out HGTV Gardens for great tips like watering your melons well in the beginning of the plants’ life, but backing off to minimal watering after the majority of the fruit is set. It’ll produce a sweeter meat in your melons.

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Peaches Move to the Big Kids’ Table — Summer Fest

by in In Season, August 15th, 2012

roasted turkey breast with peaches
We’re teaming up with food and garden bloggers and our friends at HGTV Gardens to host Summer Fest 2012, a season-long garden party. In coming weeks, we’ll feature favorite garden-to-table recipes and tips to help you enjoy the bounty, whether you’re harvesting your own goodies or buying them fresh from the market. Today we’re exploring peaches.

It’s August? Uh, when did that happen? We may still be sweating, but it’s back to the daily grind we go — back to the soccer practices, school buses and other non-summer activities. But before we peel out of the driveway and embark on our inaugural back-to-school shopping journeys, there’s something to be said for enjoying August for what it is, rather than that awkward gap between summer bliss and getting back to the grind.

If you ask me, August means one thing: peaches. It means soaking up these last lovely moments of summer with a juicy peach at the peak of ripeness. Now, as the velvet-clad orbs hang from the limbs of Georgia trees, there’s no better time to bring a few home.

With peach iced tea, peach pie and peach cobbler ranking high on the fruit’s roster, it’s no surprise that the bulk of peachy dishes tag along to the fruit’s sweetness. Well, this August, we’re all about bringing peaches to the dinner table because, trust me, peaches aren’t just made for dessert.

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Just the Facts: Cherries

by in Food Network Magazine, In Season, August 9th, 2012

Cherries
Bing CherriesBing Cherries

Most of the sweet cherries grown in the United States are this large wine-colored variety. Their intense flavor and firm, crisp texture make them the ultimate all-purpose cherry, great for snacking or baking. They’re usually available from May to August.

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Meat and Peppers — Summer Fest

by in In Season, August 8th, 2012

sausage and pepper skewers
We’re teaming up with food and garden bloggers and our friends at HGTV Gardens to host Summer Fest 2012, a season-long garden party. In coming weeks, we’ll feature favorite garden-to-table recipes and tips to help you enjoy the bounty, whether you’re harvesting your own goodies or buying them fresh from the market. Today we’re exploring peppers.

Late summer means the arrival of sweet, colorful peppers. Ranging from green to red to yellow to orange and purple, they are refreshingly crunchy when raw and wonderfully tender when cooked. And, they pair particularly well with meat, whether grilled, tossed with pasta or stuffed.

If you plan on planting your very own pepper patch, be sure to check out HGTV Gardens for great tips like letting the pepper plants dry after each watering to avoid soil fungi. Before you get cooking, be sure to choose firm, richly colored peppers, avoiding those that are limp and shriveled. Store them in a refrigerator for up to one week.

If you’re in possession of a grill, look no further than Food Network Magazine’s Sausage-and-Pepper Skewers (pictured above) and Sunny’s Steak Fajitas With Chimichurri and Drunken Peppers. They’re definite crowd-pleasers. If you’re looking for a little challenge, try Bobby’s hearty Grilled Pizza With Hot Sausage, Grilled Peppers and Onions and Oregano Ricotta. Better yet, get your guests involved in the pizza-making process.

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Tomatoes Go Beyond Salads — Summer Fest

by in In Season, Recipes, August 1st, 2012

heirloom tomato pie
We’re teaming up with food and garden bloggers and our friends at HGTV Gardens to host Summer Fest 2012, a season-long garden party. In coming weeks, we’ll feature favorite garden-to-table recipes and tips to help you enjoy the bounty, whether you’re harvesting your own goodies or buying them fresh from the market. Today we’re exploring tomatoes.

Come August, tomatoes — heirloom, beefsteak, cherry and more — hit their peak. Plump and juicy, they scream summer with their sweet, slightly acidic flesh and bright hues. Perfect for summer salads, there’s arguably no combination more classic than a simple caprese brimming with ripe tomatoes, creamy mozzarella and fragrant basil. But, tomatoes’ versatility far surpasses the realm of summer salads. In fact, they’re fantastic in soups, pies, pastas and sides. Just give one (or more!) of these easy cooked tomato recipes a try.

If you plan on planting your very own tomato patch, be sure to check out HGTV Gardens for great tricks like mulching tomato plants heavily with hay or leaves, and tips like pulling off stem tops to prevent puncturing fruit when stacking. Before you get cooking, be sure to choose firm, noticeably fragrant and richly colored tomatoes that are free of blemishes. Store them at room temperature and use them within a few days.

Hosting a casual garden party? Pass around Rachael’s Roasted Tomato Bruschetta for a simple hors d’oeuvre. Ina’s Roasted Tomato Basil Soup and Roasted Tomato Caprese make for a sweet start to any meal. Food Network Magazine’s Heirloom Tomato Pie (pictured above) serves as a bright main that needs nothing more than a leafy green salad in accompaniment.

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Cheesy Summer Squash — Summer Fest

by in In Season, July 25th, 2012

summer squash carpaccio
We’re teaming up with food and garden bloggers to host Summer Fest 2012, a season-long garden party. In coming weeks, we’ll feature favorite garden-to-table recipes and tips to help you enjoy the bounty, whether you’re harvesting your own goodies or buying them fresh from the market. Today, we’re exploring squash.

Tender and mild, summer squash captures the freshness of the season whether it’s raw, steamed, roasted or grilled. But no matter how you choose to prepare this shapely and colorful member of the gourd family, it seems there’s no better combination than summer squash and cheese — Gruyère, ricotta, Parmesan and much more — for a light salad or a hearty main.

Before you get cooking, be sure to choose summer squash with bright-colored skin free of spots and bruises. Once you’re home, refrigerate it in a plastic bag for up to five days, though it will likely disappear long before then.

When summer squash is at its freshest, eat it raw. Thinly shaved, it needs nothing more than a drizzle of lemon juice and olive oil, a scattering of grated pecorino and a sprinkle of freshly cracked black pepper like in this beautiful Summer Squash Carpaccio (pictured above) from Food Network Magazine. If you’re in search of a salad of cooked summer squash, Grilled Summer Squash with shaved ricotta salata and Claire’s Minted Squash-Orzo Salad with crumbled feta are equally as delectable.

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Perfect Plums — Summer Fest

by in In Season, Recipes, July 18th, 2012

easy plum tart
We’re teaming up with food and garden bloggers to host Summer Fest 2012, a season-long garden party. In coming weeks, we’ll feature favorite garden-to-table recipes and tips to help you enjoy the bounty, whether you’re harvesting your own goodies or buying them fresh from the market. Today, we’re exploring plums.

Nothing says summer like plump plums, bursting with juicy sweetness at every bite. From yellow to green to red to purple, hundreds of plum varieties exist and it’s hard to resist enjoying them straight from the market. But when they do happen to make their way into your kitchen, uneaten, a plum-stained dessert is the perfect way to impress your friends and family any night of the week.

Before you get cooking, be sure to choose plums that give slightly to palm pressure, avoiding cracks, soft spots or brown discolorations.

Hosting a barbecue? Finish on a sweet note with easy-to-make grilled plums. Try Bobby’s Grilled Plums With Spiced Walnut Yogurt or Rachael’s Balsamic Glazed Grilled Plums With Vanilla Ice Cream. Either way, grilled plums — and grilled fruits of all kinds — will quickly become a summer staple.

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No-Cook Cucumber Recipes — Summer Fest

by in In Season, July 11th, 2012

cucumber watermelon salad
We’re teaming up with food and garden bloggers to host Summer Fest 2012, a season-long garden party. In coming weeks, we’ll feature favorite garden-to-table recipes and tips to help you enjoy the bounty, whether you’re harvesting your own goodies or buying them fresh from the market. Today, we’re exploring cucumbers.

Farmers’ markets are bursting with water-filled, crunchy cucumbers, a refreshing relief amidst the rising summer heat. With numerous no-cook cucumber recipes, there’s every reason to stock up on the green-skinned fruit for salads, soups, dips and more. These simple and refreshing recipes will get you through the hottest days of summer — no grilling required.

Before you get chopping, be sure to choose firm cucumbers, avoiding soft or shriveled spots. Once you’re home, store them in the fridge for up to 10 days.

Salads are an easy and effortless way to let cucumbers shine. For a delightful mix of sweet and savory, try this Watermelon-Cucumber Salad (pictured above), which is topped with creamy crumbled goat cheese. Or try Ellie Krieger’s Cucumber Salad, a mix of cucumbers, red onion and dill.

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Asparagus All the Time

by in How-to, In Season, May 30th, 2012

asparagus bundle
When shopping for asparagus, look for firm, clean and straight stalks. Wobbly stalks and discolored ends are telltale signs not to buy. Use a sharp knife to trim only the very bottom from the stalk; breaking it off causes more of the bottom to go to waste. With “pencil” asparagus, I find the stalks too thin to peel. For larger asparagus, I peel them (because the outer skin can be tough once cooked) and leave the top two inches intact. Not planning to use them right away? Fresh asparagus should be kept refrigerated. Placing the stalks upright in a little bit of water (as you would a bouquet of flowers, for example) can extend its shelf life.

I like asparagus al dente, a.k.a slightly crunchy. A six-ounce serving of asparagus will cook al dente in boiling water in about 2-3 minutes; add enough salt after the water begins to boil until it tastes like mild seawater. Once cooked, transfer the stalks to a bowl of cold water with ice to stop them from cooking further, dry them off and serve them whole drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil. When I serve them chilled, I let them sit in the fridge in the dressing for a few minutes before serving. For something even richer, try a dressing with two parts hazelnut oil, a handful of chopped, toasted hazelnuts and one part lemon juice. Drain the asparagus, dry stalks of excess water and toss them, warm, into the bowl with the dressing. When I serve them warm, I have the dressing ready; I toss and eat right away.

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