"It's so beautifully arranged on the the plate – you know someone's fingers have been all over it." – Julia Child

Posts tagged Summer Recipes

Cheeses for Bruschetta


“Bigger is better!” is a creed that in our modern American food lexicon translates into super-sized meals and foods that have morphed into concoctions worthy of sci-fi. Ever curious about culinary innovation  hungry eyes and minds and mouths sometimes mislead us and feed us disastrous concoctions.

We are guilty of eating out a lot: sometimes it’s convenient, other times it’s because we’re running around for work, and most often because restaurants are where we meet with friends, celebrate, and relax. Don’t get us wrong, we love it! We’re so lucky to live in New York where restaurant choices are unlimited, but, after stuffing ourselves to the point of waistband button explosion, we return to our kitchens and scale back to the basics: meals made with local and seasonal items, cooked without much fuss and fanfare.

Ripe tomatoes, plump strawberries, slender asparagus, and herbs from the garden are a good place to start. Douse thick slices of  good bread with peppery olive oil and grill until charred: the exterior will crunch between your teeth, and the sturdy crumb will soak up the berry and tomato juices.

You can top your bruschetta with whatever you like, just remember to mind the basics: Start with the freshest and ripest produce, bread that has a thick crust and a dense crumb, quality extra-virgin olive oil, flaky sea salt, and just-ground black pepper. If adding cheeses, go for full fat and have a variety on hand, like mozzarella, spreadable mascarpone, and crumbly Parmigiano.

Tell us what you top your bruschetta with!

Get ready for fireworks! This 4th of July we’ll be making hot dogs with a little more than just ketchup and mustard. We can’t decide which is our favorite. Tell us what you settle on!


Serves 10

Fresh, fresh, fresh! We’re getting ready to perk up basic potato salad with a series of recipes, but we couldn’t wait and broke this one out for the weekend festivities. No more powdered spice mixes or bottled dressings! This dressing is all fragrant herbs. Take note of the 2-step dressing process: your potato salad will have more flavor than ever.

4 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 bunch dill, chopped (about 1 cup)
½ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
½ cup parsley leaves, chopped
Worcestershire sauce
Fresh lemon juice

– Place the potatoes in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover them. Add 1 tablespoon salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the head to medium and simmer the potatoes until fork-tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and spread them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle them with the vinegar and oil and gently stir them with a rubber spatula.

– While the potatoes are cooling, whisk the buttermilk and mayonnaise together in a medium bowl. Whisk in the garlic, dill, cilantro, and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Add Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice to taste.

– Pour about half of the dressing over the potatoes and stir gently to combine — while warm, the potatoes will absorb the dressing.  Reserve the rest. When the potatoes come to room temperature, transfer them to a large bowl and refrigerate until chilled. When ready to serve, add the reserved dressing to the potatoes and adjust seasoning, as food tends to lose flavor when cold.


Makes about 6 cups beans

Sure, you can buy canned baked beans, but these are sparkler-dazzling. Also, you probably have most of the condiments in the recipe lurking in your pantry already. Make them a couple of days in advance and reheat them in a cast iron skillet or a disposable foil pan right on your grill when you’re ready to serve. Add a little water to the beans if you need to loosen the sauce up a bit.
For the Beans
1 tablespoon lard or vegetable oil
2 slices smoked ham, cut into cubes
2 slices bacon, chopped
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons molasses
1 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons brown mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup water
4 (15.5-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
– Heat the lard over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or other large pot until shimmering. Add the ham and bacon and cook, stirring, until crisp and brown. Add the onion, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook until translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and brown sugar and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Whisk in the molasses, then the ketchup, mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and water.

– Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and stir in the beans. Cook until the sauce is thickened and the beans are warmed through, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and adjust with vinegar and Worcestershire sauce, if desired.

For the Franks
Franks, of your choice
Hot dog buns
Brown mustard

– Grill the franks outdoors or cook them on a grill pan, or even a standard skillet with a pat of butter, until they’re nicely browned.  Place them in the buns and top them with baked beans and mustard.

Serves 6

I can’t get enough of this recipe. My soon-to-be sister Whitney took me to downtown L.A. years ago and introduced me to these hot dogs. They were cooked on a bunsen burner on a sheet tray, right there in the middle of a busy street. There was a huge bowl of fresh guacamole on a cooler in the front, surrounded by bottled Jarritos sodas. Bacon-wrapped, grilled, topped with charred onions and jalapeños, and topped with creamy guacamole, you’ll have a line of customers at your own grill. Oh, and, yeah, there are chicharrones in the guacamole.

For the Hot Dogs and Jalapeño-Onion Topping
6 jalapeño peppers
Vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 hot dog sausages
¼ cup cornstarch
6 slices bacon
6 hot dog buns
Mayonnaise, for serving

– Set a grill or grill pan to high. If using a grill, set a large cast iron skillet on the grill to preheat. You can also use a grilling basket. Drizzle the jalapeños with oil and set them directly on the grill, if using. Season the onions with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil.  Cook them in the preheated cast iron or on the grill pan, stirring occasionally, until caramelized. Transfer to a serving platter.

– Roll the sausages in cornstarch. Wrap 1 bacon slice around each sausage: the cornstarch will glue them together. Cook the hot dogs in the skillet until the bacon is crisped and browned.  Tuck the sausages into buns spread with mayo, and top with the onions and jalapeños. Serve with guacamole.

For the Guacamole
Makes about 3 cups

4 ripe avocados, pitted
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ yellow onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, ribs and seeds removed, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
Juice of 2 to 3 limes
Worcestershire sauce
Pork cracklings, crushed

– Scoop the avocado flesh into a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher or a large fork to desired consistency. With a rubber spatula, fold in the onion, jalapeño, garlic, and cilantro. Stir in the lime juice and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Adjust seasonings, top with the cracklings, and serve.

Serves 4

4 bell peppers in assorted colors, seeded and sliced
1 large onion, sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
4 fresh Italian sausages
4 sturdy rolls, split in half

– Set a grill or grill pan to high. If using a grill, set a large cast iron skillet on the grill to preheat. You can also use a grilling basket. Toss the peppers and onions together in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil.  Cook them in the preheated cast iron or on the grill pan, stirring occasionally, until caramelized. Transfer to a serving platter.

– Poke the sausages a few times with a fork and lightly coat with oil. Grill until lightly charred and cooked through. Transfer them to a cutting board and cut the sausages into thick slices.

– Brush the insides of the rolls with oil and grill them just long enough to toast.  Stuff the rolls with the peppers and onions and sausage. Serve with banana peppers and pickled vegetables if desired.

This was our tiny guest at the shoot: Paloma. Little but with a dinosaur appetite! Yes, this is a very kid-friendly post.



Father's DayFather's DayThis Father’s Day focus on spending time with your dad rather than slaving away in the kitchen.  It’s summer — time to get the grill out.  These beef skewers are easy to make, casual to serve, and completely satisfying, especially when paired with our chimichurri and homemade mayo.

It’s really a nonrecipe: start with good steak, like NY strip or ribeye. Upgrade with dry-aged steaks— a bit more expensive but extra-flavorful, just like a steakhouse. Cut the steak into 1 1/2-inch cubes and skewer them (if you’re using wooden skewers, remember to soak them for at least 15 minutes prior to using so they don’t burn on the grill), alternating with assorted mini-peppers and cipollini or pearl onions still in their skins. Season the skewers on all sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper and brush them with vegetable oil. Grill until nicely charred.

Serve them with grilled crusty rolls and a generous dose of chimichurri.

To make Homemade Mayo (it’s super-duper easy!) all you need do is whisk together 1 large egg yolk, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Very slowly, start whisking in 1 cup vegetable oil. Whisk, whisk, whisk, and voilá! MAYONNAISE! It really is superb, but, of course, we are very partial to Hellman’s :)


The weather turned cold and brisk from one day to the next; without warning we went from wearing shorts and tanks to drawers brimming over with light sweaters and scarves. Luckily, we snatched up the end of summer’s ripest, reddest tomatoes and preserved them. A few weeks from now, we’ll be able to reinvent those fruits and memories of summer in pasta dishes, chunky stews, and hearty soups.

Tara is crazy about putting up fruits and vegetables — crisp vegetables in brine, sweet fruits in syrup, and of course, sauce-perfect tomatoes. One of her favorite books is Put ‘em Up! by Sherri Brooks Vinton, but you can use your preferred recipes to preserve any of the seasonal produce you love; it’s the perfect way to recall the warmer months.

Farmers’ markets pop up under white tents around the city throughout the spring, summer, and fall, and they are one of our favorite places to shop. Sure, brick and-mortar markets are necessary and the Cookin’ half of us visits two to three a day, but crowded, neon-illuminated aisles slowly navigated by angry old ladies with rickety carts and kids on Razors will grate on anyone’s nerves. People often suggest that we order food for photo shoots, but, to me (Maria) grocery shopping is a bit like foreplay, and I like to spend time getting to know what I’m buying; if it’s produce, I’m definitely getting to second base with it. Sure, you can get fruits and vegetables delivered to your home, but it is endlessly more satisfying to see, smell, and touch each slender-necked zucchini, each tangle patterned cantaloupe. More pleasurable still is spending a sun-drenched morning at the greenmarket leisurely going through these motions.

Last Saturday, Tara and I went to the Union Square Greenmarket, arriving before the crowds made it difficult to navigate. Piles of fuchsia radishes with
roots curled like small rodents’, wooden crates’ edges breached by gooseneck gourds, wildflowers abuzz with dizzy bees, emerald leafy greens bunched into
edible bouquets, dark crusty loaves of bread; the feast begins even before you’ve stuffed your tote bag.

Our greenmarket jaunt was all about going there without a shopping list (which is completely foreign to me as I usually type them up by supermarket section) and
picking up whatever seemed most appealing. Do the same; you’ll be surprised at how little fresh ingredients need to shine.
Below are a few recipes we pulled together for brunch later that morning; hopefully they’ll inspire you to shop outside this weekend.

Makes 4 sandwiches
The key to the success of these sandwiches is good ingredients. We like a Wonder Bread and American cheese version just like the next guy, but gussy the old standard with local cheese and artisan bread. Our choices are in the recipe, but feel free to use your own selections.
Zucchini blossoms are that vegetable’s  bold and beautiful décor – luckily, they’re edible, too.

8 slices peasant bread, cut ¾-inch thick
6 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces Brigid’s Abbey cheese, thinly sliced (See Headnote)
16 zucchini blossoms
Salt and pepper

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 400°F.

Brush each slice of bread on both sides with 4 tablespoons oil. Heat large skillet over medium heat and grill bread in two batches until lightly toasted on both sides, about 4 minutes.  Transfer bread to large baking sheet.

Distribute cheese evenly among bread slices and place in oven. Bake until cheese is melted and bubbling, 6 to 8 minutes.  Transfer tray to cooling rack.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in now empty skillet until shimmering. Add zucchini blossoms and sautée just until wilted, about 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper.

Divide zucchini blossoms among 4 bread slices. Top with remaining bread slices, cheese-side down. Serve.

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish
Anchovies provide this salad dressing with an assertive backbone. If you’re not a fan, trust me, they melt right in and get a good kick in the pants with the addition of caramelized lemon zest and bright, tart lemon juice.
Kale salads seem to be very in vogue at the moment, but the addition of ripe summer peaches is a surprise we bet you haven’t yet encountered.

Recipe notes: Microwaving the garlic and lemon zest in oil will mellow out the garlic and caramelize the lemon zest. As an alternative, heat the oil, garlic, and zest in a small saucepan over medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes.
– This salad can be prepared and dressed one day in advance; since kale is such a hearty green, it won’t wilt. Add the peaches right before serving.

1 large bunch Tuscan kale, ribs removed and discarded
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon zest and 3 tablespoons juice from 2 lemons
8 oil-packed anchovy fillets, finely minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
2 ripe but firm peaches, cut into ½-inch thick wedges

Cut kale leaves into 1/8-inch-thick ribbons; you should have 6 cups.
Combine oil, garlic, and lemon zest in small bowl and microwave for 1 minute (See Notes).

Whisk anchovies, mustard, and lemon juice in salad bowl. While constantly whisking, slowly drizzle in oil mixture. Add kale and toss to evenly coat with dressing. Add peaches and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Serves 4

Recipe notes: Large plums work in this recipe as well, however we picked up multi-colored petite versions at the greenmarket.
To remove the seeds, cut the plums in half, then core out the seeds with a paring knife. Don’t worry if they become a bit mangled in the process as they’ll break down during cooking.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 pints small plums, pitted, seeds discarded (See Notes)
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup champagne or Riesling
2 cups mascarpone or plain Greek yogurt

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat until beginning to foam. Stir in brown sugar and cook until melted, about 2 minutes. Stir  in plums and salt and cook, stirring occasionally until thick and syrupy, about 15 minutes.

Stir in champagne or Riesling, and continue cook until syrupy consistency is reached again, about 5 minutes longer. Serve at room temperature with mascarpone or Greek yogurt and season with pepper.


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