Ratatouille From the Grill over Charred Bread with Burrata Cheese

I have to say with a fair amount of certainty that this kind of food is my absolute favorite. Like when someone asks what my last meal on earth would be, it would be something like this.


Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Amaretto-Apricot Sauce

Panna Cotta is such a divine offering of a dessert. Basically cream stabilized with gelatin, a glorification of heavy cream, accented with just enough sugar and vanilla to make it spectacular, pure and simple, and I love it.


Feta-Stuffed Mini Pepper & Arugula Salad with Mint Vinaigrette

I've always been kinda stumped by those big bags of sweet mini peppers that have popped up in the grocery store over the past couple of years. Like, what are you supposed to do with them? I assume that maybe the most reasonable thing is to eat them raw, and they are perfectly tasty in that regard, plus they make a nifty substitution for chips, their perfectly dipable shape makes them a perfect vehicle for scooping up dips and spreads. However, those 2 lb. bags just seem like more than I can commit to eating. So what else then? What about these little mini peppers makes them worth passing up a nice regular old large-sized sweet bell pepper in their favor?


Skillet Orzo with Zucchini, Corn, Feta & Mint

These photos feel a little like 'Where's Waldo?' with the corn. I swear it's in there, you just have to look really close. But I assure you that isn't the impression you'll get when you taste this dish, the corn really is well represented, I promise!

So anyway, I love orzo! Show of hands, who's with me??


"Dirty Shirley" & Amaretto Ice Cream Floats

Have you ever tried photographing an ice cream float on a 95+ degree day? Well, the above image is the result of that scnario. All I can say is - an ice cream float waits for no one on a hot day. I was trying to photograph as quickly as I could but I have to say that it lost the "picture perfect" factor in about 2 minutes. But, if your ice cream float melts that quickly, then it's a good indicator that you chose that it's a good day to have one. 


Crab & Sweet Corn Soup

Now that it's August, my mind (as well as my palette) is just starting to wander a little bit in the direction of fall. We are definitely still in the midst of the hot summer weather around here, and it's been a pretty hot summer, as far as summers go here in the Pacific Northwest. But just around the corner now, fall will be making it's entrance and I am feeling it in the air a bit.


Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil Tahini Spread with Olives & Greek Yogurt

Well, I went in for a tart, and came out with a spread....

I'm feeling a little bit like the universe is testing me lately. Like, for instance, last week I would have posted at least 2 more recipes than I did, if it weren't for the fact that something possessed me to delete all the photos from my camera before I was able to put them on my computer. (Oops!)

And then again, last night, I went in to the kitchen with the intent to put together a lovely free-form summer fruit tart filled with beautifully ripe summer peaches and strawberries. I made the dough, put it in the refrigerator to chill, sliced the fruit, then after awhile I rolled out the chilled dough between 2 sheets of parchment, placed it back into the refrigerator for a quick second chill, everything was going swimmingly up until that point.

Then I tried to put the whole thing together... The dough was impossible to work with. It was completely fused to the parchment, I tried putting the whole thing back in the fridge in the hopes that it would firm up enough to make it workable - no, I tried to loosen it using a bench scraper, no again. I was defeated and deflated in my efforts. I almost threw it in the trash, which just felt wrong to even consider, so I did end up scraping the whole lot into a pie plate, I pressed what I could from my failed crust into the bottom, added the filling and used the remaining mess of scraps around the edges to form somewhat of a pie crust.

It turned out like this..

Not too shabby! I am certainly glad I didn't give in to throwing it in the trash. I haven't tasted it yet, but I definitely think I'm not gonna hate it. Especially not if I add a little scoop of ice cream on top....

So anyway, what does all this have to do with this spread?? Well, as I was attempting the tart, I was also doing a little kitchen inventory control. Meaning I was throwing a bunch of random things that needed to get used up together to make a spread/dip to eat up a bunch of veggies that were taking up valuable refrigerator real estate. So while I meant to give you a posting for a peach & strawberry free-form tart. I am giving you a sun-dried tomato spread (unintended) post in it's place.

I've been craving sun-dried tomatoes for awhile, I don't really know where it came from, I think I'd been suffering sun-dried tomato burn out ever since the mid-late 90's, and I guess I am over it now cause they've been on my mind. However I wasn't really sure what to do with them. Then a couple of weeks ago I read this wonderful post from one of my favorite bloggers and I knew I wanted to make a spread inspired by her recipe.

This really is one tasty spread. Sweet and flavorful from the sun-dried tomatoes and plenty of chopped basil, tangy from olives and Greek yogurt and rich from a generous amount of tahini. This spread is really versatile, it's great as a dip or spread as shown, and I think this would be awesome on a sandwich or panini, as a condiment for cooked meats or vegetables. I also think this would be terrific served with wine.

Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil Tahini Spread with Olives & Greek Yogurt
makes about 2 cups

8 oz. jar, oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and blotted of excess oil using paper towel
1/3 c. tahini paste, store bought or homemade
1 small container nonfat Greek yogurt 
1/4 c. chopped olives (I used a mix of green and kalamata olives)
1/2 c. chopped fresh basil
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil (or you could also use the oil the tomatoes are packed in)
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice (to taste) 
salt & pepper

In a food processor, blend everything together until uniformly pureed. Season with salt & pepper. Serve cold or at room temperature. 


Fresh Corn Fritter and Heirloom Tomato Stacks with Black Pepper-Pickle Buttermilk Dressing

Now that August is upon us, I am starting to feel the urgency to eat up all the summer things before they go away until next year. Of course heirloom tomatoes and sweet corn are about as summer as it gets. I was brainstorming this recipe and it just kind of became a convergence of a few of my favorite foods, into this ridiculously delicious stack of summer's bounty goodness seen here.

After weeks of eating boiled and buttered corn on the cob, I am in the mood to change it up a bit, so I thought corn fritters. I had originally intended to create a separate dish using heirloom tomatoes, and that's where my mind began wandering. I believe there is no more perfect way to eat beautiful summer tomatoes than in a good old-fashioned tomato sandwich - thick sliced, on toasted bread, slathered with mayonnaise, with a sprinkle of salt and plenty of fresh ground black pepper. I am not really quite sure how it came to be that everything started morphing into one dish, I think it happened somewhere between daydreaming about BLTs and fried green tomatoes, but what it turned out to be is a perfect bite of summertime. You've got the sweet corn fritter, crispy around the edges and bursting with fresh corn flavor. Then the tomatoes that bring a perfect balance to the rich fritter, and because they are heirloom garden tomatoes they bring so much flavor to the table, I am not sure I would make these if all I could get were bland supermarket tomatoes. Then this dressing, a creamy and tangy buttermilk and mayonnaise base, flavored with dill pickles and tomato's BFF, a ton of freshly ground black pepper. Finally because BLT's are definitely on my short list of all-time favorite flavors, I couldn't resist the urge to garnish these with crumbled bacon.


 The harmony of flavors here is just spectacular, but the great thing is that you can change this up and just make the fritters on their own, with or without the dressing. OR you could even make the dressing to just eat with your ripe summer tomatoes (I might have eaten a tomato slice or two, drizzled with the dressing as I was cooking the fritters, and it was good!). However you decide,  you just can't go wrong.

A few notes about this recipe:

• These fritters taste best if you cook them to a deep golden brown. The oil should be HOT to prevent them from becoming overly greasy (This def isn't a light dish anyway). And you should only turn them over when you see that they are deep golden around the edges.

• When you are ready to flip the fritters in the pan, I have a method for preventing the oil from splashing as you flip them. I hold my spatula in one hand and a fork in my other hand. When I flip the fritter, it makes contact with my fork first, then I slide it off the fork into the pan. That way the fork reduces the impact of the fritter hitting the hot oil, preventing dangerous splashing.

• Be cautious as you cook the fritters, every now and again a corn kernel wants to pop and it's a little scary. It only happened once or twice as I was cooking these, but just be aware, people.

Fresh Corn Fritter and Heirloom Tomato Stacks with Black Pepper-Pickle Buttermilk Dressing
makes about 20 3-inch fritters

For the black pepper-buttermilk dressing:
1/3 c. mayonnaise
1/3 c. low-fat buttermilk
3 T. finely chopped dill pickle
1 t. minced shallot
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 t. red wine vinegar
salt to taste
For the corn fritters:
2 1/2 lb. fresh corn (after it's shucked, it should be about 2 lb.)
1/3 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. cornmeal
1 whole egg, plus one egg white, lightly beaten
2 T. buttermilk
1 1/2 t. minced fresh thyme
1 T. honey
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. vegetable oil (plus additional, if needed)

heirloom tomatoes, thickly sliced, blotted of excess moisture, seasoned with salt & pepper
crumbled bacon, for garnish

1. Prepare the dressing: In a small bowl combine all of the dressing ingredients, season with salt to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

2. Make the fritters: Cut the kernels off of half of the corn into a large bowl. Using a box grater, grate the remaining corn off the cobs into the bowl with the whole kernels. Then using the back of a chef's knife scrape all of the corn cobs, to remove any of the remaining sweet corn pulp into the bowl. Add the flour, cornmeal, eggs, 2 T. buttermilk, thyme, honey and salt. Mix.

3. Heat 3/4 c. oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat until the oil is shimmering. Drop the batter, about 2 T. at a time into the hot oil. Cook until the fritters are golden-brown around the edges, 1-3 minutes. Carefully (see note above:) flip the fritters and cook until deep golden brown on the second side, about 1-2 minutes. Remove fritters to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with the remaining fritter batter, adding additional oil as necessary to maintain enough oil to cover the bottom of the skillet.

4. To serve: Stack the fritters and tomatoes how you like. Drizzle with some of the dressing and garnish with the crumbled bacon.

print this recipe


Spaghetti with Garlic and Oil (Aglio e Olio) with Artichokes, Crisped Salami and Pine Nuts

Somehow I managed to spend most of this day thinking it was Saturday. Which is really ironic, that I thought it was basically everybody's favorite day of the week, when it was actually what is known universally as everyone's least favorite day of the week. I think it's just being in the thick of the summer break, I'm all backwards!

Anyway, now that I am back in the realm of Monday, I have this great recipe to share. And it is as great a Monday recipe as any other day. I love spaghetti with garlic and oil. It's one of those life's simple pleasures kind of dishes. Minimal ingredients yielding extraordinary results, in not a lot of time. Well I decided to Guild the Lily, so to speak and add a few extra things, like artichokes, Genoa salami and toasted pine nuts to the traditional Aglio e Olio.

Let's just take a second to talk about the Genoa Salami component of this dish. Okay? So I decided I would thinly slice it and render it crisp, like bacon or pancetta. All I can say is, "Why on earth don't I see this being done in the food world more often?!?". It is incredibly delicious, I mean, everyone says bacon makes it better, but I declare to you here tonight that crisp Genoa salami makes it better too!

Okay, now that I got that out of my system, we can move along now...

There is a lot of garlic in this recipe... a lot. But don't be scared because most of it you cook down for about 10 minutes until it's very mellowed out. Then I stir in just a bit more raw garlic after the pasta is cooked and I'm giving everything a final toss. So yeah, it's garlicky, but it's not like punch you in the face garlicky (if you get my meaning by that??). And it is pasta with garlic and oil, so I guess you'd have to be a fan of the stinking rose to want to make this dish in the first place. Enjoy!

Spaghetti with Garlic and Oil (Aglio e Olio) with Artichokes, Crisped Salami and Pine Nuts
makes 4-6 servings

1 lb. spaghetti
kosher salt & pepper
1/3 c. pine nuts
3-4 oz. thinly sliced Genoa salami, sliced into thin strips and separated with your fingers (they tend to stick together)
6 T. plus 1 t. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 T. finely minced garlic, divided
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
1 lb. frozen, quartered artichoke hearts, thawed and drained well
3 T. lemon juice
1/3 c. minced fresh parsley

1. Bring about 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add about 1 T. of kosher salt and spaghetti. Cook, stirring occasionally until the pasta is al dente (according to package directions), drain, reserving about 1/2 c. of the starchy pasta cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot and set aside while preparing the remaining ingredients.

2.  Meanwhile, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, add pine nuts and toast, watching them carefully as they can burn extremely easy. When lightly toasted, remove pine nuts from skillet and set aside. Return pan to heat, add 1 t. oil and salami. Cook stirring often, separating the strips, until the salami is crisp and browned, about 5 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour out the rendered fat from the skillet and wipe out with paper towels.

3. Return the skillet to the burner, reduce the heat to medium-low. Add 3 T. oil, 2 1/2 T. of the minced garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently until the garlic is sticky and straw-colored, about 10 minutes. Scrape the garlic and oil into a small bowl. Return the skillet to the burner and increase the heat to high. Add 1 T. oil, the thawed artichokes and 1/4 t. kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the artichokes are well browned (adjusting the heat as necessary) about 6 minutes. 

4. To the drained pasta, add the browned artichokes, cooked garlic and oil, remaining 1/2 T. raw garlic, remaining 2 T. olive oil, red pepper flakes, lemon juice, parsley, salami and pine nuts. Add in the reserved pasta cooking water as necessary if the dish is lacking moisture. Adjust seasoning with salt & pepper.