STARS OF SUMMER
Most people would agree that homegrown sweet corn and tomatoes are the Academy Award winners of August. I served Tomato-Corn Salad at the Bryan Chief earlier this year when neither were available locally but it still got a thumbs up from tasters. It's even more spectacular when tomatoes and corn come from our own backyard or nearby.
3 ears of homegrown sweet corn, uncooked (Chief and Rays have Lima area grown)
1 pound tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup diced red onion
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped basil
Salt and pepper to taste
Over a large bowl, cut kernels off corn cobs and stir in tomatoes and onion. Toss with vinegar and basil; season with salt and pepper. Recipe makes 4 to 6 servings.
The next fresh vegetable entree will take a little more time but daughter Mary Ann says it's one of her favorite meatless meals. Once again, fresh basil adds an especially good taste!
SUMMER PASTA WITH WALNUTS
8-ounces bow tie (farfalle) pasta
2 medium yellow squash, halved lengthwise and sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)
1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups chopped seeded tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
Cook pasta in boiling water for 8 minutes. Add squash and zucchini; return to a boil and cook 3 minutes. Add corn; cook an additional 2 minutes. Drain well. Combine basil and next 5 ingredients (basil through pepper) in a large bowl. Add pasta mixture and tomato; toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with walnuts; garnish with a basil sprig, if desired. Serve immediately. Recipe makes 4 servings.
Source: Cooking Light, June, 1997, via Mary Ann Thaman.
FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF
I am no wine expert but Wine Cocktails by A.J. Rathbun deserves attention from wine aficionados. Wine Cocktails contains 50 recipes that showcase wine's wide range of flavors by mixing it with fruit juice, herbs, spices, spirits and liqueurs. They're perfect for cooling down summer, providing a lower alcohol drink for parties or weddings, for pairing with food or serving as after-dinner cordials. Rathbun has contributed to national publications such as the Food Network Magazine, Every Day with Rachel Ray and Wine Enthusiast. He's also author of Party Snacks!, Party Drinks!, Luscious Liqueurs and IACP Award-winning Good Spirits and a member of both the Culinary Professionals and the Museum of the Modern Cocktail.
Ice (in block form if possible, or use cracked ice)
1 750-milliliter bottle medium dry red wine
8 ounces fresh pineapple juice
4 ounces fresh lime juice
4 ounces fresh orange juice
2 liters chilled ginger ale
1 lime, cut into wedges
1 orange, cut into slices
Put the block of ice in a punch bowl. If using cracked ice, fill the bowl just about half way. Add the red wine and fruit juices. Using a spoon, stir briefly. Add the ginger ale and stir again. Drop in the lime wedges and orange slices and stir once more. Serve in punch cups or goblets, making sure a little fruit finds its way into each cup. Recipe serves 8.
Source: Wine Cocktails by A.J. Rathbun; The Harvard Common Press, April, 2009; $12.95/hardcover.
Another beverage book published by The Harvard Common Press this year is Cool Waters by Brian Preston-Campbell. With Cool Waters, it's so easy and economical to create one-of-kind flavored waters free of caffeine, added sugar, excess calories and artificial sweeteners, colors and flavors. According to Karen Mitchell and Andrew Dornenburg, co-authors of The Flavor Bible and What To Drink with What You Eat, "This small book is big on healthful ideas for adding flavor and pizzazz to your glass."
It should be noted that the still water needed for recipes in this cookbook simply means water from your faucet without bubbles. Your tap water is the least expensive, most environmentally responsible choice and often the best source.
I have an abundant supply of seedless cucumbers in my mini salad garden and Cucumber Cubes is a refreshing way to chill a Bloody Mary or glass of V-8 juice. Cheers!
1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
Pinch of sea salt
2 cups chilled still water
Puree all of the ingredients in a blender until very smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour the puree in standard ice cube trays and freeze.
Source: Cool Waters by Brian Preston-Campbell; The Harvard Common Press, January, 2009; $12.95/hardcover. Purchase either or both books at Amazon.com.
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