Are you ready for the onslaught? After the lousy June, slow springing spring, we’re suddenly thrust into summer, and not a moment too soon. However, it also means it’s time to prepare for the deluge of all things wonderful.
Cherries, berries, early veggies; suddenly we’ve gone from famine to feast and, unfortunately, we know how short our season will be for any and all of it, so the pressure is on!
To add to the delightful dilemma, it’s also Dungeness crab season, and in my estimation, there is no finer seafood in the world. When I sit at our table looking at a platter of freshly caught and cooked Dungeness crab,
I know how fortunate we are on our not-so-little island to be surrounded by waters full of this summum bonum of seafood. And if, perchance, we dig a ’duck or two during our series of very low tides, it’s an unbeatable summertime bonus. (That’s a geoduck, for any who might wonder what on earth I’m talking about; another seafood treat not all that easy to come by.)
Right now, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, we’re awash in fresh cherries and local strawberries and the primary problem is what to do with as much of them as possible as quickly as we can, because we know they’ll be gone too soon. For me, this means it’s time to make jam, something very easy to do and if you’ve never done it, do give it a try. When you’re facing those grey, cold days of December and January, a taste of summertime on your morning muffin can’t help but cheer you up.
Spinach, tender baby carrots, snow peas, radishes, lettuces, early corn are all making their appearance at our local outdoor markets, and every week more fresh veggies will show up as they reach prime picking time. I’m even looking forward to the annual zucchini overload, because I just ran out of zucchini marmalade and I’ve yet to find it on any supermarket shelf.
It seems we wait and wait and wait for summer’s abundance to make its appearance, then, suddenly, it’s too much fresh everything and so little time before much of it goes away. Take advantage whenever and wherever you can and remember what Shakespeare said, “… summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”
Fresh, leafy good-for-you-greens are everywhere now; toss as many as you can get your hands on in a big bowl, then dress them with a raspberry flavored dressing and top with fresh raspberries. Healthy, yes; but with crab cakes or cold, poached salmon, this is a lean, delicious summertime supper.
DRESSED UP GREENS
1 small clove garlic, cut in half
1 head Belgian endive (or baby bok choy, or substitute whatever pleases you)
6 cups torn Boston lettuce (or arugula, or baby spinach leaves, or any other lettuce you have available and wish to use)
2 cups or so torn red leaf lettuce (or see above)
1 red or purple onion, thinly sliced vertically
3 T. raspberry vinegar
1 T. water
1 T. olive oil
¼ t. salt and 1/8 t. pepper, or to taste
Rub the cut side of garlic on the side of a salad bowl; discard garlic. Trim the ends from the endive and remove any wilted outer leaves; separate the leaves. Add the endive, lettuces, in other words, all the greens, along with the onion to the prepared bowl. Toss gently to mix.
Combine the vinegar, water, oil and salt and pepper, whisking until well blended. Pour over the salad greens and toss gently. Sprinkle fresh raspberries on top; serve immediately or chill until ready to serve, but not too long or the greens begin to wilt. Serves 6.
There you are with the half flat of raspberries you couldn’t resist, but now what to do with them before they go over the hill? Here’s something quick and easy, and when you want a quick bit of sweet raspberry pick-me-up, this is perfect. Kids love this; it’s a sno-cone to them.
First you’ll need to have some simple syrup on hand; it’s handy for many things. Combine 4 ½ cups sugar with 4 cups water in a saucepan, stirring well. Bring to a boil and cook 1 min. or until the sugar is completely dissolved, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
To make the sorbet:
3 cups fresh raspberries
1 ½ cups Sugar Syrup
Put raspberries and syrup in the bowl of your food processor, with the knife blade and process until smooth. Pour into an 8-inch square baking dish, cover and freeze at least 8 hrs., or until firm.
Remove mixture from freezer; break into chunks. With knife blade in the processor, again add frozen raspberry chunks and process until smooth. Spoon into wine glasses (classier than paper cups) and serve immediately, with 2-3 fresh raspberries on top, or spoon mixture into a container, cover and freeze for up to 1 month. Makes 4 cups, or about 8 servings.
This is similar, but with strawberries and wine; for adults only, of course.
In a saucepan, combine 4 cups coarsely chopped fresh strawberries, 1 cup Chablis (or other dry white wine), ¾ cup basic sugar syrup (see above), ½ cup honey and ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 4 min. Remove from heat and let cool. Pour into an 8-inch square baking dish, cover and freeze at least 8 hrs. or until firm. Follow remaining instructions as in the Raspberry Sorbet recipe above.
Heirloom tomatoes are all the rage now and will be readily available any day; they shine in this salad, which couldn’t be easier.
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 T. white wine or champagne vinegar
1 large English cucumber, or 4-5 smaller Persian cukes, thinly sliced in rounds (don’t peel)
3 lbs. assorted heirloom tomatoes (or a mixture of yellow/red/orange smaller tomatoes, if they are more readily available)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced into rounds and separated into ringsFresh basil and/or oregano, chopped (or just thinly slice the basil leaves)
Whisk together the oil and vinegar; season to taste with salt and pepper.
Slice heirloom tomatoes into thin rounds, or if using smaller mix of tomatoes, cut them in half lengthwise. Arrange the cucumber slices on a platter and drizzle with a bit of the dressing. Arrange the tomatoes over the cucumbers, drizzle with a bit of dressing, then top with onion rings and drizzle with dressing. Sprinkle basil and/or oregano lightly on top and serve. Serves 8-10.