It’s completely fair to say that, when it comes to the weather, I am the kind of person who is never satisfied. When it’s cold – even a little cold – I am miserable and whiny and refuse to leave my house. And although I vastly prefer the heat, by this point in a New Orleans summer (and with many more months to go), I am miserable and whiny and refuse to leave my house.
Some of this is just inherent to my personality. I truly am not the biggest fan of leaving my house to begin with, and if I have my druthers, I will always opt to devote the majority of my free time to reading horrible books about haunted ghost ships and binge-watching “The Keepers” or whatever other true crime documentary Netflix suggests to me.
But while my leisure time is largely accounted for in the same way regardless of the temperature outside, my eating and drinking habits do change somewhat based on the seasons: I switch from red wine, pumpkin beer, and bourbon-laced hot chocolate in the fall (all two weeks of it that we get here) and winter to rosé, G&Ts, and bourbon-laced lemonade in the spring and summer. And although I would gladly eat pasta for every meal regardless of the season, Sugar Busters be damned, I tend to prefer baked pasta or hearty sauces in the winter and pasta salads or lighter sauces in the summer.
Because My Husband the Food Writer chose to devote his blog yesterday to a poignant remembrance of a dear friend gone far too soon, I feel justified in using this space today to share four of my favorite summer recipes:
The first is a shallot-and-goat cheese tart that I make exclusively during the summer months and always serve with plenty of sliced Creole tomatoes. It is one of the very few foods I will eat leftover the next day.
Then there’s the clafouti, the world’s most forgiving recipe, which is ideal for any and all summer fruits:
- Throw whatever fruit you like (I’ve used blueberries, blackberries, cherries, peaches, and plums all with good results) in a buttered baking dish;
- Blend a half-cup each of flour and sugar with 1-and-a-third cup milk, 3 eggs, and a teaspoon of vanilla;
- Pour over fruit; bake at 375 for 45 minutes.
- It’s good for dessert or breakfast, and it’s even better with ice cream.
I also like a no-cook tomato sauce recipe that is best made with Creole tomatoes but can be done with any kind of fresh tomato:
- Blend three to four rough-chopped tomatoes in the food processor with the juice of one lemon, two to three grated cloves of raw garlic, and a quarter-cup of olive oil, and then add salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour over hot cooked pasta – and add in some Kalamata olives if you like ‘em and/or are feeling fancy.
Finally, we have a fig tree in our yard, and although I do love fresh figs just by themselves, we end up with way more than I’d ever want to eat in one sitting. So I make FROG jam – and despite the gross name, it’s delicious (it stands for fig, raspberry, orange, and ginger, aka all of my favorite things). I don’t trust myself to make shelf-stable canned jam (I am terrified of botulism), but this is perfect as a refrigerator jam and it never lasts long enough for me to worry about food safety.
- 5 cups fresh figs, chopped
- 1/2 cup orange juice (ideally fresh-squeezed)
- 4 cups fresh raspberries (frozen are also fine)
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon fresh peeled, grated ginger
- 4 tablespoons of low-sugar pectin (you can use unflavored gelatin, but I prefer pectin)
- 2 ¼ cups sugar, divided (more or less to taste, depending on sweetness of berries, personal tastes, etc.)
Note: If you are bothered by seeds, you should put the raspberries through a food mill and use the puree. I happen to love the texture of raspberry seeds, so I just throw them in.
- Mix the pectin with ¼ cup of sugar and set aside.
- Cook the figs, orange and lemon juices, berries, ginger, and pectin-sugar blend over medium heat, stirring frequently (because of all the sugar, this will burn really quickly if you don’t keep an eye on it), until it comes to a boil.
- Keep it at a boil, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes.
- Then lower the heat, and let it cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, again stirring often.
- Taste, and add the remaining sugar; cook for another 5 to 10 minutes.
- Let it cool slightly, and then ladle into sterilized jelly jars.
- Keep it in the fridge, and use it on English muffins, biscuits, toasts or stirred into yogurt.
What are your favorite summer recipes?