Friday, September 3, 2010

Ahhhhh...........fall is soon to be upon us

I'm not really sure why, but last night was the first time that I felt that this brutally long, excruciatingly hot summer is about to be in our rearview mirror. Maybe it was the fact that it was below 95 degrees as I walked my dogs at 8pm. Maybe it was the fact that the number of mosquito bites that I received on said walk was down to a manageable dozen or so. Either way, I's September, possibly the best month of the year here in Georgia.

However, with that came the suprisingly sad realization that summer is about to be over. No more heirloom tomatoes, less figs, peaches, and an assortment of other items that are their best during the summer months. So, I decided to do a post on some summer recipes to get in while there is still time. I'll have plenty of good fall and winter dishes (guiness braised this, or stewed tomato that), but quick, while there's still time, grab some peaches and yellow tomatoes and lets get going!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

First up, the most quintissentially summer dish there is (in my convoluted mind anyway)
GAZPACHOThis recipe takes a little work, but is beyond worth it.

6 RIPE tomatoes, , peeled, seeded, and chopped
be they heirloom, roma, yellow, whatever just good and ripe
1/2 english cucumber, 1/2 c diced small, the rest just chopped
1 jalapeno, diced small
1 red onion, 1/2 diced small, 1/2 just chopped
1 red or yellow bell pepper, 1/2 diced small, 1/2 just chopped
3 tblsp italian parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic peeled
1/4 tsp paprika
oz Olive oil, good quality stuff
1/4 c tomato juice
2 tblsp sherry vinegar
juice & zest of 1 lemon
Salt & pepper to taste

1)Place all of the small diced vegetables in a bowl, add lemon juice and zest and set aside
2)Combine tomatoes, chopped cucumber, onion, garlic, and bell pepper in blender. Add paprika, tomato juice, vinegar, and some salt and pepper, and blend over medium speed.
3)Slowly drizzle in olive oil while blending so that it emulsifies.
4)Season soup with salt and pepper to taste, and mix in 90% of the small diced vegetables and parsley. Reserve the remaining parsley/vegetable mixture to use as garnish.

That's all. Delicious. Pair it with a crisp white wine and enjoy. If you're feeling frisky, add some diced avocado to top the soup, or some lump crab, or a few grilled shrimp. Whatever you're in the mood for, just make sure you've got some crust bread, good company, and a patio or garden to enjoy it with.

CRAB AND AVOCADO SALAD - This one is simple & delicious
1 lb lump crab meat, go jumbo lump if you've got the $$$
1 large, ripe avocado, diced into 1/4 inch cubes
1 serrano chile, diced fine
2 tblsp cilantro chopped
juice & zest of 1 lime
2 tblsp shallot or red onion, diced VERY fine
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped small
1/2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp olive or avocado oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

1)Gently mix all of the above ingredients, cover, and let marinate for 1 hour in fridge. Do not overmix and break up all the pretty lumps of crab, or you've just wasted your money.
2)Serve in endive leaves, romaine leaves, or with grilled sourdough bread and you've got an awesome summer meal to enjoy.

Wine Pairing - a Viogner would be perfect for this. A little rich, a little floral....nice mix with the sweet/oceany taste of the crab

CHIMMICHURRI - I think this is just a great accompaniment to a summer steak

1 c Italian Parsley
1/2 c Olive oil
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1/4 c cilantro
1/4 c oregano, or marjoram
1 serrano chile
3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp kosher salt

1)Place all ingredients, except oil in food processor/blender, and start pureeing. Then in a steady stream drizzle in the oil as it's pureeing to form a nice emulsion.

Drizzle this sauce over any grilled steak. Serve with grilled bread & fresh tomatoes (also drizzled with chimmichurri) and you got a quick, flavorful, summery dinner.

Wine Pairing - The wine pairing here is pretty much a no brainer. Argentinian sauce with Argentinas' favorite protein..........why not an Argentinian malbec? Many different great, and affordable, choices on this one. Just experiment, and you'll find one you like.

Jumbo Shrimp and Peach Kabobs with Prosciutto & Basil
For the Kabobs
1 lb Jumbo fresh shrimp
3 fresh GA peaches, if not in GA, obviously sub in what ya got
1/4 prosciutto, sliced wafer thin.....any monty python fans out there find this as amusing as me?
1 c basil leaves whole
Salt & Pepper

For the Glaze
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 tblsp clover honey
1 tsp hot sauce
2 tblsp apricot jam
1 tsp fresh ground white pepper

1)Combine all ingredients for glaze in small saute pan, bring to a boil, and let chill to room temp
2)Clean shrimp & slice peaches into large wedges.
3)Sprinkle shrimp & peaches with salt & pepper
4)Place 1 basil leaf on each wedge of peach, and wrap the two with 1 slice of prosciutto
5)Skewer shrimp and peaches (alternating) on kabobs and place on very hot grill. I find it will help to give a very light brush of olive oil to the kabobs before doing so, but up to you.
6)Brush skewers with glaze every 30 seconds until shrimp are fully cooked, about 3 minutes per side.

Serve over simple lemon or pesto rice or with a very simple arugula and shaved parmesan salad and you're good to go.

Wine Pairing - My choice would be a tropical, fruity Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand/Australia (Nobilo is a good one), but you could also do a riesling or a gerwurtztraminer here too.



1 c basil leaves
1 clove garlic
Zest & Juice of 1 lemon
2 scallions, chopped
2 1/2 tblsp olive oil
1/4 c Parmesan, finely grated
Salt & Pepper to taste

1)Combine all ingredients in blender and mix until smooth

4 slices of ciabatta bread, cut 1/2 inch thick
2 tblsp olive oil
8 fresh figs, any kind is ok, sliced thin
8 oz brie, cut into thin slices
1 c fresh arugula, chopped rough

pistou, as above

1)Brush slices of bread with olive oil and place on very hot grill. Char one side.
2)Remove from grill, smear both sides with pistou and place a layer of figs first, then brie on charred side.
3)Return to grill, slightly removed from hottest area, and grill until brie melts evenly.
4)Plate 2 sandwiches to a place and top with the chopped arugula, dressed in the remaining olive oil.

I don't think this one needs anything else to complete it....except for a second round of sandwiches maybe.

Wine Pairing - A nice clean white burgundy.

There you have it. Some of my favorite summer dishes. I hope you get a chance to enjoy them before butternut squash soup season is upon us. And to end, some quotes about the season past, and upcoming.

A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken. ~James Dent

Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability. ~Sam Keen

"It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life" - P.D. James

"Fall is my favorite season in Los Angeles, watching the birds change color and fall from the trees."
David Letterman

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