Despite the pandemic daze I often find myself in, being cooped up has reignited a flame in my cooking life, using seasonal ingredients in imaginative ways. My over-grown garden of veggies nudged my palate to explore new tastes and combinations that permeated further into Italian bread, stone fruit, and a deep dive into wood-fired oven cooking.
My garden is delivering cucumbers, zucchini, and basil in abundance as I anticipate the ripening of my favorite member of the garden club, the San Marzano tomato. Eating zucchini every night can be tiresome. Still, I find great pleasure in a sliced zucchini, drizzled with lemon olive oil and grilled or zucchini tucked into foil packets of shallots and basil, to be topped with fresh fish, and ready for the BBQ.
Fragrant, juicy peaches have been my obsession, making peach cobbler, peach and cucumber salad, peach ice cream, and peach with ricotta on toast. I love peaches and wish the season lasted longer!
Bread baking is still part of my life, now using olives or walnuts in the dough and also learning to make focaccia. Our last batch of focaccia with rosemary was so good, it was as if an angel from heaven descended and anointed its spongy texture, and salty, herbal taste. Irresistible.
My friend, Chris, has a stunning wood-fired oven in his backyard, and after baking pizza one night, I convinced him that we could make a complete meal in the oven the next night while the fire was still hot. Lemon chicken, Italian white beans, summer veggies, and focaccia sizzled side by side. I felt like I was back in Italy, my other love.
Here’s a sampling of what Chris and I have been formulating and happily eating. Perhaps one of these photos will inspire you to capture the mid-summer harvest in new and delicious ways.
My favorite fish dinners this summer.
A great French tradition – Ratatouille!
Plums and apricots in a frangipane base. So delectable!
My bread learning curve – French Country and Focaccia.
Cocktail of the month: Aviation
My favorite – Caprese.
Breakfast of champions! Sourdough waffles with apricots and cherries and honeyed ricotta on homemade bread topped with peaches and thyme.
Peach magic. Peaches, cucumbers, rice vinegar, mint, and basil complement pork tenderloin.
Wood-fired dinner extraordinaire.
Essential tools of the kitchen.
Delight in each day!
“When I pass a flowering zucchini plant in a garden, my heart skips a beat.”
— Gwyneth Paltrow
Ciao for now!