This week has been up and down….a bit cold and then way hot! It’s hard to figure out exactly what season we’re in. This weekend, one of our farmer’s market is having “Strawberry Fest”. Most of you have had your tributes to the strawberry weeks ago.
I’m betting that this weekend is going to be hot (“cause that what the meteorologist says”) but my husband says, “If you want to know the weather, look out the window”. He’s such a spoiled sport.
When it’s hot, I get a bit lazy. I want something easy, but I still want my family and friends to have a treat, so this Sunday, this is what we’re having.
It’s easy to make something ahead of time and that is what makes this soup perfect. In fact, you the longer it sits, the better it gets. So, please make it a day ahead. Then on Sunday, toast or grill some bread, top with a bit of cheese, make a salad, and you’re all set.
I also like to serve soup in cups instead of bowls….you can sip, not spoon. This also lets you walk around, talk and still eat…perfect!
This Sunday, I’ll slather fresh goat cheese from Prairie Fruits Farm on our toasted bread. I will visit the farm in a few weeks and I can’t wait! I’ll let you know what I discover…I’m sure that it will be a treat for me and you!
Cold Curried Carrot Soup
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 Minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
I find that you can make this a day ahead of time and the flavors are even better!
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 1/4 teaspoons curry powder
1 pound carrots ( about 1 bunch) peeled and sliced
1 cup plain yogurt (I used Fage 2%)
1 1/2 cups homemade or packaged chicken or veggie broth
Cilantro or parsley for garnish
Wash, trim, peel and slice carrots (my slices are about a 1/2 inch).
In a large stock pot over low heat, melt butter, then add onion and cook until soft. Then stir in the curry powder and cook for about 2 minutes.
Add the broth and carrots, cook until the carrots are tender and can be easily pierced with a fork (15 - 20 minutes). Remove from heat and let the mixture cool.
Put mixture into blender or food processor and blend until it is pureed (I did this in 2 batches). Blend in yogurt. Chill.
Garnish with cilantro or parsley and serve.
We have always loved the bluegrass area of Kentucky. So, on this hot, sunny June day we decided to re-visit its rolling hills with miles of white fences that enclose some of the fastest, most beautiful horses on earth.
As we rambled along Highway 68 toward Harrodsburg, we spied signs advertising “400 miles of garage sales.” I’d heard of a garage sale that practically extended the length of the whole state. We did not drive down for this, but…since we were here…we had to stop for at least just one!
We pulled up to a large, shaded, front yard dotted with large tables groaning with treasures. We picked up a plate here; three glasses there.
We met all of the vendors whose front yards were now retail establishments. One joked with us insisting that we should trade in our car to buy his shiny Model T Ford.
After sharing a few local stories and laughs, we put our purchases in the trunk and discovered that we had car trouble. We called for roadside assistance and were told that a tow truck could maybe get there in an hour or so and tow us back to Lexington and the next day they could take a look at our car. The next DAY…oh no…we had reservations at an inn and dinner was 6:30!
The neighbors gathered round and offered suggestions to help us. We got back on the phone with the service department. Oh, did I mention it was about 95 degrees? These wonderful folks insisted that we pull into their shaded drive. Then they came out with two tall, frosty glasses of lemonade, which we thankfully accepted….then….OK, this is the unbelievable part….they offered us their CAR! Yes, they said that we should just go ahead and take their car and bring it back in the morning!
Folks it’s 2011, and these wonderful, hospitable folks just offered us their car! I have to tell you we were overwhelmed by their gracious spirit and hospitality. Isn’t it wonderful to know that there are still people who will lend a helping hand to total strangers? Isn’t this really what is important…community and caring for one another?
We may have gone for a ride in the country but what we got was so much more. We came away (yes, the car finally started) with a renewed belief in the kindness of strangers.
Why did this experience resonate within me to such a great degree? One reason might be that this epitomizes what I am trying to share on my blog…which is to get us all to connect with each other again. Sharing and caring…family…community…they are all so very important for our future and our children’s future.
This Sunday, inspired by this experience, I’d like to share with you my classic recipe for an old fashioned summer treat….lemonade. Every time I have a sip I will think of this story and smile….I hope that you will too!
Old Fashioned Classic Lemonade
Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
I like to chill this in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight before serving. This recipe is a bit more complicated than just adding lemon juice, water and sugar but the taste is much richer, and I believe, well worth the effort.
6 lemons - 1 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 cups water
1 cup sugar
Pressing down with your hand, roll the lemons back and forth on a hard surface to release their juices. Cut lemons in two and squeeze out juice reserving the lemon rinds and place the rinds in a large bowl. You can strain the juice if you like to remove the pulp, or leave the pulp if you prefer.
Boil 4 cups of water.
Place the sugar in a bowl and cover with 1 cup water and stir to dissolve.
Cover the lemon rinds with the other 3 cups of boiling water and let this sit for about an hour and you will have lemon infused water. Discard the rinds.
In a large pitcher, combine the lemon juice, the dissolved sugar water, the 3 cups of lemon infused water and the remaining 2 cups of water.
Garnish with mint and lemon slices if you like.
What happened? Last week we had a high of about 60 something (on a good day). This week, it has been in the 90’s for days in a row. We went from early spring to mid-summer in one week. Bummer! So even though our local veggies at the market are 3 weeks behind everyone (except probably, that gal I met last week from Fairbanks, Alaska), I feel like I have to cook for July.
We were on our back porch, baking in the heat, planning this week’s Sunday supper when we came to this conclusion. It’s time for rose…oh how do I put the French accent aigu over that? Rose the wine, not rose the flower.
So, before we went any further preparing for our Sunday get-together, we went off to the Wine Merchant, where Kathy steered us to a few of her favorites that she brought in for this year. We walked away with 3 varieties, promising to come back for more when we decided which one we preferred. Personally, we like the French ones that have a crisp, mineral note, as opposed to the ones that folks define as “strawberry”.
Back at home, I felt that I should make something to accompany this coming out party for the rose. Hmmm….OK, I’ve got it….I need to make a few of those cheese crisps that I haven’t made….well…since the last time it was hot enough for rose.
Everyone wants to bake when it’s 90 degrees outside, right? Well, I have to admit that my oven does not make the kitchen any hotter than it is already, so I turned it on preheat and got started.
This is a very simple, tasty, treat. It comes together in minutes and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like to nibble on one of these while sipping a bit of rose (or just something cold).
I made them two ways….some for my nut loving friends and some for those who don’t care for, or are allergic to, nuts. Either way, it’s a great start to your Sunday supper.
Savory Cheese Crisps
Yield: 20 - 30 crisps, approximately (depending on the size cookie cutter you use)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 pound extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 egg (for egg wash)
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
20 - 30 pecan halves (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a bowl, add flour and pepper. Stir to mix well.
Add the softened butter and grated cheese. Combine till it forms a ball.
Place on lightly floured board and roll out to a little over 1/4 inch thickness.
Using a small (1 1/2 inch) or (2 inch) round, cookie cutter cut out and place on ungreased cookie sheet.
Add the pecans if you wish.
Whisk the egg in a small bowl to make a wash and brush on top of the crisps and pecans.
Bake for approximately 20 minutes.
Place on cooling rack an immediately sprinkle with sea salt.
Please note: We find that we like these best when we make them a bit smaller, more of a bite sized treat, although we took pictures of the larger ones. Either way, they're tasty....just a bit more dainty when small.
Also, you may want to consider adding 1 tablespoon finely minced rosemary for a more savory crisp!
I always know when my father-in-law’s birthday is coming because it is around the time I start seeing small displays of cherries appear. The displays will be brimming with cherries soon, but right now if you scout around, you can start to find them. Not local for us, but maybe for you.
My father-in law tells us that when he was a boy it was a very special treat for him to have a handful of cherries on his birthday. So, I like to honor his special day by making something containing cherries when we gather for his celebration.
This June, I have come up with a new recipe that I hope he’ll enjoy, and, of course, I hope that you like it also. It was inspired by all that I have been reading about roasted strawberries….I figure, OK, you can roast strawberries, you can roast cherries, right? Yep, right! Way right! They are just fabulous this way! I’ve coated them with a wee bit of (my favorite) butter and added a dash of sea salt. I’m lovin’ it. Hope you are too!
One of my taste testers for this treat asked if I minded if she licked the bowl, my response… “no, not at all”!
Simple Roasted Fresh Cherry Dessert Topping
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
1/2 pound sweet cherries, pitted
5 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoon vanilla liqueur (I used Navan Natural Vanilla Liqueur)
1 quart high quality vanilla ice cream or pound cake (I used Graeter's vanilla)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Wash 1/2 pound of sweet cherries, remove stems, pit them and place in a bowl. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and toss with cherries. On a cookie sheet (line with parchment paper, if you wish) arrange the cherries and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast in oven for 10 minutes.
In a medium pan over low heat melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Add brown sugar and cinnamon and stir till mixture starts to bubble. Turn off heat, (please note, if the heat is not turned off this might flame when you add the liqueur) then add vanilla liqueur. Turn heat back on, and let simmer for about 1 minute.
Stir in roasted cherries.
Turn off heat and let cool for about 3 minutes. Pour over vanilla ice cream, or pound cake and serve.
Enjoy! And yes, it’s OK to lick the bowl!
To me, Memorial Day is one of our most important non-religious holidays. A tribute to the men and women who have died in service of their country. These folks that I didn’t know, will never know, served and laid down their life for me. What brave people they were! I admire their courage and valor.
This weekend while we are enjoying the unofficial beginning of summer by having picnics, going to the beach or playing baseball, let’s take the time to remember what this holiday is really about and say “thank you” to our brave troops.
Awhile back, I was at an event that was having an “armed forces day”. I sat right next to some of our enlisted men and women. I had never been at arm’s length from a large group of soldiers. What were my thoughts? I thought that they were so very young, and so very innocent. The same men and women who will be picking up arms and fighting, wherever, whenever they are told to defend our country. They are all someone’s son or daughter, loved and cherished by their parents, spouses, relatives, friends. Some of those that were standing there with sunny smiles on their faces will not return.
After we stood and sang our National Anthem, we applauded them loud and hard. I would like to do that again today. To all of you serving our country, a big salute and thank you! I hope that you are going to be home with your family and friends very soon, sitting down to many Sunday suppers. It’s because of you that we are able to so freely enjoy ours.
Herb Encrusted Oven Baked Crispy Picnic Chicken
Yield: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 - 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
This recipe can be very, very flexible....you only like white meat, no problem. You want to make it healthy, no problem. Pick what suits you best and go for it. You'll be happy you did! This recipe is great to serve straight from the oven but it is perfect to make the day before, refrigerate and serve chilled at your picnic, but it won't be as crispy.
1 whole chicken, cut up, skin removed (about 5 pounds) or 4-6 boneless, skinless breasts (about 1 12/ to 2 1/4 pounds)
1/2 cup mayonnaise or 1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced (about 1 teaspoon)
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (removed from stem before chopping)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (remove from stem before chopping)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Wisk together mayonnaise or olive oil with the finely minced garlic.
Rinse chicken and pat dry. Rub the cut up chicken that has had the skin removed with the mayonnaise (or, if you prefer olive oil). Please note: If you cut the breast pieces in 2 they bake more quickly. Or if you prefer white meat and don't want to fuss with taking the skin off, you can use boneless/skinless breasts. There is a lot of flexibility in this recipe!
In a large plastic bag, place panko bread crumbs, chopped rosemary, thyme, parsley, parmesan cheese, salt and freshly ground pepper. Shake so the ingredients become evenly distributed. Spread this mixture on a plate.
Dredge the chicken on both sides in mixture, coating it well.
Place on baking pan and bake in oven for approximately 25 minutes. Please use a meat thermometer to make sure that the thickest pieces of chicken has reached a temperature of 165 degrees. Please note: You may have to remove the smaller pieces of chicken (wings, legs, thighs) before the breasts have finished cooking.