Posts Tagged ‘summer’

by Sarah Steimer

The inspiration for this pie came from a dessert at Owen & Engine here in Chicago. On the restaurant’s menu right now is a blueberry pie with a cheddar crust, caramel popcorn cobbler and sweet corn ice cream.

For the crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup ice water

Combine the flour, sugar and salt. In a food processor, combine the flour mixture with the butter and pulse until pea-sized pieces appear. Pulse in cheddar cheese. With the food processor running, add the water and mix just until the crust comes together.

Remove the dough from the machine and form into a block-like shape. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to two days.

Once the crust has chilled properly, cut it in half and roll out one half on a lightly floured surface, making it wide enough to overlap the lip of your pie dish by about 1 inch or so. Place the crust in the pie dish and refrigerate. Roll the second half out on a piece of parchment paper, again slightly larger than the dish itself. Refrigerate this half as well, allowing it to remain flat on the parchment paper in the fridge until firm, about 20 minutes.

For the filling

  • 8 cups (about 4 pints) blueberries, picked over
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 egg

Place the blueberries in a large bowl and crush about 1/2 cup’s worth with your hands. Add sugar, butter, cornstarch, flour and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Pour the berry mixture into the prepared pie dish once the crust has set. Allow the berries to mound slightly higher in the center of the dish.

Top the pie with the other half of the crust that has been rolled out, tucking the edges underneath and crimping if desired. Using a sharp knife, cut slits in the crust for steam to escape.

My mom told me my grandfather used to eat apple pie with a slice of cheese, and the idea never appealed to me until more recently. Apple pie and cheese is, however, much more common than blueberry with cheese, so I may use this crust recipe with an apple pie in the fall.

Whisk the egg with 1-2 teaspoons of water and brush the top of the pie crust with the egg mixture, making sure it does not pool. Refrigerate the pie for an additional 30 minutes.

Place the pie on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees in the lower third of the oven. After 20 minutes, once the crust has begun to golden, lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 40-50 minutes, or until the berry juices begin to bubble and thicken and the crust is golden brown. NOTE: Always check the edges of your crust. If they begin to brown quickly, cover the edges with aluminium foil.

If not eating the pie immediately, cover and refrigerate.

Makes one 9- or 10-inch pie.

Crust recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart

Pie recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart

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by Sarah Steimer

The tomatoes do all the work in this dish. Heirloom tomatoes have such great flavors that there’s really very little you need to make a delicious, fresh dish.

  • 2 slices vegetarian fake bacon (can use real bacon for a non-Meatless Monday option)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

    Shoot for a lot of different-colored tomatoes at your farmer’s market. I picked up purple, pink and green-yellow tomatoes. And don’t be put off by the fact that heirloom tomatoes come in some crazy shapes – you just have to get inventive with your cutting.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 5 medium or large heirloom tomatoes, sliced crosswise about 1/2-inch thick (I also threw in a few grape and cherry tomatoes)
  • salt and pepper
  • basil, arugula or watercress for topping

Cook the bacon until crisp. Drain, cool and finely chop. Mix the bacon with the cheese and flour. On a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, divide the bacon0cheese mixture into four mounds and flatten in to 3 1/2-inch rounds. Bake at 375 degress until golden and the cheese melts, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from the oven when done and allow the crisps to cool for about 5 minutes on the pan before transferring them (carefully) to a paper towel to finish cooling.

The salad isn’t at all ruined when you serve it. I actually couldn’t decide which plating was prettier.

To make the dressing, whisk together the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl.

Arrange the tomatoes on a platter, adding salt and pepper to each layer and some of the dressing (I did not use all of the dressing). Top the dish with whichever greens you choose. Crumble the crisps over the top and serve. Tip: If you do not plan on eating the entire salad in one sitting, set aside some of the crisps so they do not get soggy staying in the dish.

Makes four servings.

Recipe adapted from: Food Network Magazine

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by Sarah Steimer

This summer I’ve frozen raspberries, blueberries and strawberries.

This time of year I tend to go a little overboard on the summer berries. I go to two farmer’s markets each week and somehow get more berries than I could possibly eat before the fruit goes bad. The best solution to the quick-aging berry? Freeze it. This way, you save yourself from having to throw out food — which is like throwing out money. Freezing berries now also means you can use your own, local fruit in the dead of winter rather than buying strawberries by way of Mexico at the grocery store.

Possible berries to freeze:

  • blackberries
  • blueberries
  • cherries (may want to pit them first)
  • cranberries (fall)
  • raspberries
  • strawberries (hulled)

For the sake of this how-to I’ll focus on raspberries and blueberries, two of the easier berries to freeze.

Step 1:

Rinse and pick.

Rinse the berries in a colander under cool, lightly streaming water. Do not turn the water on very hard as the berries are delicate and can bruise. Pick out any sad berries or stems that made it past the farmer’s eye.

Step 2:

At ease, raspberries.

Place one or two paper towels on a cooling rack. Gently shake the berries in the colander to remove as much excess water as possible. Transfer the berries to the towels using your hands — do not pour the fruit directly from the colander as it will dump extra water on the towels. Arrange the berries in a single layer. Fruit such as blueberries and strawberries can be arranged on the racks at random, but I like to sit raspberries and blackberries upside down (as pictured above), so their insides have a chance to drip-dry. It takes a little more time, but will save you from having tiny icicles inside the berries later.

The berries should dry completely (or close to it) for about an hour or so on the counter.

Why make sure the berries are totally dry? Because if you toss them into a bag while they are still wet, you wind up with an icy block of fruit. Using this drying method, it will allow you to grab a cup of frozen fruit without having to thaw the entire bag.

Step 3:

Semi-frozen blueberries on a baking sheet.

Once the berries have dried fully, place them on a clean baking sheet in a single layer.

I also found it helpful to set the raspberries on end even while they froze. Raspberries tend to stay a little more soggy than blueberries, so the less they touch one another, the better.

Freeze for 1-2 hours, or until the berries are relatively hard to the touch.

Step 4:

Bagged and ready.

Label freezer bags with the date and fill ’em up! Berries can stay in the freezer for a very long time because they contain a high amount of sugar. From what I read online, some people have used frozen berries up to four years after freezing them. Of course, I would suggest using them within a year, that way you can freeze a fresh new round next season.

To thaw the berries, either leave them out at room temperature or in the refrigerator over night. Some recipes, such as blueberry muffins, actually work without ever needing to thaw the berries at all. Frozen berries also make excellent smoothies because they create an icy texture when blended with yogurt and other ingredients — no extra ice necessary.

If you have any additional questions about freezing berries — or other foods — leave a comment below!

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by Sarah Steimer

The onion, red pepper and garlic base to this dish is a pretty powerful starting point – so don’t lose it to weak tomatoes. If you buy your tomatoes at the farmer’s market see if you can try a taste first.

  • 1/2 large white onion
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup – 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 2-4 slices of good bread, sliced thick
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • parsley or basil, for garnish

Chop the onions and peppers very finely – OR – pulse the vegetables a few times in a food processor for the fine mince, being careful not to puree.

Heat a medium or large pan over the stove, then add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Once the oil is warm, add the onions and peppers and season with the salt and pepper. Sauté until the vegetables are very soft. Add the garlic and tomato paste, stirring and cooking for a few minutes more.

I didn’t add the rest of the broth so mine was a little dryer than I think most ragouts. Next time I will definitely use all of the broth.

Add the beans and about 1 1/2 cups of the broth to the pan, stirring to remove any vegetables that may have gotten stuck to the pan. Allow the mixture to cook over medium heat until about half of the broth has evaporated. Mix in the sliced cherry tomatoes and the remainder of the broth, unless you prefer a less runny mixture.

Drizzle the slices of bread with olive oil and, if you please, rub with garlic. Place the slices under the broiler in the oven until well-browned.
Remove and sprinkle with a few tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Stir the rest of the cheese into the bean mixture.

Spoon the bean and tomato mixture over the slices of bread and garnish with the parsley or basil.

Serves 2-4.

Recipe adapted from: Epicurious

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by Caitlin Saniga

This is a chilled soup, so it’s best if all of the ingredients are refrigerated prior to assembly. I got creative with herbs here, using what I had in my garden. Parsley or dill would also work well in this arrangement. The only herb I’d say is a must is the cilantro. But the mint and basil I used added nice brightness and depth.

  • 4 cups + 1 cup chopped, seeded watermelon
  • 2 cups chopped, seeded tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro + sprigs for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint + sprigs for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil + sprigs for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 stick celery, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (I used a peach white balsamic vinegar I picked up at a specialty oil and vinegar store.)
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

Place everything except the 1 cup of chopped watermelon and the herb sprigs in a food processor. Pulse until smooth.

Divide the gazpacho among four bowls, and top each serving with 1/4 cup chopped watermelon and a sprig each of cilantro, mint and basil.

Serve chilled immediately or store the gazpacho and toppings separately in the fridge for up to 1 hour before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

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by Sarah Steimer

I had a few friends over and it had been very, very hot out. There was no part of me that wanted to be standing over a grill or an oven, so I decided to do sushi and vegetarian spring rolls. It took a little prep time, but turned out to be a really nice spread.

  • prepared sushi rice (recipe and directions here)
  • 1/2 of a small sweet potato, peeled and cut into french fry-sized strips
  • olive oil
  • 3/4 cup seasoned panko bread crumbs
  • 1 red pepper, cut into strips
  • 4 sheets nori paper
  • Sriracha

Simmer the sweet potato strips in a small sauce pan until soft. Remove the sweet potatoes, allowing to drain and come to room temperature.

My whole “too hot to cook” matra worked itself into the crunch, too. Instead of doing a tempura batter in hot oil, I just sautéed some seasoned panko crumbs.

Heat olive oil in a small saute pan. Add the bread crumbs and cook until golden brown. Add the sweet potatoes a handful at a time, tossing until covered in the crumbs. Set the sweet potato strips and extra bread crumbs aside.

Distribute about 2/3-3/4 cup of rice on a prepared sushi mat. Press the sheet of nori paper on top of the rice. About one-third of the way up the mat, from the bottom, add a few strips of the sweet potato strips and red pepper strips. Roll from the bottom up, pressing firmly at the end. Directions for rolling sushi can be found in this previous post.

Cut and arrange the sushi. Top with the leftover panko crumbs and a few drops of the Sriracha sauce.


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by Sarah Steimer

I’m starting to realize the genius of deconstructing meals. It’s just a faster, easier way to get all the same flavors in place, really.

  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch coins
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch coins
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2/3 cup seasoned breadcrumbs (I used plain panko crumbs and added some seasoning)
  • 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 2/3 cup pasta sauce

Toss the zucchini and tomato slices in olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook on a grill over medium heat, flipping when grill marks appear. The

This is a prettier version of zucchini Parmesan – and probably healthier because the zucchinis were grilled instead of fried.

tomato slices may not want to stay together and will get a little sloppy, you can go ahead and take those off the grill if this happens. The important part was getting enhancing the flavor.

While the vegetables are cooking, heat olive oil in a small sauté pan. Add the breadcrumbs, stirring often until the crumbs have browned. Remove from heat and mix in the Parmesan. Set aside.

Arrange the zucchini, tomato and mozzarella slices on three plates. Distribute half of the breadcrumbs over the three plates, then top with the pasta sauce. Finish with the rest of the bread crumbs. To garnish, add a basil leaf (totally optional, of course).

Makes three servings.

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