Summer Comes in Like a Horde of Puppies (or pile of teens and kids – same thing)

Summer Comes in Like a Horde of Puppies (or pile of teens and kids – same thing)

Even though a couple of the kids still have a day and a half of school left, summer has really started here.  We opened up the pool and it has been, as they say,  like flies to molasses – sudden swarms of children, big and small.  Not that I think of them as flies, of course. They are all way less icky and far less buzzy and annoying – most of the time.  We love having the packs of kids around all summer and feel lucky to be able to host over the next 8-12 weeks what essentially is a flow and ebb of release and relief, sunscreen and sunburns, snacks and drinks and teen energy and little kid over-tireds and laughs and lemonade and back into the pool after-darks.  Their exhaustion and explosion of energy at the close of the school year and throughout the weeks of freedom fills the house and backyard like that of excited but tired puppies. It’s cool. It also makes them hungry. So, while I walk around with sighs and small head shakes to pick up the scattered towels or wipe the spilled sunscreen the regular refrain in my head is, “how do I feed this mass without always just tossing the super-sized bag of chips on the table?”.  Honestly, sometimes it is just the chips, since it is easy to keep a supply around all the time for the last minute break out of “mom, people are coming over, ok? Like, right now.” When I have more advance notice, things like grilled pizza, salads with protein and even some mac and cheese are great to fill those hungry bellies. When I don’t, these are some of my go-tos to satiate the hordes – I hope you enjoy and you share them with at least one person who you don’t think is at all like a fly.

Hummus

Ingredients:

2 cans chickpeas, drained

Juice of ½ lemon

2 tbsps tahini

1 clove garlic

Tsp kosher salt

⅓ cup olive oil

Method:

Blend all ingredients in a cuisinart or high speed blender.  Adjust salt and oil level to your liking. Serve with cut vegetables and bread/chips of your choice.

better than bought dip

Creamy Vegetable Dip

1 ½ cups plain greek yogurt (can sub sour cream)

½ cup mayonnaise

¼ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp dried oregano

1 tsp celery seed

1 tsp dried dill

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together yogurt or sour cream and mayonnaise.  Add all other ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.  Serve with any combination of cut vegetables, pretzels, pita chips.

Fruit Dip

Ingredients:

16 oz plain greek yogurt

¼ cup orange juice

2 tbsps honey

Splash of vanilla

Optional: tbsp finely chopped mint

Method:  

Mix all ingredients well.  Serve with your choice of cut fruit.

Chips & Dip – For Dinner?

Chips & Dip – For Dinner?

better than bought dipChips and dips night was one of the absolute favorite meals of my childhood.  Looking back now, I know my mother did it because she couldn’t stand to think about feeding her horde of hungry people yet again, but at the time, with the self centered worldview of which kids are masters, I just thought she wanted us to be happy. Maybe she was making up for the meals that had included water chestnuts or brussels sprouts or *shudder* canned green beans.  Now, this was the seventies and even though my mother was an artist and craftswoman around food, she wasn’t particularly fussy about processed things and packaged goods. That means the table was spread with Helluva Good onion dip, weird cheese spreads, Sociables and Chicken in a Biscuit (chicken! in a biscuit!). For better or for worse, I am fussy about these things, so when we embrace chips and dips night, it looks a little different.  Thirty-five year old me would never let anyone near those things. Eyeing 50 me still doesn’t dig them but doesn’t have apoplexy if a kid has some here and there. Still, serving for them for dinner is a bridge too far for us (no judging, YMMV), so we make some adjustments. One that the whole family loves is our homemade dip. It’s easy, delicious, we know exactly what is in it and honestly, my kids prefer it to store bought. Here is our basic recipe, but it is infinitely customizable.

Better Than Bought Dip

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp dill
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

 

Mix all ingredients.  Adjust to taste. Dip things in it. Easy.

 

Flowers & Tarragon

Flowers & Tarragon

flowers and tarragonAre flowers ever more welcome than when they come from a friend’s lovingly tended garden?  Even better when they are coaxed by her through scissors placed encouragingly into the hands of your twin sons.  These in this picture were chosen and cut with enthusiastic interest and the confidence that comes from being told you can.  “She is very kind”, one boy said as we drove home, the other boy guarding preciously the jar of water and flora. And he is right – she is kind, and we are lucky.

This was a visit to a former personal chef client.  She is a gardener extraordinaire and we were dropping a nectarine tarragon cake to her on a Saturday morning.  The week previous she dropped us bunches of anise-y tarragon, as well as thyme and garlic scapes (eaten happily by the perceptive guy mentioned above), so I have been working all my creativity to use them.  As mentioned, she is a talented gardener, so the bounty is large, often larger than can be easily used. But I am lucky enough to receive these so I work hard to honor the gift and use them up. I admit, sometimes I fail and don’t get to them all before they turn, but often I am able to use them in both new and expected ways.  Thus, tarragon cake. Don’t underestimate the appropriateness of herbs in sweets. They may seem incongruent but that is exactly what makes them such a special addition, especially if paired with citrus or stone fruits, I find. I recommend you give this a try, and, if you know one, share it with a gardener.

Stone Fruit Tarragon Cake with Lemon Glaze

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup (one stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3-4 stone fruit of choice, one or a mixture (nectarines, peaches, plums, apricots), sliced
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

 

Method:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Use butter to grease either a 9 inch round or 9 inch square cake pan.  Cream butter and sugar in a mixer until butter has turned pale and the mixture looks a bit whipped.  Mix in the eggs and vanilla. Add flour, baking powder and salt and mix until just incorporated. Mix in the milk.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and nestle the cut fruit on top. Place in the oven and bake for 40ish minutes, until firm and lightly browned.  While it bakes, mix the lemon juice and powdered sugar to form the glaze, adding more lemon juice (or milk, if the lemon is dry) or powdered sugar as necessary to get a good drizzling consistency.  When the cake is cooled, drizzle the glaze on top in any decorative pattern.

 

Ham and Gruyere Quiche

Ham and Gruyere Quiche

Ham and Gruyere Quiche

The secret to this easy quiche is in the richness of the cheese, and Julia’s world-famous pie dough. When you put those two things together, and then add in some salty goodness from the ham – well, then you’ve got something that is worth a second helping!

Servings

4

Ready In:

60 Minutes

Good For:

When You Want Elegant Comfort Food

About this Recipe

There is something magical about quiche. It is light and filling. It is good cold or warm. It is decadent and maybe not all at the same time. This dish is the epitome of all of that contradiction. The crust of this quiche is all butter, so it is flaky and decadent. The gruyere is rich and creamy, but the egg mixture is fluffy and light. So, we can’t figure out how to describe all of the conundrums, we just know it’s delicious.

Ingredients

Method

  • 1 ¼ c flour
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3-4 tbsps cold water
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 c heavy cream
  • 1 c gruyere, grated
  • 1 ½ c ham steak, cubed (or sliced ham, torn up)
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • Salt and pepper

First, make the crust.  It’s ok, this is much easier than you think.  Just keep these general rules in mind – cold and quick.  Place flour and salt in a mixing bowl and add cubed butter.  Toss the butter around to separate and coat the cubes.  Now, either with your fingers (my preferred method), or with a pastry cutter, incorporate the butter into the flour until you have the texture of coarse crumbs (think panko rather than bread) with some larger pieces.  Next,  add in water a tablespoon at a time until it all starts to come together and there are no powdery bits.  Now collect it together and press into a disc shape.  Lightly flour a surface (counter, table, board) and your rolling pin and roll the crust into a roughly 12 inch circle.  Place into your pie tin, crimp the edges and place into the refrigerator while you mix the filling.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix together the eggs and cream.  Add in the ham, scallion and cheese and toss in a small sprinkle of salt and pepper to your liking, about  ¼ – ½ tsp depending, or 3-5 cranks from a grinder.

Bake for about 40 mins or until browning on top and only very slightly jiggly in the center.

Steak Chimichurri

Steak Chimichurri

 

About this Recipe

Chimichurri is a South American sauce – it most likely started with the native peoples of Argentina. But unlike most European-inspired sauces, Chimichurri is uncooked. It is meant to accompany grilled meat.The vibrant green of the sauce compliments not only the color of the grilled meat, but the freshness of the sauce is the perfect counterbalance to the richness of the meat. And did we mention that this is just dead simple to make?

Ingredients

Method

  • 1 ½ lbs flank steak (2 lbs if you have hearty eaters or want lunch for tomorrow)
  • 1 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp dried oregano or 2 tsp fresh
  • One large clove of garlic
  • Zest of one lime
  • Juice of one lime, plus enough red wine vinegar to equal ¼ cup, if necessary
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • Generous sprinkle of salt
  • Generous sprinkle of pepper

Start your prep with the chimichurri.  Place the parsley, cilantro, oregano, garlic, zest, juice/vinegar and olive oil in a blender.  Pulse several times until chopped and combined but the herbs are not totally pulverized.  Pour this into a bowl, cover & set aside.

Next, season both sides of the flank steak with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.  Heat a skillet over medium high and add about a tbsp of olive oil to the pan.  When the oil is heated to shimmery, place the steak in and cook for 4-6 minutes on one side and the same on the other, flipping back again as needed. Depending on the thickness of the steak and how you like it done, total time will be 10-12 minutes.  Remove steak to a cutting board and let sit for 5 minutes.  Cut thinly across the grain and serve with the sauce.

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