Monday, October 26, 2020

Summer Eats


Linguine with Bruschetta, Mozzarella and fresh basil

Before I give you a taste of my summer kitchen, I want to thank you for your comments on my last post. It was reassuring to read how many of you understand, have empathy, feel the same and know exactly what I was trying to say. To those who felt the need to criticize, preach and even lecture me, thus adding insult to injury, I can only say, please move on.

So, on to something that many of us spent a lot of time and care with during the summer of our pandemic: food. Have you noticed how often we made a trip to the refrigerator during the shelter-in-place? Even when we were able to move around more, food still remained one of the main attractions and a highlight of each day.

Spring mix with avocado, cherry tomatoes and sunflower seeds

Spring mix with avocado, sungold tomatoes and pumpkin seeds

Summer of course asks for lighter food. Fresh produce is readily available at farmers markets and even with a mask and social distance shopping in fresh air is a joy. Here in Sonoma County we are blessed and spoiled with the wonderful offerings of our local farmers. There is more than tasty organic produce - there are eggs from chicken spending their life in a pasture, bread baked with ancient grains, fresh seafood and the most delicious salmon/seaweed spread I ever had.

Chicken Shawarma

Summer is the perfect time for trying food from the Middle East like Chicken Shawarma, one of our favorites. It is easy to make since you prepare the marinade the day before and let the chicken marinate in it overnight. Your refrigerator will smell of cumin and garlic and a blast of it will reach your nostrils every time you open it - and make you very hungry. I usually make it in the oven and serve it on flatbread with lettuce, tomatoes and a spicy yogurt sauce. It is delicious. 

Sweet balls of fire

We finally asked a couple we're friends with over for a social distanced early dinner on the patio. We had set up two tables apart from each other, but still close enough that we didn't have to yell! They brought wine and appetizer and I served meatballs in a chilli sauce with focaccia I had baked in the afternoon and a salad. It was a simple meal, but just the right thing for this lovely summer evening. Even more important than the food was the conversation and the laughter - we laughed hard and often! 

 Creamy gnocchi with sun-dried tomatoes and basil

One of my pleasures is to read the New York Times morning briefings. They always come with a recipe of the day and some of these are very tempting. While I would like to eat a whole lot of these dishes, I at least tried a few, among them these creamy gnocchi with sun-dried tomatoes and basil. Before I cooked this dish I wasn't a big fan of sun-dried tomatoes, maybe because most of them are oil packed. However, I found some at Trader Joe's that are not packed in oil and julienne cut. I just added them to the sauce and let them cook for a little while. It has become a favorite dish in my family.

Summer veggies with fussili in creamy tomato sauce

But I don't always follow recipes. Quite often I just see what I have and then put something together. Summer has so much to offer - here I took some zucchini and eggplant, sliced them and sautéed them in my cast iron skillet, then made a creamy tomato sauce to go with it and finally added fussili to the pan. Easy, simple, tasty.

And sometimes I make Poké. It's not as good as in Hawai'i, but it's still delicious.

Of course the food needs to be accompanied by something to drink - in the summer I enjoy more white wine and especially rosé wine. In the past decade or so the rosés in the area have become really good wines and not that sweet stuff it used to be.

But we also enjoyed other drinks, especially during our Happy Hour with our neighbors out in the street - Mai Tais, Campari O, Hard Cider, Bellinis and our traditional "drunk strawberries" (Erdbeerbowle).

What kind of food did you have in the summer? What were your favorites?


Elephant's Child said...

I lean towards salads for most of the year.
In winter I do weaken and make a hearty beef in red wine casserole for himself and vegetable soups for me.
Loved seeing your pretty means and their accompaniments.
And hooray for finally being able to share a meal and laughter with your neighbour.

Magdalena said...

Liebe Carola, ich habe seit Wochen nicht mehr gepostet oder kommentiert, weil hier momentan die Sorgenberge schier unüberwindlich scheinen. Aber vielleicht fange ich jetzt mit dem Kommentar mal wieder an. Was die aggressiven Kommentare betrifft....kann ich nur sagen: wer's braucht. Die Frustrierten sind halt überall. Aber Deine Rezepte: köstlich!
Da werde ich in den nächsten Tagen mal drauf zurückkommen. Im übrigen: wir schauen viel Richtung USA. Warum wohl?
Ganz herzliche Grüße,

Barb said...

Carola! My prepared food doesn't hold a candle to yours. We've stuck to a Mediterranean diet heavy on veggies and fruit all summer. I spend a lot of time chopping veggies! One of our favorite dishes has been a simple lemon pasta made with lemon juice, wine, capers, pine nuts, and sun dried tomatoes. I sometimes throw some peas in for color. Glad you're well!

Jeanie said...

Oh Carola, what beautiful photos of your food. It looks mouth-watering and so delicious, very elegant. I fear our set up would be far less so. (Maybe delicious but not quite so pretty!)

I love the daily briefing in the Times and I always look at the recipe. I found a couple of real hits there. Like you, sometimes I modify -- often because I might not have an ingredient. But it's fun to cook. It was before the pandemic and more so since, I think!

Take care and I hope the fires have died down.

Iris Flavia said...

My mouth is watering, sooo much yum! Just this morning I said to Hubby I need to to ALDI and see if they have ripe avocados! (A real problem here, same as with mangos).

Lowcarb team member said...

Your food looks so delicious.

At the moment we are having quite a lot of soup. You can do so much with it, so many different varieties/recipes and perfect for our currently cooler Autumn Days.

Stay safe and well.

All the best Jan

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

It's a good thing I will be preparing our dinner soon, Carla, because looking at the photos in this post made me very hungry, all were so appealing! This past summer, we enjoyed many veggie meals with peppers, zucchini and eggplant as well as seafood served with salads. A favorite accompaniment was often a glass of Pinot Grigio. By the way, sun-dried tomatoes have become a favorite ingredient in many pasta dishes here as well.

Red Rose Alley said...

Oh my, every time I see your food pictures, my mouth waters, Carola. These look amazing. The Spring mix salads look Yummy, and I always try to put sunflower seeds on my salads every chance I get. The sweet balls of fire looks delicious. But I think my favorite on here is the creamy gnocchi with sun-dried tomatoes and basil. It reminds me of a dish I get at my favorite Italian restaurant.

You are such a terrific chef, Carola. My son likes to cook as well. Cooking can be a comfort at times. : )