Monday, July 18, 2016

Summer Supper Salad with grilled peaches, shishito peppers, chicken, sweet corn and feta

There is beauty in a summer salad that comes together naturally.  Whether from your own garden, farmer's market or bushel, ingredients that are in season together often make the nicest partnerships. Juicy and full-of-flavor Texas peaches, smokey blistered Shisito peppers and sweet summer corn join hands across a bed of Buttercrunch plus mixed lettuces.  Add lemony grilled chicken breast and salty feta and it's a knock out simple, summer supper.

Summer Supper Salad with grilled peaches, shishito peppers, chicken, sweet corn and feta

(Serves 2, Main Course)
2 peaches, halved, pit removed
shishito peppers, about a quart
1 ear sweet corn on the cob
1/4 cup feta
lettuce mix 
2 chicken breast cutlets
1 lemon
1 clove garlic
grapeseed oil

Marinate the chicken in the juice and zest of one lemon, crushed garlic and grapeseed oil for at least 30 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Grill  chicken 3 minutes, then rotate 1/4 turn for another 3 minutes.  Flip and repeat on other side.  Rub cut side of peach halves with grapeseed oil and place on grill, cut side down, for 3 minutes.  Toss shishito peppers in grapeseed oil, pinch of salt and place in a grill basket.  Grill, tossing every couple of minutes, until blistered (about 5 minutes, depending on how hot your grill is).  If your corn is fresh and sweet, you can cut it straight from the cob, or place it on the grill with the rest.  Arrange the lettuce mix, peaches, and shishito on the plate. Add sliced chicken breast.  Scatter on the feta and sweet corn.  Dress with your favorite dressing and devour.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Fizzy Watermelon Agua Fresca

Cool things on hot days.  Summertime... We're feeling it in Houston, Texas. Hot. And don't forget humid.  The objective these days is to think up all things cooool—like this fizzy watermelon aqua fresca.  If you are looking for a way to use your leftover watermelon from your 4th of July celebration, this is it!

I made these a couple of weeks ago for the kids in gardening class, and they loved them!  It was an especially fun way to enjoy a seasonal tasting, and relate it to what's actually growing in the garden right now.

Little Baby Flower Watermelon, small enough to trellis if you have limited gardening space.

The "girls" at the school garden enjoy any garden tasting "leftovers," and come running when we've got bits of cucumber or tomato.  

The girls show their gratitude by delivering the best, fresh eggs.

Fizzy Watermelon Agua Fresca

watermelon chunks
cold water
sparkling water

Fill up your blender with watermelon chunks, add one cup of cold water, a squidge of honey and the juice from 1/2 a lime.  Blend up until smooth.  Pour the mixture through a fine strainer, removing any pulp or seeds.  When you are ready to serve, pour the watermelon juice into your favorite glass and add sparkling water to your taste.  Enjoy!  

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

tomato celebration toast

Tomato season! This makes me so happy, y'all. And so does this thick slice of multi-grain toast, topped with a smear of chevre and juicy, red slices of Arkansas Traveler tomatoes, sprinkled with a confetti of coarse sea salt and black pepper.  Now that's downright gloriously simple goodness.  I could eat this every single day.  And, during tomato season, often do just that.

One of the really beautiful things about eating home grown or locally grown produce according to the season is the actual anticipation of each season.

Around mid-February every year here in central Houston, I set up my tomato plants.  I dig my hole, mix in MicroLife, add a teaspoon of rock phosphate and carefully tuck the tomato plant into the soil.  I tenderly envelop her in a wall of water, or set the cage and wrap with frost cloth to create a warm and safe place for her, protected from the wind and elements.  I do this multiple times over for each plant.  I wait, and I watch as they grow. Peeking in the little makeshift greenhouses around each plant, watching them get bigger and stronger.  Once the Ides of March pass and the winds settle, it's off with their protective shields and out into the bright, warm sunshine.  I wait and watch some more.  Until, usually near the beginning of May, I spot the first color on the Sweet Chelsea cherry tomatoes, and I know it has finally arrived.  Tomato bliss—on the precipice of full-on tomato season.

The garden team at our community donation garden also love watching the tomatoes grow into "trees," and anticipate their arrival—knowing they will help provide bountiful harvests for our neighbors in need via the food pantry.  

My mouth starts to water and I have crazy tomato dreams,  thinking about all the tasty bites coming soon.

Like these butter cracker fried green tomatoes using green Early Girl tomatoes...

for this Butter Cracker Fried Green Tomato Salad

And, please, don't forget the Caprese... with bright red Celebrity tomatoes...

For me, the Caprese always initiates a time-shift a few years back to the most perfect Caprese on the most perfect girls trip to Italy...

and this must-have Aperol Spritz...

One of my favorite varieties is a large cherry tomato, called Sweet Chelsea.. it's super productive, and reliable.

So good in this loaded salad lunch...

The big, beautiful Brandywine heirloom has the loveliest pink blush!

So here we are.  It's May, and we're ready to celebrate the season, and start it out with this simple tomato celebration toast.   Come late July, we'll likely have had our fill of tomatoes—until next season, that is.  We'll be well on our way to craving the next season's crop by then. And therein lies the beauty.
Let the games begin!