In light of this summer’s blogging schedule I should probably rename this thing “What Was Elizabeth Cooking 8 Weeks Ago.” But here is the good news, although I’ve gone on a little blogging hiatus this summer, I haven’t stopped cooking, eating, or loving food. I also haven’t stopped taking pictures. So I’ve kept the intention of blogging…I just haven’t put it into action. Kind of like how I had the intention of going to the gym tonight but instead I ate Sprinkles cupcakes and watched “Giada at Home.” Which by the way….(tirade alert!) has seriously gotten borderline pornographic lately. I guess as her ratings drop so does her neckline? Now, I love Giada and her giant head and her penchant for over-pronouncing Italian words but if this lady shows any more cleavage, her cooking show is going to have to be aired on Cinemax.
Anyway….back to the food. So now, although Labor Day feels like the end of summer, we do have a few more weeks of fabulous summer produce left. I’m proud to say that my meals this summer have really taken advantage of all the delicious, local, and seasonal produce summer has to offer. My favorite thing to do lately is to go to the farmers market without any semblance of a meal plan and let whatever looks delicious dictate what I”m going to make! It’s very Italian, very summery, and a very good culinary challenge. Also going to the Union Square Greenmarket means Matt and I get to make fun of all the trendy yuppies with their Lululemon reusable shopping totes and three thousand dollar Bugaboo strollers….while we shop for squash. This produce dictating the meal idea has yielded some great dishes this summer. From rainbow carrots to tri-color potato salad. From Long Island corn to eggplant rollatini, I’ve got a slew of recipes stocked up to help you soak up the last few fleeting moments of summer.
Mango Salsa topped Pork Tenderloin with Rainbow Carrots and Okra
What’s okra you ask? Well let me tell you…when I was a kid, my brother and I went to this weird Jesus sports camp in Missourri where you like prayed before and after every soccer game and water skiing lesson…Yea…And in between all that praying and playing, we ate…a lot…of southern food. From biscuits to BBQ (yes that’s an actual dish down there, not a style of cooking) we were certainly fed well. And those southerners love, and I mean love their okra. And not just regular okra, fried okra. Okra is kinda like a yummy, crunchy, broccoli/squash hybrid. It’s widely available now at any northern supermarket or…you guessed it farmers market. It’s also in season in the summer and it’s so delicious on it’s own, there is really no need to fry it. Personally, I like to slice it up and roast it with some rainbow carrots for a fun pop of color. As far as the meat, the pork is marinated in a simple mixture of ginger and soy sauce and topped with some sliced up mango and red onions.
Baby Back Ribs, Sweet Corn, and Tri-Color Potato Salad
Next up we’ve got a simple, all-American, quintessentially summer meal. Ribs, corn, and potato salad. (Shout out to my friend Christine for the corn holders…best gift ever.) Making the corn is simple. If you live in the tri-state area go get Long Island sweet corn, boil it, slather it in butter, and ascend into corn heaven. If you don’t live in the tri-state area you can do what my transplanted Long Islander mom does ever since she moved to Chicago, go to Long Island, get corn, and take it on the plane with you back to Chicago. Yes the TSA will give you some odd looks, but it’s the only way to get good corn outside of New York…sorry guys the truth hurts. For the potato salad I lifted this recipe from Food and Wine which called for sweet relish in the salad. Well I didn’t have sweet relish and I don’t really like sweet relish BUT I had dill pickles and I LOVE dill pickles so I diced those up really small and subbed those in and it was out of control delishhh. The recipe called for blue potatoes and white potatoes, but I threw in some red ones as well. Now it’s patriotic…perfect for Labor Day! As for the ribs…stayed tuned for the next post, which I promise I’ll post soon! (Really this time!)
Pasta Gagoots and Turkey Sausage
This was a fun one, because aside from the pasta and cheese every piece of this meal came from the farmers market! Not only do farmers markets have an amazing selection of produce but a lot of times they also have great local meat purveyors, don’t be afraid to hit those guys up too! For this recipe I used a few kinds of summer squash (or gagoots in Italian) sliced them thinly, sauteed them with some garlic and white wine (also from the Farmers market…yup, they also sell booze!) and toss it with pasta. I topped it with some turkey sausage from a turkey farm upstate…it was so fresh and tasty and paired perfectly with the pasta. Sprinkle on some freshly grated parm and devour! What I love most about this meal is that it’s good comfort food, but still on the light and summery side. Just because it’s nice out and I have to wear a bathing suit doesn’t mean I’ve stopped craving pasta (I wish it did…but alas, life is unfair.)
This is a lightened up version of an Italian classic, instead of frying the eggplant pieces, I simply grilled them on my handy dandy grill pan with a little salt and pepper. It retains all of the classic flavors but it’s guilt free and meat free! You can roll up any mixture of ricotta and herbs inside the eggplant, then top with some red sauce and cheese and then bake. For a no meat meal, it’s super filling thanks to the hearty eggplant and protein from the cheese. Enjoy this on a late summer evening with a nice glass of red…ah….why can’t summer last forever…