Tag Archives: Summer

Goat Cheesecake with Blueberry-Gin Compote

Goat Cheesecake with Blueberry-Gin Compote

So I didn’t really plan or intend to take this much time off from blogging lately, but it sort of coincided with some nuttiness in my real job plus some incredibly loud construction going on across the street from my building. Like, metal pounding metal stakes into the ground. The sound is actually rather unnerving, and everything I tried to write just leeched out undertones of the inner rage I was feeling at the noise. Better to not subject anyone to that.

goat cheesecake with blueberry-gin compote

They seem to be taking a day off, so I’m writing out as many blog posts as I possibly can, while I can think clearly! Let’s talk goat cheese in a cheesecake. This is not a savory cheesecake at all, so the goat cheese isn’t terribly obvious in the flavor department. It’s more that it lends a background tanginess that cuts the sweetness of cheesecake, and mostly it provides creaminess to the texture.

Goat Cheesecake with Blueberry-Gin Compote

I was very much in love. Upon initially reading the recipe, I was a bit skeptical that the batter might not work properly. It just seemed like overkill to include sour cream, and ricotta, and goat cheese in addition to the cream cheese. But I was wrong, it works beautifully! This was among the creamiest and smoothest cheesecakes I’ve ever tasted, so I can’t complain about any perceived overabundance of batter ingredients.

Goat Cheesecake with Blueberry-Gin Compote

The blueberry sauce was really gorgeous, both to look at and to eat. You don’t taste the gin outright, but it does complement the sweet-tart nature of the blueberries, and the texture achieved here is divine. It’s really rich and smooth, but with those plump bursts of the whole blueberries added in. Cheesecake is always a labor of love and time, so I firmly believe it’s got to be completely worth it when you do make it. This one will not disappoint. Enjoy!

Goat Cheesecake with Blueberry-Gin Compote

Source: slightly adapted from Home: Recipes to Cook with Family and Friends by Bryan Voltaggio

Ingredients:

CRUST:
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup plus 1 tbs graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
Pinch of kosher salt

FILLING:
12 oz. goat cheese, at room temperature
10 oz. ricotta cheese
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup plus 7 tbs granulated sugar
2 ½ tbs sour cream
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp kosher salt
2 ½ tbs all-purpose flour

COMPOTE:
8 oz. blueberries, divided
½ tsp orange zest
½ tbs honey
½ tsp gin
Pinch of kosher salt

Directions:
For the CRUST: preheat the oven to 375 F. In a medium bowl, stir together the melted butter, graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and salt. Mix until the mixture resembles wet sand. Pour the crumbs into a 9” springform pan and use a flat-bottomed drinking glass or measuring cup to press the crumbs evenly on the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake 9-12 minutes, until browned. Remove from the oven and let cool. Lower the oven temperature to 300 F.
Meanwhile, make the FILLING: mix the goat cheese, ricotta, cream cheese, granulated sugar, and sour cream in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low speed until fully blended, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, waiting until each one is fully incorporated before adding the next one, followed by the yolks in the same fashion. Add the vanilla and salt. When they are incorporated, stop the mixer and add the flour. Mix on low speed until just blended.
Prepare the cheesecake for baking. Take two large strips of aluminum foil and lay them out on a flat surface so they overlap a bit. Tape them down the middle with sturdy packing tape or duct tape. Turn the foil over and tape the other side. You want no seam left flapping open. This is the only way I’ve found to ensure that no water seeps into your cheesecake. Set a tea kettle full of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Place the springform pan over the aluminum foil and tightly wrap the sides. Place the springform in a roasting pan. Carefully pour the filling into the crust, then add enough hot water to come halfway up the side of the pan. Bake for 60-75 minutes, until the sides are set and the center is jiggly but not liquidy. Shut off the oven and crack the door open. Let the cheesecake cool in the oven for 1 hour. This helps to prevent the dreaded cheesecake cracks. Remove the cake from the water bath and let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate overnight before serving.
Right before you’re ready to serve, make the COMPOTE: put half of the fresh blueberries, the orange zest, honey, gin and salt in a small saucepot over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low and cook about 3-5 minutes, or until the blueberries are completely tender and soft. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Strain the puree through a fine-mesh sieve. Add the remaining blueberries and mix well. Cool slightly before serving.
Serve slices of the cheesecake with a nice dollop of compote.

Romaine, Blueberry, and Corn Salad with Blueberry Vinaigrette

Romaine, Blueberry and Corn Salad with Blueberry Vinaigrette

Monday is killing me today, and no, it has nothing to do with the wine I consumed last night! (Actually my lack of sleep had much more to do with cat drama during the night, which I won’t bore you with, but if anyone is a cat whisperer, please do drop me a line. Thanks!)

Romaine, Blueberry and Corn Salad with Blueberry Vinaigrette

Anyways, after I stopped forcing stone fruit season to arrive before it intended to do so, I’ve been gobbling up all the berries like they’re going out of season soon. Ha!

Romaine, Blueberry and Corn Salad with Blueberry Vinaigrette

About a month ago, I picked up (what was then) the latest issue of Food & Wine, and was immediately intrigued by their idea of using fresh blueberries in a vinaigrette for salad. I’m here to report it is indeed delicious, so I put together a simple and summery salad of romaine, fresh sweet corn, and more blueberries (plus croutons!) to showcase this unique blueberry salad dressing.

Romaine, Blueberry and Corn Salad with Blueberry Vinaigrette

I hope y’all enjoy it!

Source: vinaigrette from Food & Wine, July 2015

Ingredients:

VINAIGRETTE:
¼ cup fresh blueberries
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tsp adobo sauce from a can of chipotle in adobo
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

SALAD:
2 hearts of romaine, chopped or torn
1 ear of corn, husks and silks stripped away and discarded, kernels cut off the cob
A couple of generous handfuls of fresh blueberries
Croutons
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
First make the VINAIGRETTE. In a small saucepan, use a potato masher to mash the blueberries with the sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until thickened, about 8 minutes. Let the mixture cool slightly.
Scrape the blueberry mixture into a bowl and whisk in the oil, vinegar, and adobo sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To make the SALAD, place the romaine chunks into a large salad bowl, followed by the corn kernels and the fresh blueberries. Season lightly with salt and heavily with black pepper. Drizzle with vinaigrette and toss gently to combine. Add more dressing if needed (you can always add more dressing in, but you can’t take it out if you overdress the salad!). Garnish with croutons and serve immediately.

Corn on the Cob with New Orleans “Barbecue” Butter

Corn on the Cob with New Orleans "Barbecue" Butter

New Jersey is nicknamed The Garden State, and until moving to the NYC region, I never knew (or cared – gotta be totally frank here) why. You know why? It’s because of all the gorgeous summer produce those farmers spin out every year! I am suddenly feeling rather lucky to live here and have access to all of this – the tomatoes! The peaches! The corn!

Corn on the Cob with New Orleans "Barbecue" Butter

Once you taste this Jersey sweet corn, you have to take back every single bad thing you’ve ever said about this state. I’m serious. (And if you’re not originally from here and you’ve lived in New York for the past ten years, you *might* (cough, cough) have said something bad about the ol’ NJ).

This corn is so perfect that all it really needs is salt and maybe a pat of butter after grilling it. But that’s a hideously dull “recipe” to blog. And since I try my hardest to keep this space from being the culinary equivalent of watching paint dry, we have to jazz up that corn somehow.

corn on the cob with New Orleans "barbecue" butter

I chose to try out a corn recipe that is reminiscent of New Orleans barbecued shrimp, a classic dish which involves no actual barbecue sauce, but rather spices and an utterly obscene amount of butter. Since corn loves butter, and since the sweetness of corn can take on the very assertive spices of New Orleans quite nicely, this is actually a genius idea. One I didn’t think of myself, I’ll freely admit. Go America’s Test Kitchen!

The cooking method used here is also pretty genius. You’ll need a 9 by 13-inch aluminum roasting pan, and a grill surface large enough to accommodate it. Indoor or outdoor grill, either is perfectly fine as long as it’s big enough. This may be my new favorite corn on the cob recipe. I hope you love it too!

Corn on the Cob with New Orleans "Barbecue" Butter

Source: America’s Test Kitchen Special Collector’s Edition: Best Ingredients, Best Recipes

Ingredients:
6 tbs unsalted butter, softened
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp tomato paste
½ tsp minced fresh rosemary
½ tsp minced fresh thyme
½ tsp cayenne pepper
8 ears of corn, husks and silks removed
2 tbs canola or vegetable oil
Salt and black pepper

Directions:
In a small bowl, use a fork to thoroughly combine the butter, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, tomato paste, rosemary, thyme, and cayenne.
In a 9 by 13-inch disposable aluminum roasting pan, place the butter all over the bottom of the pan, in small spoonfuls. Set aside at room temperature.
Brush the corn evenly with the canola oil, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
Grill the corn over medium-high to high heat (indoor or outdoor grill is fine), until lightly charred on all sides, 5 to 9 minutes. Transfer corn the aluminum roasting pan and cover tightly with foil.
Place the roasting pan on the grill and cook, shaking the pan frequently, until butter is sizzling, about 3 minutes.
Remove the pan from the grill and carefully remove the foil, allowing steam to escape away from your face. Serve the corn immediately, spooning the excess butter in the pan over the individual ears.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Pickled Walnuts and Blue Cheese

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Pickled Walnuts and Blue Cheese

One of my favorite things about summer is, without a doubt, heirloom tomatoes. I await their annual arrival with impatience and once they are finally here I buy them every chance I can. Truth be told, I’m mostly boring with them. Slice them, a sprinkle of salt, and given their size I find that’s a lovely and surprisingly filling side dish to a lean protein.

heirloom tomato salad with pickled walnuts and blue cheese

Obviously I can’t blog that. So I blog my other favorite thing to do with them: salads!! Every summer I hunt down a unique and creative way to showcase these beauties via salads, and when I find one I like, I keep making it every other day until Matt serves the cease and desist request. (He’s not nearly as big a fan of tomatoes as I am).

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Pickled Walnuts and Blue Cheese

But, he did like this one a lot, which means it’s *extremely* tasty. I couldn’t get enough, every time I made it. The first time found us pressed for time, so I skipped the candied walnuts and just pickled regular ones. No. Hunt down or DIY them up candied, it’s so worth it. I also skipped the celery, on account of having forgotten to buy it (d’oh!), and please don’t do that either. It lends not so much flavor but a wonderful crunch that complements the soft texture of the heirlooms.

heirloom tomato salad with pickled walnuts and blue cheese

I really can’t say enough good things about this beautiful salad. If you love, or even like, heirlooms, then this needs to be in your summer repertoire while we can still get ahold of those babies. Enjoy!

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Pickled Walnuts and Blue Cheese

Source: Food & Wine, June 2011 (recipe submitted by Richard Blais)

Ingredients:
½ cup candied walnuts, coarsely chopped
4 tsp sherry vinegar, divided
2 tsp Dijon mustard
3 tbs olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
2 lbs. assorted heirloom tomatoes, thickly sliced or cut into large wedges
2 small celery ribs with leaves, thinly sliced crosswise
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese

Directions:
In a small bowl, toss the walnuts with 2 tsp of the vinegar and let stand for 10 minutes.
In another bowl, whisk the mustard with the remaining 2 tsp vinegar and the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Arrange the tomatoes on a platter. Season with salt. Add the celery and its leaves, nuts and cheese. Drizzle with the dressing and serve immediately.

Couscous Salad with Cherries and Feta

Couscous Salad with Cherries and Feta

Sweet cherries are flooding my local grocery store! I know they usually take a backseat to their coveted and more popular sour siblings, but I always love that sweeter version of the fruit and eagerly await their in-season arrival each year. I bought way too many and am happily scrambling to find ways to use them up.

sweet cherries for couscous salad

This salad is the second thing I made with my stash. The first thing was a whole roast duck with a fresh cherry-rosemary sauce on the side. It was so delicious, and I really wanted to share it with you, but this brings me to the point in this post where I start apologizing for my food photography of late. The new place has a completely different layout than the old place. There’s more windows, but they aren’t directly off the kitchen, and I have less space for food styling. But the layout is open enough that natural light does reach the kitchen where I’m photographing, if it’s not overcast or nearly sunset. So I’m definitely still figuring out what works and what doesn’t. That duck most definitely fell into the DOESN’T WORK category. Obviously you’ve figured out by now that I’ll share less-than-perfect food pictures on this site, but, come on, I do have my limits! It has to still look like food, you know?

couscous salad with cherries and feta

So hopefully this second, and no less delicious than the first, savory cherry dish works well enough to post without hanging my head in food photography shame. Because I seriously couldn’t get enough of this. It’s perfectly balanced in flavor and texture, equally tasty served cold or room temperature, easy to throw together, and just so perfect for hot summer days. I hope you love it as much as we did!

Couscous Salad with Cherries and Feta

Source: Heather Christo’s Generous Table by Heather Christo

Ingredients:
2 cups sweet red cherries
2 cups water
4 tbs olive oil, divided
kosher salt
2 cups couscous
3 tbs minced shallot
3 tbs red wine vinegar
½ cup minced fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
½ lb. feta cheese
2 tbs chopped pecans, or slivered almonds

Directions:
Pit the cherries into a small bowl and let them sit while you make the couscous. Some of their juices will drain into the bowl (not much though!).
In a medium saucepan, bring the water, 1 tbs olive oil, and ½ tsp kosher salt to a boil. Add the couscous and stir. Cover the saucepan and shut off the heat. Let stand for 5 minutes, then open the pot and fluff with a fork. Let the couscous cool a bit.
Slice the pitted cherries into thirds and set aside in another bowl. Add the shallots to the juice in the first bowl. Add kosher salt to taste, the remaining 3 tbs olive oil, and the vinegar. Whisk to create the dressing.
Add the dressing, along with ¼ cup of the minced parsley, to the couscous and gently toss to coat. Add the cherries and stir to combine. Crumble the feta cheese over the couscous, then add the remaining parsley (you can save a little for garnish if you want), and the pecans or almonds. Toss to gently combine. Taste and season with extra salt if needed, but remember that feta is pretty salty already – mine didn’t need anything more.
Serve this salad at room temperature or chilled. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.
I loved this both at room temp and chilled – probably prefer room temperature if I HAD to choose, but I really loved both. Also, this makes a TON! Couscous really expands. Feel free to cut it in half.

Strawberry Gazpacho

Strawberry Gazpacho

Please meet the first meal I cooked and photographed in our new place for the blog! Except that technically I didn’t cook anything… because gazpacho… but still! Summer fruits and vegetables are popping up everywhere in my neck of the urban woods, and in fact as I write this I’m planning my first venture to scope out my new city’s farmers markets!

For me, the default in using summer fruits has always been desserts or other baked goods that are really just desserts with slightly less sugar masquerading as breakfast items. It’s easy, it works, everyone loves it. Pardon the pun, it’s low hanging fruit. These sweet berries, melons, and stone fruits are made for sweets.

strawberries for gazpacho

But, I’m feeling more savory (that’s code for cranky – moving is a real pain!) than sweet these days, so I plan to use this wonderful summer bounty in more salty, umami, main-course-type recipes this year. Not exclusive of sweets of course – that wouldn’t be any fun!

Starting with some of the first berries we see in late spring/early summer up here – strawberries! The ones I’m finding lately are perfect – juicy, sweet, plump, and bright red. While gazpacho is traditionally made with tomatoes, I very pleasantly discovered that strawberries make a wonderful stand-in. This strawberry gazpacho is sweeter and less acidic than its more typical tomato sibling, but with the same basic flavor components and textures. As all gazpacho should be, it’s light and refreshing, and packs a ton of flavor into a healthy, guilt-free meal or side dish. Enjoy!

Strawberry Gazpacho

Source: adapted from Soup of the Day by Ellen Brown

Ingredients:
1 large red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and rough chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
3 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts divided
3 tbs dry red wine
3 tbs freshly squeezed lime juice
3 cups vegetable stock
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground coriander
3 cups sliced fresh strawberries, plus a little more for garnish
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Directions:
Add the bell pepper, celery, scallion whites, red wine, lime juice, vegetable stock, ginger, coriander, and strawberries to your blender. Puree until very smooth. Do this in batches if need be. Season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper. If you prefer your gazpacho chilled, then place it in the refrigerator for a few hours. If you prefer it room temperature, then pour it into serving bowls and garnish with the scallion greens and some extra sliced or chopped fresh strawberries. Serve immediately.

Lobster, Charred Corn, and Avocado Sandwiches

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About one week out of every summer, I feel like the luckiest person on earth. Why? Because my grocery store gets these small, roughly-one-pound live lobsters and puts them on sale for around $6 per pound. Yeah. You read that correctly. It’s crazy. Matt and I can dine on lobsters for less than $15 total.

We never know which week of the summer this blessed event will occur, so you have to be vigilant and alert. And sometimes, like last year, you’ll be on vacation during that week and want to cry about it. But not this year! (Whew…)

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This year, we walked into the grocery store after a long, beautiful day at the beach with a shopping list for burger makings, and that quickly got tossed as we exuberantly exited the grocery store with our $6 lobsters, some garlic, herbs and butter. We had a leisurely, romantic dinner of boiled lobster, drawn garlic-herb butter and chilled Chardonnay.

The next day, I went out and bought two more of those low-price lobsters for this amazing, glorious sandwich. Some fresh sweet corn, ripe avocados, eggy Briochoe rolls, and we were in business.

This is one of the richer summer sandwiches I’ve eaten in my lifetime, but also one of the more delicious. Due to the (usual) price of lobster, I’m guessing it isn’t a sandwich most of us can have every day; I certainly can’t anyway. So once a year, I’ll thoroughly enjoy it and not feel the least bit bad. And you could always sub in jumbo shrimp for the lobster. Enjoy!

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{One Year Ago: Duck Fat Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Heirloom Tomato Salad with Anchovy Vinaigrette}
{Two Years Ago: DrPepper Can Chicken}

Source: adapted from Barbecue Addiction by Bobby Flay

Ingredients:
2 (1-1 1/4 lb.) live lobsters
1 tbs unsalted butter
1 large ear of corn
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
1/2 small jalapeno or serrano chile
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 ripe Hass avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
2 tbs sour cream
2 tbs chopped red onion
A handful of cilantro leaves, chopped, plus extra for garnish
Juice of 1/2 a lime
Few dashes of Tabasco sauce
2 Brioche buns, split and toasted

Directions:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the lobsters and boil for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove with tongs to a shallow bowl or high-sided plate and let cool. When you can handle them, crack the meat out of the claws and tail. Cut the tail meat into chunks. If not continuing the recipe immediately, store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
Peel the husks and silk off the corn and use a sharp knife to cut the kernels off. Add the butter to a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corn, garlic clove, and chile and saute just until softened and toasted, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Transfer the garlic clove and chile to a cutting board and the corn to a large bowl.
Once cooled a little bit, mince the garlic and chile. Add to the bowl with the corn. Also add to the bowl the avocado, sour cream, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, Tabasco, and salt and pepper to taste. Mash and stir the whole thing together with a fork. You want it combined but still chunky.
Now assemble the sandwich. Dollop a hunk of avocado mixture onto the bottom bun and spread to the edges. Nestle a generous amount of lobster meat, both claw and tail, on top of the avocado. Mound a few dollops of avocado over the lobster, garnish with a few leaves of cilantro, then close the sandwich. Serve immediately.
Makes 2 sandwiches.

Italian Vegetable Frittata

Italian Vegetable Frittata 022

Eggs and I have had a rather complicated relationship over the years. As a child, I liked scrambled eggs, but no other kinds – ever! Fast forward to college, where I majored in biology. Which meant taking labs. And labs meant conducting experiments, oftentimes on poor dead animals like fetal pigs and cats and frogs. And, chicken eggs.

Zucchini 001

My junior year, we used a special microscope to peer into a chicken egg that was actually meant to you know, hatch a live chicken. The egg was in its infancy stage, so it looked like a regular egg you’d buy in a carton at the grocery store, only we could see a beating heart. First it looked like nothing, then you’d see a quick burst of blood that then dissipated back into itself, like tossing a pebble into a puddle.

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It freaked me the hell out. Probably shouldn’t have, but it was so weird to see this normal-looking egg, the likes of which I’d eaten my whole life, and all of a sudden there’s a bloody heartbeat in the middle of the yolk. And I mean a literal bloody heartbeat, not a British bloody heartbeat.

Italian Vegetable frittata 031

So, eggs and I broke up for a while. Despite liking the taste of scrambled eggs, I couldn’t bring myself to eat them after what I’d witnessed. It was just too weird. This persisted for several years. It wasn’t until Matt and I were dating that I agreed to try them again. See, I met him while he was a mid-twenty-something grad student, and scrambled eggs were one of the few things he knew he could make competently. So when I initially said I disliked them, he panicked a little, then regrouped and convinced me to try them. And I agreed. Because it was the beginning of the relationship, the part where we agree to do and try things we dislike, just for our new love.

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Good news though – I rekindled that old fondness for scrambled eggs, and decided to get over my squeamishness. And then the whole thing snowballed. Before you know it, I was eating poached eggs, and fried eggs, and baked eggs. Like frittatas. Something I never grew up eating, or even knowing about, for that matter…

Now I make them often. And this one I made with zucchini! And parmesan. And it was fluffy, light and delicious. Quite perfect, really. Enjoy!

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{One Year Ago: Sweet Corn Sorghum Ice Pops}

Source: slightly adapted from The New Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook by Ellen Brown

Ingredients:
3 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. (about 3 thin) zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded, stemmed and chopped
Kosher salt and black pepper
10 large eggs
3 tbs chopped fresh basil
2 tbs dried oregano
6 tbs half-and-half
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 425 F.
Heat a 12” cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and tilt the pan to coat evenly. Add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes, until the onion is softened a bit. Add the garlic, zucchini, and bell pepper. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5-6 minutes, or until the veggies soften and the liquid has evaporated.
Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with the basil, oregano, and half-and-half. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Reduce the heat on the skillet to medium and pour the egg mixture into the skillet. Do not stir. Cook about 4 minutes, or until you just start seeing the sides begin to set. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the frittata evenly, then transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the top is browned and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Run a spatula around the sides of the skillet and under the bottom to release it. Cut into wedges and serve.

Seared Tuna Salad with Nectarines and Cherry Tomatoes

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Happy Friday!!! So, I love discovering new food blogs. There are so many food blogs out there that I don’t think any one individual has any hope of reading, or even knowing about, all of them. And sometimes that fact makes it easy to get in your own patterns and even forget there are tons of great food blogs out there of which you’re completely unaware!

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Thanks to joining a few food blogging related Facebook groups, I met Melissa at The Front Porch Gourmet, a great southern lady featuring delicious recipes and mouth-watering photos. When she posted this seared tuna salad with summer plums, I immediately started drooling and knew exactly what I was making for dinner.

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I ran out to the grocery store and started shopping. Tuna, check. Greens, check. Then I got to the plums, and at that particular store on that particular day they were looking rather Meh-not-so-much-thanks-but-no-thanks. Fortunately they were sitting next to some beautiful nectarines, so problem solved!

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This salad completely lives up to its billing. It’s light, healthy, summery, and perfectly balanced. The nectarines worked very nicely, but really I’m sure any stone fruit would do here. And if you don’t groove on tuna, I’m thinking salmon would be nice as a stand-in. Enjoy this one, while we can still get the last bit of seasonal stone fruit! Before it’s all eggplant and tomatoes (not that I’m complaining). And be sure to check out Front Porch Gourmet!

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{One Year Ago: Peach and Cherry Frittata}
{Two Years Ago: Squid Ink Fettuccine with Shrimp and Chorizo, Peach Cobbler, Fettuccine Alfredo}

Source: adapted from Front Porch Gourmet

Ingredients:
2 small to medium sushi-grade tuna steaks
1 sprig rosemary, minced
About 3 tbs olive oil, plus extra for dressing the greens
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1 bag of mixed salad greens, whatever your preference
2 nectarines, pitted and sliced into wedges
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
Balsamic vinegar

Directions:
Pat the tuna steaks very dry with paper towels. Preheat a skillet, preferably non-stick, over high heat. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste. Brush this over both sides of the tuna steaks. Carefully add the tuna steaks to the hot pan. Leave them to cook undisturbed for about 1 minute. Flip them (it works best with a thin spatula) and cook on the other side for about 30-45 seconds for rare.
Remove the tuna steaks to a plate and let them rest about 5 minutes. Then, with a very sharp knife, slice them thinly against the grain.
Pile the greens into a large salad bowl. Add the nectarines and cherry tomatoes, then drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, just enough to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper and toss to combine.
Transfer the salad to 2 large salad plates and top each with slices of tuna. Serve immediately.
Makes 2 servings.

Plum Poppy Seed Muffins

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Ahh, stone fruit. Those delicious, juicy, sweet things with a maddeningly short growing season. So many stone fruits to choose from, and so little time to enjoy them. Last year I was all about the peaches, so this year I vowed to be more about plums and nectarines. Maybe next year is apricots? But then what about pluots? It gets complicated….

plums 002

Next year can be figured out later; today we shall have these tasty muffins with lots and lots of plum chunks. And poppy seeds too, just for good measure.

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These muffins are not savory per se, but they are not high on the sweet factor. Over the years it seems that muffins have inched closer and closer to cupcakes, some so much so that the lines of distinction have grown exceedingly blurry, and oftentimes muffins seem like little more than an excuse to eat cake for breakfast.

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Not today, my friends. These muffins are taking a stand and declaring themselves to be MUFFINS, and muffins alone. They are emphatically stating that they will not tolerate being confused with their distant look-alike cousins. These are decidedly breakfast food, and they are well aware that we shouldn’t be consuming tons of sugar first thing in the morning.

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That said, they are quite delicious, with a soft and impossibly moist texture, studded with ripe plum chunks that pop, and just a hint of sweetness. Enjoy while plums are still in season!

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{One Year Ago: Nutella Zucchini Muffins, Purple Jesus, Peach Sour Cream Pancakes}

Source: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

Ingredients:
6 tbs unsalted butter
1 large egg
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup sour cream
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground nutmeg
2 tbs poppy seeds
2 cups pitted and diced plums, from about ¾ lb of whole plums

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 375 F. Grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin. Set aside.
First step is to brown the butter. Cut the butter into chunks and add to a stainless steel small pot or skillet. Place over medium heat and let it melt. Once it’s melted completely, the butter will start popping and bubbling and sputtering – this is the water evaporating out. You will see the butter turn a nice brown color and there will be little browned bits hanging out at the bottom of the pan. Once the sputtering and popping has died down to a minimum, shut off the heat. Let it cool slightly.
Add the egg and both sugars to a large mixing bowl and whisk until well combined. Now add the butter, including those browned bits floating around, plus the sour cream. Whisk to combine. If your butter is still very warm, drizzle it in slowly while constantly whisking.
In a separate bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and poppy seeds. Add to the sour cream mixture and whisk until just combined. Do not overmix, and a few lumps are okay. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the plums.
Use an ice cream scoop (helps to grease it lightly first) to evenly distribute the muffin batter into the prepared muffin tin. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the tops are golden and a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Rest the muffins in the pan for about 2 minutes, no more than 5 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and let them cool completely. Store any leftovers in an airtight food storage container.