Farmer's markets and backyard gardens are full of ripe summer produce right now, and it can feel like a race against the clock to use it all while it's fresh. This Summer Minestrone with Mint Pesto from Charlie Palmer's American Fare is a quick and comforting one-pot fix.
SUMMER MINESTRONE WITH MINT PESTO
Having grown up in upstate New York, where there are long winters and a short growing season, I still am amazed at the year-round bounty of California farmers. So, although this soup has summer in its title, I can now make it almost all year long in Sonoma, while folks in the East have to wait for warmer weather. While a winter minestrone is a heavy soup with root vegetables and pasta, this is a minestrina, a thin soup with a light broth and barely cooked vegetables that say "local and sustainable" in a bowl. The pesto is not absolutely necessary, but it does add a whole new dimension to the soup
Makes about 1½ cups
Excerpted from the book Charlie Palmer's American Fare by Charlie Palmer. © 2015 by CRP Consulting LLC. Reprinted by permission of Grand Central Life and Style. All rights reserved. Read our review of this book.
In honor of Private Eye July here at BookPage, we're featuring a recipe from superstar mystery and thriller author James Patterson himself. His Grandma's Killer Chocolate Cake, taken from The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook, is just one of the 100 recipes collected from the most legendary and celebrated authors in the genre.
Grandma’s Killer Chocolate Cake
Here’s one “killer” Alex Cross always loves to catch—Grandma’s Killer Cake! A special family recipe dating from the 1940s, this decadent cake seems to get better with age; it is tastier on day two. And you need to be a good detective around the house after it has been made, sitting there in its glass-domed cake stand, staring back at you with deadly temptation, because a piece seems to mysteriously disappear every time I go into the kitchen. Not to be caught red-handed, so looms the “Killer Cake Killer”!
YIELD: 1 SINGLE- LAYER 9-BY-12 INCH CAKE OR 1 DOUBLE LAYER 9-INCH CAKE
James Patterson has sold 300 million books worldwide, including the Alex Cross, Michael Bennett, Women’s Murder Club, Maximum Ride, and Middle School series. He supports getting kids reading through scholarship, Book Bucks programs, book donations, and his website, readkiddoread.com. He lives in Palm Beach with his wife, Sue, and his son, Jack.
It’s Private Eye July at BookPage! All month long, we’re celebrating the sinister side of fiction with the year’s best mysteries and thrillers. Look for the Private Eye July magnifying glass for a daily dose of murder, espionage and all those creepy neighbors with even creepier secrets.
Looking for a fresh and healthy side to go along with your Fourth of July barbecue this weekend? Try this Grilled Cornucopia of Summer Garden Vegetables from our July Top Pick in Cookbooks—Sarah Leah Chase's New England Open-House Cookbook.
Grilled Cornucopia of Summer Garden Vegetables
At the height of the summer growing season when every night calls for firing up the outdoor grill and you can’t decide which vegetable to cook from the backyard garden or local farmers’ market, this grilled cornucopia of vegetables is your answer. If looking svelte on the beach is a top priority, you may want to skip grilling any accompanying protein and simply feast on this beautiful and bountiful platter of colorful and tasty vegetables. Otherwise, the grilled array of vegetables is perfect to pair with everything from the catch of the day to succulent rib eye steaks. Serves 8 to 10 as a side dish, 4 to 6 as a main dish
1. Combine the eggplants, yellow squash, zucchini, yellow and red onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms in a large mixing bowl and toss with the vegetable oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss to coat evenly.
2. Set up a charcoal or gas grill and preheat it to medium-high.
3. Arrange the vegetables, working in batches if necessary, in a hinged wire grill basket or place them on top of a small-mesh grilling rack. Grill the vegetables a few inches above the heat, turning them frequently, until crisp-tender. Some vegetables will take longer to cook than others, so you want to tend them carefully and transfer them to a large and attractive serving platter as they become crisp-tender.
4. Once all of the vegetables have been grilled and placed on the platter, drizzle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar over them. Scatter the capers and basil over the top. Serve the vegetables warm or at room temperature.
Reprinted from New England Open-House Cookbook by Sarah Leah Chase, copyright © 2015. Recipe courtesy of Workman Publishing. Photography credit: Matthew Benson. Photography © Workman Publishing 2015. Read our review of this book.
Trained chef and reality television star Dean McDermott's recipe for Easy Lemon Curry Chicken has just the right balance of spice to spruce up your typical baked chicken while maintaining its kid-friendly appeal. Check out his new cookbook, The Gourmet Dad, for more than 100 recipes that will keep the whole family happy during meal times.
Easy Lemon Curry Chicken in Spicy Cream Sauce
You might be a little surprised, as I sure was, that kids take to this dish with gusto. Despite the name, both the chicken and the sauce are fairly mild, with just a hint of curry. I came up with this recipe for myself, because I wanted to spruce up some boring chicken breasts. They had a lovely yellow glaze, which caught Liam’s and Stella’s attention, and they asked me if they could have a taste. The monsters wolfed them down! The curry gives the dish an exotic flavor that is just pleasantly spicy but not overwhelming by any means. It’s a great weeknight dish because it is simple and quick to whip up. You don’t have to knock yourself out in the kitchen to create a knockout meal.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
In a small bowl, mix together the curry powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Sprinkle half the seasoning across a large platter. Set the chicken on the seasoning and then sprinkle the remaining seasoning on top. Pat the chicken to make the seasoning stick.
Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sear each chicken breast on both sides until golden brown, about 8 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet and bake for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the internal temperature measures 165°F. Remove the chicken to a clean plate and loosely tent with foil to keep it warm while you prepare the sauce.
Add the lemon juice to the skillet in which the chicken was seared and cook over medium heat, scraping up any bits left from the chicken. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter, the curry powder, cumin, chili powder and coriander, and stir until the butter has melted.
Slowly whisk in the heavy cream. Bring the sauce to a boil, whisking continuously. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and whisk until it melts. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
Arrange the chicken on 4 individual plates and top with just enough sauce to cover. Serve at once.
Greek chef Diane Kochilas and her incredily straightforward, yet elegant recipe for pasta with a delectable and creamy yogurt-based sauce is just one of the many smart dishes compiled in Food52 Genius Recipes. With just a few ingredients and very little cooking, you can have a dinner on the table that is packed with rich flavor.
Pasta with Yogurt & Caramelized Onions
From Diane Kochilas
When cookbook author Diane Kochilas began dressing pasta with yogurt, her intention was to adapt a classic Greek island dish that required an obscure cheese called sitaka. But, in doing so, she created a dinner of convenience that’s striking enough to serve to company. The sauce has only two components: thick yogurt and starchy, salty pasta cooking water, which together create the soothing texture of an alfredo sauce, lightened up with yogurt’s tang. But it won’t taste austere, especially once you garnish with caramelized onions and Pecorino to balance out the sweetness and salt.
When Kochilas developed this recipe, in order for the yogurt to thicken enough to coat the pasta—and not slip off into a puddle at the bottom of the plate—you had to remember to strain it for 2 hours.This is hardly something to grumble about, but it did keep this dish in the realm of dinners you have to think about before you’re hungry.
Now, with the widespread availability of thick, Greek-style (that is, already strained) yogurts, this is an almost embarrassingly ready-to-eat food. The only step that takes time is caramelizing the onions, which you’ll want to do right. Give them at least 20 to 30 minutes, while you do everything else. They should look like stained glass when you’re done, and taste like honey.
There are endless ways you can fancy up this meal. Throw in spinach or chard as the pasta finishes boiling. Or blend the sauce with peas, mint, or tahini.
Serves 4 to 6
1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the onions. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently and seasoning with salt to taste as you go, until the onions are soft and golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. As the water heats, add enough salt so that you can taste it. Add the pasta and cook until soft, just past al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1⁄2 cup (120ml) of the pasta water. Combine the yogurt with 1⁄4 cup (60ml) cooking water and mix well. Add more of the reserved pasta water as needed to get the sauce to your desired thickness.Toss the pasta with the yogurt mixture. Serve the pasta immediately, sprinkled generously with cheese and topped with the caramelized onions and their juices.
Note: If using thick, Greek yogurt, like a colander with cheesecloth and set over a bowl or in the sink. Add the yogurt and let drain for 2 hours before proceeding with the recipe. For a treat, seek out sheep's milk yogurt for this.
Dean McDermott has created a wealth of family-friendly recipes that take picky eaters into mind with The Gourmet Dad. Little ones will gladly eat their greens with this savory, smoky recipe for Rainbow Chard with Bacon and Capers.
Rainbow Chard with Bacon and Capers
Chard, like spinach and other earthy greens, is chock-full of nutrients that kids and adults need. In raw form, chard is an acquired taste (that’s a nice way of saying kids will spit it out). But braise or sauté these greens and they come to life. Any leafy greens like this need to be thoroughly rinsed before cooking—otherwise you risk a gritty mouth feel. For young chard, trim just the stems; for mature chard, discard the spines then chop and cook the stems. If larger, more mature chard leaves are all that are available, they are going to be more bitter than young chard. You might want to add about a teaspoon of sugar or agave nectar to the dish to mellow any bitterness and bring out the sweetness in the greens. For the kids, I chop the chard fine, leave out the cayenne and double the bacon.
Separate the chard leaves from the stems. Wash, rinse and dry the leaves and stems thoroughly. Slice the leaves lengthwise into ribbons, and slice the stems crosswise into ½-inch pieces. Set aside.
Cook the bacon in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat until it is crispy, turning occasionally. Transfer the lardons to a paper towel–lined plate and set aside.
Add the chard stems, garlic and shallots to the skillet, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the garlic and discard.
Increase the heat to medium-high, add the chard leaves and toss with tongs until just wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with the black pepper, salt and cayenne pepper. Stir in the reserved lardons, the capers and the lemon zest, and toss to combine. Serve hot.
Reprinted from The Gourmet Dad by Dean McDermott, copyright © 2015. Recipe courtesy of Harlequin Publishing. Photography credit: James Tse Photography Inc. Read our review of this book.
Overwhelmed with the bounty of summer berries and citrus? Then get wise, and give this refreshing Strawberry Lemon Sorbet from Food52 Genius Recipes a try.
Strawberry Lemon Sorbet
From river café
We’re taught to zest our lemons carefully, to shear off just the thin yellow top coat that holds the citrusy perfume—as if some of the bitter, spongy white pith might sneak in and ruin everything. (And sometimes it does.)
But Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray, founders of the famed River Café in London, realized that, taken in the right proportions, some pith would add depth but not bitterness to a sweet dessert. So they told us to pulverize a whole chopped lemon, pith and all, and make strawberry sorbet out of it.
The process is enough to convince anyone, young or old, that the kitchen is an exciting place to be. Just three ingredients make a series of quick, color- ful transformations, all in one food processor bowl. You get to see not only what strawberries look like as they surrender and slacken into a hot-pink soup, but also what happens when chopped lemon and sugar become one—going from sand to slush in just a few pulses. And because this effortlessly dissolves the sugar, you get to bypass making a simple syrup, a step often considered mandatory in sorbet recipes. In other words, this is a truly no-cook sorbet.
It’s sweet and cold, with little pucker, and since you don’t strain it, you get gleeful pops of strawberry seed and shreds of lemon rind (of course, you could always pass it through a strainer if textured sorbet isn’t your thing, but for the true, rustic Rogers-and-Gray experience, don’t).
Serve it as an invigorating dessert after something grilled and meaty. Or ease a scoop into a glass of seltzer or ginger ale and go sit in the sunshine.
Makes 1½ quarts (1.4L)
1. Place the lemon pieces into a food processor with the sugar, and pulse until combined. Pour into a bowl.
2. Puree the strawberries in a food processor and add to the lemon mixture, along with the juice of 1 lemon. Taste and add more juice as necessary.The flavor of the lemon should be intense but should not overpower the strawberries. Pour the mixture into an ice cream machine and churn until frozen. Serve immediately or transfer to a lidded container in the freezer until serving.
Michelin-starred chef April Bloomfield's recipe for Salad Sandwiches is simple and perfect for these scorching summer days when you don't want to turn on the oven or stove. Pack a these in a picnic basket and enjoy the sunshine!
Makes 4 sandwiches
Don’t tell me you’ve never had a salad sandwich! When I was a girl, my family practically lived on them come summer, when it was steamy outside and the last thing my mom wanted to do was hunch over a hot stove. The salad sandwich is just what it sounds like: bread piled with veg like tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, and onion. My mum would add spring onions from her garden and slather the bread with butter and Heinz Salad Cream. The ones I make today aren’t much different, though I typically make my own version of salad cream and might occasionally add boiled eggs with oozy yolks or use goat cheese butter. Sometimes I’ll even bake my own white bread. But really, the little details are up to you.
Fill a medium pot at least halfway with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Use a slotted spoon to gently add the eggs to the water and cook them for 7 minutes (set a timer), then run them under cold water until they’re fully cool. Lightly tap each egg against the counter to crack the shell all over, then carefully peel them. Slice them however you’d like just before you add them to the sandwich.
Lay the tomato, cucumber and onion in more or less one layer on a large platter or cutting board. Squeeze a little lemon juice over the veg, then add a good drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Flip them over and rub them gently, just to make sure they’re all seasoned.
Spread each slice of bread with butter. Layer the tomato, cucumber, onion, lettuce, salad cream, and eggs on 4 slices of bread: I like to start with the tomatoes, then lettuce, then a good old slather of salad cream, then the eggs, the cucumber, and finally the onion. Top with the remaining bread and give each sandwich a firm but gentle press with your palm. Eat straightaway.
Makes a generous cup
This creamy, tangy dressing is meant to mimic the jarred salad cream I grew up with in England, which I poured all over raw vegetables. I realize now that it’s a lot like a really liquidy version of the deviled egg filling I make at The Spotted Pig, with a little tarragon thrown in. If you’re making this for Salad Sandwiches, you might want to give some of the boiled egg whites a good old chop and pile them on the bread along with the soft-boiled eggs. No point in wasting.
Fill a medium pot at least halfway with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Use a slotted spoon to gently add the eggs to the water, cook them for 10 minutes (set a timer), then run them under cold water until they’re fully cool. Lightly tap each egg against the counter to crack the shell all over, then peel them, halve them lengthwise, and pop out the yolks. (Reserve the whites for another purpose, like Salad Sandwiches, or for nibbling.)
Use the back of a spoon to force the yolks through a mesh sieve into a food processor. Add the oil, cream, vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt, and 2 teaspoons water and process until very smooth and creamy. Add the tarragon and process briefly. It keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
From A Girl and Her Greens by April Bloomfield. Copyright 2015 April Bloomfield. Excerpted by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Read our review of this book.
Outdoor grilling season is in full-swing, and celebrated chef Rick Bayless has just the right multi-purpose seasoning for you. Try his modified recipe from More Mexican Everyday for a traditional salsa negra, a sweet and smoky paste that can be used on everything from grilled meats to sandwiches.
Sweet-Sour Dark Chipotle Seasoning • Salsa Negra
Don’t think of this Veracruz specialty as a typical salsa, in spite of its Spanish name; it’s more of a seasoning paste, with deep, dark richness and smoldering heat—just right for adding depth and complexity to the simplest of dishes. The traditional version of this salsa is so involved (oil-roast the chiles and garlic, soak in raw-sugar water, puree and cook slowly in an oily pan for an hour or more) that no one really makes it at home. Which is the reason I worked on a quick cheater version, but one that, to my taste, is pretty darn close to the original.
Makes about 2 cups
Place the two cans of chiles (and their canning liquid), molasses, vinegar, sugar and ½ cup water in a blender and process until completely smooth. Scrape into a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Let the mixture come to a brisk simmer, then turn the heat to medium-low and continue simmering, stirring regularly, until the mixture is the consistency of tomato paste, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the soy sauce. If necessary, add some water, a splash at a time, until the salsa is the consistency of runny ketchup. Cool, taste and season with salt; it may not need any, depending on the saltiness of your soy sauce. (That said, keep in mind that salsa negra should be seasoned highly, both to preserve it for longer storage and to make it useful as a seasoning.) Transfer the salsa to a pint-size jar and store, covered, in the refrigerator, where it will last for a month or two.
The Simplest Uses for Sweet-Sour Dark Chipotle Seasoning
1. Spoon onto raw oysters or add to cocktail sauce for shrimp
2. Toss with nuts and a little oil and bake for a delicious nibble
3. Toss with shrimp or smear on chicken after sautéing or grilling
4. Use as a glaze for practically anything off the grill. It’s particularly good on tuna, mackerel and sardines, as well as eggplant.
5. Believe it or not, it’s good on peanut butter–banana sandwiches
6. Use instead of Worcestershire and hot sauce for a spicy bloody Mary
7. Stir into cream cheese with crumbled bacon for an amazing bagel spread
8. Stir into caramel sauce and use as a dip for apples
9. Add to the pot when braising shortribs
Copyright © 2015 by Rick Bayless. Excerped from More Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless published by Norton. Read our review of this book.
Our May Top Pick in Cookbooks is A Girl and Her Greens: Hearty Meals from the Garden by New York Michelin-starred chef, April Bloomfield! Did you know the leafy tops of carrots are actually secretly tasty? Bloomfield's recipe for Carrot-Top Pesto will completely change the way you look at this popular veg.
If you’ve never nibbled a carrot top, you have a happy surprise waiting for you. The greens are delicious: a little less carroty than the roots, and almost briny, like heartier borage. Arriving home from the market with not only a collection of sweet, colorful roots but also a big old tuft of bushy tops is like ordering pork shoulder and finding out that the kind butcher has snuck a couple of trotters into your bag.
I treat the tops as I would a tender herb, adding little sprigs to salads as I might parsley or dill. And because each bunch of carrots can bring twice the volume in tops, I make pesto. As much as I like the particular flavor of the tops themselves, I also like how they carry the flavor of basil, which comes through quite a bit considering how few leaves you use.
Makes about 1 cup
Combine the carrot tops and basil in a small food processor, pulse several times, then add the walnuts, Parmesan, garlic and salt. Pulse several more times, add the oil, then process full-on, stopping and scraping down the sides of the processor or stirring gently if need be, until the mixture is well combined but still a bit chunky. Taste and season with more salt, if you fancy.