Category Archives: Summer

Simplest Strawberry Ice Cream

I’ll keep this post as simple as this recipe. I love ice cream. Chocolate is almost always my default, but when I make the time to make my own, I tend to gravitate to whatever fruits are in season. While strawberries are not technically in season right now, I feel like they are more in season now that in, say, November. I went all organic on these ingredients, but I am not convinced that that had any significant effect on the flavor. All I know is that this is easy, delicious, and sure to please. Looking forward to trying this with peaches and other berries before the weather turns frosty and I turn to bread pudding.

Clean and slice a pound of strawberries into the size you would want to eat in ice cream into a large, non-reactive bowl. Squeeze a little lemon juice over them (no more than a teaspoon). Mix in ½ cup of sugar and let stand for at least 10 minutes, up to 30 minutes, if you have time. Place ½ to ¾ of the fruit mixture in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Add two cups of heavy cream and pulse to combine (be careful NOT to whip it/whip it good). Stir in the remaining fruit and transfer to a container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight, if possible. Freeze according to your ice cream maker instructions. For this one, try to remove the ice cream from the maker just as soon as it sets and isn’t too freezy. Particularly good for breakfast.


Ingredient: Garlic Scapes

It might be a chicken-egg kind of situation, but it feels like farmers are taking more risks on growing and selling non-traditional produce and more home cooks are willing to buy them and be more adventurous. It doesn’t really matter who influenced whom first – I am just happy to see a surprisingly large variety of unusual vegetables and fruits available. On my latest venture to the Green City Market, I found the following inspiring little things:


Zucchini Blossoms


Fig Tree!


Garlic Scapes


Edible Flowers


Lamb’s Quarters


Funny Little Orange Eggplants


Plethora of Peppers


Bounty of Beets!


Holy Kohlrabi!


Breakfast Radishes

Because I was buying stuff for some specific purposes (more or less), I pulled the trigger on the garlic scapes and lamb’s quarters. Often, using these ingredients (at least at first) can just be a matter of swapping out a more commonplace ingredient for a more adventurous one. In my case, I used the garlic scapes, which are just the tender shoots of the garlic plant, like I would scallions – chopped finely into a salad. (Incidentally, I used the lamb’s quarters raw and trimmed, like mixed baby greens).

When I tasted the raw scapes, I felt like the garlicky flavor was a bit too strong and was afraid that they would overpower the rest of the salad. Therefore, I blanched them along with the green beans I prepared; in retrospect, I would skip this step. The salad ended up falling a little flat, lacking the pleasant bite that the raw scapes would have provided.

But, this is the best part of being adventurous! The process of trial and error allows you to develop a relationship with your ingredients, and I think that’s an important thing to foster. Just as a farmer learns over time how to encourage the growth and fruitfulness of his crops, the cook learns through many attempts how to bring out the best in the produce the farmer provides.  Get out to a farmers market this weekend if you can – always good for inspiration!

Pasta L’estate (Summer Pasta)

Pasta L'Estate

Summer Pasta

This post just goes to show that inspiration for anything can come from anywhere. That includes being inspired to create an Italian pasta dish while dining on vacation in the mountains just outside of Bogotà, Colombia.

Before I embarked on this journey, I was told to take advantage of the fresh fruits and vegetables that are available year ‘round while in Colombia. Once we made our way through the hills from the airport to our apartment for the next week, I realized I was in for a heavenly treat; the climate seems perfect to grow just about anything. Plants that need a little extra heat (tomatoes, basil, cucumbers) might require a greenhouse, but the lush greenness of everything around Bogota seems to invite every seed in the world to settle down there and plant some roots. When it came time for our first meal, I didn’t automatically think, “I want something Italian,” but I was a guest in the country and my basic rule is that, if someone I know and love wants me eat something somewhere (in this case, La Contadina), then I am up for it.

I was grateful to be reading some Italian, actually, as I reviewed the menu. My Spanish is really only good enough to order food and even then I sometimes struggle, especially when it comes to regional fare (try translating ajiaco or calentado into English). Everyone had suggestions (mostly gravitating to the baked macaroni), but I had vegetables on my mind. There were lots of pasta options, which are usually not my go-to, but one kinda stood out to me. Linguine, shrimp, assorted vegetables, no cream. Perfect.

I was so happy when it arrived. There was this plate heaping with perfectly cooked pasta, studded and layered with asparagus, fresh peas, tomatoes, garlic, basil and the most beautiful shrimp. There was considerable plate envy from my dinner mates.

I don’t make pasta very often, but when I do, I usually try to do something new with it. This time, I consulted some recipes on Epicurious and in the Joy of Cooking, but I also tried to remember what made the dish at La Contadina so special. A couple of simple rules: use the nicest vegetables you can fine and the freshest basil known to the kitchen (from your own herb garden). Cheese is optional (I know how finicky some are about fish and cheese together), but I like the way that the parmesan adds salty richness to the dish.

Here’s the basic method:

Get a big pot of salted water going on the stove. Once you have it at a boil, drop in a generous bunch of asparagus (trimmed and cut into roughly one-inch pieces), as well as a few handfuls of sugar snap peas in the pod (cleaned and left whole). The point of this cooking is to blanch them – cook them just enough to enhance their green color and take the raw edge off. It should take no more than a minute. After that minute is up, pull the vegetables out of the boiling water with a slotted spoon or strainer with a handle (some call it a spider) and drop them into a bowl of ice water (more ice than water) to stop them from cooking and becoming mushy.

Next, start the sauce. Drop 3 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or whatever combination you like) in a reasonably large pot that will hold a pound of cooked pasta with room for the vegetables and sauce. Add a ton of chopped garlic (5-7 cloves) to the butter and oil when it is hot and bubbling; stir until fragrant. Add a rough pound precooked shrimp to the butter and oil and reduce heat to low (you just want the shrimp to warm up and lend flavor to the fat).

In the meantime, drop a pound of dry pasta (I used linguine because I prefer long pastas to things like penne or fusilli) into the boiling water. While the pasta cooks, halve a good couple of handfuls of grape tomatoes. Drain the asparagus and peas and add tomatoes to the mix. Once the pasta is cooked to al dente, drain immediately; do NOT rinse.

Add all vegetables to the butter/oil/shrimp mixture, along with 3/4 of a cup of chicken, fish, or vegetable stock, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring the mix just to a boil and immediately add the pasta – this is the stage that makes the dish; the starch of the pasta will mix with the vegetables and sauce to create a silky, rich, delicious concoction that will have you asking why you would ever need to add cream.

Just before serving, add some chopped or julienned fresh basil and serve with (optional) grated or shredded parmesan cheese.