Iced Citrus Tea

August 19, 2007

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Longing for a refreshing taste of summer? Here it is. SAM

6 regular tea bags
2 quarts boiling water
1 cup sugar
1 cup orange juice
1 cup lemon juice
Fresh mint leaves for garnish

Place the tea bags and sugar in a 3-quart heat-proof container. Add the water and stir to dissolve the sugar. Cover and steep for 7 minutes. Add the orange and lemon juices and stir well. Serve over ice with fresh mint leaves.
Makes 2 1/2 quarts.


Ginger Sauce for Ice Cream

August 18, 2007

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Need a quick last-minute dessert? This one is so easy and so good you’ll want to keep the ingredients on hand just for emergencies. Serve it over chocolate or vanilla or peach ice cream, any flavor really. I can’t think of one it wouldn’t taste great on. SAM

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup half-and-half
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup finely chopped candied ginger

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, half-and-half, butter, and ginger. Bring to a rolling boil, remove from the heat, and stir to cool slightly. Serve over ice cream.
Makes 8 servings.


Tomato Salsa

August 17, 2007

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Forget to buy salsa on your way home? Make it from scratch. With a food processor, it takes no time at all. SAM

4 large fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and quartered
1/2 medium sweet onion, peeled and quartered
1/2 large green bell pepper, trimmed, seeded and quartered
4 pickled jalapeño peppers, halved
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Tortilla chips
Sour Cream

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, jalapeño peppers, cilantro, olive oil, and lime juice. Pulse 6 or 8 times until salsa is mixed and roughly chopped. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with tortilla chips and sour cream.
Makes 4 to 5 cups.


Spinach Bisque

August 16, 2007

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Some people say beating the summer heat is a state of mind. I say all you need is a creamy, cold soup. The great thing about this one is that when the temperature drops to freezing, it’s just as good hot. SAM

4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 medium waxy potato, peeled and finely diced (3/4 cup)
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons dry sherry
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
10 ounces fresh spinach
1 cup milk
1 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
2 or 3 gratings of whole nutmeg
Dash of cayenne pepper

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and sauté the onion until tender. Add the potato, chicken broth, sherry, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set in the fridge to cool. Meanwhile, steam the spinach, covered, over boiling water, turning occasionally with tongs, until thoroughly wilted, about 4 minutes. Cool on a plate and wring out by hand. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the onion mixture, spinach, and milk and process until smooth. Pour into a tureen and stir in the half-and-half, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper. Chill thoroughly.
Makes 6 servings.


Zucchini Carpaccio

August 15, 2007

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Here’s another fabulous way to serve summer zucchini. If you have a very sharp knife and fine motor control, you can slice them by hand. Otherwise, you’ll need a slicer, like a mandoline or the inexpensive and wonderful Feemster Slicer. You can serve Zucchini Carpaccio on their own, or add avocado or tomato for a larger salad. SAM

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
8 (4 to 5-inch/2-ounce) zucchini, trimmed
1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
Chopped parsley
Shaved Parmesan

In a small glass, whisk together the vinegar, oil, and salt. With a slicer or sharp knife, cut the zucchini into very thin strips. Spread on a plate and drizzle with the vinegar mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate at room temperature for 1 hour. Arrange on salad plates with the marinade and top with pine nuts, parsley, and Parmesan.
Makes 4 servings.


Marinated Cucumbers in Sour Cream

August 14, 2007

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Soaking cucumbers and onions in salted ice water makes them crisp enough to pop. Then the oil and vinegar marinade pickles them slightly. I could eat the entire bowl, even before I add the sour cream! SAM

3 medium cucumbers, scored or peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced with rings separated
Salt
Ice water
1 cup olive oil
1 cup cider vinegar
1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Sweet paprika

In a large salad bowl, alternate layers of cucumbers and onion, sprinkling each layer with salt. Cover with ice water and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours. Drain the cucumbers and onion, rinse thoroughly under running water, drain again, and pat dry. Return to the bowl and cover with oil and vinegar. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours more. Drain the cucumbers and onions again. Return to the bowl and stir in the sour cream and pepper. Sprinkle with paprika.
Makes 8 servings.


Eggplant Tzatziki

August 13, 2007

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If you like baba ghanouj, you’ll love this yummy eggplant dip. Instead of tahinni, it’s made with tzatziki, a Greek yogurt-cucumber sauce. The flavors are a perfect blend of summer. SAM

1 medium eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons Greek yogurt, also called ‘yogurt cheese’
2 medium cloves garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 cup grated cucumber
1 tablespoon fresh dill or fennel fronds, snipped
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Flat-leaf parsley and paprika for garnish
Pita bread cut in triangles, for serving

Cut the eggplant in half and place cut-side down in a glass baking dish. Add the water, cover with plastic wrap leaving one corner open, and microwave on high for 8 to 9 minutes or until the skin is slightly wrinkled and begins to collapse. Microwave longer in 1- or 2-minute intervals, if necessary. [See Cooking Tip] Still under the plastic, cool for half an hour, then gently squeeze out any excess juice and scrap the flesh into a medium mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice and beat with a pastry fork until light. Add the yogurt, garlic, 1 tablespoon oil, cucumber, dill or fennel, salt, and pepper. Beat until well blended. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and garnish with parsley and paprika. Serve with wedges of pita bread.
Makes 4 to 6 appetizer servings.