…the last taste of summer

It’s officially fall now.

The autumn equinox has come and gone and the leaves are beginning to turn here in Maine…apples and pumpkins abound, mums (the flowers) are being popped into the ground and into pots everywhere and the smell of smoke is in the air…but I’m still savoring the last taste of summer…

vine-ripened

Vine ripened tomatoes,

basil 2

fresh basil,

fresh mozz. 2

fresh mozzarella

presto pesto

and pesto.

Melt together between two slices of bread and you will taste summer in a way which no other sandwich compares…

Granted, my tomatoes have all been plucked from their vines (nights are getting a bit too chilly for them) and they now continue to ripen on my window sill and the basil (still in the garden) is starting to brown, but I picked as much as I could before the cooler nights settled in and I’m so glad I did! I’ve made batches of pesto, stored what I could in the fridge and am drying more…

So what to do with all those tomatoes, basil and pesto?

Bake some bread, buy a block of fresh mozzarella and get slicing….

Now it’s not a ‘cheap’ sandwich to make if you have to buy all the ingredients, but if you’ve been fortunate enough to grow the basil and tomatoes and have the desire to bake some bread (check this recipe out for a very simple and inexpensive recipe) all you’ll need to buy is the fresh mozzarella. The least expensive block I’ve found sets me back $4, but I can get at least 4 sandwiches from one, so that ends up being only $1 per sandwich (at least for the cheese), a far cry from what this sandwich would cost if it was to be ordered out…

Gather your ingredients;

tomatoes + basil

sliced bread 2

fresh mozz. 2

A few leaves of basil, a few slices of fresh mozz., a couple pieces of bread, a tablespoon or two of pesto and sliced tomato. Add a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic if you wish, a bit of butter for browning and you will have the tastiest summer sandwich – ever!

Spread each half of bread with pesto,

pesto spread 2

top with a layer of basil, fresh sliced mozzarella and then tomatoes…drizzle with a bit of olive oil and balsamic (if you wish), a sprinkle of salt and top with other half of the bread…butter each side and place on hot griddle. Turn once browned and then cook the other side. Cut and serve! side view layered 2

layer tomatoes, basil and cheese 2

top view browned

cut and ready to serve 2

These were so delicious, Michael and I agreed we each had to have a second!

Are you missing summer already? Then why not make this sandwich and be reminded…

What are your favorite summertime ingredients? What’s your favorite sandwich?

Enjoy.

fresh corn, basil and tomato tart…perfect for a maine lobster bake…

Michael (my partner) and Finn (my 3.5 year old son) were out for a few hours, helping a friend put together the necessary components for a lobster bake…

Seaweed. Rocks. Wood to build the fire (and maintain it for hours). A few canvas tarps. And most importantly, a dug space. A pot in the earth so to speak… in which to bake the lobsters, corn and clams.  A real Maine lobster bake.

Hot rocks layer the bottom of the ‘pot’ (a hole dug into sand or soil). Seaweed is dropped on top, creating steam…lobsters are placed on top of this, and then they are topped with another layer of seaweed and a few splashes of sea water…sizzle, sizzle, sizzle…

seaweed + steam

lobsters, corn + seaweed

Corn is layered next, followed by more water, seaweed and then finally, the clams…more sea water and more seaweed are added, and then the tarps are tossed over, covering the opening, thus creating a ‘lid.’

tarps

As the sun sets over the Atlantic, lobsters bake, in the ground, on an island…

sunset

freshly steamed lobsters, corn and clams

I digress…this (potluck) lobster bake, and the fact that Michael and Finn were out for a few hours helping organize the party, is what inspired me to try this recipe.

It’s a recipe I found some time ago…torn from a magazine I regretfully do not know (note to self, write down the month, the year and the title of the magazine, from which the recipe was removed…), and I had yet to make it…

Basil was in the garden, corn I could buy 6 minutes down the road at a local farm stand (my corn is not ready yet), I had eggs (from same local farm stand), cream and enough grape tomatoes to give it a go…I decided this is what I was going to bring to the potluck lobster bake;

A fresh corn, basil and tomato tart.

complete

Plus, I had one hour of uninterrupted time – something truly treasured – now that I’m a parent, and phenomenal lighting, so I prepped, photographed and baked this scrumptious tart in only 60 minutes.

Fun.

Gluten free? Just substitute flour with a gluten free flour and enjoy…

 Fresh corn, basil and tomato tart

Print this recipe!

Ingredients;

ingrediants 1

1/3 cup butter, softened

2 Tbsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

3 eggs (despite only seeing one in the photo)

2/3 cup yellow cornmeal

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup half-and-half or light cream

1.5 cups fresh corn kernels (2-3 ears of corn, depending on size) – steamed or boiled for 2-3 minutes

peel the corn 1

remove corn kernals

1/2+ cup coarsely chopped fresh basil

chopped basil

1/2+ tsp. salt

1/2+ tsp. freshly ground pepper

3/4 cup freshly chopped tomato

fresh basil

spring of fresh basil for garnish

First the cornmeal crust;

What to do;

adding dry to wet 2

1. In a medium bowl beat butter with electric mixer on medium to high for about 30 seconds.

2. Add sugar and 1/2 tsp. salt. Beat until combined.

3. Beat in 1 of the eggs until combined.

ball is formed 3

4. Beat in cornmeal and flour, until ball begins to form.

5. Shape into disk with hands and wrap in wax paper and chill for 30-60 minutes or until easy to handle.

chilled dough + tart pan

Next, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

– Lightly press dough on bottom and up sides of 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom…

press into pan and up sides

work dough towards the sides of the pan and then gently with your fingertips, force the dough upwards, along the sides of the tart pan,

even sides

keeping the thickness even all around and up to the brim. This is not as complicated as it sounds. The dough is so malleable, it moves upwards with ease…make sure you keep all sides uniform and to the brim (to prevent overflow, over the top of the crust, when filling).

crust close-up

– Line crust with double thickness of foil and bake for 10 minutes; remove foil and bake for an additional 6-10 minutes more, or until pastry is set.

While that is happening…

pouring cream

eggs + cream blended

– In a medium bowl whisk together the remaining two eggs and cream.

corn + basil added to eggs

blend all

– Stir in corn, basil and 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper.

tart filled

– Pour over crust.

baked

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until set. Let stand for 10-15 minutes. Remove sides of pan to serve.

complete

Top with chopped tomato and fresh basil.

top view slices

side angle view sliced

Makes 8 servings or more if sliced smaller…

tart with cucumbers

 Sliced cucumbers and lime are in the background – I brought a plate of these (cucumbers are plentiful right now) as well as blueberry crisp. Abundant summer fruits – love it!

Enjoy.

summertime potato salad

Potato salad is synonymous with summer in New England (well, at least in my world it is)…

Potato salad and Maine lobster.

Potato salad and hotdogs.

Potato salad and burgers.

Potato salad and veggie burgers.

Potato salad and kabobs.

Potato salad and grilled fish.

Potato salad and just about any sandwich you can think of…

Potato salad.

Need I say more?

Yum.

While I have yet to grow potatoes (on next years list); green beans I’ve mastered…

green beans I've mastered

green beans are what give this potato salad its’ crisp loveliness as well as its’ freshness…

Green beans and lemon juice to be precise.

squeezed lemon

Lemons are another favorite of mine. I love using lemon juice instead of vinegar…plus, lemon juice is so good for us – it’s alkaline (not acidic ) and high in vitamin C – both of which are immune builders…

Back to potatoes and green beans.

Combine the two with a bit of mayo, lemon juice, salt and pepper and you have the makings for a delicious (and nutritious) potato salad.

Enjoy on its’ own or serve as a side to a number of mains…

Potato salad with green beans and onion (preferably, red onion)

print this recipe!

*adapted from the cook book, The Frugal Gourmet

Ingredients;

2 pounds potatoes (russet, gold, yukon), skin on

potatoes in white bowl

3/4 fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces (this is one recipe I do not recommend using the frozen counterpart)

cut green beans

2 tablespoons olive oil (for blanching)

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion (white or yellow onion could suffice (as I did here), though, I do recommend red onion – visually and flavor wise, red onion is what this recipe aught to have!)

2 hard boiled eggs

For the dressing;

dressing ingrediants

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (olive oil will suffice too)

1/4 mayonnaise

Juice of 2 lemons

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

salt and pepper

What to do;

Place the potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil uncovered.

Then simmer 30-40 minutes (depending upon type of potato used) or until very tender when pierced with a knife.

Carefully drain and allow to cool.

Once cool, peel and cut the potatoes into 1/2″ cubes.

potatoes cubed

While potatoes are simmering away, blanch the cut beans for about 3-4 minutes in a pot of boiling water (I just use a heavy bottomed skillet, filled 3/4 with water, add the beans and then toss quickly with tongs…) with a pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons olive oil.

blanching green beans

Quickly drain and rinse the beans under cold running water, to stop the cooking…you want them cooked, yet crisp.

Add to the cut potatoes, shredded egg, and onions.

ingrediants added

Prepare the dressing, pour over veggies and egg,

pour dressing

combine dressing with ingrediants

toss gently and finish with freshly chopped parsley, a pinch or two more of salt and freshly ground pepper.

finish with parsely

Enjoy.

plump pancakes

Plump with fruit that is.

Raspberries and bananas to be exact.

And you won’t find any baking powder or baking soda in this recipe – we like pancakes, dense and moist…

No fluff here.

Cakes – thin, yet plump with fresh or frozen fruit.

Stack high and top with a bit of butter and then drizzle warmed maple syrup over top ’till it drips down the sides…

stacked high

enjoy with homemade homefries and breakfast is served.

homefries

Pancakes with raspberries and bananas

Print this recipe!

Ingredients;

2 cups flour

2 cups buttermilk (can substitute regular milk)

1 Tbs. melted butter (or olive oil)

2 eggs (beaten)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

mini pinch of salt

1-2 cups fresh or frozen fruit

What to do;

Add buttermilk, tiny pinch of salt, melted butter and eggs to flour. Mix until smooth.

Add vanilla, stir

pancake batter

Blend in fruit

How to cook;

Heat skillet over medium to high heat and coat with butter.

Before butter starts browning or bubbling, pour one ladleful of batter onto heated skillet. Continue as space allows.

Let each cake sit (and cook) until little bubbles begin to appear on the top side of cake. Once a few bubbles have ‘popped’, flip gently to the other side…and cook opposite side.

Pancakes on griddle

Keep warm in oven until all batter has been used…cover slightly to prevent drying out, though not entirely, to prevent ‘sogginess’ from trapped moisture.

If you make too many (is that possible?), just freeze and enjoy on another day…what fun!

stacked high

Fun fact; pretty flower plate picked up at my local freebie barn (actually an entire set). What?

Have a great weekend!

life last week…

Last week was my week to prepare for an upcoming art show in which we exhibited…hence, my absence here…

Michael (my partner) has been busy for the past few months designing and building new pieces to showcase. Below, the back of one club chair and the root is a table base – both of which sold (yeah!),

back of club + table base while I have been busy with all the other things involved with owning one’s own art based business, Designs Adrift…and planning for an off site show. Below, our booth…

right side show space 2013

The exhibition took place on Mt. Desert Island.

A very beautiful and picturesque area of Maine…to say the least…

Somes sound is absolutely incredible and Acadia National Park is not too be missed…

The tiny cottage in which we stayed was situated perfectly within Northeast Harbor.

A ten minute walk and we would be in town. And the 20 minute commute to the show grounds afforded us a luxurious drive past grand estates and then into the Somes Sound…a magical fiord…

The narrow, winding two lane road, where fog and mist intermix with brilliant azure skies and green covered mountains (East Coast mountains) on either side of it, holding boats of all types… reminded me of being on South Island, in New Zealand…

It was an incredibly beautiful commute, and one we fully appreciated…particularly after all the hours we had spent preparing for the show and all the hours we knew were ahead…

Collecting the wood. Designing and building each piece. Deciding what should be showcased and where. Laying out the space. Pricing. Wrapping each piece for travel. Loading the U-haul trailer and remembering to bring everything we would need (shame I didn’t take any packing/moving photos)…

And then there was the food.

Lunches were kept simple with salads

bulger + red pepper salad

(garden veggies abound at the moment),

garden veggies

breakfasts were oatmeal with yogurt and fresh blueberries (in season here now), homemade raspberry muffins

wild raspberries

raspberry muffins

and on our last morning we savored a delicious quiche.

Dinners were one pot meals – chili, mac + cheese (cheese sauce below)

chili + cornbread

mac + cheese sauce

and a side of cornbread, black bean and sweet potato tacos complete with guacomole and on our first night, haddock chowder and blueberry pie for dessert; compliments of my cousin who lives in Northeast Harbor…

she is the reason we were able to stay in this posh town, for four days in July, over a weekend…Cheryl (my cousin) has a friend who does not use her home on the weekends…hence, our incredibly affordable, beautiful and convenient accommodation…thank you Cheryl and Margaret!

Back to the food.

Everything could be made and was made days in advance (except for the oatmeal) and then frozen. Voila. Meals were served with the least amount of effort and clean-up. Love that. Granted it’s a lot of work up front, but the pay off was worth it. Plus, they were all dishes I’ve made a zillion times before, so no checking in with recipes – just prep and cook…

Appetizers were enjoyed and prepared fresh.

Olives, goat cheese, guacamole, chips, salsa, hummus and sliced tomatoes topped with fresh basil leaves and freshly sliced mozzarella, to name a few…

Doesn’t sound like we’re ‘skimping’ now does it?

Budget doesn’t have to mean scarcity.

For me, it means to live within your means.

So why not do it as well as you can…(:

enjoy.

the versatile frittata…

Frittatas are a lot like quiche, without the crust. No crust, means they are that much more convenient to prepare. The built in bonus – they are versatile. I love versatile…

1.fritatta eggs

Fresh eggs and veggies. Eggs and meat. Eggs and cheese. Combine all three or more or less, and you have a frittata.

Simple. Inexpensive. Quick and Healthy.

Frittatas are perfect for house guests, a potluck or brunch. They can be served warm or cold.

Expecting company and want to serve straight out of the oven?  Prep veggies the night before and then simply heat, add herbs, mixed eggs and cover. Voila, a beautiful breakfast/brunch/meal is ready to be shared… freshness and scrumptiousness served up in minutes -and for a fraction of going out.

What’s not to love?

Artichoke heart and goat cheese frittata

Print this recipe!

*adapted from Patrie Grace, in Potlucks.

What you’ll need;

2.fritatta ingrediants

1 bunch spring onions or scallions, thinly sliced (substitution – 1 medium onion, chopped and browned)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1/2 cup basil, finely chopped

1 (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

1/2 cup calamata olives, pitted and sliced in half

3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (or 1 medium tomato, chopped)

1-2 good pinches of sea or kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

8 large eggs, well beaten (preferably farm fresh) (:

1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese (I substituted brie for the goat – I was out of goat – it was great too!)

3.brown onions

Cook onion in olive oil in a large oven proof skillet – cast iron works great – until onions are soft and brown. Add the garlic, cook briefly.

4.ingrediants added

Add the artichoke hearts, tomatoes, salt, pepper and basil. Stir gently, until all vegetables are heated through.

5.top with egg

Reduce heat to low and pour the beaten eggs on top, covering all the vegetables.

6.cover with lid

Cover skillet and cook until eggs are firm on the bottom, about 5-7 minutes…give it a little shimmy to see how firm it is on the bottom. If more time is needed go on a minute to minute basis…

7.cooked

Uncover and place under the broiler, watching carefully until frittata is lightly golden. Sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese and return for 1-3 minutes.

8.top with cheese

Slice, then garnish with ribboned basil or freshly chopped chives and serve.

9.enjoy

Enjoy with a light green salad and or pan fried potatoes.

Serve with soup and salad.

Eat warm or cold – either way, it’s delicious!

enjoy the weekend!

P.S. Fun fact –  the cute rooster plate I found at my local freebie barn – actually, I found an entire dish set for four, including, tea cups, saucers, side plates and dinner plates – plus, the lovely green bowl the eggs are photographed in … I love that place! (:

summertime strawberries make fabulous smoothies

Yeah for fresh picked summertime strawberries! Picking strawberries is such a delight this time of year in Maine…even on a cloudy cool day…

Finn and I went picking last week and we had so much fun. We were the only ones there!  I think the clouds and drizzle kept everyone else away – which was just fine with us…it was like having our own private strawberry field. It was lovely and so peaceful…snacking on berries, looking out at cloud shrouded hills with a gentle mist falling all around, and cows grazing nearby…it was a magic day in Maine, to say the least…

The strawberry fields were a part of a larger organic farm, Uncas Farm, in Whitefield Maine. The farm is an organic farm and they have a super sweet general store on the premises where they offer sandwiches, soup, coffee, local meats and their own produce…plus, lots of other fabulous goodies…enjoy them in their homey cafe and peruse a book or two (they have a mini library there too!) or take lunch with you…either way, it’s a great spot to go picking organic strawberries, so we did.

sheepscott general

happy boy

picking

deliciousness

organic strawberries

strawberry thief

Now, what to do with all those strawberries…hmmm…last year we made biscuits and then topped them with strawberries and cream – this year, we’ll do the same, though we’ve also been enjoying a super simple, nutritious and quick snack – strawberry banana smoothies!

They are so easy with fresh or frozen fruit that you should try them this summer too…

Here’s what you’ll need;

smoothie ingredients

1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries

1-1.5 cups plain yogurt

1-2 tablespoons ground flax (easy way to get all those omega benefits!)

a bit (or more) of honey

and that’s it!

Chop and place all in blender.

in the blender

Blend and pour.

smoothie servedThere is nothing better than a freshly made batch of fruit based beverage – added bonus are all the nutrients and the versatility…

Other combo. possibilities;

peanut butter and yogurt

yogurt and blueberries

blueberries, rasberries and banana

What’s your favorite combo?

Try it for yourself and see how refreshing (and filling) this beverage is -especially on those sweltering summer days…

enjoy.

P.S. Fun fact – my blender and fun strawberry glass were picked up for free at my local ‘freebie barn’.