What’s Cooking: Summer ’09 Edition

So here’s all of the stuff I’ve been cooking during the summer season, with produce from the Farmer’s Market.

Fava beans have such a short season that I like to gobble them up in huge batches when I can get them. They take a bit of work to prepare — you peel them out of their pods, then blanch the beans, and then peel those beans. You’re left with a tender, bright green bit of bean, which you can use just about any way you want. Here I threw them in a food processor and made a fava pesto with olive oil and parmesan, some lemon, some salt and pepper.

Artichokes are another vegetable with a short season, at least here in the NY area. I was inspired by Gordon Ramsay in this preparation. I trimmed and halved the artichokes, then blanched them in water with salt, lemon, and herbs. Then I sauteed them until browned in olive oil, added another splash of lemon juice, and topped with parsley and parmesan.

I briefly mentioned fruit syrup when I wrote about making blueberry cheesecakes. This is a great way to preserve the taste of summer for the cooler months to come. Take whatever berry you want, and cook it with sugar, water, and some lemon so it will keep. I also used a potato masher to get as much flavor as possible out of them, then strained it through two layers of cheesecloth. You can use this for just about anything. Inspired by a friend, I added some to some seltzer and some rum for a blueberry mojito, but you can also do it non-alcoholic. Blackberrry soda is awfully good. As long as it’s in an airtight container it should last for a few months.

My roommate likes to keep the refrigerator so cold that my produce often freezes. I had a watermelon from the Farmer’s Market that half-froze, and as I was slicing thin pieces out of the center it occurred to me that the frozen watermelon looked a lot like raw tuna. I filed this information away in the back of my brain. Then I saw an episode of America’s Test Kitchen in which they made stovetop rice pudding and I realized what I had to do. Yes, my mind really works this way. I made the rice pudding with sushi rice and topped it with thin slices of melon for this dessert sushi. The dipping sauce is blackberry syrup made in the manner described above. Nothing revelatory here, but good watermelon and good rice pudding.

I made a quick French feast using summer ingredients: carottes rapees and a provencal stew with eggplant, green beans, a little tomato, plenty of herbs, and leeks.

Corn is one of the vegetables most emblematic of summer, and here I made a thick corn puree. I cut the kernels off of the cob and cooked them briefly with butter, salt, pepper, a little sugar, and parsley. I pureed it with my stick blender, leaving it just slightly chunky. The result was wonderful, full of corn flavor while being both sweet and salty. I couldn’t think of anything to do with the puree, so I mixed it with some cooked orecchiette pasta.

I had picked up some farro, or spelt, from the Farmer’s Market, and so I cooked it and mixed it with raw corn kernels, onion, lemon juice, and lots of really good olive oil to make this corn & farro salad. The shaved parmesan on top really made the dish.

If you’re interested, here’s what I cooked during the spring.

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