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How to Eat Your BOX! (Week of 8/6/17)

This week’s How to Eat Your BOX and recipe brought to you by Ashley Rodriguez.

 

Green Beans:

I’m not one to eat green beans raw like my children although thinly sliced and added to green salads is a fine vegetal bite but the truth is my favorite way to eat green beans is when they are deeply tender and sweet.

This year I’ve discovered grilled green beans and that is now my favorite way to enjoy them.

Roasting is also a good choice when you don’t want to turn on the grill. Roast until thoroughly crisp and they’ve nearly shriveled down to nearly nothing. Dress in a simple vinaigrette and serve alongside anything.

When blanching green beans be sure to make the water taste of the sea. This will not only provide an adequate seasoning for the beans but also help to preserve the texture.

Zucchini:

Raw, roasted, sautéed, grilled – I love it all.

Use a vegetable peeler to shave long thin strips of raw zucchini. Toss with basil, olive oil, lemon juice or red wine vinegar and a heap of halved cherry tomatoes. Finish with fresh feta or goat cheese if you’d like.

Grilled zucchini steaks make a lovely accompaniment to grilled chicken, steak, or fish. Top with a fine chop of fresh herbs (basil, mint and chives are nice options), lemon zest, and garlic. Thin with a bit of olive oil.

Whenever you grill zucchini brush with plenty of olive oil and be sure to use a good bit of salt.

Small tender zucchini is best for eating raw or for a quick sauté. Larger zucchini can tend to lose some of its sweetness but are perfect for baking.

 

Grilled Green Beans with Basil Gremolata and Parmesan Brittle

This recipe is from my next book – yet to be titled. It uses my current favorite cooking method for green beans; grilling. While warm and freshly charred the green beans are tossed in a fragrant basil gremolata (an herb sauce laced with lemon, garlic and sometimes anchovy). It’s then topped with crispy baked Parmesan that you will want to put on all the things.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup basil leaves, finely minced

Zest and juice from 1 lemon

1 garlic clove, finely minced

Flake salt

1 cup crumbled Parmesan Brittle (recipe below)

Bring a large stock pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Meanwhile fill a large bowl with ice and cold water. Blanch the beans just until their color shifts, about 2 minutes. Shock them to halt the cooking process by adding them to the ice water. I find a spider – the tool often used when frying – is the best for retrieving the beans from the boiling water. Or tongs.

Drain the cooled beans and toss with the olive oil and sea salt. Grill over high heat until the beans are tender and deeply charred in parts.

In a large bowl combine the basil, lemon zest and juice, and garlic clove. Toss the warm beans in the gremolata. Taste a bean and add flake salt or more sea salt if needed.

Turn out the beans onto a platter and finish with the Parmesan Brittle.

*To prevent the beans from falling into the cavernous grill set a wire cooling rack (not rubber coated) over the grill grates and place the beans on the wire rack.

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My Summer Garden

Last time we spoke I boldly proclaimed that this year I would finally give my little garden the attention it deserves. It has served us well in years past providing yard snacks of sugar snap peas, wild strawberries and raspberries. But this year I wanted to be able to cook a few dinners solely using the harvest from the garden.

In spite of me the garden flourished. By April I was giddy with the thought of spending extended periods of time outside again. Evening dinners by the garden seemed an impossible act when as the rains persisted. I started seeds on the ledge above our sink and watched their steady progress. For hours, I dug deep into the dirt extending the garden’s borders making room for squash, peppers, tomatoes, beans, zucchini, potatoes, lettuce, carrots, radish, and cucumbers. Hopes were high.

And then reality hit. Summer with three kids, camping trips, beach picnics, book writing and opening a retail/studio in Seattle leaves little time for pulling weeds. And yet the garden gives and rewards my efforts – no matter how lacking they may be.

Last week, after a quick jaunt to the islands, I came home to an empty fridge and a deep desire to order take out. I wandered into the garden to turn on the sprinkler but immediately found myself pulling weeds and making plans for dinner. There was a zucchini – a rare one not yet enjoyed by our squirrely garden guests, tender skinned potatoes, ruffled butter lettuce, green beans and plenty of fragrant herbs.

The potatoes I boiled in a vinegar brine then roasted until crisp on the outside and buttery inside. With the zucchini, I cut it into thick coins then fried in a bit of olive and finished with sumac – a brilliant red spice that tastes as if it’s laced with lemon – and mint. The greens were lightly dressed with a lemon yogurt dressing immersed with herbs. And the green beans, well, the kids ate those raw as a snack while they waited for their garden dinner.

Perhaps next year is the year I really dig deep into gardening and I can live out my dreams of weedless rows and towering teepees of greens beans. In the meantime, I’m thankful for tangled stems that produce tomatoes sweet and bursting with flavor, and jungle-like web of green beans that bring smiles to my kid’s faces, and potatoes springing from the dirt in which I proudly hold them high in the air and proclaim to my husband, I grew that! Really, the earth does the work and for that I am so grateful.

 

Ashley

 

Get Ashley’s recipe for this week’s box menu, here.

 

Ashley Ashley Rodriguez is a NW Mom, Chef, Food Blogger at notwithoutsalt.com and author of Date Night In: More than 120 Recipes to Nourish Your Relationship

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How To Eat Your BOX! (Week of 6/11/17)

How to cook your box:

Nectarines: You can either eat these smooth-skinned stonefruits crisp and hard like an apple, or set out on the counter to allow to ripen for a day or two if you like them sweeter and soft. Test for ripeness by fragrance and by gently pressing around the stem – it should give to light pressure when ripe. Place in sealed container in the fridge when ripe – if you leave them exposed to the open air in the fridge, they will wrinkle from dehydration. Nectarines, like other stonefruit, ripen from the inside to the outside, so if fruit is soft all over it is more likely overripe. Try nectarines for breakfast paired with yogurt or hot/cold cereal, as a topping to a green salad, and as an ingredient in fruit salads. Nectarines are also great on the grill, but be sure to use slightly less ripe fruit, it will hold up better without breaking apart/juicing. And of course, nectarines bake up fabulously into crisps, pies, and sauces!

Carrots: Twist the tops off those carrots as soon as they arrive so that they stay nice and crisp in the refrigerator. If you’re reading this, you’ve chosen organically grown carrots, so give yourself a fist bump. ? Carrots are so important to get organic because conventionally grown carrots are often a concentrated source of heavy metals, nitrates and pesticides. Eating carrots is a healthy alternative to junk food, and just one carrot can boost your willpower that is in resistance to those processed foods. Consider adding bunch carrots on to your order on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Your body will thank you!

Recipe for Roasted Carrots with Spicy Green Sauce

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard is loaded with vitamins A, K, and C and when consumed raw there are significant amounts of vitamin E and Iron. Besides a being a great green for a quick sauté similar to kale or spinach, swiss chard is great eaten raw. Cut into fine ribbons and tossed in a salad along with a fine mince of their brilliantly colored stems for a bit of crunch.

The frilly leaves are perfect smoothie fodder as their mild flavor is hardly detected when there are frozen berries involved (a must to get our youngest to enjoy her smoothie).

Along with salads, sautés and smoothies the hardy chard stems are perfect for a quick pickle. Make up a simple bring with vinegar, spices a bit of salt and a faint touch of honey then warm over the stove. Turn off the heat then add chard stems. Let them cool in the brine then refrigerate for up to two weeks. Dice them up then add to salads or serve alongside a cheese platter or simple snack on them throughout the day.

Cauliflower

This little vegetable darling is finally getting the spotlight it deserves. It boasts high levels of vitamin C and moderate levels of Vitamins B and K. Really though it’s quite possibly the most delicious vegetable after a good roast in the oven.

Vegetable butchers praise the cauliflower steak. If you think I’m kidding about any part of that last sentence you are mistaken. Cut a cauliflower into thick 1-inch slices. Slather with olive oil then sprinkle with sea salt and pepper then roast in a 400°F oven until tender and the edges are deeply caramelized and even charred in parts. Top with a simple salsa of fresh herbs, lemon, garlic and olive oil. A fried egg on top of that makes a fine dinner or breakfast. Or chop the cauliflower into florets and roast in the same way. Toss with chili flakes, pasta and fresh goat cheese for a simple dinner.

And since I can’t stop talking about tacos today, roasted cauliflower makes a mighty fine taco add in too. Pulverized in a food processor cauliflower resembles the texture of rice or couscous. Baked or even consumed raw you have a lovely vegetable alternative. Check out this recipe for a raw cauliflower tabouli.

Cauliflower Tabouli

Swiss Chard and Caramelized Onion Tacos

from Mexican Everyday, by Rick Bayless

Serves 4

Ingredients:

12 oz. bunch of Swiss chard, thick lower stems removed, cut into 1/2-inch ribbons (10 oz. cleaned

spinach can be used instead)

1 1/2 tbsp. oil, lard or bacon drippings

1 large onion, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp. red pepper flakes (add more or less depending on how spicy you like it)

1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth (water works too)

Salt

12 warm corn tortillas

1 cup (4 ounces) Queso Fresco or other fresh cheese such as feta or goat cheese

Salsa, for serving

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion then cook until golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. To the onions add the red pepper flakes and garlic. Stir for about 20 seconds until you are hit with the aroma of the garlic then immediately add the broth or water, ½ teaspoon salt and the greens. Adjust the heat to medium-low then cover the skillet. Cook until the greens are almost tender. For Swiss chard this will be about 5 minutes. Spinach only takes about 2 minutes.

Uncover the pan, adjust the heat to medium-high then cook until the juices have reduced significantly and merely glaze the greens. Taste and add salt if you think it needs it.

Serve with the corn tortillas, crumbled fresh cheese and Chipotle salsa.

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Tacos 101

 

Gabe’s grandfather has repeatedly encouraged me to write the cookbook, 101 Tacos. When we see him which unfortunately isn’t often enough as he lives in northern Mexico, he always has more ideas for tacos. “Shrimp tacos, beef tacos, tacos de fish, chicken tacos…” He’s relentless in this idea and honestly, I totally get it because if there is one thing I can eat on repeat its tacos. And now, as I’m working on my second cookbook I’m realizing that we do indeed eat quite a few tacos. In my opinion, they are quite possibly the best solution for quick weeknight meals. My 15 minute steak tacos never disappoint and my latest favorite, asparagus tacos, have me really reconsidering that 101 Tacos book idea.

Summer is the perfect season for minimal prep for quick easy cooking. The ingredients available to us right now overwhelm me in the best sort of way. To capture the maximum nutrition and flavor very little cooking is needed as the warmth of the sun has done the hard work for us. These Swiss chard tacos, like so many other tacos, quickly became a staple in our house the moment I found the idea in one of Rick Bayless’ books. While greens aren’t necessarily a favorite at the dinner table for my three children when you wrap them around a tortilla suddenly they get devoured.

The Swiss chard gets a quick and simple sauté with caramelized onions and then topped with store-bought or homemade salsa and then creamy queso fresco. If you’re out of Swiss chard, spinach makes a fine substitute. Throw in some other roasted vegetables for variety and extra nutritional heft.

For quick summer meals that give you more time outside and less time in the kitchen, learn from me and always keep tortillas at the ready along with a good salsa, and crumbly, salty cheese. A quick roast of whatever you have lingering in your vegetable crisper and you have yourself a taco that would make Gabe’s grandfather proud.

For Ashley‘s Recipe for Swiss Chard Tacos, click here.

 

Ashley

 

Ashley Rodriguez is a NW Mom, Food Blogger at NotWithoutSalt.com and author of Date Night In: More than 120 Recipes to Nourish Your Relationship

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Thoughts with Ashley

I have decided that this is the year I really fall for gardening. If you have been a Klesick subscriber for a while you have probably heard me boast about my tangling sugar snap peas or my sweet strawberries which often got snatched by the squirrels before we have a chance to enjoy them. This year I’m feeling optimistic and I have a windowsill filled with little starts eager to live in the garden to prove it. At least I hope they are eager. Visions of tidy rows of carrots, radishes, beans, beets, lettuces and fresh herbs fill my mind as I sprinkle fertilizer onto the garden beds doing my best to ensure success.

Already my garden dreams have had to deal with some harsh realities. Our number one predator currently is our 9 month old terrier who has a knack for digging and a hunger for freshly planted broccoli starts. I know this isn’t the first problem I’ll run up against as I work hard to make my bustling garden dreams a reality. There will be bugs, too much rain, not enough rain (which is hard to imagine right now isn’t it?), and there will be many lessons to learn along the way as I am far from a seasoned gardener. But I’ll consider this garden a success if I’m able to pluck something, anything from its rich (newly fertilized soil) and eat it with the sun on my face, and at the end of the season if I’ve learned something new.

In the meantime I’m even more grateful for the work of farmers like the Klesick’s who have spent years honing this craft. The one thing I do know about gardening and farming is that it is incredibly hard work and as I set out to roast my rhubarb or eat freshly plucked sugar snap peas I feel immense gratitude for their work.

 

Ashley Rodriguez

notwithoutsalt.com

Award-winning food blogger

Author of Date Night In

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How to Eat Your BOX! (Week of 4/9/17)

How to Eat Your Box:

 

Rhubarb

I’m thinking of starting a countdown-to-rhubarb calendar. Every day I’d get the satisfaction of crossing off another day knowing that I was inching my way closer to enjoying one of my favorite vegetables. Yes, I said vegetable.
Rhubarb is a hearty plant that thrives in the Pacific Northwest. It has a short season that begins in early spring. It’s often one of the first signs that let’s us know spring is indeed coming. And you know what my rhubarb countdown calendar is telling me right now? IT’S TIME FOR RHUBARB!
The leaves are poisonous so we’ll stay away from those but the celery like stalks have a crisp, tart crunch. Fresh rhubarb stalks should look firm and glossy. When sugar is added the tartness is tamed to the point of palatability and you are left with a floral flavor that somehow matches its brilliant pink color (although some varieties are green) that maintains a puckering sharpness that I find irresistible.
But sugar is not rhubarb’s only friend. Rhubarb makes a beautiful pickle to top salads or sit charmingly on a cheese board. Or in chutneys and sauces to serve alongside roast pork or chicken.
My favorite and most used way with rhubarb is to cut the stalks in 3-inch sticks then roast with a bit of sugar (or honey) – not too much as I love to retain the mouth clutching brightness. Sometimes I’ll even throw in a vanilla bean or some fresh ginger. Roast (400°F) for about 20 minutes. Don’t disturb the stalks too much as they are incredibly tender when they cook. Serve on top of yogurt or oatmeal in the morning, put in between layers of cake or serve over ice cream for dessert.

 

Garnet Yams

Garnet Yams are the brilliantly orange colored tubers that often get mistaken for a sweet potato. Yams and sweet potatoes are in fact distinctively different. However, because of mislabeling in American grocery stores, these two are commonly confused.
Yams are more nutrient dense than potatoes as they have good amounts of potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamin C but I often use them in the same way as potatoes. They are delicious baked and loaded with beans, scallions and a bit of cheese. Or, make a lovely mash or soup. They have a natural sweetness that pairs nicely with something acidic like lemons or vinegars.
As with most vegetables, yams are delicious roasted. Cut into wedges then toss with a little bit of cornstarch and finely grated Parmesan. The cornstarch helps to lock in the moisture so they turn crispy and more fry-like in the oven. Drizzle on a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper then roast in a hot oven 425-450°F for 20 – 30 minutes or until caramelized in parts and tender.
NOTE: Read Ashley’s guest post for this week’s newsletter, here.

 

 

Featured Recipe: RHUBARB FLOATS

By Ashley Rodriguez, Not Without Salt

Of all the many wonderful uses of rhubarb this syrup remains my favorite. It’s a fridge staple all through spring as it easily becomes the base for numerous cocktails, sodas and now ice cream floats. I love the warmth the spice brings but just rhubarb alone is great too. Feel free to play around with the add-ins. I’ve also added citrus peel into the mix with great results.

 

4 cups/1 pound/ 450 g chopped rhubarb

1 cup + 1 tablespoon/ 8 ounces/ 230 g sugar

2 cups/ 1 pound/ 450 grams water

1 vanilla bean (optional)

1 cinnamon stick

3-5 cardamom pods, lightly crushed

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

 

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly so the mixture continues to boil gently. Boil for 15 minutes or until the mixture is reduced by nearly half. The rhubarb will break down and the liquid will get syrupy. Remove the pan from the heat and let the syrup cool.

When cool, strain out the rhubarb. Save the rhubarb mash to add to yogurt, on top of ice cream or oatmeal.

Rhubarb syrup will keep covered in the fridge for two weeks.

 

For the float

These measurements are rough as it’s all a matter of taste. Adjust how you’d like. I kept on meaning to muddle strawberries with the syrup before adding the club soda and ice cream but got too excited that I forgot. Perhaps you’ll remember. Or imagine using strawberry ice cream or even coconut sorbet. So many floats to be had.

1/8 – 1/4 cup rhubarb syrup (recipe above)

1/2 cup club soda

1 scoop vanilla ice cream

 

Add the syrup to a glass. To that add a scoop of ice cream and finish with club soda. Serve with a spoon and a straw.

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Thoughts with Ashley

We’re nearing that point in winter where I find myself in a bit of a cooking lull. Nearing? Okay, we’re there. Spring feels as if it’s starting to show the first signs of arrival through tiny green buds popping up on branches that appeared dead just the day before. The other morning while sitting near the fire drinking my coffee in the almost-dark I heard the sweet melody of a few birds having a conversation. Perhaps I’m imagining these signs but I’ll take them.

The weariness shows up mostly when it’s time to cook dinner. The ingredients start to all look the same; cauliflower, carrots, and all other forms of hard root vegetables that manage to survive the harshness of a winter ground. I miss the frilly leaves of spring greens and the sweet juicy bite of a strawberry. But through this lull, if I’m able to muster enough energy for creativity, I can relish the seemingly limited resources of the season and pull out some very satisfying meals.

Recognizing this is, as they say, the first step. I realize that finding joy in the kitchen again is not just a matter of waiting for the next season – if we spent all our time waiting for joy we’d miss so much of it. Instead I’m setting myself up for success in the kitchen. I wish you could all see what my pantry looked like currently. There are bags of beans and sacks of lentils strewn out all over the floor as they wait their new home in a tidy labeled jar. This cleaner, sleeker pantry will be the start of many wonderful meals. With a stocked pantry and a fridge full of produce anything is possible.

When feeling a bit creatively challenged in the kitchen I love wandering the produce section and grabbing something completely foreign and unknown to me. I’m sure there are times you’ve opened up your box and reached for something that looked more like sea creature than vegetable. I mean have you ever seen a celeriac (celery root)? – they are indeed delicious by the way. I’ve learned so much about food by pushing myself into a little discomfort.

Here’s to happier, joyful and creative cooking!

Ashley Rodriguez

Food Blogger, notwithoutsalt.com

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Thoughts With Ashley

“So I’m thinking about ordering a pre-cooked turkey.” A friend texted me two days before Thanksgiving. It’s this time of year when the texts from friends and family are less about “how are you doing?” and more closely resemble a conversation with the Butterball helpline. I love it. I consider it an absolute pleasure to be able to speak for hours about all butter crusts, to par-bake or not to par-bake and brining – wet, dry, is it really needed (yes, salt and pepper the day before)? My ease and joy in the kitchen is a gift and one that I absolutely am delighted to share.

“Should I order a pre-cooked turkey? Should I be scared about cooking a turkey?” My friend continued. Even through my iPhone screen I could feel the tension. He was kicking himself for not thinking about all of this sooner and feeling overwhelmed by the weight of the turkey cooking task. “First of all roasting a turkey is not hard.” I started “but don’t let the turkey cooking overshadow the point of the holiday. If a pre-cooked turkey will help you focus on the actual thanks-giving and the company of friends and family then that’s the way to go.”

I love spending hours in the kitchen slowly simmering homemade stock for the purpose of creating a luscious and deeply flavored gravy. Pie crusts and bread doughs relax in the fridge days before the main event. Weeks before I’m scouring blogs, magazines and cookbooks trying to craft the perfect menu although I don’t usually iron out all of the details until the day before. But I realize that not everyone is like me.

And while the table will be mightily set with a half a dozen dishes including caramelized squash with feta and onion, a crisp Brussels sprouts salad with smoky bacon and tart cranberries and a pumpkin pie with a thick sugar cap, the sink will also be piled high with dishes, there will be socks scattered around the house that the dog has chewed and I’ll be lucky if the kids have brushed their hair. But I’m happy and giving thanks for a bustling kitchen and a house filled with people I love.

This time of year is so busy, the endless tasks can so easily choke out the joy and quite frankly the purpose of all the celebrating in the first place. I hope for all of us that the moment we start to feel overwhelmed we’ll order a pre-cooked turkey, or whatever that may look like for all of us. I’ll forgive myself for the lack of Christmas garnish around the house or unmade beds if it means that I’m digging deeper into the peace, hope, and joy that this season seeks to bring us.

Ashley Rodriguez

Food Blogger, notwithoutsalt.com

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Savoring Summer

I am not going to be one of those people that starts lamenting the end of summer at the beginning of August, but I won’t lie – I’m feeling the end ticking nearer and nearer. Okay, so maybe I am one of those people, but rather than hosting a pity party and shedding tears that there weren’t enough tomatoes, days with sand in our toes, and sun on our faces, I’m going to do my best to soak up each day.

It’s probably no surprise that one of my favorite ways to savor the season is to eat of its bounty. So from here until the end of September, you will find me eating pounds and pounds of tomatoes, serving up slices of melon with a whisper of vanilla salt (just tried it last night for the first time and I’m never going back), picking blackberries off the wild vines, eating fresh peaches and letting their sweet juice drip down my arms and face.

We’ve had a pretty incredible summer this year and perhaps that’s why I’m already feeling a bit of sadness to see the days slip away so quickly, but what I’ve learned with seasons – any season in life – is that if you spend your time willing it to not pass, it won’t listen to you. I’d rather spend these days tucking away flavors and memories to recall when another season is upon us.

This recipe mingles all of my favorite flavors of summer into one bowl. It’s where sweet and savory collide into a flavorful salad filled with vinegar-spiked bread and a showering of fresh herbs. We really believe in the adage “What grows together, goes together” here, when peaches and tomatoes become fast friends. And it’s not just with this recipe—the next time you make the classic Caprese salad, try slipping in a few peach or nectarine slices there as well.

I hope that we all find the time to savor all that this season blesses us with. And may there be an endless supply of tomatoes and peaches until squash hits the basket.

Ashley Rodriguez

NotWithoutSalt.com

Award-winning food blogger

Author of Date Night In

 

 

Featured Recipe: Roasted Tomato and Peach Panzanella

SERVES 4

Ingredients:

1 pint / 280 g cherry tomatoes, divided

1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed

1⁄4 cup / 60 ml extra-virgin olive oil, divided

3 cups / 85 g 1⁄2-inch bread cubes from a rustic loaf

2 garlic cloves, minced, divided

1 peach, diced

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 cup chopped assorted herbs (I used basil, dill, mint, and tarragon)

1 cup baby arugula

1⁄3 cup / 60 g goat cheese, crumbled

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Place half the pint of cherry tomatoes on the prepared sheet and toss with a generous pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Roast for 45 minutes, gently stirring halfway through the cooking process. Cut the remaining cherry tomatoes in half and set aside.

3. Place the cubes of bread on a second parchment-lined baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, a pinch of salt, and 1 minced garlic clove. Toast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown and completely crisp, stirring after 10 minutes. Remove and cool to room temperature.

4. In a large bowl, combine the roasted tomatoes, remaining minced garlic clove, diced peach, vinegar, oregano, 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Gently toss to combine and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

5. Finish the panzanella by adding the crisped and cooled bread cubes to the bowl, along with the herbs, unroasted tomatoes, and arugula. Toss well and let sit for 10 minutes so that the juices start to soften the bread, still leaving a crunch. If you prefer the bread a bit softer, you can let it sit for longer.

6. Finish with crumbled goat cheese and serve.

 

Know Your Produce: Summer Stonefruit Care

Stonefruit’s (peaches, nectarines, pluots, etc.) biggest enemy while ripening is moisture, coupled with lack of airflow. Set ripening stonefruit on a cloth or paper-covered counter top or in a place where it gets plenty of airflow. Try setting them stem side down to ripen, which lessens the chance of them rolling and bruising.

To test for ripeness, gently press around stem – when flesh gives slightly to pressure fruit is ripe. Never squeeze the sides of the fruit, as even a small bruise will be cause enough to turn into a rot/bruised spot on your fruit as it is still ripening. Stonefruit ripens from the inside to the outside, so if fruit is soft all over it is most likely overripe.

Once your stonefruit is ripe, it deteriorates very quickly. Within a day of being fully ripe, if left out of refrigeration, you can have overripe/spoiled fruit and some very attracted fruit flies. Check daily and place in refrigerator as soon as you notice the stem area has begun to soften. Once refrigerated, plan to use within a day or two.

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Summer, we taste you near!

In a true bit of parenting hypocrisy, I’m encouraging, rather, pleading with my children to finish the school year strong while I’m staying up with the sun, ditching work to feel its warmth on my skin, and sneaking away to tuck into the raspberry bushes to taste what to me is summer boiled down into one sweet, tart bite.

“Only one more week of school!” I tell them, hoping that that’ll be the boost they need to finish with a smile on their faces, rather than the moans and groans I hear as I attempt to motivate them out of bed. Meanwhile, I’m still in bed with the lingering scent of smoke from the fire we sat around while staying up far too late on a school night the evening before.

Summer, what we’re saying is, we are so ready for you. We’re ready for your long days, your leisurely activities, and the way you manage to change our priorities so that much of our day can be spent outside. I’m ready for the garden you help me grow, the camping trips you inspire, and the food that sweetens and softens in your heat. I always romanticize you when you first appear. Of course I do know that shortly, with three kids at home, there will be the “I’m boooooored” chorus singing its familiar tune, but I’m choosing to ignore that reality and live in the delight of a new season.

The newness of the nearly summer days have all of us delighted by what’s growing. The kids, without prompting, headed to the garden to pluck the first of the raspberries off the vines, with plans of raspberry ice cream. Their plans never made it to the freezer, as we (mostly me) ate the whole bowl. With the few leftover berries I found this morning, I made my girl what I proclaimed to be the best sandwich of her life – mascarpone slathered between two pieces of seedy bread, and studded with fresh raspberries that practically turned to jam under the weight of its top cover. It was my little way of saying, “Summer is nearly here. Finish strong.” I’m telling myself that too.

Ashley Rodriguez
Award-winning food blogger
Author of Date Night In
 
 
 
Recipe: Fresh Raspberry Scones

This recipe has been made no fewer than a hundred times in our house. These shortcakes are our scones, the cobbler on top of our baked fruit, and sometimes, with the addition of herbs or cheese, savory biscuits to accompany dinner.

The trick here is not to overwork the dough. It’s a very crumbly mass once it comes out of the bowl, but that’s why the finished texture is so light and tender. Don’t knead the dough together, but rather press it until it just holds. This dough can be made by hand, in a food processor, as it is written, or in a stand mixer.

Makes 8 shortcakes

Adapted from Date Night In, by Ashley Rodriguez

Ingredients:

2 cups / 270 g all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped (optional)

1⁄2 cup / 115 g unsalted butter, diced into 1⁄2-inch cubes, chilled

1 cup / 240 ml plus 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream, divided

1 – 1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries

3 tablespoons Turbinado or granulated sugar

Directions:

1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, granulated sugar, and vanilla bean seeds, if using. Pulse a few times to combine and break up any clumps.

2. Add the butter, scattering it over the flour. Pulse 15 times to break up the butter. The mixture will look sandy, with some larger pieces of butter throughout.

3. Pour 1 cup / 240 ml cream over the dough and pulse an additional 20 times. Add the raspberries and pulse just a couple more times to combine. The dough will look crumbly and dry.

4. Dump the dough onto an unfloured work surface and use the palm of your hand to work the dough just until it holds together. You don’t want to overwork the dough, as this can make it tough. Gather the dough together into a 6- to 8-inch round (for making wedge-shaped scones) or a rectangle (for cutting out round biscuits).

5. Use a brush or your fingers to spread the remaining 2 tablespoons cream in an even layer on top. Sprinkle the extra sugar, if using, on top of the cream. Chill the dough for 30 minutes.

6. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

7. Cut the dough into the desired shapes and then place them on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until deep golden along the edges.

8. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack.

9. These are best served the day they are baked. Unbaked dough can be wrapped and frozen for up to 1 month.

Note: Often I make these by hand and simply grate the chilled butter into the dry ingredients with a cheese grater. From there I toss the butter and dry ingredients together, breaking up any large clumps with my hands, and then stir in the cream.

For extra flaky layers, give this dough 1 or 2 turns as you do in the Quick Puff Pastry recipe (page 19 of Date Night In).