Even when it is this hot (108˚ in Kansas City,) a trip to the outdoor market is fun. The one I visit is shaded and full of scrumptious treats at mostly reasonable prices. The farmers are so friendly and in spite of the heat, seem to enjoy the day as much as the customers. Yesterday I bought:
This is absolutely the best time of year to buy tomatoes. They are inexpensive, about $2.00 for eight medium sized perfectly ripened ones, and are plentiful and ultra delicious. I picked out the heirloom variety and they are so sweet and juicy. All you need do is wash and sliced them. They need no dressing but here’s my super simple killer salad dressing recipe. I use really good vinegar, grated garlic, a little salt, 1 T. Gray Poupon mustard and extra virgin olive oil, 1 part vinegar to 3 or 4 parts olive oil. I just dump it all in a glass jar with a tight lid and shake. So easy.
It looks like locally grown corn will be a bit dicey this year in our area because of the drought, and so far, not many of the vendors have any. I was lucky enough to find some that had been freshly picked that morning and smelled heavenly. Everyone in Kansas knows how to tell if corn is fresh. We just peel back the husk a little bit and stick our thumbnail into a kernel. If the juice squirts across the room, its fresh. Eat as soon as possible. Husk the corn, bring plain water-to-cover to a boil and cook the corn exactly 5 minutes, not one second longer. Then chomp down on one of the best taste treats of summer.
Baby beets: (with green tops if possible): $1.00 for a pint box full. Mine had no greens.
• cut off the leaves and reserve.
• cut off the end root.
• wash the beets and wrap all of them together tightly in aluminum foil.
• bake on top rack of oven at 400˚ for 1 hour. If a sharp knife slides in easily, they’re done. (Bigger beets take 2 hours)
• Let them cool and slip off the outer skin with your fingers. Slice and serve at room temperature seasoned with olive oil, salt and red-wine vinegar. Yum!!
If your lucky enough to find beets with their leaves, wash thoroughly, blanch the greens like spinach, season with dressing and serve under the beets.
Eggplant: 2 for a $1.00
Fresh summer eggplant is so good and so sweet that the don’t require anything fancy. I bought one, plump and medium sized. I like to cut mine in quarter inch slices, and “sweat” them by salting each piece and placing in a strainer for an hour. Cover the bottom of a shallow 9 x 13 inch pan with olive oil (about 1/8th of a cup). Then brush each slice of eggplant in the olive oil and bake at 425˚ for 8 to ten minutes on one side. Turn and bake 8 to ten minutes on the other side. They soak up the olive oil and become crispy. Remove, sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese (fresh is best) or with lemon juice and a bit of oregano, salt and pepper, and serve hot. It’s simple but really good.
Right now is a great time to buy these, freshly dug. Try and pick out ones that are approximately the same size. Sometime ago, Jacques Pepin showed his TV viewers an easy, delicious way to cook them. He had a bamboo steamer. Mine isn’t bamboo but it works just fine. Bring the water to a boil and steam the washed potatoes, covered, for 26 minutes. That’s all there is to it. Plop on some butter or whatever, and enjoy.
Feel free to share your favorite summer recipes with us. Add them here on this blog under comments or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s to good eating.