Variation: A delightful variation of this cake can be made by substituting one cup of blueberries (fresh or frozen) to the mixed batter, in place of the apples.
Salmon, Cucumber Pasta Salad (with Pistachios!)
This is one of my favorite summer salads. The combination of creamy pasta with the refreshing crunch of cucumbers makes this a textural treat. Pistachios add a sweet richness that perfectly balances the salmon.
1/2 lb cooked elbow macaroni, cooled
1 small cooked shredded salmon filet (about 1/3 lb, remove the skin after cooking) (Fresh salmon can be replaced with a can of high-grade salmon.)
1 cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, and cut into 1/4-inch semi-rounds (If the cucumber is large, cut into fourths lengthwise.)
2 TBS mayonnaise
1 tsp honey mustard
salt and white pepper to taste
few drops of Worcestershire sauce
chives, cut up
pistachios, salted, shelled
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, gently combine pasta, salmon, cucumber, mustard, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and mayonnaise with a wooden spoon. Chill. Garnish each serving with chives and a handful of pistachios. Sprinkle with paprika for a touch of color.
If you prefer a bit of a nip, use sharp mustard.
Summer Squash Frittata
I make this scrumptious Neapolitan dish with yellow squash. (My father always made it with zucchini. You can do that, too.) The pie crust bottom gives it that extra heartiness needed to make this a main dish. Serve at room temperature. (Do not chill.)
1 pie shell (scroll down for recipe)
2 medium yellow squash, cut in half lengthwise and sliced in 1/4 " half-rounds. (Make sure the skin is light. Otherwise you will have to peel them.)
6 large eggs, beaten
salt (about 1/2 tsp) and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated romano or parmesan
1/8 cup fresh oregano, basil, and thyme, chopped
1) Sautee cut up squash until tender. Set aside until cool.
2) In a medium mixing bowl, beat eggs thoroughly, add salt and pepper, add cool cooked squash. Add grated cheese. Add chopped herbs. Pour into prepared unbaked pie shell. Dab the rim with milk. Bake at 350 degrees until top is golden brown (about 1/2 hour), or until top puffs up. It's not Italian, but salsa makes a great garnish.
This is a dish that demands to be made at the height of summer when tender zucchini and fresh ripe tomatoes are readily available. (I will guarantee this dish will not taste as good if you buy those flavorless red blobs your supermarket sells.) You can serve this as a vegetarian topping on pasta, or as a side dish.
1 large ripe tomato, chopped
1 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise, then into fourths and julienned into 1/4 " thickness
1/2 vidalia onion, sliced
salt, fresh thyme, basil, and oregano to taste
Sautee the onion in a frying pan (not iron - it will get too hot). Add zucchini and tomato. Drizzle with olive oil. Add salt and herbs. Let simmer at a low heat until the tomato cooks down and the zucchini is tender. Serve over rotini, and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.
Green Tomato Soup with Coconut Milk and Ham
If your garden is anything like mine, you'll be gazing at your bumper crop of green tomatoes the day before the first frost, lamenting.
(The growing season in New England is never long enough to harvest your fill of tomatoes before they freeze on the vine.)
Do not despair!
Green tomatoes make a delicious, hearty winter soup perfect for that first frosty day.
3 large or 4 medium green tomatoes, any variety, chopped
2 cups of coconut milk, unsweetened
1/2 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp curry
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 lb ham steak, cut into bite-sized bits
A squirt or two of Worcestershire sauce
salt to taste
Saute onion and celery in a saucepan with a little oil until tender. Add chopped tomatoes, cover and cook over low heat. When the tomatoes are mushy smash them with a potato masher to release the liquid. Add the baking soda. (Baking soda breaks down cellulose like nobody's business.) Add coconut milk, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, and curry, and cook until the tomatoes are tender, roughly 5 - 10 minutes. Remove the solids with a slotted spoon and place in a blender. Blend thoroughly on medium speed until the mixture looks like split pea soup. (If your blender is having trouble, add some of the liquid from the pan.) Place mixture back in the pan and add ham. Cook five minutes. Salt to taste. (Save the salt until last - the ham is quite salty.) Serve with saltines.
If you can't find unsweetened coconut milk, it's very easy to make - provided that you can find unsweetened coconut flakes. Place one cup of unsweetened coconut flakes in a blender with 2 cups of very hot water. Blend for 3 minutes. Place about 1 foot of cheesecloth in a fine colander and rest the colander over a large bowl. Pour the coconut mixture into the cheesecloth and squeeze out all the liquid. (Make sure to let it cool a bit.) Place the wet coconut back in the blender and add another cup of very hot water. Blend for 3 minutes. Repeat the squeezing process with fresh cheesecloth. If you want thicker coconut milk, use less water.
Mom's Best Apple Pie
Every cook - at least those who reside in the U.S. - has his or her favorite apple pie recipe. This one is the result of years of experimentation. I wanted a pie that was not too sweet, and that left the apples tender, not mushy. This is the apple pie that will always remind your children of home.
Pastry, 2 pie shells (see below)
Sugar, 3/4 cup, approx
Flour, 3 tablespoons
Cinnamon, 1 1/2 teaspoons
Apples, 3 medium Granny Smiths
2 tablespoons milk
1) Peel, core and slice 3 medium Granny Smith apples into 1/4-inch thick slices. (Do not substitute with another kind of apple or you'll end up with applesauce pie.)
2) Prepare dough for two crusts (see below). Divide dough roughly in half and follow the instructions for making a lower crust.
2) Sprinkle 1 tbsp of flour onto the bottom of the pie crust.
3) Make a layer of apple slices on the bottom of the crust (about 1/3 of your apple slices).
4) Sprinkle 1 tbsp flour, 4 tbsps sugar, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon over the apple slices.
5) Add another layer of apples (1/3 of your apple slices) and repeat.
6) After adding the final layer of apples, sprinkle the top with 3 tbsps sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1 tbsp flour.
7) Roll out remaining dough and invert over the top of the pie. Carefully, peel back the wax paper.
8) Make a ridge around the pie with the overhanging crust, sealing it to the bottom crust. Flute the edges with your fingers.
9) Dab milk over the top and edge of the pie with a pastry brush. Prick all over (to release the steam as it bakes).
10) Bake in a hot oven - 425 degrees - for 30-40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling bubbly.
When I was living in Tennessee, I became a fan of Southern cooking. Nothing is more typically Southern than pecan pie. The addition of a layer of rich, creamy chocolate makes this a desert to die for. (Even more so if you add macadamia nuts.)
1 pie crust (see below)
Sugar 1/2 cup
Corn syrup, dark, 1 cup
Pecan halves, 1 cup
Vanilla, 1 tsp
Salt 1/2 tsp
Eggs, slightly beaten, 3
Chocolate chips, approx 1/2 cup (don't get a cheap brand)
1 Tbsp milk
Prepare the pie crust and put it in the refrigerator.
Place all ingredients except pecans and chocolate chips in a bowl and stir until well blended. Add pecans. Stir until mixed.
Scatter the chocolate chips in a thin layer over the bottom of the pie crust. Pour pecan mixture over the chips. (If any chocolate chips float to the top, poke them back down. Otherwise, they will burn.)
Dab the edges of the pie crust with a pastry brush dipped into a bit of milk.
Bake at 350 degrees on the lower shelf of an oven for 40-50 minutes.
Cool and serve with whipped cream.
Optional: For an extra rich pie, add 1/3 cup chopped macadamia nuts.
Easy Pie Crust
This recipe is from the 1946 edition of the Woman’s Home Companion Cookbook, which my mother received as a wedding gift in 1950. I have made countless tender, cholesterol-free, melt-in-your-mouth pie crusts with this recipe - in less time than it took to write it down. (Makes one crust. Double for two.)
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup safflower oil
3 tablespoons cold water
Sift flour, salt and baking powder together in a bowl. Beat oil and cold water together with a fork until well blended. (I do this in a measuring cup.) Add liquid to solid mixture and mix with a fork just enough to blend. Do not overmix. Form into a ball and place on a sheet of wax paper. Flatten slightly with your palm. Place another sheet of wax paper over the dough and roll until it is just larger than your pie pan. (Do not attempt to roll out the crust on a floured board. It will stick.) Carefully, peel back the top sheet of wax paper. Invert the crust (with bottom sheet of wax paper) over the pie pan. Gently peel back the remaining sheet of wax paper. Assemble in pie pan and bake. No chilling is necessary, however you can store the crust in the fridge once it has been rolled out and formed in its pie pan. If you chill the dough before rolling it out, it tends to be too stiff.