End-of-Summer Cooking

I’m not the only one cooking and baking. A couple weeks ago, I came home from yoga class to this:


My husband G. Grod and the boys made biscuits, which were very good.

My next baking attempt was Drake’s birthday cake, with the recipe from Smitten Kitchen:

birthday cake

The sour-cream chocolate frosting was too rich, so I may try a ganache next time. The boys really liked the “6″ constructed of Lego candy.

I’d long meant to try the oatmeal cookie recipe from Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious. It calls for zucchini puree, which produces a dark brown cookie with no telltale veggie taste. While tasty, these cookies wouldn’t hold together. I find her recipes hard to work because they call for ridiculous low-fat ingredients like egg whites and trans-fat free tub margarine. Puh-lease. This is cooking for kids. It’s OK to use whole eggs and butter. Perhaps that’s why my cookies didn’t turn out.

oatmeal cookies w/zuke

For a simple supper, I made a pasta caprese, with red and yellow tomatoes. It was lovely to look at and good to eat, plus used up the tomato, onion, and basil from my veg share.

Caprese pasta

Pasta Caprese, from Cooks Illustrated

This dish will be very warm, not hot. The success of this recipe depends on high-quality ingredients, including ripe, in-season tomatoes and a fruity olive oil (the test kitchen prefers Columela Extra-Virgin). Don’t skip the step of freezing the mozzarella, as freezing prevents it from turning chewy when it comes in contact with the hot pasta. If handmade buffalo- or cow’s-milk mozzarella is available (it’s commonly found in gourmet and cheese shops packed in water), we highly recommend using it, but skip the step of freezing and add it to the tomatoes while marinating. Additional lemon juice or up to 1 teaspoon sugar can be added at the end to taste, depending on the ripeness of the tomatoes.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2-4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (see note above)
1 small garlic clove , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1/2 teaspoon)
1 small shallot , minced fine (about 2 tablespoons)
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes , cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese , cut into 1/2-inch cubes (see note above)
1 pound penne pasta or other short tubular or curly pasta such as fusilli or campanelle
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon sugar (see note above)


1. Whisk oil, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, garlic, shallot, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in large bowl. Add tomatoes and gently toss to combine; set aside. Do not marinate tomatoes for longer than 45 minutes.

2. While tomatoes are marinating, place mozzarella on plate and freeze until slightly firm, about 10 minutes. Bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil in stockpot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta, stir to separate, and cook until al dente. Drain well.

3. Add pasta and mozzarella to tomato mixture and gently toss to combine. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir in basil; adjust seasonings with salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice or sugar, if desired, and serve immediately.

Baking, again, I tried the Bon Appetit recipe for Top-Crust peach pie with cardamom. My peaches weren’t ripe enough (a hazard of living in MN) and it was very wet, but the crust and juice were very tasty.

Top Crust Peach Cardamom Pie

Yesterday’s farm share box had the following veg in it: spinach, corn, broccoli, turnips, onions, melon and tomato. Last night I made a green salad topped it with chopped broccoli florets, peeled and sliced turnip and carrot and chopped tomato with a green goddess dressing that’s been our go-to recipe all summer. It was bright, simple, and good.

Green Goddess Dressing, from Cook’s Country

Makes 1 1/4 cups–enough for 6 wedges of lettuce

To appreciate the full flavor of this rich dressing, drizzle it over chilled wedges of mild iceberg lettuce or leaves of romaine lettuce. A blender yields a brighter, slightly more flavorful dressing, but a food processor will work, too.

2 teaspoons dried tarragon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
1 medium clove garlic , chopped
1 anchovy fillet , rinsed and dried
1/4 cup chopped chives

1. Combine tarragon, lemon juice, and water in small bowl and let sit for 15 minutes.

2. Blend tarragon mixture, mayonnaise, sour cream, parsley, garlic, and anchovy in blender until smooth, scraping down sides as necessary. Transfer to medium bowl, stir in chives, and season with salt and pepper. Chill until flavors meld, about 1 hour. (Dressing can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day.)

2 Responses to “End-of-Summer Cooking”

  1. darla d Says:

    We just made this same pasta caprese recipe last week for the first time, and it came out great. The best thing was that I took the leftovers to work for lunch. I gave it a little time to get to room temperature, and it was like a tasty pasta salad. Yum! That green goddess dressing sounds good - I’ll have to give it a try. Too bad it only keeps a day, though.

  2. girldetective Says:

    Darla, I kept that green goddess dressing in my fridge for a week to no ill effects (on it or on our tummies). I make a half recipe if I’m just doing it for us, or a whole if I”m having friends over, and give them half.

    I think I’m making the caprese recipe tonight, but adding fresh spinach to wilt. Might be slimy, we’ll see.