Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dairy-Free and Sugar-Free Almond Soda

Dairy-Free (and Sugar-Free) Almond Soda
It usually starts late morning. The steady, shaking rhythm sounds like the musical instruments made from dried gourds.

Exactly where the sound originates is hard to identify. It’s just there — in the trees, in the air, all around.


By late afternoon, more individuals have joined the chorus to create a huge wall of sound. Instead of a rhythmic shaking, there is now one continuous noise. The volume rises and falls in waves.

How many there are I cannot imagine, hundreds I suppose by the loudness of it all. I’ve seen several empty and perfectly formed shells attached to blades of grass or shrubs.

Cicadas emerge from their underground sleep, extricate themselves from their skins and start singing. Who can blame them. Stuck in the dark for a year — or 17 — depending on the species.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Salsa Verde with Basil, Cilantro and Mint from Deborah Madison

Salsa Verde with Cilantro, Basil, and Mint
I don’t know about you, but we relish condiments at our house.

At times, the refrigerator seems to overflow with jams, jellies, salsas and sauces. Many are homemade, others are store-bought or gifts from friends.

There’s the jar of my mother’s fig preserves that are used only when we have biscuits and eggs for breakfast, or when I want to serve them with a cheese course. Fig preserves are too precious to slap between bread with peanut butter. For that, we use other something else, such as strawberry jam.

Maybe an overabundance of condiments isn’t a problem for you? You must be the disciplined sort who only opens a new jar of jelly when the other one is finished.

I didn’t think so.

One condiment that I really enjoy is Deborah Madison’s salsa verde with basil, cilantro and mint. The recipe is featured in Local Flavors, a celebration of farmers markets around the country. This is one of my very favorite cookbooks of all time, an essential for any cook who loves local, seasonal foods.

Friday, July 15, 2011

From Paris Sweets: Croq-Télé, TV Snacks for the World Cup

Croq-Télé, TV Snacks for the World Cup
The World Cup is highly anticipated in our household, and we could not be happier that the U. S. Women’s National Team has made it to the final. Their beautiful athleticism and big-hearted play are exciting to watch.

I’m so proud they are representing my country.

For the game on Sunday, I will serve these Croq-Télé — TV Snacks — from Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets. They are salty-sweet, crunchy little things adapted from a recipe by pâtissier Arnaud Larher.

I hoped to make them Wednesday in honor of the USA-France semi-final but didn’t have time. We watched the game without snacks, unless you consider that I bit my nails during the second half, fearing a victory by the formidable French who played with great style and creativity.

It bears mentioning that France’s women played with kilos more class than that nation’s men’s team did in World Cup 2010.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Strawberry Granita with Grand Marnier

Strawberry Granita with Grand Marnier
I made this Strawberry Granita with Grand Marnier using the season’s last strawberries, a variety called Winona.

Winona is one of several types grown by the farmer who delivered a truckload of berries to the market three times a week. A long line of eager customers were waiting for him. Those at the back of the line were understandably a little anxious. The farmer took his time with each customer, chatting and laughing. When there was more than one variety available, he’d recommend a type depending on how the customer was going to use the berries.

As the too-short season progressed, I enjoyed the uniqueness of each variety. The first one I tried was Wendy, a softly complex berry with notes that reminded me of fraises des bois, the wild strawberries I’ve had in France. Then came the bold and sweet Honeoye, which I used for jam, followed by the pretty Jewel and the sweet-tart Sunset.

When I asked the farmer about Winona, he said, “It tastes like a tangerine,” and he was right.  I noticed a sweet orange note as I bit into the first one, and then kept sampling more as I drove home.

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