Linguini & Clams with Fennel & Tarragon

Linguini & Clams with Tomatoes, Fennel & TarragonNo matter the season, I love sitting down to a big bowl of linguini and clams.  In the winter I make hearty additions like chorizo sausage and kale, summertime I keep it light with fresh herbs and maybe diced zucchini or sweet corn.  Or I might decide to make life (and dinner) really simple and just use whatever I’ve got on hand.  In this case, it’s a handful of grape tomatoes, fennel, carrots, and some of the tarragon that is currently taking over my garden.

Friends, simple is good.  This version of linguini and clams is quick, it’s tasty, and it’s worth making over and over with variations galore.

[Read more…]

Sour Cherry & Almond Meringue Tart

Sour Cherry & Almond Meringue TartThe first summer I lived in my house, I planted a cute little cherry tree in the front yard.

The second summer I lived in my house, I made 1 tiny jar of pickled cherries.

The third summer, I made a batch of cherry scones.

Last year, we had a messed up budding/frosting situation and I ate my yield of 3 cherries right off the tree.

This year, I was really hoping for a deep-dish, double-crusted cherry pie.  That didn’t quite happen, but I did have enough to make a pretty almond meringue tart.  Luckily, it turned out tasty enough to leave me thinking if I still don’t have enough cherries for a pie next year it’ll be okay. [Read more…]

Bacon, Arugula & Nectarine Sandwich

Bacon, Arugula & Nectarine Sandwich It’s great when the journey is every bit as good as the destination. Do you remember last week when I told you I could live on Caprese salads all summer, if only I could get my hands on good tomatoes all season?  Well, that might have been a tiny stretch of the truth because I also adore a good BLT when the weather is really hot. And guess what?  It’s really hot.  And I’m aching for a BLT, but I’m still waiting for the perfect, juicy, ripe tomato.  But thankfully, as I determined with my strawberry, mozzarella, and basil crostini, fruit can make an awfully good stand-in for tomatoes.  We can have our bacon sandwich with whatever is ripe and juicy right now.  This week it was nectarines. [Read more…]

Lavender & Honey Grilled Lamb Chops

Grilled Lavender & Rosemary Lamb ChopsI was showing pictures from my recent trip to Croatia to a friend and I found myself lamenting the fact that my trip was about a week before the fields of lavender were in bloom.  The same thing happened when I went to Provence, the other place I’ve been that is specifically known for its beautiful purple fields of lavender.

Then it dawned on me–it’s time to stop whining about “problems” that are far from being actual problems.  Not to mention the fact that I’ve got 2 bushy lavender plants in my own yard that are purple and incredibly fragrant right now.  It’s time to start seeing the forest through all these dang trees.

And it’s dinner time.  Let’s fire up the grill and rub lamb chops with the fragrant lavender buds then brush them with honey.  We’ll serve them up with smashed white beans, pop open a bottle of wine, and settle in for leisurely, lavender-scented evening on the patio.

[Read more…]

Balsamic Strawberry, Mozzarella & Basil Crostini

Strawberry, Mozzarella & Basil Bruschetta

My favorite hot weather dinner is a Caprese salad.  Nothing too elaborate, just perfectly ripe tomatoes, fresh, milky mozzarella cheese, a few leaves of basil, and a drizzle of good olive oil.  It’s the one thing I could eat that every night, June through August.

There’s just 1 problem though.  There’s always got to be something, right?  So what is it this time?

I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  We had snow until May.  It rained all through June.  I think summer really just began last week.  All this translates to a tomato season that won’t truly begin until mid to late August.  I’ve got at least a month to go before I can actually start making my Caprese salads morning, noon, and night.

But it’s hot now and that’s what I’m craving.  I guess we’ll just have to improvise with what we do have.  Okay, let’s see, we’ve got the basil covered.  Mozzarella?  No prob.  And we have strawberries.  Good, ripe strawberries.  We can work with this.

[Read more…]