Green Goddess gets an update


We eat green salads year-round at my house, but they become even more popular at this time of year, when the produce is gorgeous and temperatures jump into the high 80s.    Many a warm evening I abandon the stove altogether and throw together a huge salad for dinner.

Usually a simple vinaigrette is my first-choice dressing for a pile of impeccably fresh greens,  heirloom tomatoes and whatever else catches my eye at the farmers market.  Lately, though, I’ve been playing with more elaborate dressings to turn even the most basic salad into a memorable meal.   This updated Green Goddess dressing has become a favorite.

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Grilled peaches and ginger ice cream made for a midsummer evening


Juicy, sweet, dribble-down-your-chin peaches are one of the real treats of summer.

Because there are dozens of varieties out there, each ripening at a different time, the season seems to stretch on forever.  By mid-July I’m usually ready to do something more with this delightful fruit than merely stand over the sink, eating it out of hand.  Still, I want to keep it simple to preserve the bright, sun-kissed taste.

Peaches and ice cream are a classic combo and this year I’m serving grilled peaches with a spicy, ginger ice cream.  Grilling caramelizes the surface of the fruit and concentrates the flavor.  Ginger serves as a dramatic counterpoint.  Pair the hot fruit with the chilly ice cream and you have an ideal dessert for these midsummer evenings when it’s really too hot to turn on an oven.

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Grilled corn, Mexican style


No matter how fashionable it may be to disparage corn as the bane of the American diet, I look forward all year to sweet corn season.   That’s sweet as in the addictive flavor of fresh corn on the cob, not as in the high fructose corn syrup that lurks in the background of so many processed foods.

A freshly picked ear right out of the pot of boiling water or straight off the grill invariably  takes me back to the summers of my childhood, when corn on the cob was the star of every cookout.  I love biting off the plump kernels and crunching them between my teeth to release a flood of sweet, milky juice.  It’s messy, primal eating and it still makes me happy.

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Berry wonderful


Say what you will about English cooking, the Brits know pudding.

They so love their custards, fools, trifles, and duffs that they’ve come to  refer to all desserts as pudding.  None is so magical to my mind as summer pudding.  Only alchemy could turn something as prosaic as white bread, berries and sugar into something so gorgeous, elegant and delicious.

The Oxford Companion of Food traces the first published recipe for summer pudding to a missionary in India.  But I first tasted it in a hip East Berlin restaurant not long after the wall came down.  I still remember the vivid fuchia color and the bright berry flavor that seemed to distill the essence of summer.  It was like no other dessert I knew, neither as rich as pastry or as creamy as a typical pudding.  I was smitten.

So when I was casting about last week for something different to make with a portion of the 15 pounds of olallieberries my husband and I had just picked at Coastways Ranch north of Santa Cruz, summer pudding leaped straight to mind. Continue reading Berry wonderful