Summer Treats

Tag at Volcano 1995 Oil on canvas, 54 x 72 inches

Summer is full-blown here on Blue Mountain Road. It’s been off and on weather ─ hot and dry, then cool and rainy. Not quite enough rain though. Afternoon skyscapes are dramatic with billowing white clouds building to the west and promising rain but often offering only drama. And in the evening, the sky is veiled with fiery orange, red and violet.

Thank goodness for the beauty of this landscape, a sanctuary in these distressing times.

The garden is planted and provides a few delicious vegetables. Arugula, lettuce, green onions, snap peas and kale are ready to harvest. Tomatoes and eggplant are flowering.

On one of the hottest days, I remembered a cold soup we love. First made for us years ago by artist Robert Kushner, this Indian soup is a Shark’s favorite. Simply whizzed in the blender then chilled, it’s perfect to start a summer meal.

Cold Avocado Soup

Combine in the blender 1 large ripe avocado, 1 cup coconut milk, 1 cup plain yogurt, a large clove of garlic, chopped, 1 jalapeño or to taste, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cumin seeds, 2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, a generous 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro. Add 2 cups cold water and blend until smooth. Add up to another cup of water to make a pourable soup. Adjust seasoning to taste. Chill and serve in small cups ─ this is a rich and spicy concoction. Garnish with cilantro leaves and/or a slice of avocado.

Apricot Crisp

Summer fruits are coming into the markets. I scored some organic Colorado apricots and will make a crisp for friends at a long awaited dinner party.

The topping is a simple one ─ ½ cup each of flour, brown sugar, oats and butter, cut together and then crumbled over 1½ – 2 pounds of sliced fruit, (apricots, peaches, plums, apples), in a baking dish. Sprinkle fruit with a tablespoon or two of sugar depending on the sweetness of the fruit. I like my apricots to retain their tang. Sliced almonds are a tasty addition. Or make the topping gluten-free by using almond meal in place of the flour. Bake for about 40 minutes at 350° until brown and bubbly. Makes six servings. Easily halved for 2-3.

Another nice treat to have on hand to accompany summer fruit or simply a cup of coffee is this more-ish cookie from David Lebovitz.

Pain d’Amande

In a medium saucepan over low heat melt 8 tablespoons butter with 1 1/3 cups turbinado sugar, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/3 cup water just until the butter melts, do not boil.

Remove from the heat and add 2 1/3 cups flour, ¼ teaspoon baking soda and 1 cup sliced almonds.

Line an 8-9 inch loaf pan with parchment and press dough into the pan, smoothing the top. Chill until firm, 2-3 hours.

Preheat oven to 325°.  Remove dough from pan and using a sharp knife, slice it crosswise into rectangles, as thin as possible, 1/8 – 1/16 inch.

Place on baking sheets an inch apart and bake for 12 – 15 minutes, until slightly firm and a bit browned. Turn the cookies over and bake another 12 -15 minutes until crisp and deep golden brown. Cool on a rack. Makes 50 -70 cookies depending on thickness.

The rain finally materialized – in force. The driveway is a mess but the plants love it. Happy Fourth of July.

One thought on “Summer Treats

  1. The shadows in Tag look wonderful. I can attest to the addictive nature of the pain d’amande. Good to hear you had a good rain. A gift in these dry times.


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