What’s been cooking…the summer edition

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Well, it’s been a while since I’ve checked in, mostly as July was a horribly busy month with some serious ups and downs. One of the downs was me being out of commission with a bad summer bug for several weeks. I couldn’t even taste anything at all for most of a week – what a horrible waste in the middle of the New Jersey fruit and vegetable season!

But now things are coming back to me (including my taste buds) and it’s time to enjoy a few fresh flavors while I can.

One night this past week I was in the mood for some serious comfort food: scalloped potatoes and ham. Now, I know that’s more of a wintertime dish than one that screams summer, but I thought a neat way to put a twist on the dish would be to add in some lovely orange tomatoes from the farmers market. I ended up following this recipe for Gratin of Potatoes and Tomatoes, but added the cubed ham to it as my own twist instead of serving the ham on a side. I was using a ham steak instead of a full ham so it ended up working out perfectly. The cats enjoyed having a few extra pieces of ham to snack on while I was cooking.

Scalloped Potatoes with Ham and Tomatoes

When my taste buds have been behaving, I have managed to enjoy a few summer salads with all of my favorite ingredients: fresh Jersey corn, tomatoes, peppers and baby greens. I’ve been trying out a few different recipes from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless that made for great summer salad dressings, like the lime and cilantro one I used for this greens, tomato and charred pepper salad:

Green salad with lime cilantro dressing

On another salad of greens, red cabbage, orange tomatoes I enjoyed the smoky flavors of his Toasted guajillo chile dressing:

Salad with Toasted guajillo chile dressing

Corn salads are just perfect this time of the year, and one night I had to try a green bean, corn and tomato salad from Martha Stewart. I made it with some nice wax beans from the market and roasted the garlic to make it milder for the dressing. Definitely a keeper recipe for future meals…

Bean, Corn and Tomato Salad
Other experiments from the past month that I really enjoyed included Alton Brown’s recipe for Olive Tapenade. The only change I made from his recipe was to saute the garlic first in olive oil, since I can’t do raw garlic with my intolerance.

Olive Tapenade

This was so much better than any jarred or pre-made tapenade I’ve ever had, I’m not adding it to my repertoire for holiday parties in the future. It’s perfect on grilled bread for bruschetta.

The last recipe I tried and will mention for now was a classic Ground Pork and Eggplant in Oyster Sauce, thanks to the Pinay In Texas Cooking Corner blog. I’m not always a big fan of the texture of eggplant but I had some really nice Japanese eggplants – and of course plenty of delicious ground pork from our family’s pastured pigs. The only change I made to the recipe was to add in some colorful bell peppers from the farm market for a little extra crunch and texture, and it was delicious! This is definitely a recipe I’ll make again when I want to do something spicy with ground pork.

Ground Pork and Eggplant in Oyster Sauce

Next post I’ll talk about and share a few new recipes I’ve made up myself this summer…so more yumminess coming soon!

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2 Responses to What’s been cooking…the summer edition

  1. I’ve been trying to branch out with salad recipes and this post gave me some great ideas. That corn salad looks delicious in particular. I also definitely want to try my hand at the ground pork and eggplant recipe.

    Great-looking food, Nicole!

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