Monday, September 3, 2012

Soup, Salad, and a Tart, Part 1

Sometimes, it gets a little difficult to keep coming up with new recipes. If we know exactly how long it will take to make quiche or pasta with any of three sauces or to whip up a batch of chicken soup, and we know exactly what our kids’ reactions will be to it, why branch out? When we began Cooking the Seasons, local and seasonal in New England was a challenge for us, but that’s starting to feel like easy old hat – partly because the offerings of local and seasonal products in Somerville have exploded in the past few years, and partly because we’ve gotten used to the flow of ingredients. Every once in a while, the CSA or the Farmers’ market offers something new that sparks (or forces) an experiment, but we’ve been with the same farmers at the market and CSA for several years now and we’re pretty much ready for whatever they have. So, when bounty doesn’t inspire newness, we decided restriction might. Don’t worry, though, we’re not really fans of restriction. Here’s our fall mission: meals made up of soup, salad, and a tart. The order can vary. Dinner salads. Dessert soups? It’s off to a pretty fantastic start with our Labor Day extravaganza: Gazpacho, Poke, and Rustic Tart.

Late Summer Gazpacho

Last week when we came up with the Gazpacho recipe, I still had a cucumber from the garden in my fridge, and we somehow expected more to come. When we realized we were wrong, we toyed with, oh horror, grocery story cukes from some other region, or country! Practicality rather than politics ended up making the decision (Labor Day lines at the supermarkets are daunting), and boy are we glad! The intensity of flavor of an all-tomato base, and the surprise of corn and edamame that we turned to when we realized we needed a little extra volume, are truly fantastic. This is a time-intensive recipe because of the dicing, but it's not difficult. If you are in a hurry, a food processor can assist, but it’s worth taking the time to chop by hand, in our humble opinion.

Serves 10-12

8 large tomatoes, diced small
2 peppers (any color, variety is nice), diced small
2 small red onions, diced small
3 ears of corn, kernels cut off
½ cup edamame, steamed, then shelled
1 teas. jalapeno, minced (or more to taste)
1 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
1 bunch parsley leaves, chopped
3 medium tomatoes, blended into a juice
2 limes, juiced
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp salt

This works best if the vegetables, especially the tomatoes, have been chilled in advance.  Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.  Cover and chill at least 30 min and up to several hours.  Juices will accumulate at it sits.  Stir just before serving and serve cold, with croutons.


½ loaf bread (stale or fresh), cubed
2 tsp. thyme (fresh or dried)
2 T olive oil
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced

Spread cubed bread out on a baking sheet.  Bake at 300 for 30-45 minutes, until toasty crunchy all the way through.  Toss remaining ingredients onto cubes and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, stirring once, until fragrant. Cool before serving.


This recipe is inspired from leftovers. On one of our sushi-making evenings, we had more rolls than we could possibly eat and still had lovely filling ingredients all chopped with nowhere to go. So, we threw it all into a bowl, added a sesame oil dressing, and all agreed it was the best part of the meal. This time, we cut to the chase, skipped the rolls, and mixed it all together from the first.

We got the salmon from New Deal Fish Market. Cocktail Dave was sent to get three pounds of fish, at least some of which was salmon. When they brought out the whole fish and started filleting it, he forgot all other species and went with only salmon, much to this recipe's benefit.

Serves 10-12

3 lbs salmon, cut into ½” cubes
5 avocadoes, cut into ½” cubes
2 mangoes, cut into ½” cubes
1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
2 red onions, chopped small
¼ cup sesame seeds

Mix all ingredients together and toss with sauce made of:

½ cup soy sauce
¾ cup mirin
¼ cup toasted sesame oil

Let sit in sauce for 10-15 minutes before serving

Peach-Raspberry Rustic Tarts

Serves 10-12


2 cups flour
2 sticks butter
1/2 cup ice water

This recipe makes two tarts. Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry cutter or two knives in a cross-cut pattern. Cut until butter is about the size of beans and peas. With the flat of your hand, quickly rub the mixture between your palms. Do not overmix; it’s ok if there are still some butter chunks. Add ½ cup ice water and quickly mix with fingertips. Flour a pasty cloth or dishtowel and put half of the dough into it. Usee the cloth to gather the dough into a tight ball, then flatten it with the palm of your hand. Flour the top of the dough and roll it to just under the size of a cookie pan. Use the cloth to flip the dough into the pan, then pull the cloth off. Fill with fruit (recipe below) to about 1-1 ½ inches from the edge. Then flip the edge over, creating a kind of skirt around the edge of the tart. Repeat with the other half of the dough to make the second tart. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes, or until the crust just begins to brown.

Peach-Raspberry Filling #1

2 cups sliced frozen or fresh peaches
4 T sugar
3 fresh peaches, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
1 cup raspberries

In a saucepan, mix the 2 cups frozen or fresh peaches with the sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Using a ricer, mash to get a pulpy mush. To fill: lay peach slices on dough, sprinkle raspberries over peaches, then top with peach mush. Close off crust as described above.

Peach-Raspberry Filling #2

2 cups raspberries
5 T sugar
3 fresh peaches, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds

In a saucepan, mix the raspberries with the sugar. Bring to a simmer, then cook on low for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

To fill: lay peaches on dough, then pour raspberry sauce over peaches. Close off crust as described above.