Annabel Cohen: Summertime Dining
Light and (mostly) healthy warm-weather fare.
Summer on the porch — the idea is so American. We think of it with nostalgia, even if we don’t have our own memories. In my picture-perfect recollection, there is a breeze and a light summer meal — loads of fresh fruit, a leafy, crunchy and healthy salad and lots of bright, tart lemon everywhere. Add some ripe, red tomatoes and we’ve got the perfect Michigan summer.
BRIE WITH FRESH BERRIES AND HONEY
I’ve made this to serve warm or at room temperature (just skip the heating part) with tiny individual Brie cheeses and with large 2-kilo brie rounds. Don’t be limited by using only Brie: Many soft and semi-soft cheeses work well, including Camembert, goat cheese (Chevre or Montrachet) or even soft blue cheeses.
1 Brie round, uncut (any size), room temperature
1-2 cups sliced strawberries, blueberries or raspberries (or a combination), using as many as you desire according to the size of your Brie
¼-½ cup sliced almonds (or any other favorite nut or seed — walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, sunflower seeds are all good options)
Honey (or real maple syrup), any variety, to drizzle over Brie
Preheat oven to 325℉. Place uncut Brie round in an attractive baking dish. Bake for 15-20 minutes until softened. Sprinkle the berries and nuts over. Drizzle honey over. Serve with good-quality crackers or your favorite bread, sliced thin or cut into chunks. Makes varied servings.
Traditionally, gazpacho contains bread and is often served strained and smooth. I prefer this chunkier version.
About 2 pounds ripe red tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 medium cucumber, peeled, cut into chunks
6 scallions, white and green parts, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 clove garlic
3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice (or red-wine vinegar), or more to taste
Sea salt to taste
1 tsp. hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco, or more to taste
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, more to taste, plus more for drizzling
Tomato juice or ice water (to thin the gazpacho if needed)
Fresh herbs: Dill, basil and cilantro are good choices
Minced red onion
Fresh chilis — any type (omit the pepper sauce if you wish)
Fresh or frozen corn kernels
Cooked black beans
Using one vegetable at a time, puree or process each vegetable until almost smooth, but with a few chunks still left. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl or large pitcher and add remaining ingredients. Makes 6 or more servings, depending on the portion size you prefer.
SUMMER PASTA WITH TUNA AND PEAS
Canned tuna and peas are often paired together in recipes. I’m not sure why, but I do know that peas brighten and add texture to almost every dish.
12 ounces pasta
2 Tbsp. butter
1 cup chopped red or Bermuda onion
1 Tbsp. fresh chopped garlic
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
1 cup dry white wine
½ cup cream cheese, softened
2-3 cans water- or oil-packed tuna, white or light, drained
10 ounces frozen peas, thawed
Fresh grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, to garnish
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup fresh chopped chives
Lemon wedges, to garnish
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions, to al dente. Do not overcook.
While the pasta is cooking, melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the wine and cream cheese and cook, stirring with a whisk, until the cream cheese is melted and incorporated. Stir in peas and tuna and cook until heated through.
Immediately drain the pasta (do not drain well, the pasta should be quite wet). Transfer the pasta back to the pot and add the tuna mixture. Stir or toss to coat the pasta and season well with salt and pepper to taste. Add grated cheese and chives and toss well. Serve with additional cheese and lemon wedges to squeeze over the pasta at the last moment. Makes 6 servings.
MIXED GREENS WITH CUCUMBER, CORN AND AVOCADO WITH GARLIC VINAIGRETTE
I like to make this with dandelion leaves, when available.
12 ounces mixed greens — any variety (sturdy lettuces, such as Romaine, remain crunchy for a while)
1 small cucumber, peeled or unpeeled, diced
1 cup fresh, uncooked corn kernels (just cut them from the uncooked cob)
½ cup fresh chopped dill
1 avocado, cut into thin wedges
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
¼ cup olive oil
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. grained Dijon mustard
1 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. garlic
Combine all salad ingredients, except avocado, in a large bowl. Set aside.
Combine dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake well.
Pour half the dressing over the salad and toss well. Add more dressing (if needed) and salt and pepper to taste. Makes 6 servings.
This is about as homey as it gets.
1 (9-inch) pie shell, homemade or premade
1½ cups sugar
6 Tbsp. butter, softened
¼ cup milk (or buttermilk)
2 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. cornmeal
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. lemon zest
¼ tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350℉.
Using an electric mixer, cream together sugar and butter in a large bowl. Add the eggs and beat until incorporated. Mix in the remaining ingredients and transfer the filling to the unbaked the pie shell.
Bake in preheated oven for 40-60 minutes, until set in center (if the crust begins to color too quickly, tent with a bit of foil). Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 6-8 servings.
Visit Annabel online for more at Annabel Cohen Cooks Detroit.