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Volume 38 Issue 10, July 3 - 9, 2008
now in our 38th season

Summer Supper

by Maryjane Mojer
Executive Chef, Bartlett's Ocean View Farm

I’m a pretty good on-the-fly cook and after an unsuccessful trip to the grocery store parking lot today, it’s a skill I am grateful for.  I can generally make a meal from whatever is in on-hand and in the cupboard, and I have a few friends who will call from time to time and ask what they should make for dinner. I always start with  “what’s in your fridge?“  After a little coaching and a virtual tour of their larders, we can usually come up with a tasty, simple meal, often centered around a pasta or eggs.  Most of the time, they already know what to do, they just need  a sounding board.

This time of year, with everyone home only in bits and pieces, the last place I want to be is at the store and in line.  By having a few items on hand, I can toss a delicious meal together pretty quickly and have more time at the table with my family.  The ingredients in Pasta Puttanesca are ones that I always have on hand; canned tomatoes, olives, capers, garlic, and anchovies.  Anchovies are available in so many ways:  salted, unsalted, in oil in tins or in jars.  I usually use a two ounce tin for this recipe, but anchovy paste is also available in a tube and very easy to use.  Anchovies are one of those secret ingredients that add so much depth of flavor to a dish.  They are salty and flavorful when added to other ingredients and are a part of so many basics, such as Worcestershire Sauce and Caesar Dressing. (Vegetarians beware!) Memories of small bits of fishy, bony filets have left many people avoiding anchovies.  They’re well worth another try, and the flavor that they impart to a finished dish is noticeable.  The filets will just melt when added to the pan for the sauce.

Pasta Puttanesca

This recipe will serve four.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Remember, whenever you are cooking anything, each step of the recipe is a chance to add and enhance the flavor of the finished dish.  When you bring your water to a boil for pasta, adding salt will add flavor to the pasta and boost the other flavors of the other ingredients.  For Pasta Puttanesca, I like to use linguine or spaghetti, but you can certainly use whatever you have on hand. 

Cook your pasta according to directions until al dente.

Ingredients:

  • Two to three tablespoons vegetable oil
  • One two ounce tin Anchovies or two tablespoons Anchovy paste
  • Six to eight cloves fresh garlic (Yes, the jars of prepared garlic are easier, but the flavor of fresh garlic and the aftertaste of the dish certainly make the extra effort worth while.)
  • One 28 ounce can peeled, seeded plum tomatoes (It really doesn’t matter if they’re chopped or not. They are easy enough to break up with your hands, or as you stir them around in the pan.)
  • One half cup pitted kalamata olives, rough chopped
  • One tablespoon capers

While your pasta is cooking, heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat.  You want the oil hot, but not sizzling and smoking.  When you add the garlic, cook it through, releasing the oils and flavors, but not browning it.  Browning the garlic will make it bitter.  Add the garlic and the anchovies to the oil, cooking until the anchovies are dissolved and the garlic is soft.  Add the can of tomatoes, juice and all.  Stir well to combine all of the ingredients and to break up any large bits of tomatoes.  Add the olives and the capers, bring the sauce to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  It will thicken slightly as it cooks.  When you’re boiling something, think big bubbles; simmering, on the other hand, is over a lower flame with smaller bubbles. Simmer your sauce for about five minutes, which, after a time or two of making this dish, will be just about when your pasta is done.  Drain your pasta, and return it to the pot.  Remove your sauce from the heat, and pour it right on top of your pasta.  Toss well to coat, and serve it up with fresh grated parmesan.

I love Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and will pay for it quite happily.  I always have a piece of it in the cheese drawer and grate it on everything from spaghetti and meatballs to a baked potato or tossed salad.  I also like a chunk  of it with an apple as a snack.  Or, just the cheese. The apple just makes me feel better about eating a chunk of cheese.

As for a last minute dessert, especially in the summer, a simple and delicious Summer Berry Fool is light and fresh and easy.

A fool is a dessert that is often made with tart fruits such as rhubarb.  The berries or fruit are either mashed and folded into whipped cream or cooked and then mashed, folded into whipped cream and simply spooned into a serving dish.

Start with a pint of heavy cream, and either whip with your mixer, or whisk by hand until thick. The amount of sugar to add is up to you and the fruit you have. Some berries right now are so sweet that you’ll not need to add any.  I just bought some gorgeous blackberries that were the sweetest I think I’ve ever had.  Conversely, the strawberries that we just had were very flavorful, but not very sweet.  For a pint of cream, whipped, a cup to two cups of fruit puree folded in will be enough.  You don’t want to completely combine the fruit and the cream; lovely streaks of cream and fruit keep the flavors separate and balanced.

Rhubarb is a favorite of my dads, and I make a quick rhubarb sauce when ever it’s in season.  Rhubarb also makes a great and very traditional fool. Generally a quarter cup of sugar and a tablespoon of water for every cup of fresh, sliced rhubarb over a low flame, brought to a boil and simmered about ten minutes until thickened.  Great over ice cream or stirred into yogurt it just tastes like summer to me

A ginger cookie or two add a lovely bright crunch and texture served on the side.  Store bought cookies are wonderful…actually in my world any cookies are wonderful.  If you’d like to make ginger shortbread cookies, this recipe makes 2 dozen cookies.

Ginger Shortbread Cookies

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl with an electric mixer cream until light and fluffy:

  • One pound of butter
  • One half cup sugar
  • Add the following, mixing just until combined:
  • One teaspoon ground ginger
  • One quarter cup candied ginger, finely chopped
  • One teaspoon vanilla
  • Four and one half cups flour
  • One half teaspoon salt

I scoop these with a melon baller dipped in hot water. Bake for approximately twelve minutes until just browned.

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