Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Summertime Feast

Can you believe it's already the end of summer? Kids are headed back to school, and we're starting to feel some cooler temperatures here in Chicago. I'm headed back to school soon, too. If you missed it before, I'm going back to school for certification to teach high school mathematics. I used to teach elementary school, and have decided it would be a better fit for me to teach my favorite subject to older students. I'm so excited about the opportunities I'll have this next year, between school and my multiple part time jobs. It is going to be busy, though, and I'm sure cooking will have to take a back seat at some points during the year. During this lull before classes start, I've been cooking like crazy to get it all out of my system. Too bad I know I can't resist cooking no matter how busy I get, so I'm sure I'll still be putting my kitchen to good use either way. This blog, however, might get a little neglected in the next few months... just warning you :)

For a refreshing summer drink, mix equal parts of pureed
watermelon with lemonade. You could strain the watermelon
if you want to avoid chunks of fruit, or leave a little texture in it for
something different. Either way, this will quench your thirst!
I have a feeling a little vodka would mix nicely, too.

Last week I was with my sister in St Louis, and I took some time out on Friday afternoon to make a nice summer meal for us to enjoy on the back porch. I took some inspiration from the Kirkwood Farmers Market, where I found beautiful heirloom tomatoes, juicy watermelon, farm fresh green beans, and little red potatoes.

I got the tomatoes from the CJ's stand, and I was so pleased with the whole experience. The girls working at the stand were friendly and knowledgeable, and they seemed to really take pride in the local products they were selling. If you're in the St. Louis area, look out for this seller at Kirkwood Market. I'd go back to them anytime! The tomatoes are (clockwise from the top) German Striped, Brandywine, and Cherokee Purple.

I wanted to serve the tomatoes simply, so we would focus on their flavor. I sliced them up, added some blanched green beans in the middle, and drizzled a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper over the whole platter. They were amazing! So sweet and juicy, we couldn't get enough of them. Between me, my sister, and my dad, we finished off the whole platter! We did agree that we had a hard time tasting the difference between the three types, but also said we would tell the difference between these babies and store bought tomatoes any day.

I also kept it simple on the potatoes. I quartered them, and tossed with minced fresh thyme and some salt and pepper. I roasted them in an incredible non-stick casserole pan my mom bought when they lived in Europe. It browns potatoes better than anything I've used in my kitchen. I tossed in some halved cloves of garlic when the potatoes were starting to brown, and the bits of garlic browned nicely without getting burned. Yummy!

The final part of our meal was a goat cheese and herb tart inspired by David Lebovitz. He posted an Herbed Ricotta Tart on his blog about a week before, and I stumbled across it when I was catching up on blogs while stuck at my parents house with no keys. It looked too good to resist, so I decided the tart would complement my farmer's market finds. I pretty much followed his recipe, but used scallions and goat cheese in my version. It was quite delish, although I realized as we were eating that I'd made a different goat cheese tart before, and I wish I'd tried this one with ricotta. The crust was the Chocolate and Zucchini recipe for Olive Oil Tart Crust, and I didn't love it. I was so happy when it didn't shrink when I blind baked, but it ended up pretty hard and not at all flaky. I don't know if it was over baked, or if it had to do with the whole wheat flour. I might try it again, though, because I really did like the ease and ingredients in this tart crust.


Kristen said...

What a delicious meal.
Good luck going back to school! I always am so impressed with people who are smart with Math. Not my thing at all!

TheKitchenWitch said...

That tart looks wonderful! Yum!

And I am soooo making that drink...with vodka ;)

Now here I am, thinking we get along nicely and may someday be friends, and it gets out that you are good at MATH??!! Ye Gods, girl. You are from Mars, aren't you?

Joelen said...

I love your meal and the best part was it was meatless too!