Ain’t Summer Great Weekend Special

Pleasant LakeAin’t summer great? The sun, the fun and the long, lazy evenings with cookouts or picnics on the beach or out on the deck. (Except when a blustery thunderstorm blows through. In New Hampshire we count on those storms to clear the air when the heat and humidity build to our breaking point!)

This weekend promises sunshine and perfect temperatures. It will be a great weekend to get together with friends and family. Not sure about the menu? Well how about …

There is nothing like fresh summer tomatoes! There are plenty of tomatoes at the farm stand and farmer’s market. So go for it. If you’ve got the grill going you must try my . Alternatively, Grilled Vegetables & Gorgonzola Bruschetta are wonderful. If you like, keep it easy and let your friends do the assembly.

On to the main event … Kick off dinner with Insalata Caprese (Mozzarela Tomato & Basil Salad). Too much with the tomatoes? The first of the local blueberries are in. Give my Summer Salad with Green Beans, Blueberries & Goat Cheese a try. And maybe some spicy, grilled Tandoori Chicken and Asian Noodle Salad? Unless you’re more in the mood for Lamb Chops with Lemon-Mint Yogurt Sauce and Couscous with Dried Fruit and Pine Nuts.

A cool and fruity dessert will be a great end to the evening. Take a slice of watermelon one better with Watermelon Sorbet. Or how about Blueberry Gelato?

Have a wonderful weekend! Bon appétit!

What’s up with you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2014

A Perfect Summer & Watermelon Sorbet

misty_morning_pleasant_lake_04Do you have fond memories of a perfect summer? Maybe you were six or ten or sixteen. Whenever it was, I’m guessing you weren’t quite so demanding when it came to perfection. You didn’t worry about every star aligning. Instead, it was perfect because you learned to swim. That’s all it took. Or maybe it was your first time away at sleep-over camp. Archery and lanyards, campfires and s’mores and a bronze medal for the backstroke were more than enough to make you happy. Until you fell hopelessly, madly in love and that became the most perfect, perfect summer.

So what would it take to make this one a perfect summer?

Catching a perfect wave off the coast of Oaxaca? Followed by a champagne picnic on the grounds of Downton Abbey or a red carpet gala in the Hamptons? Interspersed with trips to watch the grand slam trifecta of Paris, Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows? The finals of course, live, up-close and personal. Then again, maybe for you it’s a yacht in the Mediterranean or a villa in Tuscany? Or reaching the summit of Mont Blanc or summer skiing on Zermatt?

Summer bucket lists can get pretty exotic pretty fast. At five, our goal was to catch a million frogs. Now we’ve upgraded our bucket list to a safari in South Africa. At eight, we wanted nothing more than to pass our raft test. How did our list inflate to swimming with sharks? At fifteen, we wanted to see Aerosmith live and dance all night. And now, well, maybe not everything has changed. Except maybe the cost of the ticket. Back then, we danced all night for a dollar, now it’s closer to $50.

Is it time to reel it in a bit? Catch some frogs and tap our toes at the town bandstand? Maybe those childhood summers were perfect because our definition of perfect was just a tad simpler.

Maybe all we need to do to have a perfect summer is to …

Go for an early morning swim.

Build a sand castle. Think Notre Dame or the Taj Mahal and then build whatever you like.

Hunt for stuff – shells, interesting stones, pinecones and twigs – and then turn them into something charming.

Grab a map and go for a long bike ride or hike. Afterward, cool off with a swim to the raft.

Throw a Frisbee. Throw a Frisbee for your dog or your friend’s dog.

Tie-dye a t-shirt or decorate some flip-flops and wear with pride.

Visit a farm, pick peaches, blueberries or raspberries and show off your t-shirt.

Make homemade lemonade, pink please, or limeade or watermelon-ade. Better yet, freeze it and turn it into popsicles or sorbet.

Catch a fish and call it dinner. Don’t forget the s’mores for dessert.

Sleep under the stars, even if it is just under a skylight.

Here’s to the perfect summer and bon appétit!

Watermelon Sorbet
Makes about 1 quartwatermelon_sorbet_04

6-8 cups cubed seedless watermelon
1/2 cup or to taste Lime Simple Syrup
2 tablespoons tequila
1 tablespoon triple sec

Put the watermelon, Lime Simple Syrup, tequila and triple sec in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.

Transfer the mix to an ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer the sorbet to a plastic container and freeze for up to one month.

Lime Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Zest from 1-2 limes
1/2 cup fresh lime juice

Put the sugar and water in a small saucepan and, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, heat over medium. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, add the zest and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Strain the syrup through a fine mesh sieve into a clean storage container and discard the zest. Cool completely and stir in the lime juice.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Lime Simple Syrup should keep for up to 1 month in the refrigerator.

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One Year Ago – Caramel Sundaes with Sweet & Salty Pecans
Two Years Ago – Gazpacho
Three Years Ago – Mousse au Citron
Four Years Ago– Thai Salad
Five Years Ago – Sweet Dream Bars
Six Years Ago – Lobster Salad
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What’s your idea of a perfect summer? Feel free to share – let’s get a conversation going. Click here to leave a comment.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2014

It’s Another Beautiful Summer Weekend Special

beach chairs on pleasant lakeThe forecast is in and the weatherheads are promising another beautiful weekend. Could we be any luckier!?! What could be better than spending another beautiful evening under the stars. Plan a picnic or fire up the grill and spend a glorious evening with family and friends.

Not sure what to cook? Well, how about …

For starters, wow your friends with something more than delicious. My Summer Rolls. certainly fill that bill. They take a little bit of effort but they are worth it. Besides, you can make them in the morning, cover and serve in the evening. Alternatively, Lettuce Cups with Shrimp & Noodles are wonderful. Prepare everything in advance and let your friends do the assembly.

When it’s time to roll out the grill … How about Grilled Swordfish with Tequila-Lime Butter ? It’s delicious and has a bit of a kick. Serve the fish with my Couscous with Dried Fruit and Pine Nuts and add a spoonful of my Crunchy Slaw with Cilantro, Mint & Peanuts.

For dessert … how about something with chocolate? Something ever so luscious like my Chocolate-Peanut Butter Tart or rich and decadent like my Chocolate-Orange Tart.

Have a wonderful weekend! Bon appétit!

What’s up with you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2014

Another Summer Job Story & Grilled Swordfish with Tequila-Lime Butter

laundry Last week’s post  about my dad’s complicity in his youngest and only male child’s first job hunt raised a bit of commentary. Not least of which was the story’s co-star, my brother John. His take on the tale was, “Umm… lovely storytelling but factually incorrect. While I was fifteen, my first job was as a dishwasher at the Pleasant Lake Inn. Cricenti’s came later.” Proving once again, that our dad never lets the facts get in the way of a good story.

So what about my first summer job? When I hit Main Street to find employment, I was turned down time and time again. I finally hit pay dirt with an offer to become the evening attendant at the local laundromat. The job didn’t begin to excite me but I was more than happy to be done with the search. Nothing breeds fear and humiliation like asking for a job when you have no particular skills and even less experience.

Unfortunately, my mother didn’t buy into the whole laundromat thing. A 5:00 to 11:00 (that was p.m. not a.m.) workday was not what she had in mind. She made all sorts of worrying noises about working alone, late at night. I couldn’t fathom what unsavory characters she thought might fluff and fold on my watch. I certainly wasn’t worried. It was a small town and the few kids who might pass for delinquents hung out at the bowling alley a mile or so down the road. I figured the cleaners would be deserted most evenings. I imagined quiet, even dull, hours spent eating bonbons and reading mystery novels.

Looking back, I now realize Mom’s key goal for my summer job was to get me up, out of bed and moving every morning. Working the night shift at the cleaners wouldn’t come close to accomplishing that. No doubt, she had visions of me sleeping until noon every day. Oh, and since I was too young to drive, she’d be the one to pick me up most nights.

Whether it was true or not, I told her that there were no other jobs to be had in the entire town. It was the laundromat or tanning on the beach by day and watching snowy reruns on our television’s one channel by night. She must have believed me because, within a day or two, my parents had put their heads together and hatched a plan.

I would become an entrepreneur and run my own little business as the lunch lady at the neighborhood beach. It was weekends only so it wasn’t perfect but it kept me busy from Thursday afternoon through the weekend. Neither was it gourmet. The limited menu served up tuna, chicken or egg salad or a PB&J, on white or wheat, with a handful of chips. And of course there were brownies (from a box) for dessert as well as lemonade and ice tea. So desperate to keep me busy, Mom and Dad staked me the $25 or so needed for the first bag of groceries.

There was one wrinkle. There always is, isn’t there?

I had to take on a partner when another kid’s parents came up with exact same idea just minutes before mine. Unfortunately for me, this girl would never be accused of excessive speed or energy. Obviously smarter than me, she cheerfully dodge most of the work and still collected half the profits. For her part, Mom was delighted. My new partner was a few years older, had a driver’s license and could borrow her family’s station wagon for the weekly grocery run.

And me? I have no idea if I made much money but I learned a thing or two about customers, co-workers and how to move – fast. I also learned that I never, ever wanted to own a restaurant.

Here’s to all the lessons learned at summer jobs and bon appétit!

Grilled Swordfish with Tequila-Lime Butter
A lovely summer dish for family and friends. Enjoy!
Serves 4Grilled_Swordfish_Tequila-Lime_Butter_02

1/4 cup tequila
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons triple sec or Grand Marnier
1-2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
About 1 1/2 pounds swordfish
Lime wedges and fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

Put the tequila, citrus juices, triple sec and olive oil in a re-sealable plastic bag or shallow glass pan, add the ginger and onion, season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Add the swordfish and marinate for about 30 minutes.

Preheat a charcoal or gas grill to medium hot. Remove the swordfish from the marinade and place it on the grill. Depending on how thick it is, cook the fish for 5 minutes per side or until cooked through and still moist.

Remove the swordfish from the grill and immediately top with a generous pat of citrus butter. Let the fish sit for about five minutes, cut into thick slices and serve garnished with cilantro leaves and lime wedges.

Tequila-Lime Butter
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1-2 teaspoons tequila
Grated zest of 1 lime
1/4 teaspoon or to taste cayenne pepper
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Put the butter, tequila and lime zest in a bowl, season with cayenne, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Spoon the butter onto a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap, shape into a log and then wrap and roll into a cylinder. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Tequila-Lime Butter can be made in advance. Store the extra in the refrigerator or freezer and try it with grilled corn, on a freshly grilled steak or toss with grilled shrimp.

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One Year Ago – Grilled Swordfish with Olive & Caper Salsa
Two Years Ago – Grilled Red Potatoes with Lemon-Garlic-Herb Oil
Three Years Ago – Tandoori Chicken
Four Years Ago – Blueberry Muffins
Five Years Ago – Peanut Butter Brownies

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What was your first summer job? Feel free to share – let’s get a conversation going. Click here to leave a comment.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2014

Lovin’ Summer Weekend Special

Full MoonFor a lot of years I spent my summers cooking at a private club. (Somehow or other, that sentence sounds fancier than the reality. It was a nice place with nice people but a hot kitchen is a hot kitchen.) At the end of last summer, I gave it up. It was time to get my summer back! Definitely, the right decision, I’ve spent more time on the beach in the last few weeks than I did in the previous five or more years.

Not to venture too far from the kitchen, I’m still doing a little catering – including this weekend. If I wasn’t, here’s what I might be grilling up for family and friends this weekend! The timing is perfect – there’s a full moon on Saturday night.

For starters, try my new favorite thing (at least for this week)! My Grilled Tomato Crostini will be the prefect start to your cookout. Grilled tomatoes are amazing. I’ve promised to make them at another catering gig at the end of the month. If you feel the need to add some nuts, give my Rosemary Cashews a try. They were such a big hit on the beach a few weekends ago, that a few old friends offered to invest it I agree to make and sell them commercially. They also had great fun coming up with more than a few silly and suggestive names for the company. (Don’t hold your breath – it won’t be happening anytime soon.)

Moving onto dinner … A steak sounds pretty good about now. Try my Grilled Rib Eye with Compound Butter. It is delicious. Grill up some vegetables to go with the steak. I enthusiastically suggest mushroom caps and asparagus. And add a salad. Watermelon Salad with Arugula and Feta is a refreshing choice on a hot night.

The local strawberry season is winding down. Enjoy the last of the berries before they are gone. Try my Strawberries with Yogurt Cream or dip fresh berries in my Lavender Infused White Chocolate Crème. Yum!

Have a wonderful weekend! Bon appétit!

What’s cooking with you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2014

Get a Job & Grilled Tomato Crostini

supermarketMy father loves to tell everyone about the role he played in my brother’s first job. John was fourteen or maybe fifteen and Dad was determined that his youngest child and only son join the ranks of the employed. My sister and I had been through it. Both my parents believed that working would build character and teach us responsibility. Whether it did or not, can you blame them? Who in their right mind wants a teenager hanging around all summer complaining about boredom?

A few days before the long Memorial Day weekend, Dad decreed a trip north. We grew up in the suburbs west of Boston but there was never any question of donning red visors and working at the local golden arches. Like his sisters before him, John needed to find a job close to the family summer/ski house in New Hampshire.

John’s job wasn’t the only thing on his mind. While his son’s employment was his primary goal, Dad was also looking forward to his first golf game of the season. In addition, the trip gave him an excuse to check on his middle child and freeloading tenant. I’d just finished my junior year of college and had been in New Hampshire for two or three weeks. I’d stumbled into a cushy job at the College Sport Shop the previous summer and was back selling swimsuits and t-shirts.

Although I wasn’t there, I can guess the gist of the father-son discussion on the drive up 89 on Friday night. After all, I’d received the same pep talk and instructions a few years earlier.

Anyway, Dad had a simple plan. There would be no lying around in bed on Saturday morning. By nine o’clock, he’d have the car loaded with golf clubs, John and his bicycle. Then, he and Mom would drop John and bike at Cricenti’s. Combed, clean and standing straight, John would enter the supermarket, find Mr. Cricenti and politely ask for a summer job.

With some trepidation, John asked, what he should do if Mr. Cricenti turned him down. The answer? Well, that’s where the bicycle came in. If the supermarket didn’t hire him, he was to ride his bicycle from one end of town to other, stopping at every restaurant, shop and gas station along the way to ask for a job. And if everyone turned him down? Simple, start over.

Never ones to hover, my parent would be out of the parking lot and headed to the golf course before John got through the supermarket’s automatic doors. In today’s world of helicopter parents, we fondly refer to Mom and Dad’s nonchalant methods as the school of negligent parenting. I don’t remember running with scissors but, after a certain age, we were encouraged to go outside and play. (Read: we were kicked out of the house and told to stay outside until the streetlights came on). Cell phones were decades away but tetanus shots were kept current and all the mothers in the neighbor kept an eye out. We couldn’t get away with too much and help was never all that far away.

Since Cricenti’s hired lots of bag boys, John needn’t have worried. Within an hour, he was in and out of the store, gainfully employed and due to start as soon as school got out.

Here’s hoping that you’re never bored this or any summer and bon appétit!

Grilled Tomato Crostini
This very simple appetizer is simply delicious! Enjoy!
Stock up on tomatoes and make as many as you and your friends can eat!

grilled_tomato_crostini_03Ciabatta or a nice hearty country bread, sliced
Firm tomatoes, from medium to minis – various sizes and colors
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Olive oil
Garlic cloves, halved
Basil oil (recipe follows)
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)

Preheat the grill to high. If using cherry tomatoes, soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes or more.

Cut medium tomatoes in half, keep cherry tomatoes whole. Put the tomatoes in a bowl, drizzle with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Thread cherry tomatoes onto the wooden skewers.

Grill the ciabatta until nicely browned, about 30 seconds per side. Rub the warm bread with the garlic halves. Place the tomatoes on the grill. Larger tomatoes should start cut side down. Grill for 3 minutes, turn and grill 2-3 minutes more or until soft with nice grill marks.

Remove the tomatoes from the grill and place directly on the grilled bread and drizzle with basil oil. Using a vegetable peeler or a course grater, make shavings from the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, sprinkle on the tomatoes and serve.

Basil Oil
2 cups packed basil leaves
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Fill a bowl with ice and water.

Blanch the basil in boiling water for 10 seconds, drain and immediately plunge the leaves in the ice bath. Remove the basil from the ice water, drain well and pap dry.

Put the basil, oil and salt into a blender or small food processor and puree until smooth. Transfer to a glass container, cover and let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature or several hours in the refrigerator before serving.

If making in advance, bring to room temperature before serving. The flavor intensifies if you let the oil sit overnight. Store any extra basil oil in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Drizzle the oil on fresh or grilled vegetables and use it in vinaigrettes.

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One Year Ago – Strawberries with Yogurt Cream
Two Years Ago – Watermelon & Feta Salad
Three Years Ago – Grilled Salmon with Lemon-Basil Aioli
Four Years Ago – Mediterranean Shrimp
Five Years Ago – Grilled Hoisin PorkOr Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What was your first summer job? Feel free to share – let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2014

Independence Day Special

fireworks_01Tomorrow is the Fourth of July! To help you have the best ever, I’ve put together a few ideas for a traditional Fourth of July picnic. At least in New England, salmon is a Fourth of July classic. So visit your favorite fishmonger and get out the grill. Then again, if you have a big crowd coming, it will be easier to prepare everything in advance and go with a cold buffet.

Start with a special cocktail: Spiked or not, Watermelon-Limeade is refreshing on a hot day. To nibble, try some Caponata with pita chips. Add a bowl of Spicy Olives and a real fan favorite Rosemary Cahews. With all the cooking done in advance, you’ll have plenty of time to relax and enjoy family and friends.

Moving onto dinner … Whip the salmon up in advance and serve it cold. Gravlax with Tarragon-Mustard Sauce would be a delicious choice. Or roast salmon in the morning and serve it cold with Tarragon Aioli. If you are noticing a pattern here, tarragon pairs very well with salmon. Serve the salmon with Asparagus & Radish Salad and Potato Salad Niçoise or maybe you’d prefer a creamy and delicious Potato Salad Dijon or New Potato Salad with Gorgonzola.
strawberries 02

End on a sweet note with special, early summer dessert. The pick-your-own strawberry field down the road from my house is open. Strawberry Shortcake with Cardamom Cream is a terrific choice for a Fourth of July picnic. That said, Panna Cotta with Strawberries would be wonderful as well.

Have a wonderful picnic and a happy Fourth! Bon appétit!

How will you celebrate Independence Day? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2014