One of the things that I love most about September is summer produce is still abundant! Even though “summer” may be “over” as we know it, it’s produce certainly isn’t……& it’s still warm pretty much across the country. For me, late summer meals are essential to savor the season’s bounty.
Recently, our dear friend, Chip Callaway brought us the ultimate gift……fresh chanterelle mushrooms!
I was elated and most humbled, as chanterelles, to me, are the ultimate hostess gift! I spent at least a day trying to figure out how to best use the mushrooms to highlight their flavor. After my reading, I ascertained that a delicious, buttery cheese, paired with fresh tomatoes would be best……
……along with fresh zucchini……so a vegetarian pasta dish seemed most appropriate for the chanterelles……with all this terrific summer produce, what could be better?
One of my favorite summer pasta recipes is “Linguine with Tomatoes & Basil” from The Silver Palate. This is a definite twist on that classic……adding chanterelles & zucchini “noodles”, along with Barilla protein pasta, elevates this dish to sublime appreciation……I promise that every guest will ask for leftovers, which are fabulous the next day!
If I am going to serve up “Summer” once more, then I am going all the way……watermelon-lime champagne cocktails……I originally found the recipe for Watermelon Champagne Cocktails on the website, a fabulous fete, which you must check-out……I really liked it, but I am not a huge fan of mint with watermelon, so I left out the mint & substituted Williams-Sonoma’s Key Lime Margarita Mix for lemonade……yum……the lime & watermelon really complemented each other, & the extra tartness made the cocktail very refreshing……& the cocktail is just so pretty, don’t you agree?
……I also created a peach & basil caprese salad……late summer is embodied in this dish……with 4 great ingredients……peaches, basil, mozzarella & balsamic syrup……in a dish this delicious & simple to prepare is why entertaining is easy!
……I also love this “skinny” Moroccan dip, which I first tasted at our local Williams-Sonoma store in Greensboro, & I decided to make it myself, but “skinny” with lite or fat-free sour cream……or yogurt……combined with Mourad’s Moroccan Roasting & Grilling Rub & a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten the flavor……delicious……I have made it 2 ways, one with just the 3 ingredients, or with fresh garlic & cilantro added, combining the ingredients in a food processor to quickly blend……in minutes, you have light, fresh summery deliciousness in a quick & easy starter……serve with chips & veggies galore for a great late summer vegetarian dip……
……& finish the meal with a berry dessert! One of my favorite summer desserts is orange blackberry fool, a really quick dessert that can be made with either fresh or frozen blackberries……a fool is essentially whipped cream folded with a berry purée, then chilled, & served with extra purée……I also tried it frozen, which was Émilie’s personal favorite!
Set the table summer-style! I found these cool watermelon placements at our new favorite bakery & breakfast/brunch/lunch/dessert spot, The Table, in Asheboro, NC……if you leave within an hour of Asheboro, or have a trip planned to the North Carolina Zoo, The Table should definitely be on your “must dine there” list……
……& I cut the hydrangeas from our garden……summer simplicity at its best!
So, don’t think Autumn just yet……join me in celebrating Summer’s bounty for a few more weeks…….& try this menu……I promise you will be pleased……remember, connect-celebrate-entertain……Cheers!
A Late Summer Vegetarian Menu
Watermelon-Lime Champagne Cocktails
- makes 2 cocktails
1. Cut the watermelon in half, then cut each half into sixths or eighths. Remove the rind & slice each watermelon chunk so that the watermelon slices will easily fit into a martini shaker……eyeballing this part is the easiest way to do this.
2. Take about 4 slices of watermelon……about a cup of watermelon, if measuring……& place into the martini shaker.
3. Add a splash or more of Margarita Mix, then muddle until the watermelon slices have sufficiently smashed.
4. Strain the watermelon-lime juice into champagne flutes until about a ⅓-½ full. Fill with Champagne or Prosecco. Serve.
“Skinny” Moroccan Dip
- makes about 2 cups
1. In a bowl, combine the sour cream, grilling rub & lemon juice. Mix until well combined.
Alternately, if adding the cilantro & garlic, place all the ingredients in a food processor or mini chopper & pulse until thoroughly blended. Serve with your favorite crudité & potato chips.
Peach & Basil Caprese Salad
- serves 8 as a salad, side dish or appetizer
1. Immerse the peaches in boiling water for a couple of minutes. Remove the peel, then slice each peach in half. Remove the pits. Using a sharp knife, vertically slice the halves so you have round slices. Try to get as many slices as possible without making the peach slices too thin, or the slices will fall apart. Set aside.
2. Thinly slice the mozzarella. You want to have an equal number of mozzarella slices. Set aside.
3. Thinly slice the fresh basil.
4. To arrange the salad, use a large, round platter. Alternate peach & mozzarella slices, and sprinkle basil between the fruit & cheese. If you have leftover peach slices, chop & place the peached in the center of the salad. Drizzle balsamic syrup over the salad, add a little salt & pepper, if desired, and serve.
Brie, Tomatoes & Chanterelles with Zucchini Noodles & Protein Pasta
- generously serves 8 for dinner
“easy” pearl……if you want to make this dish extraordinary, substitute 2 rounds of Délice de Bourgogne for the Brie……this pasteurized triple creme (75% butterfat in dry matter) marries full-fat cow milk with fresh cream, producing an unapologetically rich, whipped delight……unlike most triple-cremes, this cheese has a thin, pungent mold rind that imparts straw and mushroom aromas, complementing the buttery yellow, sweet cream interior……as with the brie, I add the entire cheese, rind & all, which pairs beautifully with the chanterelles & other veggies……you will become the entertaining diva with this dish alone……Délice de Bourgogne is available at Zeto, as well as Zabar’s……
1. Slice the tomatoes into quarters & place in a bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients. Cut the brie into bite-size pieces & combine with the tomatoes You can, at this point, leave the tomatoes & brie for several hours on your counter.
2. About an hour before you are ready to serve, thinly slice the basil leaves & add to the tomatoes & brie.
3. Wipe off the mushrooms and cut off the ends of the stems. Melt the butter, add the splash of olive oil, then add the mushrooms. Sauté the mushrooms over medium heat, stirring occasionally, just until the mushrooms have softened & release their liquor. Toss in the garlic & sauté for an extra minute or just until the garlic becomes fragrant. Remove from the heat & allow to cool. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
4. While the mushrooms cool, make zucchini “noodles”……using my new favorite tool, the Swissmar Julienne peeler, slice along the length of the zucchini to form the noodles. Try to make the noodles as long as possible……mine were a little short in this photo as I was just getting the hang of the tool……after a few “slices”, you will be making beautiful “noodles”! Add the noodles to the bowl & toss well to distribute.
5. Add the cooled chanterelles, liquor & garlic to the veggies……toss well.
6. Cook the pasta until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, juice the lemon & zest it into the bowl. Add pepper & salt to taste. When the pasta is done, drain & shake well, then add to the bowl. Toss everything together well & serve immediately in pasta bowls. Buon appetito!
Orange Blackberry Fool
- serves 8 for dessert
juice of ½ orange
1 teaspoon Cointreau
4 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
1 cup sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
“easy” pearl……I have made this dessert 2 ways, & I am going to share my experimentation with you……originally, I made the dessert & chilled the fool for about an hour or two in the fridge, then served it……Émilie then thought, “What if we freeze it overnight?” Well we did, & the fool was even better frozen……actually, both are good! You can’t go wrong any way you decide……& kids of all ages will love it!
1. Place the orange juice, Cointreau, blackberries & sugar in a blender……purée till smooth.
2. Remove the seeds by pouring the purée into a fine mesh strainer, & using a rubber spatula, “push” the purée against the mesh into a bowl. You will be left with the blackberry seeds in the strainer. Reserve a ½-cup of purée & refrigerate. Set the remaining purée aside.
3. Whip the cream until stiff……I like an immersion blender for this……transfer the whipped cream to a large bowl. Add the purée to the whipped cream & fold the purée into the cream, being sure to not over mix. Chill for a couple hours, then serve……or chill in the freezer until firm & serve……it is delicious either way.