Summer

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No-Bake, Dairy-Free Berry Pudding

One rainy summer day, unable to build blanket forts on the climbing bars or soar through the sprinkler on a tire swing, I decided my younger sister and I should do some baking. "Baking" meant raiding Mom's pantry and dumping everything within reach into a...

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Nigella’s Green Beans with Pistachio Pesto

To paraphrase from Nigella Lawson's latest book Nigellissima: Easy Italian-Inspired Recipes, this dish is "verdiglorious." Green basil, green beans, and green pistachios all come together in a "riot" of a pesto dish. What it lacks in authenticity, it more than makes up for in colour...

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Spirited Fruit (and Sangria)
Spirited fruit preserves - TheMessyBaker.com I am not to be trusted. I head to the Farmers' Market with a clearly written list and rock solid resolve. And what do I return with? Way more items than intended and a feeling of panic. Where will I store all these plums? When will I have time to make pear jam? Should I freeze, can or hide the peaches? Of course, things fall apart when I toss tomatoes designated for preserving into a salad or gobble a handful of blueberries because they are too perfect for anything else but in-the-moment indulgence. You cannot imagine my relief -- your maybe you can-- when I stumbled up  a couple of preserving methods that are as flexible on quantity as I am about my shopping list. The methods are outlined in the ever-so-handy Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (Robert Rose ©2012).
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Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinner?
Baked Caprese Salad Stacks – TheMessyBaker.com When you write about food for a living it's easy to forget that it's not always just about ingredients or recipes. Creating a new twist on the chocolate chip cookie isn't as important as baking a batch with a friend. Bland chicken needs nothing more than a spicy conversation. And if your butternut squash soup doesn't rank on Google's first page, if you slurp it with loved ones, you're still a hit. Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinner?: A year of Italian menus with 250 recipes that celebrate family by Lisa Caponigri is a delicious reminder that sharing a meal is more important than the meal itself.  While Caponigri's menus are balanced and reasonably healthy, it's not about nutrition, clean eating or sustainable food choices. Her multi-generational approach encourages all family members -- even children -- to be involved in preparing dinner, but it's not a how-to-cook book. It's not about pushing culinary boundaries. It's about family -- and friends -  coming together over food. "Sunday dinner is a ritual, a tradition, a bonding experience," Caponigri says. And that's something you can't buy at the deli counter.
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Tempura Zucchini
The zucchinis just keep coming. So I pulled out the big guns and fried the suckers in hot oil. None of this namby-pamby healthy oven-baked stuff. I went deep fried all the way. And I think I just might have scared them off. To shake things up a bit, I used a tempura batter and a spicy dipping sauce. I got the batter ratio from Michael Ruhlman's Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking (Scribner ©2009). While tempura is far from everyday in my world,  it is an effective way to use up the zucchini that arrives in relentless waves like zombies. It is also messy. Not only did I get batter all over the stove and counter, my shoes and hair somehow got into the act. By the time I'd used up all the batter, I looked like I'd lost a paintball match.
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Zucchini Fries | A Baked Version
These came from my section of The Family Plot. The one on the right is about the size you find in the supermarket on any given day. The one on the left? It dwarfs a butternut squash. At a whopping 5 pounds, 5 ounces it's bigger than some newborns. And I'm not talking premies. Folklore says the cabbage patch is the source for babies, but this bambino came from a singe zucchini mound. My sister planted four. I fear for our sanity. Just as I was figuring out what to do with the six pounds of bland squash, these arrived.
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Mixed Berry Semifreddo
Okay, now I feel guilty. What was I thinking? Posting two recipes in a row that required special equipment. First a food dehydrator, then an ice cream maker. Let's blame the peaches for being so enticing. As an apology, here is a recipe for a frozen treat that requires nothing more elaborate than a loaf pan. Oh yes, and that pesky blender. You do have one, don't you?
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What to Do with Less-than-Perfect Peaches: Peach Sorbet
Peach Sorbet is dairy-free, gluten-free and delicious - TheMessyBaker.com The other day I posted about fruit leather (aka fruit roll-ups), which is an easy way to use up fruit that's no longer ready for its close-up. Whether you make it in an oven or dehydrator, the method is embarrassingly easy. Just blend, pour, then abandon for hours on end. It's ideal for lazy people like me. And the results are quite possibly addictive. Just ask my sister. The astute reader will notice that I had more peaches on hand than a couple sheets of fruit leather required. And you'd be correct. I had enough on-the-cusp peaches for a batch of  peach sorbet. Clean, refreshing peach sorbet. See, it's already beginning to melt in the heat. 
Peach and Ginger Fruit Leather - The Messy Baker
What to Do with Less-Than-Perfect Peaches – Fruit Leather

[caption id="attachment_8131" align="alignnone" width="500"] You don't need a dehydrator to make fruit roll-ups, but if you're looking for an excuse to buy one, these will seal the deal.[/caption] What do you do when you have less-than-perfect peaches squatting on your counter, threatening to dissolve into a...

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Corn with Cilantro-Lime-Chili Butter
Cilantro, Lime, Chili Butter turns plain corn-on-the-cob into something special - TheMessyBaker.com This week's Gastropost challenge was to "recreate or revisit a food experience that will refresh sunny memories of summers past." With strawberries and peaches already covered, my mind went to corn — a food that leaves me conflicted. In season, corn-on-the-cob means both the height of summer and its dreaded end. The following essay was published in the Globe and Mail a few years ago. I think it's time to pull it out, pluck the corn silk from between its paragraphs and see how it goes. The recipe follows. We never had any exotic toppings when I was a kid. It was just plain butter and salt. And plenty of it.

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