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Summer Corn Salad with Tomatoes and Basil

5 Sep


I found this recipe in Bon Appetit magazine in June and immediately knew I would be making it with my summer cooking class students. Since we were in a classroom and not outside, we skipped the original instruction to char the corn on a charcoal grill and gave the corn a quick saute in a cast iron pan instead. This took a long time and since there was such a large amount of corn, it didn’t really brown unless cooked in very small batches. This recipe doesn’t feature anything revolutionary or complex, but we all loved it, many of us eating it by the spoonfuls. It’s just simple summer flavors coming together to create something refreshing, tart and sweet. I loved it so much I made it from every batch of farmers market corn I bought, but as summer laziness kicked in, I began slacking on the recipe steps. I began leaving out the thyme, which I didn’t grow in my garden this year, and just microwaved the corn in the husk for 5 minutes before shucking it. That was all the cooking it really needed, although it was equally delicious completely raw on days where there wasn’t even time for that. The key to this recipe for me is the lime rather than lemon, it makes for an interesting pairing with the basil. I know that I am posting this a day after labor day, the unofficial end to summer, but technically the summer solstice isn’t over until Sept 21st. As long as my garden keeps pumping out September tomatoes and basil and the farmer’s market continues to give me corn, this recipe will continue another month longer.

Summer Corn Salad with Tomatoes and Basil – barely adapted from Bon Appétit’s Charred Corn Salad| July 2012

  • 6 ears of corn
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup  fresh basil leaves, ripped into small pieces
  • 2-3 limes, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme – optional
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Microwave corn in the husk for 5 minutes and let cool. Remove husks and  silk and shuck corn from the cob. Place onion in a strainer and rinse with cold water to reduce it’s pungency; drain. Mix onions, oil, tomatoes, basil, lime juice, and thyme together with corn in a bowl. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more lime juice, if desired. Serve room temperature.

6 Varieties of Homemade Pizza

11 Oct

If you looked at my list of text messages, 95% of them are questions people ask me related to food. Here are three of my favorites from this year.

1. I just had a medium rare burger at 9pm, I feel dizzy – do I have E Coli? If so, how long until I die?

2. I have breakfast sausage, Craisins and tofu in the house, what should I make?

3. How do I deep-fry a turkey?

Number three, you know who you are, do you really expect me to answer that via text message??? I feel honored to be on the top of so many people’s food question call list, but the funny thing is, most of the people in my life, friends, family and co-workers alike, are amazing cooks who don’t really need my advice. I understand their reasoning though, I question myself just as much.  The two people on my call list are my cousin Paul, who is an amazing professional chef and the other is my Mom, because Moms know everything, like how to tell if you have a fever by kissing your forehead.

This coming week I will be teaching an adult education course on homemade pizzas. I have been making homemade pizza for years, throwing it on the grill at BBQs, roasting it over a campfire, throwing  it onto my fancy pizza stone in the oven…with one exception… I was buying the dough. Every year I have a big pizza competition with my students at school and we make hundreds of fresh yeast doughs from scratch, so I am very familiar with it. I love working with yeast and I was whipping up baguettes and sourdough left and right, just not pizza dough. I guess I felt it was just as good to use a refrigerated dough from the bakery section of the supermarket because they were making it the same way I would.

But then I started to feel the guilt. How could I teach this to my students every year if I didn’t do the same thing at home? How could I maintain the right to receive and answer food text questions if I was secretly purchasing prepared pizza dough? I was living a lie. The madness had to end.

I am kicking myself for all the years I have taken the time to make a homemade pizza but robbed myself of the opportunity to enjoy this truly superb dough. The really sad thing is, this comes together in less time than it took my other other dough to defrost or warm up. One try and you’ll see how stupid easy it is. One taste and you’ll see there is no comparison in flavor and texture.

Below are pictures of the varieties I have been making weekly, with all the tomatoes I still have in the garden. The other 4 are the recipes for this week’s class. I have been making them for years with the prepared dough and they were great then, so I can only imagine how good they are going to be this week with the REAL dough.

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Creamy Corn Fettucine with Late Summer Tomatoes and Fresh Basil

30 Sep

The past couple of weekends in New York have been beautiful, the perfect mix of Autumn and late Summer, cool enough to wear jeans but warm enough for flip-flops. I gave up fighting to hold on to Summer and embraced the Fall by spending a few afternoons on the beautiful east end of Long Island, enjoying seasonal traditions of wine tasting and apple picking. Despite the deliciousness of some sweet dessert wines and the tart crunch of a freshly picked Macintosh, nothing beat the amazing roasted corn we had at the side of the road farmstands. At 3 bucks a pop you would think you are getting ripped off. Just the opposite, with one bite you realize you’d pay 10, it’s just that good. Picked before dawn and roasted all morning, the corn is at its absolute sweetest. In addition to the 35 pounds of apples ( we’ve discussed my u-pick addiction before)  and the bottles of wine we brought home, we were lucky enough to get our hands on a few ears of the amazing corn to pair with all the tomatoes that are still being churned out from our backyard garden. The sauce comes together quick and making the fettucine from scratch is really no big deal and so worth it. In my opinion nothing beats making fresh pasta on a crisp Sunday morning for an early dinner anyway.

Creamy Corn Fettucine with Late Summer Tomatoes and Fresh Basil – Inspired/Adapted from Cuisine at Home Magazine, Oct 2008

This is one of the best recipes I have tried in a long time, it is one of the rare things I make repeatedly, often only a week later because I crave it as soon as it’s all gone. The original recipe uses cream and adds the tomatoes and basil in at the end. off the heat. I slimmed it down with non-fat milk and added more tomatoes and basil. I have prepared it with the tomatoes and basil both cooked and raw and loved both, the cooked version has a deeper sweeter flavor and the raw version is fresh and tart.

See my post for Homemade Pasta recipe and directions

1 large onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 TBL butter

1 TBL olive oil

1 tsp sugar

2 cups cherry tomatoes

2 ears fresh corn, shucked ( save corn cob and boil them in the pasta water for extra flavor, remove before adding pasta)

1/4 cup milk

3 TBL parmesan cheese

1/2 cup basil

Saute onion and garlic and butter and olive oil until softened. Add corn, cherry tomatoes and sugar and cook until corn is tender and tomatoes are shriveled. Add in milk and simmer until reduced. Stir in parmesan and basil, season with salt and pepper. Toss with cooked pasta and thin with pasta water if needed.

Tomato and Cheddar Pie

17 Sep


I collapsed on the couch last night with a piece of this pie, turned on the TV and watched about 30 minutes of a dirt bike race in another language before I snapped out of it and realized what I was watching. It’s been that kind of crazy, head spinning, busy week. It was the type of week for lots of take-out.  Apparently, my garden had other plans for me.  All 38 tomato plants are spitting out pounds of fruit faster than I can eat them. When the freezer hit the point where it could not possibly hold another jar of tomato sauce, I pulled out a recipe I had seen from the beginning of the summer for this Tomato and Cheddar Pie. Even though I would have loved to have been cocooned under the covers, recovering from the day, I deliriously made pie dough while standing up, half asleep. It was well worth it and deliciously distracting enough to sit through a dirt bike competition without realizing it. 

So this pie… WOW. Where do I begin? This pie is a wonderful Southern creation. I’ve never had anything like it before or really seen any recipes for it. Here’s why I think this Southern staple is great, certainly not exactly health food, but great none the less. The best part of the recipe is the batch of biscuit dough which ingeniously serves as the pie crust.  The buttery biscuit crust is layered with fresh tomatoes and obscene amounts of cheddar cheese and then smothered in the most deliciously tangy mayonnaise sauce with fresh herbs you have ever tasted.

 Bake it. Eat it. FEEL NO GUILT. It is worth every single calorie.

Tomato and Cheddar Pie

Loosely adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine 


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup buttermilk or 1 cup milk soured with a splash of white vinegar


  • 1 1/2 cups red cherry tomatoes
  • 2 large yellow ( or red ) tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 1/2 cups grated cheddar
  • 1 baby leek or scallion, washed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoon chopped basil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl. Using your fingers, rub in butter until a coarse meal forms. Some small chunks of butter should remain. Stir in buttermilk and gently knead with your hands briefly, until a soft dough forms. Wrap in plastic and chill for an hour.


  • Preheat oven to 425°. Roll out dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to a round that will fit into a 9 inch ceramic or glass pie dish.  Remove top layer of plastic wrap and turn dough over into pie dish. Take-off remaining top layer of plastic wrap. Gently press dough into pan if some areas on the sides are thicker than the bottom.
  • Whisk scallion/leeks, mayonnaise, herbs, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
  • Layer 1/3 of the cheese onto the pie crust and then top with cherry tomatoes. Spread half of mayonnaise mixture over tomatoes and another 1/3 of the cheese. 
  • Next layer the large sliced tomatoes. Spread remaining mayonnaise mixture on top of slices. Finish by sprinkling the remaining 1/3 of the cheese.
  •  Bake pie until crust is golden and cheese is golden brown, 35-40 minutes. Tent with foil if crusts is getting too dark. Let pie cool at least 1 hour before slicing and serving.

For original recipe see

Gazpacho, a little earthquake and Hurricane Irene

27 Aug

I have been meaning to tell you about this delicious super simple, no measurements needed ( my favorite ) recipe for summer garden gazpacho. I made it last week and have not gotten around to posting it yet.

I have a few days left before I start-up my full-time teaching position again in September as well as a new part-time job teaching a college course for the first time.  I planned to spend my last week of vacation in school, at the copy machine, to copy all the work for the whole semester.  Until I got a call from a friend who lives on the beach.  She was truly the little devil on my shoulder and suddenly made me realize that I was out of my mind to spend the last beautiful days of summer in a copy room when I could enjoy TODAY. I went, had a beautiful day her and her adorable son and vowed to enjoy, relax and take it easy for the next few days.

I woke up the next morning with my new attitude and decided to cook all the recipes I have been wanting to make this summer and have put off.  A trial batch of beignets, a tomato, cheese and  pesto strata, bourbon peach butter, the key lime and blackberry Italian meringue pie from the cover of Bon Appetit as well as lattice top mini cherry pies, raspberry crumb tartlets and blueberry galettes. In the midst of this crazy kitchen day, I burnt myself pretty bad, went to call for help while running my hands under water for the burn and got my phone wet ,which then broke.  A few minutes later I thought I was really losing my mind and got seriously dizzy and off-balance. I wasnt crazy because apparently, I experienced the weirdest little earthquake to hit NY in some time. But with my new “take it easy motto”, I just brushed it off and enjoyed some pie.

Then came Irene. If you live on the East Coast of the USA, you know all about this feisty lady by now. The normal me would have been all crazed at the first mention of it but I stayed pretty calm for a few days. We don’t usually get hit bad in NY and they usually blow these things out of proportion to make good news.  And then today I snapped. It’s that damn scary music they play on the weather channel and the pictures of the swaying palm trees, they get me every time. I make fun of those “nutty” people who panic at the grocery store but I am secretly just as bad. I try not to hoard unnecessary amounts and I would never push or grab but I will get my hands on the last bunch of bananas if it’s the last thing I do. I havent been so happy to get my hands on D batteries since I was kid on Christmas with a new electronic toy.  I’m gonna start doing stupid things, like putting my socks in rainbow color order for no reason. I can feel the crazy creeping in. I don’t know how I am going to survive the more than 24 hour wait until this hurricane finally shows up. So in my efforts to stay busy, and for the sake of my sock drawer, I am here to share with you a recipe that is delicious at room temperature, in case YOU also wont have electricity to heat it up.

Summer Garden Gazpacho

  • 4-5 vine ripe tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/4 cup ( handful) almonds
  • 2 slices white bread (stale or toasted if possible)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • splash of red wine vinegar
  • salt, pepper and olive oil

Dice up vegetables. In a  blender or food processor, puree almonds, garlic and vinegar. Then add chopped tomatoes and cucumbers and begin to drizzle in olive oil. When the soup reaches a drinkable consistency stop the blender and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add in bread and puree again. Adjust consistency with more olive oil. Serve room temperature or cold with sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella.

To all my East Coast readers be safe, stay calmer than me and cook some delicious food before the storm comes. Thank you for listening, I feel better.