Fish And Corn Chowder

Fish and Corn Chowder

 It all started with about six ounces of leftover salmon and 1/2 cup of cream. I’m not generally a fan of leftover fish, but as I was driving one day thinking about what to serve for dinner, it occurred to me I had the basis for a creamy chowder sitting in the fridge.
So before I made it home, I picked up six scallops and six large shrimp at the fish store — and a couple of ears of corn at the local farm market.
I had two large cherry tomatoes and a green pepper at home, so that got thrown into the pot too, along with some diced potatoes and herbs.
The recipe is simple – Simmer the base ingredients for about 15 minutes, then add the fish in the last  few
minutes. The scallops and shrimp will need only about 4-5 minutes of
cooking in the hot liquid, and since the salmon was already cooked, it will
need only a minute to heat.
I thickened up the soup a bit by adding another potato that I boiled and mashed.
If you want to eliminate the cream entirely, you can replace it with water and another boiled and mashed potato.
But there is no substitute for that silky feel you get when heavy cream is used.
Leftover salmon never tasted so good.
The winner of the giveaway on my last blog post, a copy of Jamie Schler’s new cookbook, “Orange Appeal,” is Faith Bahadurian, chosen by a random number generator. Congratulations Faith.Want more Ciao Chow Linda? Check out my Instagram page here to see more of what I’m cooking up each day.

You can also connect with Ciao Chow Linda here on Facebook, here for Pinterest or  here for Twitter.

Fish and Corn Chowder
Printable Recipe Here

1 six-ounce piece of leftover salmon (or start with a fresh, uncooked piece)
6 large raw shrimp
6 large scallops
2 ears of corn on the cob, scraped of the kernels
3 small potatoes, two of them diced
2 T. butter
1/4 cup minced onion
1/4 cup minced green pepper
1 large garlic clove
water
1/2 cup heavy cream
parsley
thyme
salt, pepper
Devein
the shrimp and put the discarded shells into a pot of water (about two
cups), along with one small potato. Cover and cook until the potato is
easily pierced with a fork. Remove the potato and set aside, and discard
the shrimp shells, retaining the water.

Melt
the butter in a large pan, then add the onion, green pepper and garlic
and cook until softened. Add the water from the discarded shrimp shells
(it will be less than two cups of water after simmering) and the two
diced  (and raw) potatoes. Let the potatoes cook until almost soft, then add the
corn and cream and simmer on low for a few minutes. Add the herbs and other seasonings,
then put in the shrimp and scallops and cook for about four or five
minutes until almost cooked through. Add the cooked salmon (or if using
raw salmon, add it when you add the other seafood). Let everything cook
together gently for a few minutes without a lid, then serve.

 

Chocolate Orange Marble Loaf Cake And A Giveaway

Chocolate Orange Marble Loaf Cake and a Giveaway

I’ve been trying to stay away from baking all summer (that doesn’t mean I haven’t had my share of ice cream however).
But when a new cookbook arrived and I started flipping through it, my resolve quickly dissolved.
The next day I baked this cake — one of the most delicious cakes I’ve had in a long time, with rich chocolate and subtle orange flavor, a tender crumb and a luscious chocolate ganache topping.
Fortunately, later in the day I was meeting some board members from an Italian cultural institution I’m part of, who offered to lend with our annual mailing.
I lure them each year by bringing food, and they happily stuffed envelopes and slapped on stamps, sustained by this cake from Jamie Schler’s new cookbook, “Orange Appeal.”  Several of them took slices home too, leaving me with just enough cake to give my dad the next day.
It’s definitely a cake that will make appearance after appearance in my kitchen.
The photos are beautiful too, by Ilva Beretta, who also collaborated for two years with Jamie on the blog, Plated Stories.
Jamie now lives in Chinon, France, from which she writes the blog “Life’s A Feast,” and where she also runs a hotel (Hotel Diderot) — a place I’m longing to visit at some point.
With her busy life, I don’t know how she found time to write a cookbook, but it contains a plethora of recipes that include oranges in some form or other — not unexpected for someone who grew up in Florida.
I’ve made my share of candied oranges, but never tried orange powder, orange sugar, or orange salt. But with Jamie’s instructions from the book, they’ll be on my to-do list as soon as citrus season rolls in here in the Northeast U.S.
The book contains many savory recipes as well as sweet ones, and I’m really looking forward to trying the sweet-and-sour marmalade-glazed oven baked chicken next.
I’ve also got my eyes fixed on the glazed blood orange yogurt loaf cake and many others too, but they’ll have to wait until I make this chocolate orange marble loaf cake again, this time for my husband to try.
After you mix the batter, it gets divided in two parts. One is for the chocolate mixture, and into the other go the orange peel and orange juice. The raw batter was so delicious I had to restrain myself from licking too much off the spatula.
I swirled the chocolate batter into the white batter using a knife.
The kitchen smells divine while it’s baking. Let it rest for a few minutes before removing it form the pan.
The recipe says the chocolate glaze is optional, but for me it was an absolute necessity (especially if you’re using a Lindt chocolate bar that contains orange bits).
It’s a good thing I had a meeting to take this to, or I’d have eaten half the cake myself.

 

I did have to eat one slice before taking it to the meeting (you know, quality control and all that stuff).
Now I’d like to offer one of you a free copy of “Orange Appeal” so you can try this and all the other recipes in the book.
Just leave a comment at the bottom of the blog post (not in email), and a way for me to contact you if your name is chosen.
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Chocolate Orange Marble Loaf Cake
From “Orange Appeal” by Jamie Schler
1 3/4 cups (8 ounces/230 g) all-purpose flour
2 Tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
12 tablespoons (6 ounces/175 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/8 cups (225 g) granulated white sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large orange, zested
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 packed tablespoons (18 g) unsweetened cocoa powderPreheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).   Butter a standard 9 x 5 x 2 1/2 inch (23 x 13 x 6 1/2 cm) or 8 cup 2 l) loaf pan; fit a piece of parchment paper in the bottom.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl, beating until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, and then beat in the oil. Beat in the flour mixture until blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl.

Divide the batter evenly between 2 bowls. Beat the zest and juice into 1 portion of the batter, and the milk, vanilla and cocoa into the other portion of batter until well-blended.

Spoon large dollops of each mixture, alternating the batters, into the prepared loaf pan. Drag a skewer or a long, sharp knife blade back and forth through the batter in swirls to create a marble pattern. Smooth the surface if necessary.

Bake for 55-60 minutes, until the cake is set in the center and just barely beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cover the top of the cake loosely with a sheet of foil for the last 5-10 minutes of baking time to over over browning, if necessary.

Allow to cool in pan for about 10 minutes before sliding a knife around the edges to loosen the cake and turning it out onto a cooling rack. Remove parchment paper from the bottom, allowing the cake to cool, top side up, on the rack.

Drizzle chocolate orange ganache over the top. (recipe below)

Chocolate Orange Ganache 
3/4 cup (3 1/2 ounces/100 g) coarsely chopped orange-infused 70 percent dark chocolate, such as Lindt Excellence Orange intense
1/2 cup (125 ml) heavy creamPlace the chocolate into a medium heatproof mixing bowl. Slowly heat the cream in a small saucepan until it comes just to the boiling point. Pour the cream immediately over the chocolate and stir until it is smooth and creamy. Allow the ganache to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, until thickened to a drizzling consistency before spooning over the sponge cake.

Eggplant Napoleons

Eggplant Napoleons

It’s been the summer of eggplants for us, with the purple vegetable growing in abundance in our garden.
We’ve been enjoying grilled eggplants as a side dish for dinner, and have taken them to take to parties in the last month too. They’re delicious hot off the grill or at room temperature.
 Start by slicing the eggplants, then salting them and letting them sweat on a paper towel for an hour or so. It removes the bitterness and gets rid of some of the water too. I pat them dry, then toss them with olive oil, salt, pepper, minced garlic and an herb – usually mint, but thyme is nice here too. Grill them until they’re browned on one side, then flip and brown on the other side.
We usually have more than we need for one dinner, so I gave some of them new life by making eggplant Napoleons.
Just take a slice of the grilled eggplant, smear a little tomato sauce on top (I had fresh tomato sauce thanks to my dad’s and my niece’s gardens). Then place a slice of some fresh mozzarella over that and continue with two more eggplant slices until you finish with eggplant and sauce on top. Place it back on the grill for just a minute to melt the cheese, (with the lid closed) – or place it in a 350 degree oven for a few minutes until the cheese has melted.
They make a great meal all by themselves, but they’re nice alongside a piece of salmon and some garden fresh green beans too.
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Eggplant Napoleons:
 
grilled eggplant slices
fresh mozzarella
tomato sauce
To grill the eggplants, slice each eggplant about 1/2 ” thick, then place on paper towels and salt both sides with table salt. Let the slices sit about an hour. Pat dry, then toss with some olive oil, salt, pepper and chopped mint (or thyme).
Place on the grill and grill until each side has browned. Then in a heatproof pan, or aluminum foil pan, place a slice of eggplant, a slathering of tomato sauce, and a slice of fresh mozzarellla. Top with another slice of eggplant, more sauce and another slice of mozzarella. Finish with a final slice of eggplant and more tomato sauce. Place the Napoleons back on the grill (put them on a tin-foil pan first), close the lid and cook until the cheese melts – another five minutes or less. Alternately, put the Napoleons in a 350 degree oven for about five minutes.
Summer Veggie Pizza

Summer Veggie Pizza

There are so many reasons I love summer, including the delicious sweet corn that grows prolifically here in New Jersey. We’ve been eating it at least once a week, just boiled in water for three or four minutes.
With one of the leftover ears, I was inspired to make a summer pizza using more terrific Jersey produce – (we are the “Garden State” after all!) after seeing something similar on my friend Stacey’s blog. 
The first time I tried it, I also added some zucchini and a bit of anchovy – just enough to give it a zing.
I can just hear those of you who are anchovy averse turning off at this point. But wait – the second time I made it, I added small cherry tomatoes and pancetta in addition to the corn and zucchini. In both cases, I used fresh oregano and basil (and mozzarella cheese of course).
For all you vegetarians, you can skip the anchovies or the pancetta and it will still be delicious, provided you have sweet corn in season.

Although I used a perforated pizza pan to bake the pizzas at a high temperature, the bottom crust just wasn’t getting browned enough. So after about 12 minutes at 475 degrees, I slipped the pizza off the pan and slid it directly onto the lowest of the oven’s wire racks for a few more minutes. Keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn on the bottom.

It worked beautifully and created a crispy, crunchy bottom crust, without burning the toppings.

So take your pick and choose either surf (anchovies):

or turf (pancetta). In either case, you’ll want to try this corn pizza while fresh corn is at its peak.
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Summer Veggie Pizza
pizza dough (your own recipe or store-bought)
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese (or several balls of fresh mozzarella, sliced)
1 ear of corn, kernels scraped (either raw or leftover boiled)
1 small zucchini (or half of a large zucchini), sliced thinly and salted
either – 2 anchovies in oil or 6 thin slices of pancetta, fried until crispy
8-10 red or yellow cherry tomatoes, cut in half
fresh basil
fresh oregano
black pepper
olive oil
Whether using your own homemade dough, or store-purchased dough, put it in a bowl smeared with oil and let it come to room temperature and rest for about an hour. Punch it down and spread it out over a large perforated pizza pan.
Scatter the mozzarella over the dough, then place the zucchini and corn kernels and/or cherry tomatoes on top .
If using anchovies, lay them in a few places across the pizza. Do the same if using the pancetta.
Sprinkle with the fresh herbs and black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
Bake at 475 degrees for 10-12 minutes. If the dough is not browning on the bottom, slide the pizza from the pan directly onto the lowest rack of the oven. Let it bake for another 3-5 minutes, checking to make sure it doesn’t burn.
Torta Paradiso Al Limone

Torta Paradiso al limone

Before National Blueberry month is over (yikes, that’s today!) and before all those sweet/tart local berries disappear from farmer’s markets, I thought I’d post this cake that I made a least a month ago.
Blueberries not only taste delicious, but the plump berries are packed with healthy nutrients for you. They’re a good source of fiber and manganese, which plays an important role in bone development and converting proteins, carbohydrates and fats into energy. They’re also high in levels of vitamin C. and they’re low cal – only 80 calories per cup and no fat — making them the perfect summertime snack.
I used them as part of the filling on this cake called “torta paradiso al limone” — a recipe that popped up in my Facebook feed a long time ago from an Italian site called “Strabuono – Solo Cose Buone” (translates to “Extra special – Only Good Things.”)
The recipe was written with metric measurements, and I’ve included those for you — actually measuring by weight is always more accurate than using the standard American method of 1/4 cup, 1/2 cup and so on. Be aware that the original recipe didn’t include the whipped cream in the filling, nor the blueberries, but I’ll take any excuse I find to include seasonal berries (and cream) in a recipe.
The cake includes plain Greek yogurt, but I had some lemon Greek yogurt in the fridge, so used that instead (hey, does that yogurt counter the calories from the whipped cream? – Don’t answer that.).
It’s a little firmer than a sponge cake, but not as dense as a pound cake.
The filling recipe calls for making your own lemon curd, which I did. But you can always buy a jar of it if you don’t want to go through the trouble.
Homemade lemon curd however, is infinitely better than what you can buy. Make sure you strain it to get out any solids. (As you can see, I almost curdled the curd — not good, but straining it saved the day.)
You can use the curd just as is, which is the original recipe, but warning – it’s really, really tangy and lemony. Instead, I thought the strong lemon flavor needed to be tamed a bit, so I combined the curd with some whipped cream (also because I lost a bit of the curd from overcooking and nearly curdling it.)  Spread the filling over half the cake, then place blueberries all over the filling. Top with the other half of the cake and refrigerate.
Warning – the filling may be too soft and start oozing out the sides, making for a messy looking cake. But once you refrigerate it for an hour or so, the filling will start to firm up. Smooth out the sides with a spatula to tidy things up.
Decorate the top with more berries (I added some fresh currants in addition to the blueberries).
A little sprig of mint completes the decoration.
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Ingredients for the cake:
3 eggs
1 cup sugar (180 grams)
pinch of salt
zest of one lemon
3/4 cup plain or lemon flavored Greek yogurt (125 grams)
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil (60 grams)
1 3/4 cup flour (200 grams)
1 tablespoon baking powder (1 bustina lievito per i dolci)
1 tsp. vanilla
for the filling:
juice and peel of two lemons – (this makes a very lemony filling. If you like it less tart, use one lemon only)
1 1/2 Tablespoons butter (20 grams)
1/2 cup sugar (100 grams)
2 eggs
1/2 cup whipping creamblueberries – enough to cover the middle
confectioner’s sugar – to dust over the top

Directions:

Beat the eggs, sugar and salt together until fluffy. Add the lemon peel, yogurt, oil, flour, baking powder and vanilla and beat until combined, a couple of minutes.
Pour into a 8 or 9″ prepared cake pan (buttered and a dusting of flour.)

Bake at 320 degree Fahrenheit (160 degrees Celcius) for 35-40 minutes.For the filling, place the juice and lemon peel, plus the butter and sugar into a saucepan. Simmer until the sugar dissolves and the butter melts. Add the two whole eggs and cook for a couple of minutes over low heat until it thickens enough to coat a spoon. (Be careful, it’s easy to overcook and for the eggs to curdle.) Strain through a sieve and let cool, covering with a piece of plastic wrap directly over the curd, to avoid a “skin.” Whip the cream until the point just after soft peaks start to form (but not too much or you’ll have butter!) Fold the cream into the lemon curd.
Cut the cake into two sections. Spread the lemon cream over the bottom half, then fill with a layer of blueberries. Cover with the top layer of cake, and dust everything with powdered sugar.
Decorate with more berries and a sprig of mint.

Corn, Avocado And Radish Salad

Corn, Avocado and Radish Salad

 If your weather has been anywhere near as hot as what we’ve had in New Jersey this past week, turning on the oven to prepare dinner is about as appealing as donning a ski parka in a sauna.

Naturally, cold dishes like salads come to the rescue when the temperatures are too hot to cook, but not just any old “lettuce-and-tomato” cold salads.
I was inspired to make this after seeing something similar online from Helena, who goes by the handle @brat_h_ on Instagram.
Helena used grilled corn, and I heartily endorse that approach, although I had a leftover ear of boiled, but delicious, Jersey corn needing a home.
I added and deleted a few things from her dish, based on what I had on hand. One thing I didn’t have was the chipotle powder she used, so I mixed a little paprika and cayenne together. I also subbed fresh oregano for the cilantro, since my husband isn’t a cilantro fan, and we’ve got plenty of oregano flourishing in the garden. As you can tell, you can make the salad your own depending on what’s available to you.
Scatter all the ingredients across a bed of mixed lettuces that have been seasoned with your favorite vinaigrette.
Then drizzle on some of the dressing and decorate with the red currants, if you can find them.
If not, try to find some tiny red cherry or grape tomatoes to give the dish a really festive look.

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Corn, Avocado and Radish Salad 
Ingredients for salad:
1 ear of corn, boiled or roasted, removed from the cob
 1 ripe avocado, sliced
2 red radishes, sliced thinly
1/2 green pepper, sliced thinly
red onion, sliced thinly
fresh red currants (if you can find them)
mixed lettuces, dressed lightly with your favorite salad dressing (I like to use extra virgin olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, a little honey, a little Dijon mustard, plus salt and pepper.)
Creamy Dressing:
1/3 cup mayonaaise
1/2 cup sour cream
grated zest from 1 lime
juice from 1/2 lime
a sprig or two of fresh oregano leaves, minced
1/4 tsp. paprika
dash of cayenne pepper
salt, pepper
Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together in a jar.
Toss the lettuces with a light amount of the oil and vinegar dressing (the creamy dressing will add another layer, so you don’t want to overdo it on the oil and vinegar dressing). Arrange the lettuces on a platter, then place the rest of the ingredients on top of the lettuce, in an “artful” way.
Drizzle dabs of the creamy dressing on top.
Summer Melon Salad With Prosciutto And Mint Vinaigrette

Summer Melon Salad with Prosciutto and Mint Vinaigrette

With temperatures hovering in the 90s here in the Northeast, who wants to turn on the oven or slave over a hot burner?
Not I, and probably not you.
When I saw this beautiful salad in Coastal Living magazine, I knew this would be perfect for one of those steamy days as we’ve had this week. Picking a ripe melon is difficult, but I let both the cantaloupe and the honeydew sit on the counter for a few days to be sure they were at their peak.
The combo of sweet melon in season, with fragrant salty prosciutto isn’t a new one, but the mint vinaigrette takes it to a new level.
Got a partner with a he-man appetite who requires a heftier meal? Then just add a couple of hard-boiled eggs on the side, a hunk of good cheese, or both.
Breadsticks are always a good idea too, especially when they’re covered in lots of seeds.
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Summer Melon Salad with Ham and Mint Vinaigrette
recipe from Coastal Living
2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar (I used white balsamic)
1 Tbsp. minced shallot
1/2 Tbsp. honey
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2Tbsp. chopped fresh mint, divided
1 small cantaloupe (about 3 lb.) halved lengthwise
1 small honeydew melon (about 3 lb.) halved lengthwise
2 oz. (I used 1/4 lb.) thinly sliced prosciutto
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1. Whisk together vinegar, shallot, honey and salt in a small bowl. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until incorporated. Stir in 1 tablespoon chopped mint. Set aside.
2. Remove and discard seeds from 1 half of each melon; cut each into 2-inch-wide radial spokes, about 6 slices each. Reserve remaining melon halves for another use.
3. Using a sharp knife, follow the natural curve of the melon to remove the rind.
4. Arrange melon pieces and prosciutto slices on a platter. Drizzle vinaigrette over the top; sprinkle with black pepper and remaining 1 tablespoon mint.
Pasta With Basil Pesto And Zucchini

Pasta with Basil Pesto and Zucchini

 Is the basil in your garden reaching its peak, but the tomatoes nowhere near being ripe?
Just when you’d like the basil to cozy up to those tomatoes in a salad bowl, these crops never mature at the same time.
If
you prune your basil now however, it will re-sprout a second crop in
time to use with those tomatoes that will ripen in a few weeks.
Don’t cut off all the basil leaves however – just trim back to a
juncture above a pair of leaves.
If
you don’t prune your basil (or at least pinch the tips when they start
to flower), the basil will go to seed and you’ll lose the opportunity
for that second crop.
But what to do with the armful of basil you pick now when they’re aren’t fresh tomatoes for a salad?
That’s easy. Make pesto!
I’ve written posts on pesto before, including pesto with shrimp (click here), and a basic pesto primer (click here) that shows you how to make a real pesto alla Genovese, and how to keep your pesto a bright green color.
Since
I recently had some zucchini from the farmer’s market looking for a
home, I combined it with the pesto and served it over fusilli pasta.
If
you’re a traditionalist (or a glutton for punishment), try making pesto
with a mortar and pestle – the way I had it the first time I ate it in Italy at the home of one of
my cousins.

Not up for so much elbow grease? No problem. It’s a snap to make in a food processor.

You can whir everything together, then start the pasta cooking while you sauté the zucchini.
In the time it takes to boil the pasta, dinner can be on the table.
Buon Appetito!
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Pesto with Zucchini
(enough for one pound of pasta)
2 medium zucchini, sliced into rounds about 1/4 inch thick
2 tablespoons olive oil
These amounts aren’t exact. A lot depends on how firmly you pack the basil
into the measuring cup, how large the garlic cloves are, and of course,
your taste buds.
4 cups basil, loosely packed
2 large cloves garlic
1/4 cut pistachios (or pine nuts)
extra virgin olive oil (as much as two cups, as needed to obtain a loose pesto)
1/4 cup – 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1
pound pasta – trofie, linguini or trenette are common in Italy with
this sauce, but farfalle (bowties) or fusilli (pictured above) are nice
too.
Sauté the zucchini rounds in the olive oil, adding salt and pepper to season. Cook until softened, but not mushy.
Start the water boiling for the pasta while you prepare the pesto sauce.
If using a food processor: Tear leaves from stem, wash, dry and
place in a food processor, along with the garlic, nuts and a small
amount of the olive oil. Start with 1/2 cup and keep adding more until
it flows smoothly when you dip a spoon into it, but not so thin that it
falls off in a stream. Use your judgment.
 Add parmesan cheese if serving immediately. If you’re planning to freeze
it, don’t add the parmesan cheese until after you defrost it and are
ready to serve.
If using a mortar and pestle, start with the washed and dried
basil leaves, garlic and nuts and add a small amount of coarse salt to
help break down the leaves. Pound with the pestle and slowly add a
little bit of olive oil. Keep working the mixture with the pestle and
add the rest of the oil as needed. The process takes a lot of patience
and time.
After
the pesto is made and the pasta is cooked, drain the pasta, holding
onto a half cup or so of the water. You can use this to thin out the
sauce when you’re mixing the pesto into the pasta.

Mix
the pesto with the pasta, then add the sautéed zucchini. Toss
everything together, adding more pasta water if you need to thin out the
sauce. Serve with additional parmesan cheese, if desired.

Strawberry Tomato Gazpacho

Strawberry Tomato Gazpacho

This soup would never have been on my radar until last week, when I ate dinner at a restaurant called Larimar, in Spring Lake, New Jersey. Intrigued by the waiter’s description of the dish, I ordered something similar to this as an appetizer and after one sip, I knew I had to try to recreate it in my kitchen.

If it’s not exactly the same, it’s quite close, I think. The big difference is that the restaurant served its version topped with chunks of crabmeat, something you could easily do if you live near a good fish market.
If not, it tastes great all by itself, decorated with a strawberry and some edible flowers.
 I’d been looking for a way to use the pretty blue borage flowers (and the pansies are still going strong) that are blooming in my garden right now.
The soup makes a terrific first course – we ate it for dinner last night ahead of some leftover chicken and veggies. But I will make this again this summer (maybe even this week) because it’s delicious, it’s healthy, it doesn’t heat up the kitchen and it’s quick to prepare.
I hope you try it sometime soon too.
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Strawberry Tomato Gazpacho
printable recipe here
makes 2-4 servings, depending on size of bowl (and appetites)

1 1/2- 2 cups strawberries (about 1/2 pound), cut in chunks
1 large tomato (about 1/2 pound), roughly chopped
1/2 cup yellow, orange or green bell pepper, roughly chopped
1/4 cup cucumber (peeled and seeded), roughly chopped
1/4 cup red onion, roughly chopped
1/2 of a jalapeno pepper, (take out seeds and ribs unless you like more heat)
juice and zest of 1/2 lime
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 tsp. salt

Place all ingredients in blender. It may be difficult to get going until the strawberries start to become liquid, unless your blender is powerful. To avoid this, you could puree the strawberries first, then add tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients. My blender did not pulverize the almonds totally, so I strained the mixture to get a smoother soup. This is best served a few hours, or even a day or two after making, when all the flavors have had more time to blend.

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake

 I’m seven years old and my sister and I are dressed in our Sunday finest. Mom has also donned her best dress and wide-brimmed hat. She’s taking us out for strawberry shortcakes, one of the regular rituals I remember from my childhood. It was a day just for the “girls” — no boys allowed.
She sat behind the wheel of our 1956 black and white Chevy station wagon and drove us to that institution with the orange-colored roof and the 28 flavors of ice cream. Yes, that one — Howard Johnson’s restaurant, the chain whose glory days are long gone.
 But those shortcakes were wonderful, evoking such lovely memories of my mother and sister and our special afternoons at Howard Johnson’s.
They weren’t the traditional shortcakes, but more like a sponge cake, topped with strawberry ice cream, strawberries and whipped cream.
I’ve seen strawberry shortcakes made using sponge cake, using pound cake and even angel food cake as the base – not exactly textbook shortcakes, but all acceptable and delicious nonetheless. What’s really heretical, however, are those small, yellow industrially made baked disks sold in cellophane packages that pawn themselves off as a base for shortcake.
Real shortcakes are made using biscuits – something any self-respecting Southerner knows.
Not that I’m a Southerner. But recent trips to the South – New Orleans in April and North and South Carolina this month – found me eating more biscuits than even Paula Deen could count.
(OK, I exaggerate a bit, but I had to leave room for some grits too.)
Feel free to make your strawberry shortcakes any way you love, but if you want an authentic version, then try this recipe.
After you’ve mixed the dough, knead it a bit (but not too much or the biscuits will be tough).
Then use a biscuit cutter, or the rim of a glass to cut the dough into rounds.
Place on a buttered cookie sheet and brush with melted butter.
Take them out of the oven before they get too tan (these were a tad too dark, but delicious nonetheless).
You’ll find it hard to resist taking a bite of these rich, buttery biscuits when they come out of the oven, but if you want to use them for shortcakes, wait until they’re cooled to cut them in half. (Conversely, eat them warm with a pat of butter and a slather of fresh jam and you can’t go wrong!)
They should look like this – dense, with a flaky tender crumb.
Pour a little of the strawberry liquid on the bottom half of the biscuit, then load on the berries.
Top with freshly whipped cream and position the other half of the biscuit atop.
Go ahead and dig in and make your own memories while strawberry season is still here.
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Strawberry Shortcakes
(makes 6 shortcakes)
For the strawberries:
1 quart strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
juice from 1/2 lemon
For the shortcakes:
 2 cups flour
pinch of salt
3 Tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons baking power
1 stick butter (8 tablespoons) at room temperature
3/4 cup heavy cream
For the whipped cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
juice of half a lemon
Wash the berries and cut in half, or quarters, depending on their size. Mix with the sugar and lemon and let them sit at room temperature for at least a half hour, or longer.
For the shortcakes: whisk together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. Using your hands, blend in all but one tablespoon of the butter with the flour mixture. (save the last tablespoon for melting and spreading on the biscuits). Mix the cream into the flour mixture and blend by hand until it sticks together. You may need to add a bit more cream if it seems too dry. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes until it’s completely blended and soft, but don’t knead any longer than necessary or the biscuits will be tough.
Roll out to about 1/2″-3/4″ thick and cut with either a biscuit cutter or the floured rim of a glass.  I was able to get four with the glass, then hand shaped the remaining dough into two more rounds.
Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and spread over the biscuits, then bake in a preheated 450 degree oven and check after 10 minutes. They may be ready to come out but if you like them a little more colored, leave in for a couple more minutes. Keep a close eye on them so that the bottoms don’t burn.
Remove from the oven and cool before splitting. After splitting, drizzle a little strawberry juice on top of the bottom half, then pile on the strawberries and whipped cream. Position the top half a little askew over the strawberries and decorate with a mint leaf, if available.