Summertime Pasta with Tomatoes, Corn, and Zucchini

Summertime Pasta
When I make pasta during the summer, I like it to be light and have lots of veggies. Cue: This summertime pasta with tomatoes, corn, and zucchini.

I decided to make the dish last night after taking stock of what was in the fridge. I had two ears of corn, a large zucchini, and a very ripe tomato sitting on the counter. I also had an unopened container of Parmesan that I don’t remember buying, but that’s often the case with cheese.

This pasta is so easy and satisfying. It comes together relatively quickly and it tastes good without lots of cheese on top, which is my test for good pasta.

If you want, you can add garlic into the mix. I’m very sensitive to garlic so I tend to avoid it when possible. Instead I rely on onions or in this case, shallots, to give the vegetables some extra flavor.

If you have a different kind of summer squash on hand, it would also work well in this dish. You could also sub in cherry tomatoes for diced tomatoes, but the flavor might be a little sweeter. I found that using one whole, diced tomato was more than enough.

So yeah. Make this pasta as soon as possible. It’s an easy weeknight or weekend meal and it incorporates the best ingredients of the season.

Here’s a song to get you started.

Summertime Pasta with Tomatoes, Corn, and Zucchini

Ingredients

1/2 box farfalle pasta
1/2 large shallot, chopped
2 ears of corn, kernels removed
1/2 large zucchini, sliced thin
1 tomato, diced
olive oil for frying
salt and pepper for seasoning
Parmesan cheese for serving

Directions

Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add the shallot and corn and sauté until they’re golden brown, about three to five minutes. Add the zucchini and stir to combine. Allow the zucchini to soften a little before stirring in the tomato. Add more olive oil if necessary. Let the mixture simmer on low heat. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta, return it to its cooking pot, and stir in the vegetable mixture. Serve with Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

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Peach Crumble Coffee Cake

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I’ve been buying the $10 bag of peaches at the farmers’ market lately, partly because they look so good and partly because I’m making a lot of peach-inspired dishes.

I decided to make this peach crumble coffee cake for a colleague’s wedding shower today. I doubled the recipe because I’m always worried there won’t be enough for everyone. I think it’s the Jewish mother gene buried deep within me.

It was a good idea to double the recipe though because the cake was a hit. Everyone was particularly fond of the crumb topping, which ironically took the least amount of time to make.

The cake itself is delicious, with fresh, juicy peaches studded throughout and swirls of cinnamon and brown sugar. But the topping really is the best part. It’s just butter, brown sugar, and flour, but when mixed together, sprinkled on the cake and baked for an hour, it becomes crispy and caramelized. It pairs well with the cake, which is more moist and not as sweet.

This cake calls for sour cream, which might sound odd but it’s actually a common ingredient in coffee cakes. It’s what makes the crumb moist and gives the cake a denser consistency.

The cake is perfect with a cup of tea or coffee in the morning. It’s also good to celebrate weddings, which I didn’t know until I made it.

A word to the wise: Use the best possible peaches you can find. You might be like, why would I do that if the peaches are going to be cut up and mixed into a cake batter? The answer is, you can still taste the peaches once they’re mixed in. I had a couple people comment today that they could taste how fresh the peaches are. I’m not saying everyone is attuned to this, but having good peaches makes a subtle difference.

Another tip is to keep an eye on the cakes as they bake. It will take about an hour for the middle to set, i.e., not be all jiggly and soft. Once the middle is set and a toothpick is inserted into the center and comes out clean, you’re good to go.

Here’s a song to get you started on your peach crumble coffee cake journey.

Peach Crumble Coffee Cake 

(makes one cake; double the recipe for two cakes)

Ingredients

for the coffee cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch of nutmeg
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup softened butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups chopped peaches

for the crumb topping:
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup flour
6 Tbsp softened butter

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10-inch springform cake tin and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the milk, brown sugar, sour cream, softened butter, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix until just incorporated. Fold in the peaches.

To make the crumb topping, cut the softened butter into the flour and brown sugar until pea-sized lumps form.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared tin. Top with the crumb topping. Bake the cake for about an hour, or until the center is set, the top is golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

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Peaches and Cream Oatmeal

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I always put peaches on top of my oatmeal but I never mix them in. All that changed this morning.

I decided to make peaches and cream oatmeal. The name is a little deceiving because there’s no real cream, but there is almond milk and a cooking process that produces rich, creamy oats.

The beauty of this oatmeal is how quickly it comes together. You combine almond milk and old fashioned oats in a saucepan, toss in some diced peaches, sprinkle in ground cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg, and add a generous pour of maple syrup. You let the mixture come to a boil and then you reduce it to a simmer and let it cook, stirring occasionally.

Stirring is key here because it’s what makes the oats rich and creamy. Sometimes if I’m feeling really motivated and not distracted, I stand by the stove and stir for a minute uninterrupted. Otherwise, I just make sure I check back in with the oats every few minutes. It’s not like a roast chicken or a cake. It needs supervision, but it doesn’t require your undivided attention.

My favorite part about the oatmeal is the peaches that are mixed in. They get even softer and juicier as they cook. Every spoonful of oatmeal had pieces of ripe peaches. The intense fruit flavor pairs well with the ground spices and the almond milk.

So yeah. Make this oatmeal as soon as possible, especially if you have a lot of ripe or overripe peaches on hand. You can top the oatmeal with some sliced almonds and blueberries like I did, or you could get creative. I bet blackberries and walnuts would also taste good.

Stay tuned for more peach recipes this week. I’m making a peach cake for a coworker’s wedding shower tonight so I’ll use up a lot of the peaches I bought at the farmers’ market over the weekend.

Here’s a song to get you started on your peach oatmeal journey.

Peaches and Cream Oatmeal 

Ingredients

1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup almond milk
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
a pinch of nutmeg
1/4 cup maple syrup
sliced peaches, blueberries, ground cinnamon, and sliced almonds for topping

Directions

Combine the rolled oats, almond milk, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and maple syrup in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the oats are thick and creamy.

Pour into a bowl and top with sliced peaches, blueberries, cinnamon, and sliced almonds. Enjoy!

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Dimanche (That Means Sunday)

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Welcome to this edition of Dimanche (That Means Sunday), a roundup of things that caught my eye this past week.

This week went by quickly, partly because I was working so much. I’ve been doing more freelancing and it’s been hectic but good. I like talking to chefs and restaurateurs about what they’re doing in the St. Louis food scene and how they see it evolving.

I also had a chance to meet up with a couple friends, so that was good. On Wednesday I saw my friend Lynn from Edelbrand Pure Distilling. It was nice to catch up with her and get her perspective on recent life events.

I also saw my aunt yesterday, which was fun. We spent yesterday afternoon in Webster Groves, a quaint suburb of St. Louis, and discovered the cutest coffee shop/garden/greenhouse of all time (more on that later).

Tonight I’m going to see my best friend Rachel. She’s visiting St. Louis for the week and I’m going to take her to one of my favorite restaurants and ice cream shops. Most of my weekend has involved four-hour food crawls through different parts of town, and I’m okay with that.

I guess all this is to say, if you’re going through a hard time and you need an extra boost, it’s important to reach out to the people you love. It can feel like the last thing you want to do (trust me), but in the end it’s so important. I feel waaay better after spending time with Lynn and my aunt, and a little more optimistic that things will be okay.

Next weekend I’m headed to Kansas City. I can’t wait to stop by one of my favorite restaurants, The Antler Room, and explore more of the city’s food scene. Stay tuned for a Kansas City restaurant and dining blog post.

Without further ado, here is Dimanche:

As I mentioned earlier, Maypop Coffee & Garden Shop is the cutest place ever. I discovered it a couple months ago when I read an article about a new coffee shop opening in Webster Groves. I didn’t pay close attention though so I didn’t realize that Maypop has a garden and greenhouse in the backyard. I’d highly recommend stopping by if you’re in or near Webster Groves. IMG_5316

In case you missed it, I rounded up some of the best places to get frozen desserts in St. Louis. It’s crucial information this time of year when temperatures skyrocket and the humidity makes it feel like you’re walking around in a swimming pool. You can check out my list in my St. Louis Magazine story.

How am I just discovering Brother Nature? My sister sent me a few of his tweets last week and I was floored. I didn’t think anyone existed who loves deer as much as I do. This tweet is one of my favorites.

Balkan Treat Box is opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant and I could not be more excited. The popular food truck will be putting down roots in Webster Groves this fall. I can’t wait to stop by and try my old favorites in a new setting. Read more about the new restaurant in my St. Louis Magazine article.

I’m *slightly* obsessed with Prioritized Pastries. I’ve been stopping by their stand at the Tower Grove Farmers’ Market for a couple years but I’ve never had anything as good as the muffin I tried yesterday. It had raspberry and mint and it was soft, moist, and flavorful (I hate the word moist, but it describes this muffin so well). If you want a quick, delicious breakfast, I’d highly recommend stopping by the market and getting one of their pastriesIMG_5297

“No Passport Required” is quickly becoming one of my favorite TV shows. I just watched the Miami episode and it was so fascinating. It looks at the Haitian immigrant community and how they’ve brought their food traditions to the city. I want to visit Miami now and try some of their food. I also want to explore more of the city’s flourishing art scene.

Last but certainly not least, I was very saddened to hear about the death of Joël Robuchon. The iconic French chef has mentored many up-and-coming cooks, including Nathaniel Reid, a pastry chef who has a thriving bakery in St. Louis. I just read about Robuchon in Éric Ripert’s memoir, “32 Yolks,” so hearing about his death was extra jarring. He leaves a rich legacy. Read more about Robuchon in this CNN story.

Have a good week! Here’s a song to get you started.

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Peach Cantaloupe Smoothie Bowl

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I’ve made many smoothie bowls in my day, but I’ve never put a smoothie bowl into a melon. All that changed earlier this week.

I scooped out cantaloupe to make this cantaloupe, blackberry, and basil salad and then I stared at what remained. It seemed like a waste to throw it out so I wrapped it up and then filled it up with a peach cantaloupe smoothie the next morning.

My favorite part about this smoothie bowl is that there’s something left at the bottom when you’re done with the smoothie. I guess you could have a stray blueberry or piece of granola at the bottom of a typical smoothie bowl but odds are, you’ve eaten those already. Once you get to the bottom of this smoothie bowl, there’s still a little cantaloupe that you can scoop out with your spoon.

I topped my smoothie bowl with banana, chia seeds, granola, coconut, and blueberries, but feel free to get creative. I bet almonds, goji berries, and cacao nibs would also be delicious.

Also, a word to wise about making a cantaloupe smoothie bowl: You want the melon to be very steady, i.e., you don’t want it to tip over while you’re pouring the smoothie in. My melon was pretty balanced so I took a risk and poured the smoothie in, but if things are already looking dicey, you can try this trick. Take a sharp knife and slice a thin layer off the bottom of the melon. Make sure you don’t take too much off though because then there will be a hole.

Here’s a song to start you on your peach cantaloupe smoothie bowl journey. Anna St. Louis is from Kansas City but her last name is St. Louis. It’s very confusing to a Midwesterner like me.

Peach Cantaloupe Smoothie Bowl

Ingredients

1 medium-sized cantaloupe, cut in half, seeds removed, and flesh scooped out
1 banana, halved
1 peach, pit removed and cut into pieces
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup fresh pineapple
1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
blueberries, banana slices, shredded coconut, granola, and chia seeds for topping

Directions

Blend the flesh of one cantaloupe half with half a banana, peach, pineapple, almond milk, and Greek yogurt. Pour into the other cantaloupe half and top with blueberries, banana slices, shredded coconut, granola, and chia seeds. Enjoy!

 

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No-Cook Recipes: Cantaloupe, Blackberry, Basil Salad

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I started the “No-Cook Recipes” column on my blog a couple years ago after a friend of mine told me that she wanted a place to look for more no-cook meals. I’d made a bunch of them during the summer so I rounded them all up and put them in a column.

Since then, I’ve fallen off the bandwagon. I still make no-cook meals but they’re not the kind that I want to blog about. Usually they involve eating a large scoop of peanut butter straight off the spoon. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s not necessarily blog worthy.

So I was happy a couple days ago when I improvised this cantaloupe salad for lunch. It is one of the easiest things you can make. I’d argue that it’s almost like not making anything, except you are.

As always, it’s important to have the best ingredients. When you’re making something simple and the focus is on the fruits and vegetables, you want the freshest produce possible. I bought a melon, a pint of blackberries, and some fresh basil at Tower Grove Farmers’ Market on Saturday.

It was my first time buying a melon at the farmers’ market so I was excited. I shied away from buying one before because I was scared to cut it open, but I shouldn’t have worried. It’s easier than it looks to cut a melon in half. All you need is a large, sharp knife, a firm surface, and a steady grip. Also, keep your fingers far away from the knife, but that kind of goes without saying.

I used a melon scooper to make balls of cantaloupe and then I toss them with blackberries, torn basil, and balls of mozzarella cheese. I drizzled a little olive oil on top and squeezed lemon juice on at the last minute. The result was nothing short of heavenly. The cantaloupe was fresh, sweet, and juicy, the blackberries added some tartness, the basil was fragrant, and the mozzarella added some salt.

I’m going to have this salad on rotation as long as there are fresh melons at the farmers’ market. I think it would also taste good with feta cheese. I’ll experiment with that soon.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this song. I have mixed feelings about it because truth be told, I can’t stand Taylor Swift. Then I heard this song on the radio and I…*liked* it? It’s a strange thing to admit.

Cantaloupe, Blackberry, Basil Salad

Ingredients

1 medium-sized melon (cantaloupe is preferable)
1 cup mozzarella balls
1 handful of basil leaves, torn
1 cup fresh blackberries
juice of one lemon
olive oil for dressing

Directions

Cut a melon in half. Scoop out the seeds and then use a melon scooper to make the insides into balls.

Toss the melon balls with the mozzarella, basil, and blackberries. Drizzle with olive oil and squeeze lemon juice on top before serving. Toss gently before serving. Enjoy!

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Blueberry Peach Pie

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I bought some star cookie cutters a couple months ago to use for the Fourth of July, when I thought I was going to make a fruit pie with stars-and-stripes topping.

That never happened because I made blueberry cobbler instead. I kept waiting for the right occasion to break out the star cutters, and then I realized that I had to make my own occasion. This past weekend I made a blueberry peach pie with lots of stars on top.

Don’t get me wrong: Traditional pies are great. I’m all for a flat top crust or a lattice weave, or another variation that you’d find sitting on tables in New England (for some reason, that’s the first place I think of when I think of pie). But sometimes you have to switch things up. Now that I’ve used stars, I’m thinking about making one with flowers. A whole new world of pie awaits.

I chose peaches and blueberries for this pie because they looked freshest at the farmers’ market over the weekend, but you could sub in a different type of berry. Blackberries are usually ripe and abundant at this time of year and they would also taste delicious with peaches in a pie.

I’ll always remember this pie as one of my proudest accomplishments because it was the first time I didn’t screw up the crust. I’m not talking about the stars part. That came together relatively easily. I’m talking about the bottom crust, or the one I rolled out all the way and had to get from the counter to the pie tin.

A lot of recipes counsel you to roll the dough onto the rolling pin, and then carefully roll it back out over the tin. I used to laugh at these directions because they seemed destined to fail. Inevitably, my crust would tear or break in half and I’d stare at it on the counter, trying to figure out where it went wrong.

That didn’t happen this time. I trusted my instincts and I carefully rolled the dough back onto the pin, flouring a little as I went to make sure it would easily slip off later. It worked! It was the most stress-free pie filling experience I’ve ever had.

A trick for rolling out pie dough (i.e., making sure it doesn’t rip and tear) is to consider two factors: Temperature and pressure. If you’ve had the dough in the refrigerator, let it sit for about 30 minutes on the counter until it comes to room temperature. It should not feel cold to the touch. Then, dust a rolling pin with flour and gently but firmly roll out the dough. You should roll from the center outward. If you roll too close to the edge, the dough won’t be evenly thin.

Another trick is to scatter a little flour on top of the dough and underneath the dough as you roll. This way it doesn’t stick to the counter. Don’t go too crazy on the flour though because then your crust will taste weird.

Here’s a song that reminds me of this pie. It’s perfect for the Tuesday blues, which is the feeling of being stuck at a desk when all you want to do is go home and eat pie.

Blueberry Peach Pie

Ingredients

for the dough:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
20 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
8 Tbsp ice water

for the pie:
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground allspice
3 cups sliced fresh peaches
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp whole milk

Directions

First, make the dough. Combine the flour and salt in a food processor. Then add the cubes of cold butter and pulse until there are pieces the size of peas. Then pulse in a tablespoon of ice water at a time until the dough comes together. It should be slightly moist.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly-floured work surface. Divide it in half and shape each half into a ball. Tightly wrap each ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours or up to a day. If you don’t want to use it right away, you can freeze the dough.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Take your pie dough out of the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature. Grease a pie tin and set it aside.

Lightly flour a work surface and roll out each ball of dough. Use a rolling pin to place one of the rolled-out doughs on the pie tin. Use the tips of your fingers to gently press the dough into the tin, making sure it adheres to the bottom, sides, and rim. Trim any dough that hangs over the edge of the tin. Place the pie tin in the freezer.

Use the other rolled-out dough to make your stars. Use cookie cutters to make the shapes and place them on a plate.

Toss the sugar, flour, cinnamon, allspice, peaches, and blueberries in a large bowl. Remove your pie tin from the freezer and distribute the filling evenly on top of the bottom crust. Scatter the tablespoon of butter over the fruit.

Top the filling with the stars and brush the stars with a tablespoon of milk. Place your pie tin on a baking sheet and put it in the oven to bake. Baking time is about 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling over. Enjoy!

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