Here in New England, summer -- and everything in the garden -- comes crashing down, literally, in the first two weeks of September. Ripe peaches plop from the trees, and we hurry to scoop the last tomatoes off the vines before they fall and rot. No one wants to give up on summer, so if you're in denial, like I am, try these roasted shrimp tacos with ultra-fresh avocado peach salsa. Juicy tomatoes and peaches, and creamy avocado, dribble down your chin, in a way that makes you believe that summer can go on forever. I always have shrimp in my freezer, but if you have scallops or salmon or other mild fresh fish, go ahead and substitute. A few pickled jalapeños on top, or extra cilantro, would be great. Pack these tacos to go, for an end-of-summer beach party or picnic.
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Here in New England, we love, love, love clam chowder. White, red, or clear -- where you come from probably determines your loyalty to one version or another. So what's a girl who was born in Manhattan (the home of red chowder), lived for decades in Boston (white chowder), and now spends most of her time in Rhode Island (clear chowder) to do? Well, if that girl were me (and she is!), she'd create her own chowder, the quick and easy kind. I'm partial to white chowders, made with the addition of milk or cream. And though I live near the water and can get fresh clams at my local fish market, I know many of you cannot, so I've used canned clams (our local favorites, from Iggy's, the clams we used in Rhode Island Recipes), and bottled clam juice in this recipe. Chowder is a summer tradition at clam shacks throughout Rhode Island, but it's a year-round comfort food that's easy to make in your own kitchen.
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As you might expect, we cook a lot around here. Most of the time, I make the food, and my husband Ted makes sure it's good enough to share with you. Every now and then, however, I come up with something so thoroughly irresistible that we don't even want to share with each other. After photographing this shrimp and bell pepper stir-fry, I left the bowl on the kitchen counter. Despite the fact that it was 9:00 in the morning and we'd just finished breakfast, we couldn't stop nibbling, a shrimp here, a pepper there, until we were running our fingers inside the empty bowl to capture every last drop of the Asian cilantro vinaigrette. Fortunately we had some of the dressing left over (I made it with a mix of cilantro and a little bit of flat-leaf parsley, from our herb garden), and I used it the next day on a grilled flank steak, lettuce and avocado salad. We licked that plate clean, too.
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When I first thought about making lighter lobster rolls in rice paper wrappers, I didn't dare tell anyone. Here in New England, people take lobster rolls seriously. Lobster rolls are served in lightly toasted and buttered hot dog buns. Period. No exceptions. So, these lemon-basil shrimp (or lobster) salad rolls break all the rules. Lemon and basil? Never. Shrimp instead of lobster? Simply not done. Skip the hot dog bun? Don't even think about it. That's the official position, but for me, these salad rolls hit all the high notes. I always have shrimp in my freezer, so that's what I use, but if you're lucky enough to have some leftover steamed lobster, swap that for the shrimp. You can wrap the rolls in lettuce leaves instead of the rice paper, to keep them really light. Just don't call them lobster rolls if you're in my neighborhood; no one will believe you.
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