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The summer of 2016 might go down as the hottest summer on record, but in my kitchen, it will be known forever as The Summer of Pickles. If I laid all of the dill pickles I've made end-to-end, they'd probably reach all the way down the block! Alas, I can't do that, because I've eaten every one of them. This summer I've been making quick pickles from carrots and green beans, too. And today it's cabbage -- actually store-bought cole slaw mix -- given a quick pickling in a vinegar brine, then tossed with jalapeño pepper and cilantro, perfect for topping fish, shrimp, or chicken tacos. The cabbage stays crunchy and tart if eaten on the day it's made, but leave it overnight in the... Read more →

Soon after we moved to the log house, my husband Ted and I, with help from our friends Candy and Dave, planted a large herb garden right outside the front door. Over the years, the garden grew and grew, and we expanded our basil patch from three plants to a dozen. Two or three times each summer, we harvested our basil. We would pile the stalks on the kitchen table, and patiently strip the leaves. And then I would turn those leaves into pesto, some to use right away, the rest to go into the freezer for winter. That was then, and this is now. We live in the city, with no garden, and no easy access to the abundant and flavorful basil we used... Read more →

Here in Boston, tomato season passes in the blink of an eye. For a few weeks in August and early September, we overdose on tomatoes from the garden, tomatoes at the farmers markets, tomatoes from generous friends. For the rest of the year, we face the choice of buying plastic tomatoes in the supermarket, or moving to California. Most of our summer tomatoes go into salads, or on top of toasted bread with a slather of mayonnaise. Some morph into slow-roasted tomatoes to freeze and enjoy during the winter. Here are some of our favorite ways to savor tomatoes in all of their glory. When tomatoes are at their absolute peak, you need not do more than slice them, and savor them, in the world's... Read more →

My cousin Sandra deserves all the credit for bringing these amazing Thai chicken satay skewers into our lives. Neiman Marcus deserves credit, too, because the recipe originally appeared in one of their cookbooks, but to me, these will always be Sandra's skewers, because she introduced us to them. The chicken in this recipe marinates in a bold mixture of fish sauce, soy sauce, and herbs. Most satay marinades feature coconut milk, which mutes the power of the herbs a bit, but this one does not. The only changes I made were to reduce the amount of brown sugar, and to substitute lemongrass paste for a stalk of fresh lemongrass. We like to serve the skewers with light and easy sliced cucumber salad, and with our... Read more →

If there were a contest for the world's greatest cucumber lover, I'm one-hundred percent certain -- or even more, if that's possible -- that I would win, or at least be a strong contender for the title. I can't seem to get my fill of cucumbers these days. Every week this summer I've made dill pickles, or a batch of gazpacho, or cucumber smoothies. And when I can find the small pickling cucumbers, I munch on them for afternoon snacks, for a quick pick-me-up. Cucumber salads make the perfect accompaniment to Thai food, like the satay skewers in the photo below (I'll share that recipe in my next post), and this version uses ingredients you always have on hand in the pantry. To make very... Read more →

Does this ever happen to you? You assemble all of the ingredients for a particular recipe on your countertop, but somehow, you end up cooking something completely different? I won't tell you what I was planning to do with this salmon and corn, except to say it was, well, the opposite of soup, but the day demanded a chowder, and it couldn't have turned out better. Spontaneous changes in the menu require creative use of whatever is in the pantry, or, as in this case, what's not in the pantry. I had no chicken or fish stock in the freezer or on the cupboard shelves, so I used the universal substitute -- water -- and added a bit of half-and-half. To keep the chowder gluten-free,... Read more →

To be honest, I'm not crazy about green beans, at least not when they're overcooked, mushy and limp. However, this is the summer of "if it's green, I'm grilling it," so it seemed only fair that I test out green beans on the grill last week. Who knew that grilled beans would stay fresh and still crispy, with just a hint of smoke from the grill? And they made perfect dippers for a spicy peanut-harissa sauce that also would be great with steak or slices of toasted bread. If you haven't tried green beans on the grill, I urge you to get out a grill basket and give it a try. You can make these beans on the panini press, too. I promise that once... Read more →