Late Summer Peach and Mint Bulgur Salad

We still have peaches filling the produce section of our grocery store with juicy, sweet smelling nectar.  I found this summer that I am definitely a peach person.  They just translate so well with other foods.  I love them with desserts and savory dishes, herbs, wines, fish, pork, chicken, vegetables, grilled, poached, raw, sautéed, flambéed.   It’s hard for a peach not to make anything better.

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Quick and easy, fresh and tasty.  All words that matter when we think about school kicking back in.   With peaches still hanging on to the season, I saw this salad and knew it would make a perfect cookout side, a last day of summer picnic lunch, or even an on the go salad.

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Thanks to Cooking Light

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked bulgur
  • 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup diced fresh peaches
  • ½ cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
  • ¼ cup small fresh mint leaves

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Preparation

In a small sauce pot bring 2 cups water and bulgur to a boil. Place cover on the pot, reduce heat to medium, and cook about 10-12 minutes until tender.

While bulgur is cooking combine vinegar, oil, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl.

Drain the bulgur from the sauce pot and give a quick rinse of cold water.  Add warm bulgur to the vinegar and oil mix and toss.  Allow to cool to room temperature and add the peaches and mint to the salad.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serves 4-6

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Hold on tight to these last moments of summer; enjoy the longer days, the warm evening sunsets, and the family time.  Also- hold on to the peaches, as the perfect fruit will be gone soon.

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English Pea and Mint Crostini’s **Summer Simplicity

Summer is always a great time to look for light and healthy food.  And equally important easy, quick food!   The convenience of having some “go to” fast dishes for summer evenings, cook outs and family gatherings is amplified over summer.  I especially love the ones that travel well, I feel so fancy when I pack “apps” in a cooler for the beach- goes perfect with vino at sunset!

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Have to admit- when I see things that my Mom, Queenie, can do without calling me 3 times, and they look tasty, I am immediately attracted to them.  I just don’t like spending all day in the kitchen on the weekends in the summer- so simple, quick and tasty is perfect.

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My grandmother, Madame Margo, told me over 10 years ago about a dish she made with peas and mint, and I think maybe Greek yogurt…I stored the flavor combination away in my brain until a few months ago when I saw the them being played with more often.  We actually had a cooking competition the other day at work, based on the TV show “Chopped”, where the dessert ingredients the participants were given included English peas, ricotta and oranges.  I wanted to scream at them, mint, mint!!  But actually I found myself most impressed with one making something like a pea and ricotta ice cream with and orange sauce, I loved the high creativity!

Pea and Mint Crostini’s

Ingredients

  •  10 ounces frozen green peas, or fresh spring peas    
  • ½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese    
  • ¼ cup mint leaves, without stems    
  • 2 tablespoons fine grated parmesan cheese    
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt    
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • Butter spray/ cooking spray
  • Small baguette bread, cut into 24  1/3 inch thick slices    
  • Fresh tomatoes for garnish

Method

In a 2 quart sauce pan filled halfway with water heat over medium high until water comes to a boil.  Add the peas and return to a boil for one minute. Drain the peas into a colander and rinse with cold water.

In a food processor put the drained peas, and pulse.  Add ricotta, mint, Parmesan, oil, garlic, salt and pepper and blend until mostly smooth.  Transfer into a serving bowl and refrigerate or 30 minutes.

While the spread chills, preheat oven to 325°F. Arrange the bread slices on a parchment paper lined baking sheet  and spray with the butter spray.  Bake until lightly golden and crisp; cool and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Assemble just before serving with a tablespoon of spread on each piece of bread.  Garnish with tomato.

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The pea spread can be made a few days before and kept in air tight container- a perfect “get ahead” appetizer.  The bread toasts are best made the day of, but if kept in an airtight container you can do the day before.

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Inspired by my grandmother creativity and knowledge, and my mom’s love of life outside the kitchen!  With those two ladies in mind it is hard to not come out great!

Florida Citrus Mint Squares- Jump Start on Summer

It’s hard to believe summer is already so close, it seems like spring was just starting.  Do you ever get used to time flying?  It especially doesn’t help that everyone is jumping the shark to get to summer, myself included.  I just the other day wrote Summer Vegetables onto a menu rather than Spring Vegetables, consciously deciding to make the move.  Popsicles are in the freezer, the beach bag is packed, coolers are rinsed out, beach chairs pulled down from the attic, and plenty of summer menus planned.  As I jumped the shark to summer in menu writing, I followed suit with my favorite summer dessert- Lemon Squares.

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I have loved lemon squares since a little girl. The powdery sweet topping over the slightly sour lemon filling that melts in your mouth is the perfect summer dessert.  They are also one of the two desserts my mom, Queenie, was able to make-I’ve mentioned she is a better taster then maker right?  But Lemon Squares, she could rock, simple, lemony, sweet lusciousness.

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While there is nothing wrong with the classic lemon square, we are in Florida, and have a produce market right in our backyard.  Grapefruits are falling over the fence from the neighbor’s tree, lovely, bitter sweet in flavor, and our herb garden is becoming like an overgrown aromatic weed garden.  Call me inspired, Queenie’s classic lemon squares became Florida Citrus Mint Squares.

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Ingredients

For the Crust

  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for sifting
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, diced into small cubes

For the Citrus Filling

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  • 1 tablespoon grapefruit zest

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Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in center. Spray a 9 inch baking pan with cooking spray and lay a piece of parchment into it, pressing and folding it to cover the interior of the pan.

2. To make the crust, combine flour with confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a food processor and pulse.  Add the cold  butter and pulse until mixture is course crumbs.  Scrape crumb mixture into the parchment lined baking dish and press evenly.

3. Bake in oven until crust is lightly browned 20 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan.

4. Turn oven down to 325 degrees.  Start to make the lemon filling: In a mixing bowl, add the eggs and beat with an electric mixer until thick. Add in the granulated sugar, lemon juice, grapefruit juice, flour, baking powder, salt, mint and grapefruit zest and mix thoroughly. Pour over the warm crust. Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until set. Cool to room temperature; refrigerate about 1 hour.

5. Lift the parchment paper from baking pan on to cutting board and cut into 16 squares.  Sift the remaining tablespoon confectioners’ sugar over the top and place on serving tray.

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Summer is just about here, wait another week or so or break out the Slip and Slide early, it’s up to you.  Either way, be sure to enjoy the flavors of summer, the beautiful produce that fills the markets.  Summer and childhood memories are bonded together, like Queenie’s Lemon Squares, be sure to create your own for your family and friends.