Seasonal Kitchen-July 2008

July brings heat and with it languorous movement in the midst of high growth in the flora and fauna around us. Abundance is apparent as we shift into the height of the heat and growth of the year. This month we enter into the Dog Days of Summer with intense heat and humidity that feed the intense thunderstorms which frequent this particular month. Our bodies seek light, cooling and refreshing foods and plentiful drink to recharge us on sultry Summer nights.

Farmers’ markets are heavily laden with fresh fruits and vegetables now. Local, healthy sources of the freshest produce found outside of one’s own garden. Dark blueberries combined with rich reds and blacks of brambleberries filling a scooped out half shell of melon is a quick and light way to enjoy what is available this month.

In the garden- greens, early root veg, corn, squashes, beans, potatoes, cucumbers and more are ripening and ready for picking. To get out of the kitchen wrap these sliced lovelies topped with fresh herbs and a bit of butter/olive oil in foil and toss on the grill for an easy blend and addition to your meal.

Despite the heat I cannot resist baking using the herbs growing so richly lush and fragrant in my garden. Basil, thyme, rosemary and garlic for a savoury artisan bread or the sweet, fragrant lemon balm or mints for a sweet quick bread. At the Full Moon these herbs can be harvested and hung to dry or, my favorite, chop savory herbs and sprinkle into an ice tray, top with olive oil and freeze. I pop these nuggets of flavor out and put them into a freezer bag for use all winter. The flavor and scent still as fresh as the day they were harvested.

Lunasda coming up in early August reflects this increasing abundance, breads, herbs, grains, corn and all foods reflective of solar symbols will be the focus in weeks ahead. In the meantime look to your garden or farmers’ markets for new herbs, fruits and veg. Find something new to you and celebrate the abundance of the height of Summer.


Rustic Dill Bread

2 packages active dry yeast
2 tablespoons honey
2 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
about 6 cups white whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons fresh dill, coarsely chopped
vegetable oil cooking spray

In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast and 1 tsp of the honey over the warm water; stir until yeast dissolves completely. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
Stir the remaining honey into the yeast mixture, add eggs, salt, and the olive-oil onion mixture. Stir in the whole wheat flour and 3 cups of the white whole wheat flour. Beat until well blended. Add 2 cups flour, 1/4 cup at a time, beating after each addition.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding up to 1 cup white whole wheat flour as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Gradually knead in dill.
Form dough into a ball and place in a bowl which has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray, turning dough over once to coat the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, until doubled in bulk.
Punch the dough down and knead briefly on a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions and shape each portion into a tight 7-inch round loaf. Lightly spray 2 large baking sheets with cooking spray or line with parchment paper. Place formed loaves on the prepared baking sheets. Cover and let rise in a warm place until puffy, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Using a sharp knife make 1/4-inch (0.6 cm) deep slashes on top of each loaf forming an X. Lightly dust top of each loaf with flour. Bake, uncovered, until well browned and loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom, 40 to 45 minutes.

yield: 2 loaves

Basil and Cheddar Scones

2 cups less 2 tablespoons white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup light cream (or whole milk)
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup basil, finely minced

Preheat the oven to 400° F. In a large bowl, combine the flours, salt, and baking powder and blend thoroughly; cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

In a small bowl, combine the milk with the tomato paste, blending well. Add the milk and garlic to the dry ingredients along with the cheese and basil, and stir to form soft dough.

Turn the dough onto a floured pastry marble or board, knead gently until it just comes together, and roll out to 1/2 thickness.
Cut dough into desired shapes and place on an ungreased baking sheet.
Bake 15 to 18 min or until lightly golden brown. Serve warm.

Makes about 2 dozen scones.

For all of you fishers out there here is an easy recipe and one popular in my family. My loved ones frequently head out and return with plenty of fish, cleaned and ready for me to prepare. This is easy enough for any of them but somehow they’ve convinced me that I make this best.

Fresh Savoury Fish

Cleaned fish, amounts vary so there are no exact measurements here

Onto one of aluminum foil lay:

Garlic, bashed…no need to peel
Fennel, roughly chopped
Sweet peppers, roughly chopped
Drizzle lightly with olive oil

On this you will lay one fish stuffed with

A savoury herb of your choice (dill, basil, parsley are quite good, either on their own or in a blend)
1/2 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Butter or olive oil

Splash all over with lemon juice.

Bring the lengthwise edges of foil up to meet in the middle, fold in sides and fold ends over a few times to make a packet. Stab top of foil with knife for a few steam holes. This can be steamed over a grill (upper rack or on lower heat) or in the over at 350* until steamy and fish meat flakes, usually no more than 20-30 min, depending on size of fish.

Abundance of blueberries combined with a need for something quick and easy results in returning to this recipe, English in origin, passed down through the generations. This recipe works well with brambleberries as well, if you don’t mind the seeds.

Blueberry Fool

2 cups blueberries
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp. butter

In a saucepan over medium, melt the butter and add the blueberries and honey. Cover and let cook for about 15 min, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and mash berries, let cool.

Whip cream into soft peaks, fold in berry mixture and serve topped with a few fresh berries.

Lastly, a recipe of unknown source, one I found in recent years and have enjoyed each summer since.

Fruit Salad with Lemon Balm and Lemon Mint

¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup honey, warmed
¼ cup lemon mint, minced
2 tablespoons lemon balm, minced
1 cup cantaloupe, cut into cubes or balls
1 cup honeydew, cut into cubes or balls
1 cup pineapple chunks
1 cup strawberries, halved

Combine lemon juice, honey, lemon mint, and lemon balm. Pour sauce over fruit and refrigerate until chilled. Garnish with lemon mint leaves.

By Stephanie Lowell-Libby ©Copyright 2008-2012

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