Seasonal Kitchen-Summer Solstice 2008, 2009

 Summer Solstice 2008

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.
~ William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream
  The longest day of the year, also known to many as Litha or Midsummer, this is a day of increasing abundance, and growth is becoming increasingly full and lush. We celebrate this apex of energy during the Sun's highest point in the sky with a menu of solar symbols, foods available in our gardens or the farmers' markets which are now underway. When considering your feast menu, fresh greens, herbs, peas, baby carrots are all easily found as well as strawberries which are come into season in northern climes.  Herbal teas or fresh fruit juices to quench one's thirst, be sure to pick plenty of whatever herb or berry is in season and try your hand at making a mead, cordial or wine to be enjoyed at the Winter Solstice (or perhaps the following Summer Solstice). Circular, solar-inspired foods such as pizza, quesadillas or a layered tostada on round tortillas are a few ways to combine symbolism with quick and easy. For you barbecuing enthusiast, fire up the grill! Think growing heat and grilling that which is season. Grilled pizzas are a great way to enjoy the outdoors and keep the gathering outside. Faeries are said to be at their height of activity during this time, those of a faery path might like a picnic or tea party featuring dishes made with fresh herbs and edible flowers.    This first recipe is not one of my own but a favorite and essential part of our yearly Summer Solstice celebrations.  Our version uses honey (3/4c or to taste) instead of the sugar. Tom's Stillwater Punch Juice of 2 oranges, strained and juice of 2 lemons, strainedJuice of 2 limes, strained1 1/4 cups sugar divided1 quart cold black tea4 sprigs fresh spearmint5 cups freshly squeezed orange juice, strained1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice strained1 cup pineapple juice1 cup raspberry syrup1 cup water1 block of ice1 quart gingeraleFresh spearmint sprigs for garnish Mix the juice of 2 oranges, 2 lemons and 2 limes with 1 1/2 cups sugar. Add the tea to this mixture; add the 4 sprigs of spearmint. Set aside to cool. Mix the remaining orange and lemon juice with the pineapple juice and the raspberry syrup. Add this to the tea. Bring the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with 1 cup of water to a boil for 5 minutes then stir it into the tea mixture. Chill thoroughly. Serve over the block of ice in a punch bowl, adding the ginger ale at the last moment. Add fresh sprigs of spearmint. SOURCE: Tasha Tudor  Spiraled Herb Bread 1 1/2 tsp yeast1 tsp honey1 tsp salt1/3 cup warm water 2 1/2 cups white flour1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour1 1/2 cups water1 tbs olive oil 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley1 Tb each of assorted herbs (try a combo of 3 or 4 of the following: thyme, basil, oregano, rosemary, chives, chervil, savory, etc)1/2 tsp ground black pepper3/4 tsp kosher salt 2 tsp milk Preheat oven to 425*F Combine first 4 ingredients and let stand 10 min.Sift flours into a large bowl.Make a well in center of flour and add the yeast mixture, water and oil.Stir with a fork until crumbly but moist.Knead on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes.Add extra 1/4 cup of flour if mixture is sticking to the surface. Shape into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl.Cover and let rise 1 1/2 hours. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few minutes.Flatten dough to 8 in square. Sprinkle surface with salt, pepper and herbs evenly. Roll up like a swiss roll and put into a greased 1.5qt loaf pan.Cover and allow to rise 30 minutes.  Brush top with milk, sprinkle with salt.Bake in center of a very hot oven 25-30 min or until well risen, brown and crusty on top.  It should sound hollow when tapped.  Litha Layered Salad 1 small head, iceberg lettuce, torn into small chunks2c. spinach, washed and patted dry2c. red lettuce, washed and patted dry2c fresh peas (or frozen thawed and drained)1/2c. celery, chopped1 small red onion, sliced thinly1 pint fresh strawberries, washed and sliced in half lengthwise 4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced widthwise in 1/2in slices1/3c. cheddar cheese, shredded2c. mayonnaise3 TB lemon juice1/4 tsp salt1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste) In a deep clear glass bowl (trifle bowl is ideal) layer: iceberg lettuceonionstrawberriesspinachcelerycheddar cheesered lettucepeas In a small bowl mix mayo, lemon juice, salt and pepper, blend well; pour evenly over the top of the salad.  Top with egg slices and serve.  Summer Sun Chicken 1/4 C. olive oil4 chicken breasts, sliced in strips1/2 C. orange juice2 T. honey1Tb curry powder1 tsp. grated orange rind1/2 tsp. ground nutmegpinch salt Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook for about 5 minutes or until brown on all sides, turning often. In a small bowl, combine orange juice, honey, curry powder, rind, nutmeg and salt. Add mixture to the skillet; reduce heat to medium-low.Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until chicken is fork tender, glazed and browned. Serve chicken with pan sauce. Yields 4 servings.   Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp Topping1 cup white whole wheat flour1c Sucanat (or 1/2 cup sugar and  1/2 cup brown sugar)1 teaspoon each: cinnamon and nutmeg1/8 tsp salt 8 TB unsalted butter, room temp.1 cup rolled oats  Filling2 pints strawberries, stemmed and halved3 cups rhubarb, sliced 1/2 inch thick2/3 cup sugar (or Sucanat if you are avoiding processed white sugar)1 TB cornstarch Heat oven to 400 degrees. Topping:In large bowl mix all ingredients except butter and oats to blend thoroughly.With forks (or clean fingers), cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in oats; set aside. Filling:In large bowl mix the strawberries, rhubarb, sucanat and cornstarch to blend thoroughly.Spoon into a 2-quart baking dish. Cover evenly with topping.Bake 40 minutes or until filling is bubbly and topping is lightly browned. Cool slightly.Serve warm or at room temperature.Top with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired. By Stephanie Lowell-Libby ©Copyright 2008  

Summer Solstice 2009
Hand in hand, with fairy grace,
Will we sing, and bless this place.
~William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

The wheel turns yet again, the longest day of the year is upon us. With it brings high energy and burst forth of passion and growth as the Sun hits its highest point in the Northern hemisphere and once again begins its descent. By month’s end the days will be growing shorter. Our gardens and farmer’s markets will be spilling over with the bounty of our Great Mother. Highlight your June feasts with fresh, local foods which bring flavor, nutrients and local energies to you table and bodies. Support local farmers who so lovingly steward the land, if you can afford organic? Even better! The esbats this month can feature local, seasonal fare as well-- Strawberries for the Full Moon, foods with high water content or fish for the New Moon in Cancer.

To infuse the energy of the sun, brew the herbs in water and lemon juice in a clear jar set out in the sun for an hour or two then continue with directions.

Minty Solstice Lemonade

1 cup fresh mint1 cup fresh lemon balm1 cup waterJuice of 6 lemons3 quarts 7-Up or ginger ale, chilled

Bruise the fresh mint and lemon balm. Stir into water and lemon juice.Let sit for 2-3 hours or overnight in refrigerator. Remove herbs.Mix with soda, garnish with fresh mint springs, and serve.
Yield: 1 gallon

Braised Ginger Halibut with Spring Onions

1 lb halibut filets2 green onions, chopped2 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely grated2 or 3 tablespoons water2 or 3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

Place filets in the bottom of a pan. Add the green onions, ginger, water, soy sauce and oil. Cover the pan (Be sure the cover fits snugly)
Cook the fish over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes or until the thickest part is firm to the touch. Serves 2

Herbal Lemon Cookies

1 cup butter, unsalted2 cups sugar, divided2 large eggs1 teaspoon vanilla extract2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour2 teaspoons baking powder1/4 teaspoon salt1/3 cup lemon grass / lemon balm / lemon basil - chopped

Cream the butter and 1 3/4 cups sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and herbs. Add to the creamed mixture and mix. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls, 3 inches apart, on a greased cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with a fork or cup bottom. Sprinkle lightly with the remaining sugar. Bake at 350* for 8 to 10 minutes, or until barely browned.
Cool slightly, remove to a rack.

Rhubarb Muffins

2 cups flour1 tbs baking powder1/2 tsp cinnamon1/4 tsp salt1 large egg1/2 cup brown sugar3 tbs strawberry jam3/4 cup milk2 tbs butter or margarine melted2 tsp vanilla1 1/2 cups fresh diced rhubarb

Combine all dry ingredients except the brown sugar.
Whisk together brown sugar, egg and jam then whisk in butter and milk and vanilla. Stir in rhubarb.Pour mixture over dry ingredients and mix just to moisten ingredients.Place in muffin cups about 2/3 full.Bake at 400 degrees until lightly browned and tested done, about 20 to 25 minutes.
SOURCE: unknown

Strawberry Scones

1 cup strawberries, cut into ½ in pieces2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour3 tablespoons sugar2 teaspoons baking powder1/4 teaspoon salt6 tablespoons butter2/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In large bowl mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add butter. With pastry blender or 2 knives cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in reserved strawberries toss well to coat. Add milk. With fork, lightly toss together until mixture holds together. With floured hands gently form into ball. On floured board with floured rolling pin, roll out dough 1/2 inch thick. Cut dough into 2 1/2 inch circles. Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake until golden about 12 minutes, serve warm with whipped cream.
Yield 12 scones.

By Stephanie Lowell-Libby ©Copyright 2009