Smoked Cherry-Grape Tomatoes | Juliet Roma Grape Tomato

Juliet Grape Tomatoes | Sun-dried and Smoked

Delicately dehydrated (aka sun-dried) tomatoes are extremely popular as a vegetarian snack, appetizer, or a dish element for many reasons. First of all, they add a concentrated flavor of fully ripe tomato to the dishes. They are sweet and tangy, light in calories and with an intense aroma. Now, imagine adding some campfire-like tasting notes to sun-dried tomatoes! It takes 10 minutes using Cameron’s stovetop smoker. Keep smoked tomatoes refrigerated in a jar and serve them on grilled bread rubbed with garlic, or on top of pasta and rice dishes, or add them to your favorite sauces and salsas. Enjoy the summer!

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Summer Squash Stuffed with Fish

Summer Squash

I am not sure how common a combination of seafood and summer squash flavors is in cooking, but in my mind, it is genius. Mildly flavored seasonal squashes have hints of floral and nutty notes. We recognize the natural sweetness and enjoy their lush and silky texture in fully cooked summer squashes. Would any fish compliment summer squashes? Probably not. We should consider a saltwater fish for umami and complex flavors and give the preference to fatty fish for a tender and moist stuffing. Salmon and halibut come to mind as good candidates that can do the job well.

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7-Herb Green Sauce

Frankfurter Gruene Sause | Frankfotter grie Soß

I remember how difficult it was for me to recreate Grüne Sosse in Texas 6 years ago. Two herbs with fresh cucumbery aroma — borage and burnet — were impossible to find. Since they were not available at any local stores or farmers markets, and I tried to grow them, unsuccessfully. Finally, I gave up and replaced them with finely diced cucumber. Who knew a few years later I would find both of them grown by Livin’ Organics farm right here in Spicewood, available almost regularly! This season, Frankfurt-style green sauce is a delicacy I can enjoy more than once during the season.

One of my German friends says Grüne Sosse is a higher-calorie modification of Italian salsa verde. As if herbs, vinegar, and olive oil were not enough for Germans to survive in a colder climate, and they added eggs and fatty cream. Per about 5 oz of chopped herbs, a typical recipe includes 1) 3.5 oz of Schmandt (24% milk fat) and 2) 3 eggs + 3.5 oz vegetable oil + 3 tbsp white wine vinegar + 2 tsp mustard. Does the second part remind you something? Exactly! It’s mayonnaise.

It’s hot and sunny in Texas most of the year, and the ratio of herbs to the mix of sour cream and mayo is different in my recipe. I go for more herbs and less fat. I also skip making mayo and use my favorite Kewpie. In my opinion, this sauce is the best served with soft-boiled eggs and boiled Yukon Gold potatoes. If you want to add proteins, consider seafood — fried or roasted fish, smoked salmon, seared sea scallops, etc.

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Chard Rolls with Carrot and Cheddar Béchamel

Steamed Chard Rolls with Carrot and Cheddar Béchamel

I dreamed of making something special with the treasures I got at the LivinOrganics farm for a few days. The idea of steamed chard rolls came to me when two other legendary recipes crossed my mind almost at the same time — capuns and vertical lasagna with morels. Gently steamed broad chard leaves seemed a good candidate to sub the sfoglia. And then there were April’s amazingly sweet young carrots I could use to flavor bechamel, along with garlic and cheddar.

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Flowering Leeks | 韭菜 | jiǔ cài

Blanched and Seasoned Flowering Leeks

Years ago, I discovered foraged ramps in the U.S. though available only matured, expensive, and very difficult to find. Unfortunately, matured ramps cannot substitute cheremsha, which is ramp sprouts from Kavkaz mountains. But flowering leeks can! Cooked the same way, I consider succulent stems of flowering leeks the second best. The recipe below is exactly how we prepared ramp sprouts in our family — simple and delicious. It works for the flowering leeks to the letter.

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Family Recipes: My Mom’s Creamed Mackerel with Vegetables

Not sure how widespread it was in the Soviet era and what variations existed out there. We discussed it in LCL Group on Facebook and, apparently, the recipe with tomatoes was more popular. In other regions, pink salmon (aka Gorbusha) was more available than mackerel and was cooked similarly. The recipe below is how my Mom made it. I loved eating creamed mackerel with vegetables as a cold appetizer after school. My favorite part of this dish was the vegetables — naturally sweet, slightly flavored with sea salt and umami, and rounded with silky cream. They had to be soft and barely crunchy.

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Of Love and Hate: Brussels Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts with Cranberries, Barberries, and Smoked Blue Cheese

We kids feared many things in those days – werewolves, dentists, North Koreans, Sunday School — but they all paled in comparison with Brussels sprouts. — Dave Barry
I feel sorry for all people who were served poorly cooked Brussels in the childhood and now miss the beauty of these tiny cabbages every season. How do YOU like your Brussels?

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Homemade Harissa

Harissa, suace, Tunician, Middle Eastern, hot

I divide all Harissa recipes into three groups: basic, variable, and exquisite ones. For basic harissas, the list of ingredients is shorter — dried chiles bring heat and fruity flavors, cumin and coriander represent spices, garlic (often sun-dried) adds pungence, salt, and olive oil. Variable harissas may include sun-dried tomatoes and fire roasted sweet peppers, onion, and herbs. Extra fancy harissas have an extensive list of spices and herbs and even include Damask rosebuds. My recipe belongs to the second category.

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