Tag: Summer

Miso Cream Cheese Toast with Crunchy Vegetables

Miso Cream Cheese Toast with Crunchy Vegetables | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Miso Cream Cheese Toast with Crunchy Vegetables | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Miso Cream Cheese Toast with Crunchy Vegetables | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Miso Cream Cheese Toast with Crunchy Vegetables | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

I was going to post a pasta dish this week – it’s really good and summery but still creamy and light – but I just couldn’t bring myself to suggest that you turn on both your oven and your stove. I don’t know about you, but we are in the middle of a heat wave. It’s another heat wave, or maybe it’s the heat wave we’ve kind of been having all summer despite a couple days last week. We have established a system of closing our windows around noon when it starts to get really hot outside, turning on the air conditioning when the inside temperature gets unbearable, and then opening the windows in the evening once the outside temperature is lower than inside or maybe if there’s a slight cool breeze blowing by.

On days like this, I can’t imagine eating anything hot. In fact, I would prefer that everything I ate was cold and crunchy, preferably also maybe juicy or with a little tang or spice to it. These toasts almost fit that bill – no juiciness really (unless you include the cucumbers that I GREW IN MY OWN GARDEN – sorry, I’m excited), but lots of crunch from the sliced vegetables and tang from the miso cream cheese. You do have to turn on your toaster, but it’s worth it, I promise.

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Israeli Couscous with Asparagus and Snap Peas

Israeli Couscous with Asparagus and Snap Peas | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Israeli Couscous with Asparagus and Snap Peas | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Israeli Couscous with Asparagus and Snap Peas | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Israeli Couscous with Asparagus and Snap Peas | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Israeli Couscous with Asparagus and Snap Peas | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Israeli Couscous with Asparagus and Snap Peas | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

There is that time of year when all you want to feed yourself is fresh, crunchy, cold (or maybe room temperature) food. The time when you are drinking more cold beverages than you thought possible. And when you are going to backyard gatherings or picnics in the park. That time of the year is now and all I want are things that are stuffed with fresh herbs from the garden, salty, tangy, and maybe a little spicy. Luckily, this simple salad satisfies all of those cravings.

How simple? First, throw a bunch of herbs, garlic, olive oil, and vinegar into a food processor. Toast your couscous until it is golden, then cook it with broth to give it some extra love. Sauté the asparagus and peas for just a few minutes, until they have just a touch of color but are mostly a vibrant green. Top all of this with crumbled feta for a touch of salty briny tang, and enjoy. Don’t worry, you’ll have sauce leftover to drizzle over any thing hot off the grill.

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Peach Pie with Rye Crust

Peach Pie with Rye Crust | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Peach Pie with Rye Crust | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Peach Pie with Rye Crust | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Peach Pie with Rye Crust | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Peach Pie with Rye Crust | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Peach Pie with Rye Crust | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Peach Pie with Rye Crust | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Breaking your routine every once in a while is a good thing. Shake it up. I thought after returning from our journey this spring that I would want routine forever and ever. But routine has gone out the window these last months. It might have something to do with the total eclipse, or the cast of characters streaming through our guest room. Some days I love this. A touch of the unknown – What will our guests want to do today? When are they coming and going? – is mixed with feelings of comfort and pride as we show people our home, our city, our community.

One routine I have missed is baking. Granted, between the lack of air conditioning in our apartment (I’m working on it, Mom) and our big west and south facing windows, I don’t often want to turn on the oven. But something inspired me. Something big, the size of softballs. Skin the mottled colors of sunsets. A scent you could smell wafting through the air as we strolled through the farmers market one cloudy Saturday morning. How can you go a whole summer without making a peach pie? I was feeling the same pangs of guilt as last summer when I made only one strawberry-rhubarb pie. I had barely even eaten a perfect peach this summer, much less baked it in between layers of buttery crust.

Another routine that has been finding its footing again is my go-to pie dough. I used to stick with the one I had been making for years, then I switched to the one out of The New Best Recipe. But this summer has been the summer of The Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book, a cookbook that has been reawakening my love of pie. This is a take on their all butter crust, but I’ve subbed some of the all purpose flour with rye for a darker, earthier flavor. I would recommend trying it, but if you don’t have rye flour and don’t want to purchase some, you can just replace it with all purpose flour and still get a perfectly crumbly, wonderful crust.

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Shrub Two Ways

Strawberry Lemon Verbena Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Strawberry Lemon Verbena Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Strawberry Lemon Verbena Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Strawberry Lemon Verbena Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Rhubarb and Fennel Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Rhubarb and Fennel Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Rhubarb and Fennel Shrub | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

It’s inevitable. This time of year especially. You go to the farmers market and drool over the rainbows of produce. The rhubarb has that perfect blush that begs you to bag up more than you could ever use at once and cart it home. The ruby strawberries glimmer, covering tables, overflowing from their containers. You can just imagine how red they are on the inside, and you take one from the little sample bowl to confirm your suspicion. They taste almost as much like candy as they do like fruit, they are so sweet and perfect in every way.

So you haul it all to your car and then to your kitchen. And then reality strikes. It’s Monday again and no, you’re not going to get around to making that strawberry pistachio pie you’ve been pining after, or pickling that rhubarb to go with the pâté you brought home from the market. You feel guilty, seeing those sad fruits softening by the day every time you open the fridge.

When it comes to fruit that is beginning to turn, I used to turn to compote (the rhubarb) or freeze them smoothies (the strawberries), but this summer that all changes. I started making shrubs, aka drinking vinegars. It’s painfully simple, goes perfectly well with just sparkling water on those long warm days when you want something fruity and tangy and refreshing, and can welcome a taste of your favorite gin or tequila when those long summer days turn into warm evenings and you want a cocktail to sip while you light up the grill.

It seems shrubs are the fancier version of my dad’s old “it’s-too-hot-out” beverage: a Perrier with an entire lemon juiced in. Tart and bubbly and immediately cooling. They take a little forethought, yes, but in all they take about 15 minutes to make and your friends or guests or whomever is lucky enough to partake will be impressed and thankful. I promise.

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