Summer Foods

Although I’ve been hoping that there was still more summer to come, if Christmas decorations are already appearing, I should probably move on.

The market has moved slightly into fall. There are now pumpkins and pears available, but we still have lots of summer fruit and plenty of tomatoes. SF is weird like that: our tomato seasons lasts into November and the leaves don’t seriously start turning color until December.

What I bought at the market in June.

Most of what we cooked these last cold months was cold weather meals made with summer produce. Take tomatoes, for example, the epitome of summer food. We bought lots of tomatoes, including two flats of Black Cherokees from Mariquita. But instead of eating tomatoes in the usual summer fashion — sliced with salt and maybe a little olive oil — we roasted them. Turning on the oven makes perfect sense when it’s 58 degrees in July.

Roasted tomatoes – Roasted tomatoes can be thrown into soups (we had them in a lentil soup) or put on pizzas, but we mostly used them as a base for different pasta sauces. We’d make a basic red sauce of roasted tomatoes cooked down with a little garlic and onion, or  for a quick take on amatriciana, we added bacon or pancetta and a pinch of red pepper flakes to the tomatoes.  Tomatoes with black olives, capers, anchovies, red pepper flakes and parsley became a puttanesca sauce.

Primavera occasionally does a spectacular deep-fried chile relleno,
but this year I’d had a version that wasn’t fried and was filled with corn rather than meat.

Chile rellenos – I adore deep fried chile rellenos, but I’m more likely to make the ones from Heirloom Beans which are baked. It’s an easy meal to prepare: blister poblanos and remove skin. Fill chiles with a mix of sauteed corn, summer squash, and beans. Top with cheese and bake for 10 minutes.

Corn & Summer Squash pasta – I made this Chez Panisse Vegetables recipe last year and looked forward to making it again this year. It was one of those meals I made so often that Mr. WholeHog is now over it. It’s easy: Saute diced onion, corn, squash and jalepeño. Mix with hot pasta. Add a little butter and cilantro.

Zucchini cake – David Lebovitz posted this recipe for a lemon glazed zucchini cake, and Mr. WholeHog made it twice. It’s a dangerous cake to have in the house because it’s suitable for breakfast or dessert and it also makes a delicious snack. In short: we ate too much of this cake.

Milkshakes –  I’m still searching for my ideal shake, but I tried three contenders this summer. The Fremont Diner’s salted-caramel shake wasn’t thick enough for my tastes. Roam’s salted-caramel shake was almost too thick and since it was made with soft-serve, it lacked any sort of texture. (Roam also lost points for being full of Marina douchequakes). Three Twins was the best milkshake of my summer. It was a tad grainy from the ice and the ice cream but it hit the spot on a fiercely hot Napa day.

Best Summer Meal – As it turns out, my favorite summer meal wasn’t homemade. It was the tomato-leaf bucatini with sun gold cherry tomatoes at Incanto. The melon and mint sorbet we had for dessert was just as perfectly summery as my main course. Sorbet doesn’t sound exciting but the flavor was unbelievable. It tasted like you were eating the essence of a ripe, summer melon.

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