Sunday, September 02, 2007

Summer Cookin' | Part 1

Ahhh, summer. Now that the last sweet days of summer are before us, we can forget the dreaded heat and humidity that we complained about during the dog days of August, and reminisce on the glory of summer.

My favorite part of the season is that time in late summer when farmer’s markets burst with berries so perfect they look like they came from the cover of Bon Appetit, zucchinis so big they look like eggplants, tomatoes so ripe they explode in your mouth.

So, join in and make a last toast to the lovely days of summer. Try out these great recipes for summer foods—they’re a fun alternative to the traditional American summer fare. And if you’ve got any recipes to share, bring ‘em on! Send them to, and we’ll share then on the blog.

Cool-as-a-Cucumber Soup
Also known as “Gazpacho Blanco.” A white version of my favorite chilled Spanish soup (if you’re curious about traditional gazpacho, check out the recipe in the Sept/Oct issue of New Moon).

2 large cucumbers
2 cloves garlic
2 cups chicken broth (use a substitute if you’re vegetarian)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup dry white wine
2 pieces of stale white bread
1/2 cup blanched almonds
pinch of salt

Peel and chop cucumbers. Mince garlic. Puree all the ingredients in a blender or food processor (because of the volume, you may need to do this in a few batches). Chill for several hours. Serves 6. If you’d like to, serve garnished with grape halves and slivered almonds.

Pastel de Choclo
This Chilean recipe is one of my favorites. “Pastel” in Spanish means 'cake,' but “Pastel de Choclo” is really much more like a casserole or a savory pie. Kind of like a summer casserole.

Corn mixture:
kernels grated from 3 large ears of fresh corn
4 leaves fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon flour

Meat mixture:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
1 green pepper, sliced
1 tomato, chopped
1 zucchini, sliced
1/2 pound ground beef (to make recipe vegetarian, substitute 3 Gardenburger flame-grilled burgers chopped into small pieces, or another meat substitute)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 cup raisins, soaked in 2 tablespoons warm water
several sprigs fresh marjoram
2 egg whites, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar

For corn mixture: Heat the grated corn, basil and butter in a large pot. Add the milk little by little, then the flour, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Set aside while you prepare the meat filling.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium flame. Add onions and sauté until transparent. Add green peppers, tomatoes, zucchini and ground meat (or meat substitute). Cook, stirring often, until meat it browned. Season with salt, pepper and ground cumin.

To prepare the pastel de choclo: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Use a large oven-proof dish that can be taken to the table, or six small oven-proof dishes. Spread the meat mixture over the bottom of the dish(es). Add raisins and marjoram. Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold the corn mixture into the egg whites gently. Cover the filling with the corn mixture. Sprinkle sugar over the top.

Bake until the crust is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Serve at once. If desired, sprinkle more vanilla sugar on the pastel de choclo as it is eaten. Serves 6.

Greek Zucchini Pancakes
I could eat a dozen of these things. Filled with morsels of zucchini and feta, these light pancakes just melt in your mouth.

2 eggs
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup feta cheese
1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
4 small zucchini, grated
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cup flour
Pepper to taste

Whisk eggs, yogurt, buttermilk, oil, feta, and mint together in a bowl. Stir in the zucchini, baking soda, and baking flour. Add flour and stir lightly just before cooking.

Heat a griddle over medium heat. Butter skillet. Cook zucchini pancakes until golden.

Serves 4 generously. And you want to be generous with these pancakes, because they’re soooo good. If you’d like, you can also serve them with tzatziki, a light yogurt dipping sauce from Greece.

Mango Lassi
Here in North America, mangos go in and out of season without notice. Right now might not be mango season, but summer is one of my favorite times to enjoy this chilled drink. Mango Lassi is a North Indian beverage akin to a smoothie. But better.

1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1 mango, peeled, stone removed, and chopped
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Put mango, yogurt, milk, sugar and cardamom into a blender and blend until smooth. Sprinkle with cardamom, pour, and serve. This recipe serves 2.

Stay tuned for Summer Cookin' Part 2! Coming to a blog near you in the not-so-distant future...


Anonymous said...

yea! this is a great idea!!!! go new moon!

Anonymous said...

that looks delicious, but all of this is vegetarian food, i'd like to see some food with meat

New Moon said...

Actually, the pastel de choclo is a meat recipe, but you can use a meat substitute if you're vegetarian.

Most recipes that New Moon shares are vegetarian, because we know so many girls are vegetarian, and they don't always have the best options. So we try to help them out. But if you've got meat recipes to share, send 'em our way!

Heather said...

Ahh, Natalia! These recipes look great--I can't wait to try out the Greek zucchini pancakes with the zucchini I just picked up from the farmer's market. Glad to see you posting again--we've missed you!

Anonymous said...

yum... it all looks really good! Yea New Moon!

jasmine landry said...

I'm so excited to get cookin'! Mmm... zucchini pancakes.... I'll have to make those for breakfast next weekend!