Summertime, an' the livin' is easy...

And cold soup on a hot day is perfection - especially since most of the ingredients came out of our garden!

There are as many recipes for gazpacho as there are people making it - some chunky, some smooth, some cooked before chilling, some completely raw. This one was raw and moderately smooth - but it still had texture. And lots of stuff chopped on top right before serving.

These were the basic ingredients - there are no amounts listed because you put in as much - or as little - as you wish. It can also be as chunky as a pico de gallo or as smooth as tomato juice. There is no right or wrong way or amount.


  • tomato
  • cucumber
  • bell pepper
  • onion
  • garlic
  • red wine vinegar
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil
  • basil
  • oregano
  • tomato basil pesto for serving

Chop all of the ingredients together, reserving some tomato, cucumber, and onion for serving.

Mix well and blend with a immersion or standard blender, if desired, for a soupier consistency.


It's a great way to use up bits and pieces and odds and ends...

And it tastes spectacular!



Shrimp Ravioli

Shrimp Ravioli, Part Deux

When Victor made his Shrimp Ravioli, last month, he made a double-batch. Half went into the freezer. When he made the Goat Cheese a few days ago, the whey went into the freezer.

Tonight, they both came out. So to speak.

Creating new meals from leftovers can be a lot of fun - it's almost always a one-shot deal, never to be replicated. That can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending upon what it is you're cooking. Tonight it's a bad thing - dinner was great!

We knew we wanted a light sauce for the ravioli, so I went with minimal ingredients - a couple of mushrooms, a fresh red onion, one small hot red pepper, and a couple of yellow tomatoes. And the whey.

I sauteed the mushroom and onion, and then added the pepper and tomato. Next went the whey, and I brought it all to a nice boil, adding a bit of salt and pepper. Finally, I added just a smidge of cornstarch to pull it together. No garlic, no other herbs or spices.

I cooked off the ravioli about 3/4ths of the way, and then added them to the sauce to finish.

Shrimp Ravioli

It was one of those dishes that worked on every level. Rich and creamy, and light, yet filling. The yellow tomatoes from the garden have really been outstanding - really flavorful - and were the perfect foil for the whey, mushroom, onion, and hot pepper.

I kinda doubt the stars will align to make this, again, but I'm really glad they did, tonight. And it's a perfect reminder not to get rid of the whey when you make cheese. It has lots of uses - and lots of nutrition!



Ground Pork and Vegetable Galette

The latest batch of grilled vegetables is almost gone. I really do love having them in the 'fridge - they are so versatile.

Tonight, they got worked into a galette filling - a perfect summer-y dinner.

I started off by making a pie crust. Pretty much the easiest thing in the world to do. Half went for dinner and half went into the freezer for another day...

Pie Dough

When making pie dough, I make a few variations on a theme... this is the basic. I add a couple tablespoons of sugar if making a dessert pie.

Pie Dough

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup pastry/cake flour
  • 2 sticks butter, frozen
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup ice water

Using a food processor, add flours, salt, and sugar. Pulse to mix.

Chop up frozen butter and add. Pulse until butter is incorporated and mixture looks grainy.

Slowly add ice water and pulse until mixed.

Turn out onto counter. Press and form mixture into two disks . Wrap in plastic and refrigerate about an hour to allow the flour to properly absorb the water and to relax the gluten.

Roll out crust and place in pie plate. Crimp edges and fill.

The filling was a clean-out-the-'fridge affair...

  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 2 cups roasted vegetables
  • 2 tomatoes
  • chopped fresh herbs
  • 1/2 cup tomatillo salsa

Brown pork in skillet. Add vegetables and heat through. Stir in tomatillo salsa and mix well. Remove from heat and cool.


I rolled out the crust, lined the bottom with sliced tomatoes, added the pork and vegetable filling, and topped it with more sliced tomatoes. Folded over the crust and baked at 425°F for 40 minutes.

We ate half of it and will have the other half for dinner tomorrow.






Dinner From The Garden

It is so much fun going out back and picking dinner! Tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, tomatillos, and hot peppers are all starting to arrive. Well... the cucumbers are arriving with a vengeance, but that's okay. We're figuring out lots of fun things to do with them - most recently by thinly slicing them and making roulades!

Cucumber Roulade

Victor thinly sliced them on a mandoline and spread them with a mixture of mascarpone, dried figs, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Really, really good.

I made a tomatillo salsa to use as a salad dressing. The tomatillos, tomato, and habanero pepper came from the garden!

Tomatillo Salsa

Tomatillo Salsa

  • 6 small tomatillos, chopped
  • 1 small onion. chopped
  • 1 yellow tomato, chopped
  • 1 habanero pepper, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Place everything in a blender or food processor and pulse until mixed but still slightly chunky.

When that was done, it was time to make salads.

Dinner Salads

I grilled a small pork tenderloin and sliced it.

On the plate, I started with a layer of mixed greens, and then added sliced tomatoes and mozzarella. Next went roasted vegetables, and roasted beets. I added one of the cucumber roulades, some sliced pork tenderloin, and topped it all with the tomatillo salsa.

The salsa came out good. Really spicy from the habanero, but we like our spice. Habaneros are great because, while they are pretty hot, they have a lot of flavor. It's not just heat for heat's sake.

We have lots of tomatoes ready right now, so I'm already thinking of something fun for tomorrow.


Stay tuned...

Fresh Tomatoes

Fresh Tomatoes

The garden is finally starting to produce something besides cucumbers - and if we can get a bit more sun and a bit less rain, we're going to be in for one hellava harvest, this year.

The Purple Cherokee tomatoes and the Orange tomatoes have been the first to ripen, but the Black Krim, Green Zebra, Mr Stripey, Principe Borghese - and all the San Marzanos - are not far behind. In all, there are 17 tomato plants out there. In a few weeks we're going to be canning a lot of sauce.

I can't wait. In the past, we've just picked tomatoes and blended them all to make sauce. This year, I'd love to be able to can individual varieties. We'll see what the harvest brings.

In the meantime, the first ones are really good eating.

We did a simple salad - a take on a Caprese Salad - with grilled chicken, avocado, tomatoes, and mozzarella, on a bed of greens, dressed with homemade pesto. Classic flavors simply done.

Fresh Tomatoes

One of life's great pleasures is the taste of a tomato straight off the vine.

We're gonna have a couple of months of pleasures...


Pickles, Buns, and Burgers

Sometimes, I amaze myself.

Actually, I often amaze myself. Usually it's in the form of how did I get to be 67 years of age and not know some basic bit of otherwise common knowledge.

Every once in a blue moon, however, the amazement comes in the form of some gastronomic treat where I'm thoroughly amazed that I actually made it.

That gastronomic treat, today, is pickles.

I have pickled many things over the years, from any number of hot peppers to our own version of a giardiniera - but I have never actually made pickles. Until yesterday.

I may have mentioned that we have a cucumber plant in the garden that is taking over.


It's huge - and producing cucumbers faster than we can eat them.  There are a half-dozen this size, right now - and that's not counting the ones I picked yesterday for the pickles.


We've made different cucumber salads, tzatziki, chilled cucumber soup, added them to salads... I had even jarred a few of them in a spicy brine, but they need to be refrigerated. We don't often eat a lot of pickles - definitely not enough to fill the 'fridge with them - and they weren't pickles...

I decided to experiment.

I found a recipe for canning dill pickles online, but it called for fresh dill. I wasn't heading out into the heat, so I decided to wing it and hope for the best. I got the surprise of my life!


Crunchy, flavorful, not sweet but not sour little slices of wonder. I'm actually quite shocked. They're some of the best pickles I've ever eaten. And I made them from a plant that's taking over the backyard. It truly boggles the mind.

This recipe assumes you understand basic water bath canning. If you don't, read about it, here.

Dill Pickles

  • 4 large cucumbers, washed and thickly sliced
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill per pint jar
  • 8-10 peppercorns per pint jar
  • 1 tsp dried shallots per pint jar

Prepare canning jars. (I used six for this.)

Place water, vinegar, salt, and sugar into a pot and bring to a rolling boil.

Meanwhile, place dill, peppercorns, and shallots into hot jars.

Pack jars with sliced cucumbers to 1/2 inch from rim.

Slowly pour boiling liquid over cucumbers, filling to 1/2 inch of rim.

Carefully slide a thin knife or chopstick into jars to release any air bubbles.

Place lids on jars and screw on rings finger tight.

Place in boiling water canning pot, making sure lids are covered by at least 2 inches.

Process for 15 minutes.

Because I was so amazed at how great the pickles were, I decided we needed hamburgers for dinner tonight. That meant we needed hamburger buns. I found the recipe from King Arthur Flour and used it to make some rather large buns.

Hamburger Buns

In theory, the recipe makes 8 buns. Having made buns before and always getting buns that were too small, I opted for six. Naturally, the recipe would have made 8 large buns instead of the six overly-large buns I made. Live and learn.


We don't eat burgers the way we used to, so these were a treat.

Lots of pickles, tomatoes from the garden, lettuce, onions, avocado, mayonnaise...

Absolute perfection.

The four additional rolls went into the freezer. I'm thinking sandwiches or lunches.

The rolls really were light with lots of flavor on their own.

All-in-all... a very successful day in the kitchen!

Amazing, in fact.



Tomatillo Salsa

Burgers and Tomatillo Salsa

Burgers are my friend.

I have always loved hamburgers - charred on the outside and juicy on the inside - a good burger is a thing of beauty.

We had things of beauty, tonight.

The actual burger was merely 80/20 ground beef with salt and pepper - grilled almost medium. I don't care what the experts say - I wanna see pink in my burgers.

The real fun was everything on the plate to accompany it.

We started off with fresh spinach sauteed with onion and garlic for the base and we added a tomatillo salsa to the top. We have tomatillo plants out back that are finally starting to produce, and the hot pepper and tomato also came from out back. I see more salsas like this in our future.

Tomatillo Salsa

  • 4 tomatillos, chopped
  • 1 yellow tomato, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 Caribbean pepper, minced
  • 3 mini peppers, chopped
  • 1 tbsp mint, minced
  • garlic powder
  • salt
  • pepper
  • tequila

Mix tomatillos, tomato, onion, and peppers. Stir in mint and add garlic powder, salt, and pepper, to taste.

Drizzle with tequila and mix well.

Really quick and easy - with lots of flavor. The Caribbean pepper is hot - like a habanero - so use your discretion. Any hot pepper will work, and since we have at least 8 varieties growing right now, we'll be switching them out.


Tomatillo Salsa


grilled vegetables

Grilled Vegetables

Our new favorite thing to have in the 'fridge is a big batch of grilled vegetables. They can be eaten cold as a salad, or warmed and used as a side dish or ingredient for something else - total versatility.

And reasonably healthy, as well.

Today's batch included:

  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • mini potatoes
  • asparagus
  • green onions
  • mushrooms
  • yellow zucchini
  • mini peppers
  • carrots
  • beets

The basic is to keep them whole or in fairly large pieces, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and slowly grill until tender - taking items off the grill as they're done. Once cooked and cooled, they get chopped into bite-sized pieces, drizzled with a bit more olive oil, and a bit of balsamic vinegar - just enough to add a bit of sweetness - not enough to mask the vegetable flavor.

From there, it's lunch, dinner, side, or snack. Tonight, it was dinner.

We still had polenta from the other night, so I cubed it into about 1-inch cubes and lightly browned it in a skillet. I took it out and added a cubed chicken breast and cooked it until about half-done. I added an almost-ripe tomato from the garden that I chopped, along with a splash of white wine.

Next into the skillet went the grilled veggies, and when they were heated through, I stirred the polenta back in.

A bit of S&P and some chopped fresh herbs from the garden finished it off.

The only thing missing from the vegetables was coen. Gentile's only had white corn on the cob - and I'm a yellow corn person. I really don't care for white corn - I find it rather tasteless. I'll see about getting a couple of ears today and adding them in...

In the meantime, we have lots of good food in the 'fridge to get us through the week - and plenty of ideas for using it!

grilled vegetables


Eggplant Lasagne

The Last of the Eggplant

We have eggplants coming in out back - time to use up the last of last years' harvest.

At the end of the season, I took the last few eggplants and sliced them into cutlets, breaded them, and froze them. They were perfect for quick meals.

There was one package left.

Victor decided he was going to do an eggplant dish with gnocchi, but found some ricotta he had made and frozen, so he ended up making an eggplant lasagne - the gnocchi will wait for another day.

Eggplant Lasagne

He took a bit of his homemade sauce and placed it in the dish. Then went a couple of eggplant cutlets and ricotta. On top of that went Italian long hot peppers we had cooked in the 'fridge, a bit of cheese, more eggplant, ricotta, sauce, cheese.

Into a 350°F oven for 35 minutes.

It was the perfect dinner - full of flavor, filling, and juuuuust spicy enough. the Italian Long Hot peppers from Gentile's have been really inconsistent in their heat. This mixture proved to be perfect as a filling.

Eggplant Lasagne

I really wanted to lick my plate, but I didn't eat it all. Tomorrow is our weigh-in and year-end assessment.

I need to look svelte.

Cod Cakes

Cod Cakes and Grilled Vegetables

Summertime, and the livin' is easy... and hot and muggy and wet. The only thing loving this weather, right now, is the cucumber plant.

I don't mind hot, but when going outside is like walking into a steam room... well... I tend to stay inside a bit more. It just saps my new-found strength.

My original thought for dinner, tonight, was grilled cod with grilled vegetables. I grilled the vegetables earlier in the day, but decided to make cod cakes because I didn't feel like standing over the grill, again.

It was a good choice.

Grilled Vegetables

This batch of vegetables included

  • corn
  • mushrooms
  • fennel
  • cauliflower
  • carrots
  • leeks
  • yellow zucchini
  • asparagus
  • green onions

I liberally coated everything in olive oil, hit them with salt and pepper, and onto the grill they went. Really simple, very basic.

I then chopped everything, mixed them into a bowl, and drizzled with a bit of good balsamic and a pinch of salt and pepper.

The cod cakes were pretty basic, as well. I poached the cod and mixed it in with some good stuff.

Cod Cakes

Poaching liquid:

  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 cups water
  • juice of 1 lemon

Cod cakes

  • 1 lb cod
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp good mustard
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp mixed fresh herbs
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Poach fish in poaching liquid until just cooked and fish flakes. Remove from liquid and set aside to cool.

Saute celery, onion, and garlic until wilted. Set aside to cool.

Mix mayonnaise, mustard, eggs, bread crumbs, herbs and spices. Stir in celery mixture. Break up cod and lightly stir into mixture. Form into 4 patties.

Fry in a lightly-oiled skillet until browned on both sides and heated all the way through.

Serve on top of grilled vegetables.

Cod Cakes

We also had a roasted beet from the garden, so that went onto the plate, as well.

Lots of flavors and lots of textures, and because it was done in short stages over the course of the day, it took no time to pull it all together.

A bowl of grilled vegetables is now a staple in the 'fridge. Perfect for lunch, snacking, or a quick side for dinner.

The livin' is easy, indeed...




Stuffed Tomatoes

Stuffed Tomatoes

We've picked the first two tomatoes from the garden! They were a bit under-ripe, but... I had to do it. I've been craving a homegrown tomato since last year. The tomatoes in question are Green Zebra tomatoes - they're supposed to be green!

Being just slightly under-ripe made them perfect for stuffing and baking - they held their shape. The filling was a throw-together of about a cup of cooked rice, a cup of leftover grilled vegetables, quattro formaggio shredded cheese, and about a third of a cup of salsa verde. I hollowed out the tomatoes and filled them, placed the rest of the rice filling in a small baking dish and then placed the tomatoes on top.

The dish was covered and then went into a 375°F oven for 30 minutes. While the tomatoes were cooking, I split a chicken breast in half, doused it with berbere spice, and grilled them.


Stuffed Tomatoes


Cucumber Soup

Chilled Cucumber Soup

The cucumbers are coming in fast and furious. I'm pretty psyched, simply because they're something I've never had an abundance of, before. The dusty, cobweb-laden area that is my mind actually has to think, a bit.

Or, better yet, let Victor think about them. He's already made tzatziki, a cucumber salad, and now, a chilled cucumber soup!

It's so nice being married to a man who can cook!

Cucumbers from the Garden

I picked three more cucumbers and Victor immediately set to work.

Chilled Cucumber Soup

  • 3 cucumbers, peeled
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 2 tbsp parsley, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dill
  • 1/2 tsp tarragon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste

Coarsely chop two cucumbers and place in food processor. Hold one cucumber aside. Place remaining ingredients in food processor and process until smooth, adding a bit of milk or vegetable broth to thin, if necessary.

Pour into bowl. Chop remaining cucumber and stir in.

Portion into bowls and drizzle with olive oil, if desired.

Perfection in a bowl. Lots of cucumber flavor and just a hint of heat. With a couple of slices of crusty bread, it was the perfect lunch.

Cucumber Soup

There are easily a dozen more cukes out there in varying stages of growth, so we haven't even begun to scratch the culinary surface.

I wonder if I can pickle some?!?

Stay tuned...