Cooking

Bread and Butter Pickles

By Barbara Beltrami

If you’re not picky about your pickles, you should be because there’s no comparison between homemade and commercially prepared ones. Although you need an uninterrupted couple of hours and a few special pieces of equipment to “put up” a batch of pickles, once you’ve made the investment of time and supplies, you’ll be hooked and do it every year.

Two great moments of culinary satisfaction happen first when you hear the sound of the jar lids popping to release the air and vacuum seal the jar and later when you stand back and regard the row of pickle jars sitting like so many green soldiers on your pantry shelf.

Here is a list of canning supplies available in most local hardware and agricultural supply stores. You most likely already have many of these things in your kitchen.

Large enamel pot with canning rack

Large pot for boiling pickles

Glass jars with ring and dome lids

Large spoons and ladles

Sharp knives and vegetable peelers

Large colander

Kitchen scale

Measuring cups and spoons

Wide-mouth funnel to fit circumference of jar tops

Cheesecloth

Timer

Tongs

Pot holders

A few precautionary tips: Jars should be unchipped; veggies should be fresh and unspoiled; after processing, jars should be closed tight with a small dent in the middle of the lid; jars, domes and rings and implements must first be sterilized in a hot water bath or the dishwasher for at least 15 minutes. Now that you’ve got it all together, you’re ready to start making your own pickles!

Bread and Butter Pickles

Bread and Butter Pickles

YIELD: Makes 7 to 8 pints

INGREDIENTS:

4 pounds medium or Kirby cucumbers, washed and cut into ¹/₄-inch slices

1 pound small white pearl onions (frozen are OK)

1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and sliced thin

1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and sliced thin

½ cup kosher salt

3 quarts ice water

5 cups sugar

5 cups cider vinegar

2 tablespoons mustard seed

1 teaspoon celery salt

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon peppercorns

DIRECTIONS: In a large bowl, combine cucumbers, onions and peppers. Add salt, mix well and add three quarts ice water. Cover and let sit for 4 hours. Fill canning pot to indicated water level, cover and bring to a boil. In a large pot, mix remaining ingredients and bring to a boil; let boil 3 minutes. Meanwhile, drain the vegetables, rinse thoroughly and drain again. Add veggies to liquid and bring to a boil again. Remove from heat and pack into hot one-pint sterile jars; leave ¼ inch headroom.

With a damp paper towel, wipe the top and side rims of the jars; with tongs place domes on jars, then screw on rings just to the point of stopping; do not tighten. Using tongs or pot holders, carefully set jars on raised rack of canning pot, then gently, being careful not to topple any jars, lower the rack into the hot water, cover and return to boil. Process (boil) for 10 to 15 minutes. Turn off heat.

With tongs or pot holders, raise rack and remove jars onto heat-proof surface. As you lift them out, you will probably hear them popping, which means they’re sealed. With your finger, poke any that do not have a slight indentation in the middle. If they still have a slightly raised surface in the middle after several attempts to depress them, put them aside, and when cooled, refrigerate and use within a week or two.

Dill Pickles

Dill Pickles

 

YIELD: Makes about 7 pints

INGREDIENTS:

¾ cup sugar

½ cup kosher salt

1 quart white vinegar

1 quart water

3 tablespoons mixed pickling spices

2 cloves garlic

35 medium Kirby cucumbers, sliced in half lengthwise or cut into spears

7 to 8 heads fresh dill

DIRECTIONS: Have canning pot and rack ready with boiling water reduced to simmer. Combine sugar, salt, vinegar and water in medium pot. Tie pickling spices and garlic cloves in a cheesecloth bag and add to mixture. Simmer for 15 minutes; remove and discard bag. Meanwhile, pack cucumbers into hot sterilized pint jars and add one head dill to each jar; leave half an inch headroom. Bring vinegar mixture to a vigorous boil and ladle hot brine over cucumbers; leave ¼ inch headroom. Proceed as in italicized part of previous recipe.

Tomato-Poached Eggs

By Barbara Beltrami

If we had a family crest, it would surely be the tomato. No matter the season, hardly a day goes by without tomatoes playing a role in one of our daily meals. Even in the winter we cook with good canned tomatoes and use campari tomatoes in salads and other dishes that call for fresh tomatoes.

Granted there’s nothing like a summer tomato, plucked still warm from the sun, sprinkled with salt and consumed on the spot. From tiny cherry tomatoes to the traditional Big Boys and beefsteaks to the ever more popular heirlooms, summer tomatoes are the true treasures of the garden. Although the cool temperatures this season have delayed their ripening, they’ve finally appeared in all their glory and I, for one, can’t get enough of them.

Sliced and doused with extra virgin olive oil, salt and fresh basil, they make an ideal lunch or side dish. Cut into wedges and tossed with cucumbers, red onion, an herb or two and feta or Gorgonzola cheese, they become the perfect salad to complement just about anything. Between slices of crusty bread and slathered with good mayonnaise, they make a tasty sandwich.

If you have any left over, here are a few unusual but simple Italian recipes in which they star along with their culinary mates, garlic and basil.

Tomato-Poached Eggs

Tomato-Poached Eggs

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups lightly pureed fresh tomatoes

Handful basil leaves, torn

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

4 to 6 large eggs

DIRECTIONS: In a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil, then add the garlic and cook only until it begins to color and release its aroma. Add the tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until excess liquid has evaporated, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Spread tomato sauce evenly over bottom of pan. Carefully break the eggs over hot tomato sauce, cover and cook until whites are set and yolks are still runny. Gently slide the eggs and tomatoes under them onto a large serving platter and serve immediately with polenta or crusty bread.

Tomato–Garlic Bread

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 to 3 plum tomatoes

6 large slices rustic bread

1 garlic clove, peeled

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS: Slice the tomatoes in half; squeeze them to remove the seeds and juice. Toast the bread until light brown. Rub the garlic over the toasted bread, then rub the cut side of the tomato over the same side of the bread. Drizzle one tablespoon olive oil over each slice of bread; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve with cocktails, wine, beer or as accompaniment to any meal.

Penne with Uncooked Tomato Sauce

Penne with Uncooked Tomato Sauce

 

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound penne

1 pound fresh tomatoes, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

¹/₄ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 handful Italian flat-leaf parsley, basil or arugula leaves, chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS: Cook penne according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large pasta bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Add hot drained cooked pasta to bowl; toss to combine with tomato mixture (the heat of the pasta just barely cooks the tomatoes). Serve immediately, warm or at room temperature with a green salad, bread and cheese.

Winners of last year’s Long Island Apple Festival’s apple pie contest, from left, Erin Lovett (Second Place); Liana and Gabrielle Lofaso (Best Looking Pie); Christopher McAndrews (Third Place); and Sabrina Sloan and Chris Muscarella (First Place). Photo by Tara La Ware

Time to bake a pie! The humble apple will be the focus of the largest Apple Pie Baking Contest on Long Island to be held in conjunction with the 28th annual Long Island Apple Festival on Sunday, Sept. 24 at the Sherwood-Jayne Farm, 55 Old Post Road, Setauket from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Contestants will have the chance to show off their favorite family recipes and participate in an old-fashioned blue ribbon competition. The event is sponsored by Homestead Arts, the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities and the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council. Entries must be traditional apple pies only. The pie, including crust, must be homemade by amateur bakers.

Early registration is preferred, before Sept. 21, but registrations will also be accepted on the day of the festival. Pies must be on the contest table at the Sherwood-Jayne House before 11 a.m. on the day of the festival. A written recipe must be submitted with each entry including the name and address of the baker. Each contestant will receive one free Apple Festival entry. Judging will begin at 2 p.m. with prizes awarded between 3 and 4 p.m. First, second and third place winners will be announced for Best Tasting Pie. A fourth winner will be chosen for Best Looking Pie.

All winners will receive a prize. Past prizes have included a brunch or dinner for two at fine restaurants, theater tickets, gift baskets and gift certificates. The first-place winner will be invited to be a judge at next’s year’s Apple Pie Baking Contest. All pies, including their dishes, will be auctioned off after the winners have been announced.

For contest entry forms, visit www.splia.org. For more information, call 631-692-4664.

Pasta Salad with Tomatoes and Mozzarella

By Barbara Beltrami

Labor Day may be the official marker for the end of summer, and while the living may not be as easy, the rest of September certainly promises more warm weather for the beach, the backyard and barbecues.

After the hectic shopping for school supplies and new clothes, after those first hectic days of back-to–school, after the practices and lessons and homework it’s still possible to catch an hour or two of daylight to heat up the grill and pretend that just for a little while longer it’s still summer.

Here are three salad recipes for prolonging summer’s pleasures and accompanying whatever you’re grilling. A bonus is that the leftovers are ideal for lunch boxes.

Pasta Salad with Tomatoes and Mozzarella

Pasta Salad with Tomatoes and Mozzarella

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup red wine vinegar

Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 bruised clove garlic

1 pound Rotelle pasta

1 pound mozzarella cheese, diced

2 to 3 cups diced fresh cherry tomatoes

1 firmly packed cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

DIRECTIONS: In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic. Let sit to absorb garlic flavor at least 30 minutes, then remove and discard garlic. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain thoroughly. In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta with the dressing, mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. Add more salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature as an accompaniment to grilled veggies, meat or poultry.

Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Salad

 

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 ½ cups quinoa, rinsed

3 scallions, trimmed and sliced

One large cucumber

2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1 handful fresh flat leaf parsley, rinsed and chopped

1 scant handful fresh mint leaves, rinsed and chopped

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup red wine vinegar

Juice of one small to medium lemon

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: Cook the quinoa according to package directions. In a large bowl, toss cooked quinoa with remaining ingredients. Let mixture sit for 30 minutes so it can soak up the flavors of the herbs and dressing. Serve warm, at room temperature or cold with grilled meat, fish or poultry.

Fresh Corn and Black Bean Salad

Fresh Corn and Black Bean Salad

 

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

Two 14-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained

4 ears cooked fresh corn, kernels cut off the cob

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 medium red onion, diced

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 4 fresh limes

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon lime zest

1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

½ cup fresh flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped

2 teaspoons ground cumin

¼ teaspoon cayenne

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS: In a large bowl, combine the beans, corn, peppers, garlic and onion. In a separate smaller bowl, thoroughly mix the oil, lime juice, sugar, zest, cilantro, parsley, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper. Pour over bean and corn mixture and toss to coat. Cover and let sit for at least an hour. Serve at room temperature or cold with grilled meat or poultry, tomato salad and taco chips.

Sauteed Zucchini Parmesan

By Barbara Beltrami

Zucchini. They come in all sizes from Neanderthal club to tiny thumb size and everything in between. There’s not much you can do with the former except peel it, scoop out the seeds, cut it into chunks and make a soup or stew. But any small or medium zucchini are excellent stuffed and baked, in a ratatouille, in muffins or tea breads, or just sautéed, all excellent disguises for veggie-phobic eaters.

And then there are zucchini flowers, also delicious stuffed with ricotta or batter fried. If the blossom grows on a regular stem, pick it. If it has a little squash starting on its other end, don’t pick it — it’s going to grow up to be a zucchino. Frankly, I don’t think they have much flavor and are cumbersome to cook, but if you want to go to the trouble, they do look pretty when you serve them. Here are three recipes that use the zucchini bounty of the season in a bread, sautéed and in soup.

Sauteed Zucchini Parmesan

Sauteed Zucchini Parmesan

YIELD: Makes four servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons minced shallots

Four 8-ounce zucchini, julienned

Coarse salt and pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, thyme or oregano

4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS: In a large skillet over low heat, heat butter and oil. Add shallots and sauté until opaque and soft, 5 to 10 minutes. Raise heat to medium, add zucchini and cook, tossing frequently, until just soft and starting to turn brown. Add salt, pepper and herbs. While zucchini is still hot, sprinkle grated cheese over it. Serve immediately with meat, poultry, fish or eggs.

Zucchini-Carrot Bread

Zucchini-Carrot Bread

YIELD: Makes one loaf

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups flour

¼ cup white granulated sugar

¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup grated zucchini

1 cup grated carrot

¾ cup finely chopped walnuts

1 egg, well beaten

Scant ¹/3 cup oil

½ cup milk

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a 9- by 5- by 3-inch loaf pan. Stir together flour, sugars, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, zucchini, carrots and nuts. Mix egg, oil and milk together, then combine with dry mixture. Do not overmix. Pour into prepared loaf pan; bake for one hour or more, until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for five minutes, then invert onto a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature with cream cheese, butter, jam or honey.

Zucchini-Arugula Soup

Zucchini-Arugula Soup

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 cups minced onion

3 cups chicken or vegetable broth

2 pounds zucchini

1 bunch arugula (4 to 5 loosely packed cups)

Salt, freshly ground pepper and fresh lemon juice, to taste

½ cup cream

DIRECTIONS: In a medium-large pot, melt butter; add oil and onions, cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until onions are slightly browned and soft, 20 to 30 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, wash and scrub zucchini, trim and coarsely chop. (If the zucchini are very large, it’s best to remove the seeds too.) Add zucchini to broth, reduce heat, cover and simmer until zucchini are mushy. Wash arugula and trim stems.

Remove pot from heat and add arugula: cover and let sit until slightly cooled. Pour soup through a strainer; reserve liquid. In an electric processor puree the solids and one cup of the liquid until smooth. Return pureed mixture to pot. Gradually add 2 to 3 more cups reserved liquid until soup reaches desired consistency. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Ladle into soup dishes and just before serving swirl a tablespoon or so of cream in each one. Serve hot, warm, at room temperature or cold with crusty bread, sliced tomatoes and corn or as a first course.

Beef Marinade

By Barbara Beltrami

“Come on over … we’ll throw some steaks on the grill” — famous last words heard often among friends and neighbors as summer’s penchant for the impromptu gains momentum. Whether you’ve run into each other at the mailbox by the street, at the kids’ ball game, the beach or cruising the supermarket or hardware store, summer is the perfect time for spontaneous socializing.

So you throw a couple of steaks on the grill — easy enough. You toss together a salad of the garden’s bounty, and while you’re at it, plunk some potatoes into a pot. And presto! You have a dinner of delicious summer favorites.

Such a basic, easy meal is fine just the way it is, but if you want to add a little extra pizzazz, here are three recipes that I recommend for doing just that. One is a marinade, one is a rub and one is a paste; each lends a taste that doesn’t interfere with the steak’s own flavor but enhances what’s already there.

And here’s another good thing — these three recipes can also be used on potatoes or veggies. In fact, when using the marinade, I like to pare and parboil the potatoes until not quite tender, let them cool to room temperature, immerse them in the marinade with the steak and grill the two together. Veggies should not be precooked and in large enough slices that they can go straight on the grill until slightly charred and tender. Eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers and Vidalia onions are especially good.

So by all mean throw some steaks and some potatoes along with them on the grill and enjoy these beautiful summer evenings.

Beef Marinade

Beef Marinade

YIELD: Makes 2 to 2½cups

INGREDIENTS:

³/₄ cup dry red wine

½ cup red wine vinegar

¹/3 cup beef broth

¼ cup olive oil

¹/3 cup tomato juice

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram or oregano

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 small onion, chopped

4 to 6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 torn bay leaf

Ground pepper and course salt, to taste

DIRECTIONS: In a medium bowl combine all ingredients except the salt and pepper. Place mixture in a large, shallow nonreactive dish and immerse steak. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours; turn halfway through. When ready to grill, discard marinade and sprinkle meat on both sides with coarse salt and pepper. Cook to desired doneness.

Dry Rub for Beef

Dry Rub for Beef

YIELD: Makes about ½ cup

INGREDIENTS:

¼-½ cup oil

3 tablespoons cracked peppercorns

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, marjoram, basil, sage, oregano

Coarse sea salt, to taste

DIRECTIONS: With a paper towel, pat meat dry; brush both sides generously and thoroughly with oil. In a small bowl combine peppercorns, herbs and salt. While grill is heating, vigorously rub steak on both sides with mixture and with fingertips, press into all surfaces. In order to disturb the rub as little as possible, carefully lower steak onto grill. Cook to desired doneness.

Herb and Garlic Paste for Grilling

Herb and Garlic Paste for Grilling

YIELD: Makes ½ cup

INGREDIENTS:

3 tablespoons olive oil or softened butter

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs such as mint, basil, thyme, oregano or marjoram

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest

2 garlic cloves, minced

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: In a small bowl, thoroughly combine all ingredients. While grill is heating, spread paste over both sides of steak; with a dinner fork, press the paste into the steak. Cook to desired doneness.

Corn, Pepper & Manchego Quiche

By Barbara Beltrami

If the bins at a farm stand in August were a stage, corn would surely be the star. Occupying a massive spot in the produce limelight, freshly picked ears of corn tumble over each other vying to be selected after ruthless ripping of their husks, a procedure, by the way, that is useless for determining an ear of corn’s soundness and useful only to render it exposed and passed over. More effective is to run one’s hand or fingers lightly up and down the ear of corn to feel for indentations, a symptom most likely of an earworm or borer having gotten to it.

Nothing beats a freshly picked ear of corn, boiled for 3 to 5 minutes, then slathered with butter, salt and pepper. Want something a little different? Read the recipes below for some ideas for cooking with the queen of summer produce, corn.

Fresh Corn Pancakes

Fresh Corn Pancakes

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

3 to 4 ears fresh-picked corn

1 cup flour

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon sugar

1 level teaspoon salt

½ cup whole milk

¼ cup heavy cream

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons canola, sunflower or vegetable oil

½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

DIRECTIONS: Cut kernels from cobs. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, cream, eggs, oil and butter. Add flour mixture and corn kernels to liquid mixture; stir to thoroughly blend. Heat a greased griddle or heavy skillet until hot enough that water sprinkled on it produces dancing bubbles. Ladle batter onto skillet, by one-third cupfuls. Cook over medium heat until edges start to brown and bubbles form in batter. With a spatula, turn pancakes and cook about one minute more, until undersides are golden brown. Serve hot with blueberry or maple syrup and bacon.

Corn, Pepper & Manchego Quiche

Corn, Pepper & Manchego Quiche

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

One 9-inch pie crust

1 cup shredded manchego cheese

3 large eggs

1 tablespoon flour

1 teaspoon salt

1½ cups half and half

¼ cup melted butter

Kernels from 2 ears fresh-picked corn

1 small onion, minced

1 small green pepper, diced

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a pie plate or quiche pan with pie crust. Sprinkle cheese evenly over crust. In a food processor, combine eggs, flour, salt, half and half and melted butter until well blended. Stir in corn, onion, green pepper and ground black pepper. Pour over cheese in crust. Bake 45 to 50 minutes until top is golden, filling is slightly puffed and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve with tomato and arugula salad and crusty French bread.

Grilled Corn with Cilantro-Lime Butter

Grilled Corn with Cilantro-Lime Butter

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

12 ears fresh-picked corn in the husk

2 large cloves garlic, chopped

6 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1½ teaspoons coarse sea salt

¾ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

½ to ¾ cup melted unsalted butter

¹/3 to ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

DIRECTIONS: Pull back corn husks but leave attached at bottom. Discard silks; pull husks back up around ears. Prepare grill for cooking on medium-high heat. In a blender, puree garlic with lime juice, salt, and red pepper flakes until smooth. Add melted butter and cilantro and puree again until well blended. With cover on grill, cook corn, turning frequently, until kernels are tender, 15 to 20 minutes; let stand until cool enough to handle. Completely remove husks and discard. With a sharp knife remove kernels from cob. In a medium-large bowl toss kernels with butter mixture. Serve hot or warm with grilled eggplant, sliced garden tomatoes with olive oil and scallion and crusty bread.

Basil Pesto

By Barbara Beltrami

Have you ever known anyone who didn’t like the classic basil pesto? Easy to prepare in a matter of minutes, pesto is a no-fuss-no-cook-no-mess-no-fail concoction that is the invention of some ancient culinary genius in Genoa.

Pesto means sauce in Italian and although basil pesto is by far the best known and most popular version, it can actually be made from a variety of herbs and other ingredients. There are six basic ingredients to making pesto. There is the main ingredient such as basil or something with an intense distinctive flavor along with nuts, cheese, garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper. How much? Good question. It’s one of those things that you do by eye and taste. Although once in a while I tweak the amounts a little. I generally use a handful of the main ingredient, a handful of the nuts, a handful of the grated cheese, one clove of garlic, enough oil to give the pesto the right silky consistency and salt and pepper, to taste.

That being said, I will nevertheless provide you with a few recipes I like. In addition to the classic basil pesto, there are arugula and walnut pesto and sun-dried tomato and olive pesto, to name but a few I’ve tried. Though there’s no space to write about them all here, you might like to use the following recipes as models and also try mint and almond pesto, cilantro and pumpkin seed or spinach and hazelnut. Traditional old-fashioned Italian cooks claim the only real way to make pesto is to pound and grind it together with a mortar and pestle and would be mortified to know that I puree it all in my electric food processor. And while pesto is best loved when paired with pasta, it is also a fabulous embellishment for chicken, fish, omelets, crostini, vegetables and soups.

Basil Pesto

Basil Pesto

YIELD: Makes 2 cups

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups fresh basil leaves

½ cup pignoli nuts

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

One garlic clove

Coarse salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: In an electric food processor puree all ingredients except the salt and pepper. Pause occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl, then continue pureeing until mixture reaches a silky consistency. Remove from processor bowl and stir in the salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature with spaghetti, gnocchi or a pasta that has a lot of grooves to hold the pesto; crostini, grilled fish, chicken, pork or veggies or as a garnish to soup.

Arugula and Walnut Pesto

Arugula and Walnut Pesto

YIELD: Makes 2 cups

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups arugula leaves

½ cup walnut pieces

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: In an electric food processor, scraping sides of bowl often, puree all ingredients except salt and pepper. When mixture has achieved a slightly bumpy texture, remove from bowl and stir in salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature with grilled beef, veggies, fowl or pork, on rye bread crostini, over wide noodles or rigatoni or as a garnish to soup.

Sun-dried Tomato and Olive Pesto

Sun-dried Tomato and Olive Pesto

YIELD: Makes 2½ cups

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes

½ cup pitted oil-packed black olives

½ cup fresh Italian parsley leaves

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

¹/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

One clove garlic

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: In an electric food processor, scraping sides of bowl often, puree all ingredients until mixture achieves a finely ground consistency. Serve at room temperature over pasta, on crostini or crackers, on grilled chicken, fish or veggies or as a garnish to soup.

By Barbara Beltrami

Like the weather this season, peaches have been remarkably good. If you read my column last week, you’ll remember that I talked about peaches and what ideal desserts are wrought from them. And I also promised you another column about them this week. Well, you’re in for a treat because I’m going to tell you about what wonderful ingredients or complements peaches are for savory dishes.

I’ll bet you’re thinking, “No thanks, I think I’ll just stick with the those peachy desserts.” That’s what I said the first time I was introduced to peaches in a savory dish. But then I became a convert, and you will too after you’ve tasted refreshing peach, arugula, Gorgonzola and pecan salad; peach salsa; and ginger-peachy pork chops.

And by the way, none of this means you can’t have peach dumplings, peach crisp, peach shortcake, peach pie, peach cobbler, peach ice cream or just sliced fresh peaches in wine for dessert. Hey, when they’re this good, you have to go for their gold.

Peach, Arugula, Pecan and Gorgonzola Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 servings.

INGREDIENTS: 1 small head radicchio, washed and shredded or chopped

1 bunch arugula, washed

1 large peach, sliced

¼ cup chopped pecans

¹/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons wine vinegar

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 ounces Gorgonzola cheese

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: In a large bowl, toss together the radicchio, arugula, peach and pecans. In a small bowl, vigorously whisk together the oil, vinegars, cheese, salt and pepper. Just before serving drizzle liquid mixture over radicchio mixture, toss to thoroughly coat, and serve immediately at room temperature with grilled chicken, beef, pork or shrimp.

Peach Salsa

YIELD: Makes 3 to 4 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

1 large peach, pared and chopped

1 medium tomato, chopped

½ cup seeded chopped jalapenos

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon fresh lime zest

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Salt and ground pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS: Toss all ingredients together; serve at room temperature. Best if served immediately but can be prepared a couple of hours in advance. Serve with taco chips, crackers, grilled beef or chicken.

Ginger-Peachy Pork Chops

YIELD: Makes 4 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon vegetable, canola or peanut oil

4 medium pork chops

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

¼ cup orange juice

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ cup broth

1 teaspoon grated ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 large firm peaches, sliced

1 tablespoon candied ginger, finely chopped

2 tablespoons chopped peanuts (optional)

DIRECTIONS: In a medium skillet heat the oil. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. With the heat on medium high, brown the meat, about 2 minutes per side. While the chops are browning, in a medium bowl combine the brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, orange and lemon juices and set aside.

Remove the pork chops from the pan and set aside. Add the broth, grated ginger, garlic, liquid mixture and peaches to the skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, over high heat until the sauce is thickened, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the pork chops, cover, reduce heat to low and cook until meat is cooked through and peaches are soft, about 10 minutes. Place chops on a platter, spoon sauce over them and sprinkle with candied ginger and peanuts. Serve with rice and stir-fried bok choy, broccoli and snap peas.

Common foreign body risks in barbecues include corn cobs, peach pits, aluminum foil and skewers.

By Matthew Kearns, DVM

Aaaah, summer’s here and we know it by the smells in the air. Tantalizing aromas of steak, sausage, chicken, burgers and dogs. After dinner it’s marshmallows (sometimes with graham crackers and chocolate). I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love it (including our pets). As gratifying as it is to have friends and family over, we have to be careful of our “unofficial tasters” hanging around the barbecue.

Grease

Be very careful of grease both dripping from the barbecue and on the ground. Hot grease from drippings can cause burns to the skin and mouth, and old grease can grow mold and bacteria on it. Lastly, large amounts of grease can lead to severe vomiting and diarrhea and, potentially, a life-threatening condition called pancreatitis.

Raw meat

Dogs and cats don’t always wait for the food to be cooked before they decide to jump up on the counter and take some. Although many pet owners feel that the raw diet is the way to go, for pets raw chicken and beef can have some serious bacteria like various Salmonella species and E. coli, which will proliferate in the hot summer sun.

Foreign bodies

A foreign body in this context refers to anything a pet would be silly enough to swallow that will get stuck in the gastrointestinal tract. Common foreign body risks at barbecues are corn cobs (my favorite because you can see them on X-rays and know what they are), peach pits, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, string to bind roasts, bones (chicken, pork, beef) and skewers (wood or bamboo for shish kebab or teriyaki). Bones and skewers are the most dangerous because they not only have the potential to form an obstruction but can also penetrate the esophagus, stomach or intestines and lead to a life-threatening peritonitis.

Toxicity

Things like onions and garlic can cause significant gastrointestinal upset and, in larger amounts, GI bleeding. Fruit salads that contain grapes and snack mixes that contain raisins and toxic nuts like macadamias should be kept out of reach of our pets. Any fruits with pits should be either avoided (see “Foreign bodies” above) or carefully picked up. Things like ice cream and chocolate should also be kept away from pets. Large amounts of chocolate could lead to serious issues besides just an upset tummy (things like irregular heart rhythms, seizures, difficulty breathing) and, although most dogs tolerate dairy products, some are lactose intolerant (almost all cats are lactose intolerant as adults).

Heatstroke and burns

Pets (dogs particularly) may stay close to the barbecue even if it is out in the sun to be close to potential scraps. These guys don’t have the option to take off their coats, so make sure that plenty of water (with a few ice cubes is nice) is available and also make sure your pets have access to inside or the shade. Also remember that those grills can remain quite hot (especially charcoal grills) long after the barbecue is over, so make sure your pets do not have access to that area when no one is actually either grilling or monitoring that area. So, have fun in the sun and LIGHT THOSE GRILLS!!!! Just make sure our pets are not too close when you do.

Dr. Kearns practices veterinary medicine from his Port Jefferson office and is pictured with his son Matthew and their dog Jasmine.