Food & Drink

Oven-Fried Chicken

By Barbara Beltrami

You’re probably wondering why I hardly ever write about chicken. In fact, several people have asked me that, and I can answer only that there are so many chicken recipes in magazines and cookbooks and on the internet that it’s seemed superfluous. However, a recent menu planning experience has convinced me otherwise.

At my wit’s end to accommodate those who didn’t eat red meat or were allergic to fish, I found myself scouring my files for recipes and realized that there’s always such a good old standby whose myriad ways of preparation have rescued many a cook, tantalized many a guest and certainly saved the day for me.

There are three recipes here: one for the cook top, one for the grill and one for the oven, so depending on the weather, your mood and what else you have on hand, you can choose your preparation. That’s the great thing about chicken; there are so many ways to prepare it that you can’t go wrong. In fact, I think I’m going to do a column on chicken more often.

Summer Chicken Stew

YIELD: Makes 3 to 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

One 3½-pound chicken cut into 8 pieces

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Flour for dredging

½ cup olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 small eggplant, diced

1 medium yellow bell pepper, diced

¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or basil

2 large fresh tomatoes, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

¾ cup dry white wine

DIRECTIONS:

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper, then dredge it in flour. In a large skillet, heat ¼ cup oil over medium heat. Fry chicken, turning pieces once, until both sides are golden; remove to large saucepan. Discard oil and add remaining ¼ cup oil to pan; add onion, eggplant, bell pepper and herbs and saute stirring frequently, over medium heat until softened, about 10 minutes.

Transfer to saucepan with chicken, add tomatoes, garlic and wine and mix thoroughly. Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally and adding ½ cup water at a time, if needed, until chicken and veggies are done, about 45 minutes. Serve with orzo and a summer lettuce salad.

Pesto Grilled Chicken

YIELD: Makes 3 to 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

4 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves

2 garlic cloves

½ cup olive oil

½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

½ cup pignoli nuts

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

One 3½-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces

DIRECTIONS:

Place basil, garlic, oil, grated cheese, pignoli nuts and salt and pepper in bowl of electric food processor and puree, scraping bowl often, until smooth and medium green in color. Heat grill to medium-hot. In large bowl toss chicken pieces with pesto until evenly coated. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Let sit and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. Grill chicken, turning occasionally, until skin is crispy and slightly charred and juices run clear when thigh is pierced with a knife, about 20 to 25 minutes. Serve with tomatoes and mozzarella cheese and corn on the cob.

Oven-Fried Chicken

Oven-Fried Chicken

YIELD: Makes 3 to 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

One 3½-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces

3 cups buttermilk

1½ cups unseasoned breadcrumbs

3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley or oregano

1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Place chicken in a large bowl and pour buttermilk over it; let sit to marinate at room temperature 30 minutes. In a wide shallow bowl or pan, thoroughly combine breadcrumbs, herbs and salt and pepper. Dip chicken pieces in breadcrumb mixture to thoroughly coat on both sides; place on greased baking sheet and let sit 15 minutes. Meanwhile preheat oven to 375 F. Bake chicken until juices run clear when thigh is pierced with a sharp knife, about 35 to 40 minutes. Serve hot with cole slaw and mashed potatoes.

Fresh Sliced Tomatoes with Herbs. Stock photo

By Barbara Beltrami

As late August slides into Labor Day, the summer livin’ has become so easy that, like all evanescent things, these languorous afternoons and evenings become soft and fragile.

These are days that, for me, recall cold suppers served on a wraparound porch at my grandma’s summer house, days when lazy afternoons were punctuated by the creak of her rocker on the gray floorboards as she gently fanned herself with the afternoon paper. Sometimes that rhythm would be punctuated by the ping of peas in the colander in her lap or the thhhrip of corn being shucked, sounds that meant that soon I would have to put aside whatever novel was holding me spellbound and leave the lulling cocoon of the dark green glider with its faded striped cushions and set the table.

I knew the routine by heart, heard the admonitions before they were spoken. “Use the green glass dishes, dear, not the Blue Willow.” Out would come one of the many tablecloths that seemed to be in endless rotation between the sagging clothesline and the warped buffet drawer in the dining room. In those days, a cold supper meant salads, cool creamy soups, cold sliced meat or roasted chicken, everything redolent with fresh herbs she picked from the little garden near her back door.

Predictably, “Seems a shame not to slice a few tomatoes,” as if each evening it were a new idea when, in fact, they were as much a staple of summer suppers as the fresh corn picked up daily by my grandpa on his way home from work. When I grew up, I would sometimes exclaim to my family, “Hey, let’s have a cold supper!” and knowing the aforementioned stream of reminiscences that would set off, they would just roll their eyes.

Cold Garlic Soup

Cold Garlic Soup

YIELD: Makes 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

10-12 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

1 small onion, peeled and chopped

1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil

2 large potatoes, peeled and diced

2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup milk

1 cup cream

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 pint sour cream

1/4 cup fresh chives, snipped

DIRECTIONS:

In a large saucepan lightly saute garlic and onion in oil over medium heat. Add potatoes and broth, bring to a boil, then simmer until potatoes are very tender. Let cool, then puree mixture in a blender or food processor, pour into a container, and cover tightly and refrigerate. Just before serving stir in milk and cream, add seasonings, stir, and ladle into soup dishes. Garnish each serving with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with chives. Serve with rustic bread.

Fresh Sliced Tomatoes with Herbs

Fresh Sliced Tomatoes with Herbs

YIELD: Makes 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

4 fresh ripe garden tomatoes

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

Slice tomatoes about ¼-inch thick; arrange on platter; sprinkle with herbs, salt and pepper; cover and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Do not refrigerate. When ready to serve drizzle with oil. Serve with crusty Italian or French bread and dip it in the juices.

Rice and Vegetable Salad

Rice and Vegetable Salad

 

YIELD: Makes 8 to 10 servings

INGREDIENTS:

8 cups hot cooked rice (not instant)

12/3 cups vinaigrette dressing

1 red bell pepper, stemmed, cored and diced

1 yellow or green bell pepper, stemmed, cored and diced

1 medium red onion, peeled and minced

4 scallions, thinly sliced

Kernels from 2 to 3 ears fresh corn, raw or cooked

1 pound fresh or frozen peas, cooked till tender

6 fresh radishes, scrubbed and thinly sliced

¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl combine the rice and vinaigrette; mix thoroughly; set aside to cool to room temperature. Add vegetables, herbs and seasoning; mix thoroughly again. Transfer to platter or serving bowl and serve at room temperature or chilled with cold sliced meat or poultry.

The bouncing Greek folk music coming from the Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption invited hundreds of locals to join in the 58th annual Port Jefferson Greek Festival. 

From Aug. 22 to 25, local residents got to share in the history and culture of Greece. Along with many of the classic carnival rides and games, participants could shop for Greek memorabilia and stand on line for the chance to eat some classic Greek food including gyros, moussaka, pastitsio and tiropita.

The annual event fundraises for the Greek church’s activities. 

 

Cherry Fool. Stock photo

By Barbara Beltrami

Those peaches and nectarines blushed their way into your heart. The plums looked like 1,000-karat rubies and amethysts. The cherries, at least the one you sneaked a sample of, burst with flavor as you bit into it. So you bought them and brought them home and piled them in your favorite bowl. Then you waited for them to ripen.

And one day they did, all at once. So you ate a few, maybe made a fruit salad. And then they turned wrinkled and blemished and mushy and reminded you what an incurable impulse buyer you are. But don’t worry. There are some wonderful ways to use less than perfect summer stone fruit such as peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots and cherries.

You can put them in a saucepan with a little water or wine and sugar and cook them into a fruit compote. Or bake them with some butter, sugar, flour and oatmeal. You can make a crisp or a cobbler, a pie or a pudding, a fool or a tart. And no matter what you do, it’s a good idea to have plenty of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on hand.

Fruit Crisp

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

8 cups chopped stone fruit

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Butter for greasing baking dish

1/3 cup flour

¼ cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon coarse salt

1 cup old-fashioned oats

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large bowl toss together fruit, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Transfer to greased 2 to 2½ quart or 9 × 13 nonreactive baking dish. In a food processor combine flour, brown sugar, salt, oats and butter until mixture has a coarse texture. Sprinkle evenly over fruit. Bake about 60 minutes, until fruit is bubbling and topping is golden. Cool on wire rack one hour or until very warm but not hot. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Fruit Fool

Cherry Fool. Stock photo

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound stone fruit, pitted and sliced or chopped

3 tbl granulated sugar

1 cup heavy cream

1 tbl confectioners’ sugar

Dash vanilla extract

Fresh mint leaves

DIRECTIONS:

In a large saucepan combine fruit and granulated sugar; add just enough water to barely cover. Bring mixture to boil, then let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the fruit is very tender. Remove from heat, allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate 30 minutes. In a large bowl, whip the cream, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla together until soft peaks form but don’t let it get too stiff. Fold whipped cream into cooked fruit and spoon into parfait or wine glasses; garnish with mint. Serve with crisp cookies.

Summer Bread Pudding

YIELD: Makes 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

6 to 8 cups stone fruit, pared, pitted and diced

½ to ¾ cup sugar

1 to 2 tbl freshly squeezed lemon juice

10 to 12 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium saucepan combine fruit, sugar, lemon juice and 1/3 to ½ cup water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to steady simmer and cook for about 8 to10 minutes, until sugar is dissolved and fruit releases its juices. Pour a little of the fruit syrup into bottom of medium bowl; line bottom of bowl with one layer of bread slices cut to fit shape. Making sure it is completely coated, spoon about one-third of the fruit with some juice over bread. Top with more bread slices, then fruit and juices. Repeat procedure until fruit and juices as well as bread are all used up, but be sure to finish with bread on top.

Let cool completely, pat plastic wrap onto pudding so it touches it, then place a plate the same size as the top of the pudding and weight with something that weighs about one pound (an unopened 14-ounce can works well). Refrigerate 6 to 8 hours. When ready to serve, run a knife around edge of pudding, then flip and unmold onto plate. Slice into wedges and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Stock photo

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Rioja is the grape-growing region in the northeastern part of Spain in a 75-mile stretch of land along the Ebro River. It is close to the western Pyrenees, about 250 miles south of Bordeaux, France. Rioja takes its name from Rio Oja, a mountain stream that crosses Rioja and flows into the Ebro River, northeast of Madrid.

Rioja is divided into three viticultural subzones: Rioja Alta (southwest), Rioja Alavesa (northwest) and Rioja Oriental (formerly Rioja Baja) (southeast).

The region produces mostly red wines along with some rosé, dry and sweet white wines and sparkling wines. There are many indigenous and international grape varieties authorized to make Rioja wine. Red grapes include tempranillo, garnacha (grenache), mazuelo, graciano and maturana tinta. White grapes include viura, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, verdejo, malvasía, garnacha blanca, tempranillo blanco, maturana blanca and torrontés.

Some Rioja wines to try …

2018 El Coto “Blanco” (blend of viura, sauvignon blanc and verdejo grapes). Wondrous bouquet and flavor of peaches, honeydew melon, mint and candied lemon zest. Enjoy with seafood risotto containing shrimp or broiled white-fleshed fish topped with roasted red bell peppers.

2018 El Coto “Rosado” (rosé; blend of tempranillo and garnacha grapes). Bouquet and flavor of pink grapefruit, strawberries and red cherries; quite floral, fruity and zesty. Easy to drink, providing it’s not overchilled. Serve it with bow-tie pasta tossed with extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, arugula and sun-dried tomatoes.

2015 Viña Pomal “Crianza” (100% tempranillo grapes). Aromatic, featuring black fruits and licorice with vanilla, cinnamon, cocoa and toasted wood notes. Great with some blackened fillet of beef or barbecued chicken served in a spicy, tangy, smoky sauce.

2013 Viña Pomal “Reserva” (100% tempranillo grapes). Intense aromas of vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg, with red fruit intermingled with tobacco and truffles. Try it with duck cooked in a sweet fruit sauce.

2018 Marqués de Cáceres “Satinela” (blend of viura and malvasia grapes). Bright yellow with a bouquet and taste of apricots, bananas, candy apples, honey, mango and peach. Off-dry with just a touch of citrus. Serve it with sweet and sour dishes, curries or a fruit platter.

The term “crianza” on a bottle of red Rioja wine means the wine was aged a minimum of 2 years, including at least 1 year in oak barrels, whereas the term “reserva” signifies it was aged a minimum of 3 years, including at least 1 year in oak barrels.

Bob Lipinski is the author of 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bkjm@hotmail.com.

Philly Pretzel Factory officially opened in Smithtown on Aug. 7. The 1,500-square-foot store located at 314 Maple Ave., Smithtown in the Maple Commons Shopping Center, is owned and operated by Kenneth Anderson and Roy Arguelles, who plan to open another Philly Pretzel Factory location in East Northport early next year. This is the fifth Long Island location and the first location in Suffolk County for the franchise. For more information, call 631-800-8200.

Green beans are in season on Long Island from July to September. Stock photo

By Barbara Beltrami

Green beans, string beans, snap beans —  What’s in a name? They’re all pretty much the same thing; a favorite, as veggies go, among many people, and unlike some other veggies, seldom considered “yucky.” At this time of year, they abound in bushel baskets at farm stands, green thatches of long and slender and crisp vegetable freshness. Trimmed and lightly steamed just to the point of tenderness where they still retain their greenness, they make a fine side dish on their own dressed with lemon or butter, or as a tasty component of salads, soups, casseroles, pasta or potato dishes.

So here’s what you need to do. Go to a farm stand, carefully pick out a bunch of skinny unblemished beans, take them home, sit yourself down near a fan or an AC vent, put a bowl in your lap, and with a little knife or your thumbnail, remove the brownish stem ends of the beans, then cut or snap them to desired size (I like to leave them whole). Here are some recipes to get you started.

Green Bean and Potato Salad with Anchovy Vinaigrette

This is almost but not quite a salade nicoise.

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed and coarsely chopped

1 pound skinny green beans, stem end removed

2 garlic cloves, smashed into a paste

1 tablespoon anchovy paste

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed, drained and chopped

2 teaspoons prepared Dijon mustard

4 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 large handfuls baby arugula

4 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced

2 ripe garden fresh tomatoes, sliced

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives

¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

¼ cup chopped fresh basil

DIRECTIONS:

In a large saucepan, boil the potatoes in salted water until just tender; remove from water, let sit until cool enough to handle , then cut into thin slices or dice. Simultaneously, in a large saucepan fitted with a steamer, salt the green beans to taste and cook over boiling water until tender but still bright green. Immediately remove and place in bowl of ice water for 5 minutes, drain and set aside.

Meanwhile in a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, anchovy paste, capers, mustard, vinegar and olive oil. When ready to serve, arrange arugula on a serving plate, toss the potatoes and beans with the vinaigrette and pile on top of the arugula. Arrange sliced or diced eggs and tomatoes on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper; garnish with chopped herbs. Serve warm or at room temperature with a chilled dry white wine, crusty French bread and unsalted butter.

Green Beans with Caramelized Onions

This combination of green beans and onions is a far cry from that old recipe made with canned onions and cream of mushroom soup.

YIELD: Makes 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large Vidalia or red onions, peeled and cut into rings

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

½ tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

2 pounds fresh skinny green beans, trimmed and steamed or boiled till tender but still bright green

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Heat the butter and oil in medium skillet over medium heat; add onions, turn heat up to medium-high, and cook onions, stirring frequently, until light golden; add thyme, brown sugar and vinegar and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until onions are a rich medium dark brown. Place string beans in a serving bowl and top with caramelized onions. Serve warm or hot with poultry or meat.

Green Beans with Bacon and Balsamic

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and cooked till tender but bright green

½ pound bacon, cooked till crispy and crumbled

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon bacon fat

1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a large serving bowl toss the beans and bacon. In a small bowl whisk together the oil, bacon fat, vinegar, and salt and pepper. Half an hour before serving, toss the string bean mixture with oil mixture; tossing a few more times, let sit for at least half an hour. Serve at room temperature or warm with pork or poultry or as a main dish.

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Stock photo

By Barbara Beltrami

With her passionate reminiscences and mouth-watering descriptions of comfort foods from way back in our childhoods — things that were part of our mothers’ and grandmothers’ regular repertoires; the kinds of things we neither cook anymore nor see on menus — my friend has motivated me to comb through old recipe files and cookbooks to try to duplicate them. I have done so with the caveat that they will never be as good as the ones we remember. How could they be? However, as my new muse in this as in so many things, I am dedicating this column to her.

Tomato Aspic 

Ask any Southern lady and she will tell you that this dish is a standard at luncheons and funerals.

YIELD: Makes 8 to10 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin

¼ cup cold water

¼ cup boiling water

4 cups tomato juice

1 tablespoon chopped onion

½ green bell pepper chopped

1 celery rib

1 teaspoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

½ teaspoon celery seeds

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Nonstick cooking spray

Fresh bibb lettuce leaves

Fresh parsley for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl, sprinkle the cold water over the gelatin; let sit 5 minutes. Whisk boiling water into gelatin until it is dissolved. In a large saucepan, combine the tomato juice, onion, pepper, celery, brown sugar, salt, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce and celery seeds. Bring to a boil over medium heat; simmer, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes; pour through wire mesh strainer into medium bowl; discard veggies or save for another use. Stir in gelatin and lemon juice. Spray a 10-cup ring mold with nonstick cooking spray; pour mixture into mold; chill 6 hours or until set. Unmold onto plate lined with lettuce leaves; garnish with parsley. Serve with shrimp salad and deviled eggs.

Old-Fashioned Crabmeat Casserole

Casseroles were very popular decades ago. The combination of crabmeat, butter and breadcrumbs makes this a rich but oh-so-delicious seafood dish.

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 large egg

1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 stick unsalted butter

1½ cups unflavored breadcrumbs

1 cup half-and-half

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 pound cooked crabmeat (picked over to remove any bits of shell)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly butter or grease a two-quart casserole dish. In a small bowl whisk together egg, parsley and mustard. In a medium saucepan melt 6 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat; add one cup breadcrumbs and half-and-half; cook stirring constantly, until slightly thickened. Remove from heat; add egg mixture and salt and pepper and stir just enough to incorporate but not cook egg. Fold in crabmeat; transfer to prepared casserole; sprinkle with remaining bread crumbs; dot with remaining butter. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve with rice.

Julia’s Oatmeal Lace Cookies

Julia was the daughter of a slave. That’s how many generations the recipe

for this childhood favorite has been around.

Oatmeal Lace Cookies. Stock photo

YIELD: Makes 12 to 15 cookies

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup whole grain oats (old-fashioned not instant oatmeal)

¼ stick unsalted butter plus butter for greasing baking sheets

¾ cup medium brown sugar

1 egg

Pinch or 2 all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon vanilla or to taste.

DIRECTIONS:

Generously grease two baking sheets and set aside. Preheat oven to 275 F. Spread oatmeal on another baking sheet and toast it for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Set aside and let cool. Raise oven temperature to 350 F. In a large saucepan, melt butter over moderately low heat; add sugar and mix well. Remove pan from cook top, stir in egg and oatmeal; beat until blended, then thoroughly blend in flour and vanilla. Drop batter, about one tablespoon at a time, about two inches apart as cookies will spread, onto greased baking sheets. Bake about 10 minutes or until cookies are firm and edges are slightly brown. Let cool a few minutes on baking sheets, then with sharp spatula, carefully remove to wire racks, Serve with ice cold milk.

Honeydew melons are a versatile treat and can be used as an ingredient in salads, side dishes, entrees and even drinks. Stock photo

By Barbara Beltrami

I have found that honeydew melons can often be a rather dicey proposition. I frequently think I’ve picked out a promising one only to get it home where it languishes and never ripens. Or it does ripen but the result is a flavorless disappointment. 

Well, that’s no way to start a food column, is it? Let me start over on a more positive note.  

When a honeydew is good, it’s very good. When it’s perfectly ripened, it is an explosion of mouth-watering fruit worthy of its name. On its own, it sings of summer. With other ingredients it’s a perfect foil for salty or slightly bitter flavors. And it’s such a pretty color; just looking at it is enough to cool one off. 

So, if you’re good at picking out melons, or if you’re lucky enough to find a winner, try some of these honeydew recipes.

Honeydew Salad with Honey-Citrus Dressing

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 avocado, diced

Freshly squeezed juice of half a lemon

½ ripe honeydew melon, diced

2 cups baby arugula

4 red radishes, scrubbed and sliced thin

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

1½ tablespoons lime or orange juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

4 slices prosciutto, torn into small pieces

DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl toss the avocado with the freshly squeezed lemon juice to thoroughly coat.  Add honeydew, arugula and radishes; toss again and set aside. In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, honey, lime or orange juice, salt and pepper. When ready to serve, toss with melon mixture; sprinkle prosciutto on top and serve immediately with prosecco and breadsticks.

Honeydew Sorbet with Candied Ginger

Honeydew Sorbet

YIELD: Makes about 3½ cups

INGREDIENTS:

½ cup sugar

½ cup water

4 cups diced ripe honeydew melon

¼ to 1/3 cup candied ginger, finely chopped

DIRECTIONS:

In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook sugar and water until sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. Measure out ¾ cup; reserve and refrigerate any extra for later use. Puree melon in a blender or food processor until very smooth. Measure out 2½ cups. Cover and refrigerate any extra puree for another use. Combine sugar syrup, melon puree and chopped ginger in bowl of ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s directions. Transfer to freezer container, cover and freeze for at least two hours. Serve with ginger snaps.

Shrimp and Lobster Salad in Honeydew Bowls

YIELD: Serves 2

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup chopped cooked shrimp

1 cup chopped cooked lobster meat

¼ cup minced celery

¼ cup minced green bell pepper

 1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill or tarragon

¼ teaspoon celery seed

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 small ripe honeydew, halved and seeded

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium bowl, combine the shrimp, lobster, celery, green pepper, mayonnaise, lemon juice, dill or tarragon, celery seed, salt and pepper; mix thoroughly and scoop into hollowed out honeydew halves. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for one hour before serving.

Poached chicken breasts with tonnato sauce

By Barbara Beltrami

Midsummer. Not exactly a dream and more of a nightmare if the temperature hits the 90s and the humidity is high too. No time to turn on an oven or sweat over a grill. Better to cook in the early morning, then refrigerate for later. But what? 

A steak grilled, cooled and refrigerated in a savory marinade, then sliced works well; so do poached chicken breasts immersed in a tonnato (tuna, mayonnaise and capers) sauce. Potato salad is always welcome whether dressed with the traditional mayonnaise, celery and hard-boiled egg or an herbed vinaigrette. 

Salad? Sliced tomatoes with onions or scallions, sprinkled with fresh corn kernels or the ever popular mozzarella and basil; garden lettuce and cucumbers and peppers; watermelon, tomato, cucumber and feta. Here are a few dreamy recipes to help you keep your midsummer nights cool.

Poached Chicken Breasts With Tonnato Sauce

Poached chicken breasts with tonnato sauce

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

4 medium boneless chicken breast halves

3 cups cold water

1 cup cold dry white wine

1 medium sprig fresh thyme

1 medium sprig fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 handful fresh chives

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 cup mayonnaise

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

One 6-ounce can Italian dark tuna packed in olive oil

2 anchovy fillets

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ cup capers, rinsed and drained

Freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Place chicken breasts in a large skillet; cover with cold water and wine; add herbs and salt. Bring water to boil over medium heat. When a rolling boil is achieved, turn breasts over with tongs, remove from heat and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes until an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a breast reads 150 F. Remove breasts to cutting board; let sit 5 minutes, then slice. Arrange on a platter, cover and refrigerate. 

Put mayonnaise, oil, tuna, anchovies, lemon juice, capers and black pepper in jar of blender and puree until smooth; cover and refrigerate one hour. Pour generously over sliced chicken. Serve cold on a bed of lettuce with potato or rice salad and sliced fresh tomatoes.

Herbed Potato Salad

Herbed Potato Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1½ pounds new potatoes, scrubbed and chopped

¼ cup chopped fresh tarragon

¼ cup chopped fresh chives

¼ cup chopped fresh chervil

2 scallions, very thinly sliced

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon dry white wine

1 tablespoon prepared mustard

1 to 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium saucepan, boil potatoes in salted water until tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Place in large bowl to cool to room temperature. In small bowl whisk together herbs, scallions, oil, wine, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper. Pour over potatoes; toss to coat thoroughly; cover and refrigerate tossing again after 30 minutes, one hour. Serve with poultry, fish or meat. 

Watermelon, Cucumber, Tomato and Feta Salad

Watermelon, Cucumber, Tomato and Feta Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups diced cucumber

1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

¼ cup chopped fresh dill

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

4 cups diced watermelon

1 cup crumbled feta

Sliced red onion (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl, toss together cucumber and tomatoes. In a small bowl whisk together the oil, vinegar, parsley, dill, salt and pepper; pour over cucumber and tomatoes. Tossing frequently, let sit one hour. When ready to serve, add watermelon, feta and red onion (if used); toss again. Serve with poultry, meat or fish.