This growing season has been glorious for local produce, with gentle temperatures and enough rain to keep things plush. In my garden, the tomato plants are over 7 feet tall and abundantly productive (though some hot weather would certainly spark quicker ripening of the fruit), and I can’t harvest green beans fast enough.
In the middle of summer, we find ourselves in a very improvisational style of cooking and eating: whatever’s fresh, whatever needs to be used up quickly, whatever’s easy to make without much fussing or standing over a hot stove. [For a food writer who develops and shares recipes, this can be a challenge: It’s hard to experiment with recipes when so much of my cooking right now is recipe-less.]
In the spirit of simple summer cooking, here are a few non-recipe recipes for using the season’s finest produce:
Toss 4 sliced fresh peaches (peeled, if you’d like) with 2 tablespoons of bourbon. Let sit while you’re having dinner. Serve over vanilla ice cream, salted caramel gelato or shortcakes. Leftovers are delicious for breakfast spooned over homemade granola or pancakes.
Slice perfectly ripe tomatoes; halve big handful of cherry tomatoes in assorted colors. Sprinkle liberally with Jane’s Crazy Mixed-Up Salt. Let sit for about 15 minutes before eating.
In a wok or heavy skillet, heat a couple of teaspoons of neutral oil (grapeseed or canola) over medium-high heat, until it shimmers. Toss in a quart of trimmed slender green beans and stir-fry until the beans are charred in spots and almost wilted. Season with kosher salt, stir in a spoonful of Asian chile-garlic paste to taste and a splash of soy sauce.
Cut the kernels off 4–6 ears of fresh sweet corn (I stand the ears up in a wooden salad bowl to catch the escaping kernels); use the back of the knife to scrape out all the milky juice. In a large skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of sweet butter; add the corn and cook, stirring often, until the corn is completely soft and almost broken down. Add more butter if you want. Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Mash a pint of red raspberries with a teaspoon of superfine sugar, until you have a chunky, jammy mixture. Stir into pancake batter, over ice cream or into yogurt (topped with homemade granola, of course).