Summer Melon Cake

3 C flour

4 t baking powder

1 t salt

¾ C butter, at room temperature

1 C granulated sugar

3 eggs

2 ¼ C puréed cantaloupe or orange-fleshed muskmelon (about 4 C melon chunks)

Glaze

1¼ C powdered sugar

¼ C fresh Meyer lemon juice or orange juice

Strips of lemon zest from Meyer lemon, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside. In a medium bowl and with an electric mixer, cream the butter with the sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Place the melon chunks in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.  Add the dry ingredients in two parts to the butter mixture, alternating twice with the melon purée. After each addition, stir the mixture until smooth, making sure to clean the batter from the edges and bottom of the bowl. Mix the batter again on medium-high for about 2 min. Pour the batter into a greased and floured tube cake pan. Bake 40-50 min., or just until a cake tester comes out clean.

Meanwhile, prepare the glaze by mixing powdered sugar with the Meyer lemon juice or orange juice until smooth. Cool the cake in its pan for 30 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack. Spoon or pour glaze over the warm cake. Garnish with strips of lemon zest, if desired.


Tomato Tartlets

Colorful, summery and perfect when you need a little bite.

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

1 C grated Fontina or Swiss cheese (2-3ounces)

3 medium tomatoes, cut into twelve ¼- inch slices

Extra virgin olive oil for brushing

Ground pepper

1/3 C small basil leaves left whole or large and thin sliced

Preheat the oven to 375°. Lightly flour a work surface and rolling pin and roll out the puff pastry to 14×16-inch rectangle. With a 4 inch cookie cutter, cut out 12 rounds and transfer to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. With a fork, prick each round all over. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon cheese on each, leaving a small border, and top with one tomato slice; brush with oil, season with pepper.

Bake until pastry is deep golden at the edges, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through. Let cool completely before garnishing with basil. Makes 12.


Fiesta Green Bean Salad

1lb fresh green beans, strings removed, ends snapped off, cut into about 1½-inch length pieces

¼ C red onion, finely chopped

2 T fresh lime juice (1-2 limes)

2 T olive oil

½ t sea salt

1 t dried oregano or 1 T fresh oregano

¾ C packed, chopped cilantro

1 jalapeno, minced, or 1/3 C pickled jalapeño chili peppers, sliced (optional)

1/3 cup chopped red onion

1 medium tomato, cut into 8 wedges, or a cup of halved cherry tomatoes

¾ cup cooked corn kernels, from one large ear

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

1 ripe avocado, sliced or cut into chunks

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the beans and simmer until just crisp tender, 7 minutes. Drain the beans and run cold water over them to cool them quickly. Drain completely; pat dry with paper towels and transfer to a large serving bowl.

In a mini-food processor or in a jar, combine lime juice, olive oil, 1/4 cup onion, sliced pickled jalapeños, sea salt, oregano and cilantro. Process until well mixed, then pour over beans and toss; refrigerate about half an hour. When ready to serve, mix in the chopped red onion, tomatoes, corn and feta. Carefully fold in the avocado chunks. Serves 6.


Cool as a Cucumber Chilled Soup

Quick to prepare and ever so cooling in the hot weather, this chilled soup belongs in every refrigerator. If you prefer a soup with more texture, don’t blend it as long. Using unpeeled cucumbers will give the soup a beautiful light green color.

2 medium cucumbers, peeled and sliced (leave unpeeled if using English/burpless/seedless)

¼ C plain yogurt- whole milk, low-fat or Greek

½ C buttermilk – whole milk or low-fat

1 T shallot, minced

1 t garlic, minced

1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 t maple syrup

½  t ground cumin, cardamom or coriander

¼ t cayenne pepper (optional)

1 T fresh dill

Chopped fresh dill or chives – for garnish

Lay the cucumber slices on a tray or sheet pan lined with paper towel. Salt the cucumbers and let them “sweat” for 20 minutes to let them release moisture.

In a blender or food processor, process all the ingredients until smooth. Taste for salt and pepper. Chill at least one hour or overnight. Ladle into bowls and garnish with fresh herbs. Serves 3-4.


Soupe au Pistou

This is France’s spring/summer equivalent of Italian Minestrone. Since the list of vegetables is long, just use what you have on hand, including a different bean and/or pasta. As summer vegetables become more prolific, you can use a variety of beans and squash.

1 small onion, chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

Vegetables – pick and choose based upon your availability:

2 leeks, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise, washed well, and drained

2 small celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 medium carrot, cut into small dice


1 small zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 small yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 small tomatoes, chopped or ½ can (15oz) diced tomatoes

3 small red bliss potatoes, cut into ½-inch pieces

1 C fresh or frozen green beans, cut into ½ inch piece

1 C fresh or frozen peas

1 can (15oz.) small white beans, such as navy, rinsed and drained

5-6 C vegetable or chicken broth

1 Parmesan rind, about 1 by 3 inches
 (-optional)

¼ cup small pasta, such as elbow, small shells, ditalini or stars (-optional)

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Pistou – if fresh herbs are not available, top the soup with a bit of fresh lemon zest

1 C lightly packed basil leaves (can substitute parsley or cilantro)

1-2 cloves garlic

1/3 C grated parmesan

¼ C olive oil

Soup: Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, leeks and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft and golden in spots, about 10 minutes. 


Stir in zucchini, squash, tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, broth, and Parmesan rind. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in beans and simmer, covered, just until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Remove rind. 


Pistou: Pulse together the basil, garlic, Parmesan, and oil in a food processor to a loose paste. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Serve each bowl with a small dollop of pistou. Serves 6-8.