Nothing screams summer like watermelon. Watermelon has never been a real love of mine, I tolerate it, but the big cutting job and the dripping miss never did it for me. This year, for some reason, I keep finding myself adding watermelon to my grocery cart. Something just clicked, and I want to eat it all the time now. Maybe its because the genetic modifying farmers have really found the right formula to make sweet, juicy seedless watermelons? Who knows. As we head into July, watermelon serves as the perfect starting ingredient for summer cocktails. I could have gone a lot of ways mixing this into drinks - margarita, daiquiri, sangria, but decided to go with the mojito, with a healthy dose of mint adding an herbaceous balance to the sweetness of the watermelon and rum. While this isn't red, white and blue, it will still be a great addition to any Fourth of July soiree, and pink and green is cuter anyway, right?
Isn't that little strawberry on top of this shortcake just the cutest thing you have ever seen? Every May and June, loads of big juicy California strawberries flood the market at lower than normal prices. I usually stock up on these. And then in late June, in New England, the local strawberries debut. They are small, cute, fragrant, photogenic and really really expensive. I always get sticker shock and resist for a bit, then I just break down and buy the 7 dollar little basket. I shake my head at the receipt, consider myself a sucker, and then I bite into one, and all my negative feelings about the price slip away. The local strawberries are worth every penny, not only are they picture perfect, they taste so much better than the gargantuan ones shipped in - juicy, sweet and pure strawberry flavor. You have to eat them quickly though, they get mushy quickly. The perfect thing to do with strawberries that are a tad past their prime (besides making jam), is strawberry shortcake. I like to go the biscuit route with my shortcake, and these were so tender that they would have fallen apart if I tried to cut them in half. So instead I made a little strawberry and cherry compote, by sauteing the fruit for just a few minutes with a little sugar and a little orange liqueur, and plopped the biscuit right on top. The perfect way to enjoy June fruit.
Even though the temperature hovered in the 90s last weekend here in Boston, it is officially still spring, and therefore I am not woefully late with this tasty spring dish, that I made months ago and in my blogging rut, failed to post. While fall is my favorite season, spring is the time I get most excited about new produce - asparagus, peas, spring onions, and then strawberries, rhubarb. While the bounty of summer is the star, spring produce is more exciting because we (at least here in New England) have been suffering through a long drab colored winter. The brilliant green of spring produce is rejuvenating! So this asparagus and salmon bruschetta was definitely rejuvenating back in April when I made it, and now that I see it in June, it seems perfect to suit summer as well. This is from the original Ottolenghi cookbook, which has the most beautiful photography. I must admit I have flipped through it more times than I have cooked from it, but with the success of this dish, I will dive in more. The salmon is poached in the oven with wine and spices and comes out moist and flavorful. This is a different and special brunch dish that is also very easy to make.
April got away from me, and then May has too. Blogging has taken a back seat to other things, and I hope that soon my blogging focus will be reignited. I am not sure of this exact cause of lagging blogging, but work has certainly been a big part of it. I have working on one of those cases that is running on a fast track, so it has been intense so by the end of the day it takes a lot out of me. I have also been in a bit of a reading rut, I have been working on Richard Ford's Canada for about a month now, and have refused to give up on it even though it hasn't really caught my attention, I am taking it on the plane with me today on a quick trip to New Orleans, and if I am not engrossed after the flight, I may just throw in the towel. [Note: that was several weeks ago, I did end up abandoning the book but hope to pick it up and try again] A book which did catch my attention however was Nell Freudenberger's The Newleyweds. The novel tells the story of a marriage born of the internet age - a young Bangladeshi woman, Amina, and almost middle aged IT guy from Rochester, George. The two meet over the internet - through a website called AsianEuro.com. Not a romantic start, and this is not a romantic novel. The Newlyweds is an affecting portrait of a woman struggling between two cultures and trying to define her life's path for herself. More after the jump.