The abundant summer harvest calls for gazpacho. This cold summer soup uses tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions and herbs and nothing beats it on a hot summer evening. I never make it quite the same and vary the ingredients depending on what is available and what I will be serving it with. Sometimes we have it before the main dish and sometimes we have as the main dish with just cheese and bread.  Here are some basic guidelines to play with. You will want everything diced small so every spoonful has several flavors.

Tomatoes- Tomatoes are the base of the soup. They should be the freshest and most flavorful you can find. I like to use heirlooms I find at the farmers’ market since I don’t have a garden myself. I use 2-3 different varieties to get the richest flavor. The tomatoes should be cut into small pieces. If I am making it for company I will peel and seed the tomatoes and dice them, but the family does not always get that special touch.

Vegetable juice- I prefer vegetable juice thinned with water for my “broth” I have played with using chicken or vegetable broth but wasn’t fond of it. I find tomato juice to be too thick. Vegetable juice and water in a 2 to 1 combination seems perfect to me.

Peppers- Now we are having fun! Any combination of hot and sweet peppers that you think will be good will work. I use whatever catches my eye for the sweet ones. 2-3 depending on size. Dice them small. The hot ones can get tricky. You want some spice but not too much. Jalapeños or serranos are good bets, use 1 or 2, minced. But experiment. It is better to need to add hot sauce at the table that to have it too spicy.

Cucumber- 1 whole cucumber diced is usually good. I leave the skin on and seeds in. The cucumber cools everything down and the gazpacho is not complete without it.

Onions- Red onions or green onions are my first choices. Yellow onions can be too strong so go easy with them if they are all you have. Sweets like Vidalias are too sweet and break down quickly. Cut the onions into a nice dice.

Other veggies- Sometimes I will add celery. Corn can be a nice addition right off the cob raw. I don’t like carrots as they are too crunchy.

Additions- 1-2 cloves of garlic grated are a must. Juice from a lemon or lime adds some needed acid. A tablespoon of vinegar would work as well.  A nice drizzle of olive oil is welcome to add a pleasant mouth feel. The herbs are where you can really have fun. The options include fresh basil, cilantro, parsley, thyme, oregano,chives and tarragon. Be careful if you choose to use more that one herb to balance the flavors. I decide what herb to use to compliment what I will be serving with the gazpacho.

Some people add croutons, sour cream or crème fraiche as a garnish. This does not appeal to me but you may want to try it.


Fresh Tomato Pasta

Fresh Tomato Pasta

Fresh Tomato Pasta

This is the ultimate summer pasta. Fresh tomatoes and a few extras tossed with some penne. I had a variety of cherry tomatoes but any just picked tomatoes will work. I always look for heirlooms at the Farmers’ Market (I am not lucky enough to have a garden) and mix the sweet ones and the tart ones for a one of a kind flavor. This dish will only disappoint if you make it with average grocery store tomatoes, but many groceries now work with local farms to bring in fresh local produce. The leftovers, if there are any, are great for breakfast cold the next morning. I like penne with this but your favorite pasta will work great.

Fresh Tomato Pasta

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes

3 cloves garlic grated

1/2 cup olive oil

Bunch basil sliced

1/3 cup Greek olives pitted and chopped

2 ounces goat cheese crumbled

Cooked pasta for 4

1. Combine tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, basil, olives and cheese in a bowl. Let sit for 1/2-1 hour.

2. Toss with pasta. Serve.

Cissie says,”For the Fresh Tomato Pasta I would pick a light style Italian Chianti . I would also use a  Barbera or    a Valpolicella , both are  Italian varietals which work so nicely with tomato based dishes.”

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Dill Pickles

Dill Pickles

Fun and easy! These are crunchy and flavorful. The proportions and seasonings are flexible. The one important piece of advice is to use a plain salt. Most recipes will call for canning salt but any salt without additives will work. Particularly avoid salts with anti-caking additives. These additives can compromise the quality of the pickle. I used a plain sea salt. Once the pickles cure for 48 hours or so they will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 months. But they will get eaten first.

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Special equipment : 2 jars (I used empty pickle jars)

3 cups water

1 cup distilled white vinegar

1 Tablespoon additive free salt

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon whole brown mustard seed

1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seed

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon white peppercorns

2 bay leaves

2 whole cloves

1. Bring all of the above ingredients to a boil for 2-3 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

Small cucumbers to fill two pickle jars, sliced or cut into spears

6 cloves of peeled garlic

2 smallish bunches of fresh dill

1. Put 1 bunch of dill and 3 garlic coves in each jar. Pack with cucumbers.

2. Pour  vinegar mixture in each jar to cover. There may be some leftover. Try to divide the spices between the jars.

3. Let cure 48 hours in the refrigerator. As long as they are refrigerated the pickles will keep for 2-3 months.

Cod with Dill Pesto

Cod with Dill Pesto

Cod with Dill Pesto

Dill and fish are a classic combination. I wanted halibut but by budget said cod. This pesto will work with any fish, salmon, tuna, mahi-mahi, you name it. I simply baked the cod an easy choice for any fish. 400 degrees for about 10 minutes for each inch of thickness. For the pesto I added a Serrano chili for a little kick and left out cheese as I am not usually fond of cheese and seafood.


Cod with Dill Pesto

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 shallot

1 cup dill

3/4 cup parsley

1 Serrano, seeded

1/2 cup pecans

1/2 cup olive oil

1 Tablespoon butter ( optional)

4 6-8 ounce pieces of  cod (or fish of your choice)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

1. With food processor running drop in shallot. Process until you no longer hear the bits rotating.

2. Add dill, parsley, Serrano and nuts. Process till fine.

3. With machine running drizzle in the oil. Add butter if using. Transfer to a small bowl.

4. Season fish with salt pepper and a shake of paprika.Bake fish for about 10 minutes per inch of thickness.

5. Spread some pesto on each plate and top with fish.

Cissie says,” My wine picks for the Cod with Dill Pesto are Chateau Lamothe Bordeaux Blanc , this is a delicious blend of primarily Sauvignon Blanc with a small amount of Semillon. I would also use a Pinot Grigio or a nice crisp  Orvieto Classico.”


Roasted Beet Salad

Beet Salad

Beet Salad

I love roasted beets! I got beautiful golden beets at the Farmers’ Market this morning. My favorite way to serve beets is as a simple salad.  Use red or golden beets but the golden are a little sweeter. I used feta cheese today but goat cheese is also very good here. I don’t add the cheese till I am ready to serve when I am using red beets, as the cheese turns a bright shade of pink.  Save the beet greens and cook as you would other greens…double the value. Things don’t get much easier than this recipe.

Roasted Beet Salad

1 bunch of beets

1/4 cup olive oil

1 Tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

2 ounces feta or goat cheese crumbled

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

1. Roast  beets 1 hour covered with foil. Allow to cool. Peel off the skins.

2. Slice the beets. Toss with vinegar and oil.

3. Top with cheese, salt and pepper.


Asian Miso Cole Slaw

Asian cole slaw

Asian cole slaw

Sometimes you are ready for a change of pace. Time to shake things up a little. This cole slaw may be the answer. The Asian inspired salad is sweet, salty and full of umami. The recipe calls for white miso, I find that at any Asian grocery store in the refrigerated section.  This comes together quickly. I like to let it sit for a couple of hours in the fridge for the flavors to develop.

For a quick dinner rub 1 Tablespoon each butter and sriracha blended under the skin of a chicken breast. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.


Asian Miso Cole Slaw

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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1/4 head of cabbage,shredded

1 1/2 cup bean sprouts

1/2 red pepper thinly sliced

4 scallions sliced

1. Combine ingredients in a large bowl


1/3 cup white miso

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

1 Tablespoon grated ginger

1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/4 cup peanut oil

1. Whisk dressing ingredients together. You may need to add 1 Tablespoon water for proper consistency.

2. Toss slaw and dressing together. Refrigerate for several hours for flavores to blend.


Black Bean and Rice Salad

Black Bean and Rice Salad

Black Bean and Rice Salad

Black beans and rice is a favorite meal at our house. This is a version I make in the summer when it is too hot to cook. I make the rice in the cool of the morning and make the salad after it has cooled. I serve this as either a side dish or main course.

Black Bean and Rice Salad


3 cups cooked brown rice

1 15 ounce can black beans drained and rinsed

4 green onions chopped

1-2 jalapeños

Small handful cilantro

Combine salad ingredients


1/4 cup white wine vinegar

3 cloves garlic grated

Zest of 1 lime

1 Tablespoon cumin

Hot sauce

1/2 cup olive oil

1. Whisk vinegar with garlic ,zest, cumin and hot sauce.

2. Whisk in the oil.

3. Toss dressing with the salad.