Friday, August 30, 2013

"The Too Hot To Cook Book" by Miriam Ungerer - Garden Soup with Pistou (French "pesto")

Date I made this recipe:  August 25, 2013

The Too Hot to Cook Book by Miriam Ungerer
Published by:  Walker and Company
© 1966
Recipe:  Garden Soup with Pistou (a French variation of pesto) – p. 42-43

I just purchased this cookbook from Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks in NYC and not a moment too soon as Minnesota is experiencing scorching temperatures.  But here’s what is so typical and annoying:  the minute Labor Day rolls around, we are projected, once again, to go from high 90’s to 72 degrees overnight.  This is just so damned unfair, especially this year when summer arrived late and warmer temperatures took a while to roll around.  I know I stand alone when I say that this heat can last well…indefinitely!  I hate winter, I hate being cold, and am not too fond of 72 degrees, no matter how refreshing that “cold” temperature appears to the rest of you.

But hey, although I may enjoy hotter temperatures, I am not crazy enough to turn on my oven during this hot spell and thanks to our author, Miriam Ungerer, I don’t have to!  And yet don’t ask me why, but out of all the recipes that appealed (and that would be most of this book), the hot soup recipe caught my eye.  I’ve been on sort of a veggie kick since last week’s vegetable fried rice recipe and since I had some leftover veggies, why not?

This recipe, which serves 10 which of course is way too much for our little household, is adaptable to whatever vegetables you have on hand and so I threw in some diced baby corn from last week and some celery from last week and some leftover mushrooms from last week (and even some leftover rice from last week – how convenient) and then left out a few vegetables that I don’t like as well, namely lima beans and okra.  The most time-consuming task is chopping said vegetables but once you get past that, you are golden.  Cooking time for most of the vegetables is 30 minutes, after which you throw in your faster-cooking vegetables for another 15 minutes, add in a few more minutes to make the pistou and in about an hour total, you have dinner. 

You should know that all the flavor of this dish comes from the pistou as no other “spices” are added to the soup itself other than salt.  I think if I made this again I’d play around with adding some spices to ramp up the flavor just a bit.  And you should also know that while I made only half the soup recipe, I made the full pistou recipe and well, let’s just hope you like garlic because it contains 4 cloves. 

I am pleased to announce that despite the high heat this weekend (96 or 97 I think), I stayed cool in my kitchen and even cool eating this dish.  And that’s what you need when it’s “Too Hot to Cook”!
Garden Soup – Serves 10

From the author:  Unlike a rich, slow simmered winter soup, hearty and filling with turnips and cabbage, a summer blend should be lightly cooked and each vegetable retain its freshness, flavor and texture.  Prescribing exactly what to put in a vegetable soup would be a bit like a numbered canvas that the artist could never claim as his own.  This is a rough outline to fill in with your own design.  This serves 10 to 12 as a main course.

2 quarts water
2 cups baby carrots, sliced
2 cups new potatoes, diced
2 cups peeled ripe tomatoes, diced
2 cups scallions, sliced
1 cup fresh green lima beans
1 cup fresh tiny green beans, cut in 1-inch lengths
1 cup fresh okra, sliced
1 cup fresh corn, scraped off the cob
1 ½ cups cooked rice

4 cloves garlic
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
2 Tb fresh parsley, chopped
3 Tb tomato paste
½ cup grated Romano cheese
½ cup olive oil

In a mortar, pound the garlic to a paste with the basil and parsley; add the tomato paste and cheese.  Beat in the oil by droplets, then beat in 1 cup of hot soup.  Pour the sauce into a small bowl and pass it around with the soup.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

"Everybody's Wokking" by Martin Yan - Vegetable Fried Rice featuring locally-grown King Oyster Mushrooms from Mississippi Mushrooms

Date I made this recipe:  August 18, 2013

Everybody’s Wokking by Martin Yan (From the national Public Television series YAN CAN COOK)
Published by:  Harlow & Ratner
ISBN:  0-9627345-0-0
Recipe:  Vegetable Fried Rice – p. 137

“And today’s secret ingredient is….Mushrooms!”

Given that this blog focuses on my cookbook collection, my usual MO is to select a cookbook I like and then select the recipe from that book.  This time around, I had an ingredient and just needed to find a recipe within one of my cookbooks in which to showcase it.  The ingredient?  King oyster mushrooms.  The recipe?  Vegetable Fried Rice.  The cookbook?  Everybody’s Wokking by Martin Yan.  (And no, the title is not Working but Wokking –as in stir fry.  And yes, it took me a minute as well!)

But wouldn’t you know that “working” (with an “r”) is exactly how I came to find today’s ingredient.  By day, I provide business and legal consulting services to small business clients of a St. Paul-based nonprofit – Neighborhood Development Center (NDC) – and NDC recently asked me to work on a marketing plan for one of their new clients, Mississippi Mushrooms (  After our last meeting, the guys gave me some of their product – king oyster mushrooms – to take home with me and of course, I couldn’t resist finding something to make with these mushrooms from my rather large (1,692 cookbooks…and counting) cookbook collection.

This though, was not as easy as you would think.  First, I may have a huge cookbook collection but only a small portion of it covers Asian food, a cuisine I think makes the best use of mushrooms.  Second, many of these cookbooks did not do much with fresh mushrooms (dried mushrooms, on the other hand, was a prevalent ingredient) and those that did utilized button mushrooms and button mushrooms are okay, but they are not and should never be confused with king oysters.  Worse, many recipes called for canned mushrooms and I’m sorry, they have their place (like in a casserole buried under a can Cream of X soup), but not for this dinner.

So after careful consideration and perusal, I selected the Martin Yan cookbook (given to me recently by my friend, Melissa Embser-Herbert) because it had what I was looking for:  a recipe that called for fresh mushrooms – nothing more, nothing less.

At this point, I must confess that I felt like I was on the Food Network Show, Iron Chef America, a show that pits one of the show’s previously-ordained Iron Chefs against a chef competitor in “kitchen stadium” where both must create fabulous dishes using a “secret ingredient.”  I love this show unless they feature a secret ingredient that I detest in which case, I hate this show.

So the two chefs meet in front of a table hidden by a hood that contains the secret ingredient.  Tension builds as they wonder what the secret ingredient will be.  And then on cue, “The Chairman” (the show’s primary judge), demands the secret ingredient be revealed, the chefs either groan or giggle with glee at the thought of the creative dishes they will make for the judging panel and then The Chairman yells (…“in the words of my uncle”…) “Allez Cuisine” (which roughly translates to “Get Cooking”) does a karate chop (Why, I don’t know) and with that, the chefs gather up the no-longer secret ingredient, race to their stations, yell orders at their sous chefs, and begin the battle (during the course of the show, this will be referred to as “Battle Mushroom” – I love it!). 

So today’s secret and only ingredient was king oyster mushroom (currently the main focus of Mississippi Mushroom’s business) and while normally the Iron Chefs and contestants create dishes to showcase the secret ingredient, here I just wanted to make sure it got incorporated into something tasty that most everyone would feel comfortable making.  I’m not into sous vied (cooking in a water bath food that is sealed in plastic pouches) or emulsions or extrusions or anything else.  Here, it was chop, wok and serve.  Easy!

That said, I did adjust the recipe just a tad, decreasing some ingredients (for example, I ran out of onion – how inconvenient) so that I could showcase the mushrooms.  And I must say, I think even a panel of food critics would have approved.  Was it Iron Chef America-worthy?  No.  Did I care?  No.  Should you?  No.  What you’ll get is very flavorful fried rice, loaded with chopped vegetables, featuring the wonderfully nutty-flavored king oyster mushroom, and kicked up a notch on the flavor wheel by the addition of fresh minced ginger. 

Although this recipe is titled “Vegetable” Fried Rice, it is not vegetarian; for that, substitute vegetable broth or water for chicken stock.  And when Martin Yan said “Of course, you can add meat or seafood if you like,” I did indeed “like” and so after I stir-fried the vegetables, I removed that mixture from the wok, added more oil and stir-fried some chicken bits in the same sauce that I fried the vegetables:  oil, soy sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil.  Once cooked (this takes minutes) I then placed my chicken on top of the fried rice.  The result was very yummy and we pretty much polished off the rice in two easy sittings.

So the good news is that the king oyster mushrooms were delicious in this recipe but the bad news (well, not that bad) is that this company is just getting its product to market and so right now, you can find them at the Fulton Farmer’s Market (at 49th and Chowen in South Minneapolis) through fall and (soon) Linden Hill’s Co-op in the Linden Hill’s neighborhood of Minneapolis.  If all goes according to plan, they will be in a lot more local co-ops and local restaurants – stay tuned!  But if you get a chance, head to these locations and talk, if you can, to the three guys who put this business together – Ian Silver-Ramp, Nik Prenevost and Michael Melander – because you will get the very cool back-story of their mushrooms as follows: 

Once upon a time, three guys figured out how to grow really fabulous mushrooms indoors, year-round from (and you will love this) a concoction of (beer) brewer’s after-products, sourced from local brewer Boom Island Brewery, and sawdust from Wood from the Hood, a company that fashions very cool furniture out of fallen trees.  Add those ingredients together, mix with some agricultural know-how, “bake” in a special growing area and voila!  Fabulous mushrooms.  Actually fabulous “fertilizer-free” mushrooms since most mushrooms are grown using fertilizer.  Ew.  These mushrooms are fresh and clean and healthy for you to boot, containing lots of dietary fiber and iron and other essential vitamins.  But essentially, the thing you need to know about them is that they just taste good.  In fact, as I am wont to do, my manta in my kitchen today was “one [slice of mushroom] for the recipe, one for me…one for the recipe, two for me…”

Now, it is not uncommon on Iron Chef America for one of the culinary world’s celebrity judges to say something like “I’m normally not a [in this case] mushroom fan” but this recipe is delicious!”  After today, count me as one of the converted and start demanding these mushrooms from your local favorite vegetable “supplier.”  And remember, you heard it here first:  Mississippi Mushrooms!  (And let’s not forget Martin Yan, who I also think is very cool and is frequently a judge on Iron Chef America—so there!)

Vegetable Friend Rice – Serves 6
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
½ small onion, cut into ¼-inch cubes
1 small carrot, cut into ¼-inch cubes
1 stalk celery, cut into ¼-inch cubes
2 tablespoons chicken broth or water (or vegetable broth)
1 can (about 8 ounces) baby corn, drained, rinsed, and cut into ½-inch pieces
1 green onion (including top), thinly sliced
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
½ cup sliced fresh mushrooms (Ann’s Note: try to use my clients’ king oyster mushrooms if you can)
4 cups cooked brown rice (Ann’s Note:  healthier yes, but I prefer white rice)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
¼ teaspoon white pepper
Shredded lecture for garnish
Place a wok or wide frying pan over high heat until hot.  Add the vegetable oil, swirling to coat the sides.  Add the garlic, ginger, and onion; cook until the onion is soft, about 30 seconds.  Add the carrot, celery, and broth and stir-fry for 2 minutes.  Add the baby corn, green onion, peas, mushrooms, and rice, separating the grains of rice with the back of a spoon; mix well.  Stir in the soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and pepper; cook until heated through.  Garnish with shredded lettuce.

Notes from Martin Yan:  Most Chinese do not eat brown rice; we get plenty of fiber in our diets from vegetables and fruits, and in the quantities in which we eat rice every day, using the whole grain would be too much.  But brown rice is popular in the West, especially among vegetarians, so here’s a way to use it along with assorted vegetables.  Of course, you can add meat or seafood if you like. 

How the rice is cooked in the first place affects the texture of fried rice.  If you want the rice to be separate and chewy, use slightly less water; if you prefer it more tender and sticky, use more water.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

"Poppy Cannon's Bride's Cookbook" by Poppy Cannon - Iowa Pork Chop Casserole

Date I made this recipe:  August 4, 2013

Poppy Cannon’s Bride’s Cookbook by Poppy Cannon (originally published in 1954 as The Bride’s Cookbook.  Revised edition published in 1961 as The ABC’s of Quick and Glamorous Cooking.)
Published by: Paperback Library
© 1954; Paperback Library Edition First Printing: May, 1970
Recipe:  Iowa Pork Chop Casserole – p. 202

“We’ve only just begun to live…white lace and promises…a kiss for luck and we’re on our way….”

I cannot get this song out of my head!  This is We’ve Only Just Begun, written in 1970 by Roger Nichols and Paul Williams, and made famous by The Carpenters (brother and sister Richard and Karen Carpenter).  This had to have been the most played wedding songs of the 1970’s.  I certainly heard it over and over and over again at weddings I attended back in the day.  It does not have a beat and you cannot dance to it but it’s catchy, right?

Seems to me that when it comes to wedding invites, it either rains or it pours.  This year, it’s pouring.  (Disclaimer:  the older we get, the fewer the weddings so to us more than one is a deluge).  We started off our wedding season with a family wedding at the end of July, another wedding locally last Sunday, August 11th, and have another one scheduled for September 28th.  And in between, we received a notice that one of our male friends, someone who we thought was a confirmed bachelor, got married in June – congratulations, Mike and Rhonda! So weddings abound!

The first wedding of the summer was of a cousin’s daughter, held in New Jersey at a lovely church and then later a lovely country club.  The bride and groom are in their late 20’s but showed great sophistication and attention to detail in their arrangements.  The entire thing was a blast and let me just say that the dance floor was never empty.  Not once.  The DJ played a fabulous mix of music and impressively, a lot of men were up there dancing (and dancing well, I might add).  Hats off to them, I say!

The second wedding this past weekend, was of a completely different nature.  The bride and groom were older (50’s and 60’s) and the focus was on inclusiveness.  Both are active members of their church and the bride also sings with the choir.  While she sat out her own ceremony, some 50-odd choir members sang for her and if that wasn’t impressive enough, they also had an organist, vocal soloists and two violinists to round out the musical portion of our program.  And that was just at the church.  At the reception, table cards notified us that family and friends would perform in an “open mike” setting.  We had no idea what to expect and so were pleasantly surprised at the song selections (The Beatles – unplugged) and caliber of the musicians – there was not a clunker in the room which is to say that this was most assuredly not Karaoke Night at the local bar!

Weddings though, were not always this unique or that personalized.  Back when my parents got married (1957), you typically had your cake and your punch and maybe you had a dinner or a brunch but maybe not. It was noted in newspaper articles if the ceremony was double-ring, meaning both the bride and the groom wore wedding bands – again, not common for both like they are today.  Bands and most certainly not DJ’s were not often found at the reception.  Favors were not de rigueur.  And brides and bridesmaids were certainly not of the “zilla” (i.e. “bridezilla”) nature.  You had your personalized matchbooks and napkins, you had certain friends designated to do various tasks (pour coffee, cut cake, unwrap gifts) and that was about that.  No bells, no whistles, just a focus on the ceremony and most importantly, the marriage.  Easy peasey.

If 50’s weddings were streamlined and easy, so was cooking preparation.  Although the cover of Poppy Cannon’s Bride’s Cookbook shows a 70’s bride (the paperback was published in 1970), the book was published originally in 1954 and let me tell you, it confirms everything that I know about cooking in the 50’s – canned food was king!  Many of the recipes in this book call upon you to use canned macaroni and cheese or canned spaghetti or basically canned [fill in the blank].  If it was in a can, you were cooking with Crisco.  Women in the 50’s wanted food in a hurry and what better way to make that happen then to open a can, Stan.

And so along came Poppy Cannon and she gave you everything you needed in 343 pages to make sure that the new bride was going to make her man happy by getting dinner on the table as soon as he came home.  Entertaining also increased during this period but our Poppy was ready for it --there’s a chapter titled “Meat for Your Man to Eat” as well as “Secrets to Make You a Star Hostess.”  There’s even a chapter called “Cater Your Own Wedding,” something many brides-to-be employed when the budget was an issue.  (It should go without saying that budget-busting weddings were not a happenin’ thing back then.) 

Okay, so…after reviewing the cookbook a couple of times, I started the elimination process, taking out my “absolutely not” recipes, beginning with recipes like Dressed-Up Chip Beef with Almonds to which I say “You can’t put lipstick on that pig” then adding a recipe for “Bile Fish” (Boiled Halibut) Virgin Island Style.  Right.  The way to make a new husband happy is to say “How was your day, dear?  I thought I’d serve “bile fish” tonight.”  And while I love chicken, I am so not ever using canned chicken, especially for something so easy at Roast Chicken with Stuffing.  I mean – really?  Canned chicken for that???

My list kept whittling and whittling until finally, in near desperation, I settled on today’s recipe:  Iowa Pork Chop Casserole.  And okay, yes, this recipe includes a can of soup but that’s to be expected – soup and casseroles go together like peanut butter and jelly.  If it had called for canned pork chops however, all bets would have been off.

I’ve mentioned before in this blog that my mother had to ease into cooking but I can see her making this recipe for dad.  It contains meat (very important), is easy and she could have made up a bowl of mashed potatoes for an instant full meal.  My mom likely would have set the table with a tablecloth of some sort and maybe candles whereas Andy and I go the total casual route and eat our food in front of the TV set as we have always done since the day we got married 22 years ago.  Bad bride!  Bad!

Although I have several cookbooks by Poppy Cannon in my collection, the cover (and the bride dressed in what I consider to be a hideous 1970’s wedding dress) is the sole reason I bought this book on Etsy.  The recipes were rather disappointing, most of them calling for what I call “rude food” (like canned chicken) and nothing really stood out but that’s okay – sometimes you just have to have a cookbook for reasons other than the food. If all else fails, be sure to peruse the “Beverages ‘Round the Clock” chapter, pour yourself a glass of said beverage and call it a day.

Iowa Pork Chop Casserole – 4 servings
1 can condensed Cream of Chicken soup
2 cups canned peas
4 pork chops
2 bay leaves, halved

Put the can of cream of chicken soup (undiluted) in a baking dish with 2 cups drained canned peas.  Season the pork chops with salt and pepper and arrange on top of baking dish, placing ½ bay leaf under each.  Bake in a low oven, 325F, about 45 minutes.  Uncover and continue to bake about 15 minutes until chops brown.

Make or buy mashed potatoes to accompany your meal.

Monday, August 5, 2013

"The Taste of Summer" & "Thyme in a Bottle" (by '70's singer Jim Croce's widow, Ingrid) - Summer Vegetable Guacamole Salsa & Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

Date I made these recipes:  July 21, 2013

The Taste of Summer – Inspired Recipes for Casual Entertaining by Diane Rossen Worthington
Published by:  Bantam Books
© 1988
Recipe:  Summer Vegetable Guacamole Salsa – p. 42-43
*purchased at Arc’s Value Village Thrift Stores

Thyme in a Bottle by Ingrid Croce (Ingrid is the widow of 70’s singer Jim Croce, composer of Time In A Bottle, Bad, Bad Leroy Brown and more!)
Published by:  CollinsPublishers
© 1998
Recipe:  Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas – p. 207-208

People, this has been some kind of summer, has it not?  First those of us in the Midwest practically froze to death waiting for summer (which did not start until mid-May, if that seeing as how it snowed on May 3rd).  Then the nation roasted under sweltering heat the third week of July (when I made this recipe) when temperatures spiked into the mid-90’s (although high, they were not as high as last year when we broke all kinds of records). It rains, it pours, we’re happy, we’re not.  (Let me just say that on June 21, we experienced a rain storm of monumental proportions, such that I felt like my house had been driven through a car wash. Yikes!)

And then, as per usual, we started our descent into what I consider fall weather – mid 70’s. We are expected to stay at this [freezing cold temperature] weather pattern for a few weeks.  This is all too soon, just too soon.

And so as I do every year when August is rounding the corner, I mourn.  I get nostalgic for those hot days of bright sun, high in the sky, with nary a cloud in sight and when life seems just perfect.  Yes, I know – we have a while to go before summer is officially over but yet let’s not lie to ourselves:  come September 1st, we start putting away our summer clothes and our memories and start shoring up for yet another fall and winter.

To combat the inevitable cool-down, I pulled two books off my shelf, one called (appropriately) The Taste of Summer from which I made a really delicious salsa and Thyme in a Bottle, the title of which is a play on a Jim Croce song from the 70’s, Time In A Bottle; this cookbook was written by his widow, owner of Croce’s Restaurant, Ingrid Croce.  Every year, I always think “If only I could bottle this heat.  If only I could bottle the sun” and of course this year, “If I could save Time In A Bottle…” but just because I can’t but doesn’t mean I cannot get all wistful about the prospect.

 I don’t have much to say about The Taste of Summer as that title just sums if up, but I do have a bit to say, as I always do, about the Thyme In A Bottle cookbook, specifically about the fabulous songs written by the late singer, Jim Croce.

If you were alive in the 70’s and halfway coherent (and by that I mean you weren’t sitting in a baby carriage somewhere), you would have heard some of these famous tunes getting endless air time on the radio:

  • Time In A Bottle – 1972
  • You Don’t Mess Around with Jim – 1972
  • Operator - 1972
  • I’ve Got a Name – 1973
  • Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown – 1973
 My brother became totally enamored with Jim and not only did he play his album (yes, kids – album) over and over but he bought the sheet music to all his songs and spent hours banging out “Leroy Brown” on the piano.  If memory serves, he even played that song for a piano recital one year.  And why wouldn’t he?  Jim Croce was a genius songwriter whose works are still popular, years after he died in a plane crash in 1973.  Time In A Bottle still makes me tear up, to wit:  “If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I’d like to do…is to save every day till eternity passes away…just to spend them with you…” (©1972 James Croce/EMI Music Publishing).  Sniffle.

This walk down Jim Croce lane prompted me to reflect on my life in high school in the 70’s and how odd it was to me that every graduating class from my high school, a very small high school in a very small town, selected a class song, typically from the Top 40’s lineup, that summed up – well, sort of – how we felt about moving into the next phase of our life post-high school.  The class song should never be confused with a school song – that we didn’t have – or the school fight song that we did.  Jim Croce’s “Time In A Bottle” was in contention the year I graduated, 1976, but it lost out to “Brian’s Song” a/k/a “Hands of Time.”  Let’s just say you have not lived until you’ve heard high school boys trying to sing this awfully high song at the commencement ceremony.  (Had this graduation been from my Catholic grade school, rest assured that “Sister” would not have tolerated the mumbling and rumbling from the guys in my class.)

For the record, and because I know you are dying to know, other classes selected the following songs to usher them out the door of William G. Mather H.S.:

1973 – Morning Has Broken by Cat Stevens (now known as Yusuf Islam…I still can’t reconcile that one)
1974 – With a Little Help from My Friends by The Beatles
1975 – We May Never Pass This Way Again by Seals and Crofts (who I saw in concert in college in the fall of 1976.  This concert was a

Out of these three pieces, Morning Has Broken was probably the easiest to sing but the Seals and Crofts tune would have taken top honors in the screechy category had not my class gone with Brian’s Song - yikes, the octaves! (This popular movie theme was written with lyrics but is best remembered as a piano piece - would that my class had remembered that little detail.) 

Other things to note from my high school years were that every class selected a class flower, a class motto, a class poem (1976 only?) and a class color that was always different from the school colors of orange and black - always.  In fact, the yearbooks covers were never orange and black nor did they match the class colors.  I have no idea why that was, it just was.   The yearbook color for the class of 1972 (when I was in 8th grade), for example, was yellow and orange and yet their class colors were purple and white.  Well that makes a whole lot of sense, no?  But then my class should talk—when one graduated in 1976, the Bicentennial Year, one accepted the fact that the class colors (and yearbook cover) were red, white and blue.  (Let me just add that I often summarize this period of time and the use of shall we say “other pharmaceuticals” with the statement “It was the 70’s.”  If you were growing up during that time, then that sentence probably says it all; if you were born much later well then…never mind.)

And so back to the 70’s and to summer and to the cookbook…so Jim Croce died (a very sad event in the music world) and his widow, Ingrid, eventually started a restaurant called, appropriately, Croce’s and then wrote this cookbook filled with recipes from the restaurant as well as a bio of Jim and stories of their life together with their son, A.J.  All the recipes looked good but I was drawn to the Green Chile Chicken Enchilada recipe, primarily because it paired so well with the salsa from the Taste of Summer cookbook.  I also liked her take on the enchiladas as they were stacked, almost like tostadas, and then sprinkled with sauce and cheese and chicken rather than ending up looking like Mexican lasagna (usually over-cheesed and overly goopy) as most modern day enchiladas do (in my opinion).

And so I made these recipes and hummed a few bars of my favorite Jim Croce songs and looked at the temperature (high 80’s) and just enjoyed the moment.  And okay, fine, thought about how to save summer in a bottle.  Maybe next year.

Summer Vegetable Guacamole Salsa – serving size not given
2 large tomatoes (about 1 pound), peeled, seeded, and finely diced
½ medium sweet red pepper, diced (about ½ cup)
½ medium sweet yellow pepper, diced (about ½ cup)
1 large carrot, peeled and diced (about ¾ cup)
½ cup corn kernels (about 1 medium ear)
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 medium avocado, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
(optional) extra cilantro leaves for garnish

Combine all ingredients except the avocado in a medium mixing bowl.  Refrigerate for 1 hour.  Spoon into a serving bowl.  Right before serving add the avocado and taste for seasoning.  Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve with fresh tortilla chips.

The salsa may be prepared up to 4 hours ahead through step 1 and kept in the refrigerator.

Ann’s Note:  This salsa is incredibly fresh and just has “summer” written all over it!

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas – serves 4
Twelve 6-inch-round blue corn tortillas
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded
4 tablespoons green onion, chopped
6 tablespoons fresh tomato, diced
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, grated
6 tablespoons sour cream

For the green chile sauce (you will need 1 ¼ cups – the recipe makes 1 ½)
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 tablespoons onion, finely diced
2 green Anaheim chiles, seeded and chopped
1 cup chicken stock or water
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
Salt, to taste
½ chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1 teaspoon roux (if needed) – roux is a mixture of equal parts fat (butter) and flour

To make the enchilada sauce:  heat the olive oil in a large saucepan until hot but not smoking.  Add the onion and sauté lightly.  Add the green chiles, chicken stock or water, and garlic and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  Remove from the stove and puree in a food processor until smooth.  Put the chile puree back in the saucepan and bring to a boil again.  Season with salt and check the consistency, which should be smooth and creamy.  Stir in the shredded chicken.  Add roux if needed.  Remove from the heat and cool.

Next, assemble the enchiladas: soften the tortillas in a pan with a little hot oil for 30 seconds on each side.  On a baking sheet put 4 stacks of 2 tortillas each.  Put 2 tablespoons of Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Sauce on top of each stack of tortillas.  Next, put half of each of the following: chicken, green onions, tomatoes, cheese, and sour cream.  Place 1 tortilla on top of this mixture, followed by the rest of the chicken and cheese.

Bake in a 350 oven for 8 to 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.  Remove from the oven.  Garnish with the green onion, tomatoes and a dollop of sour cream.