Cooking with Lady Smokey: Easy Summer Eating

Summer makes it so easy to eat more produce and less meat as there is so much good local produce available this time of year. You barely have to even cook. Recently, we’ve made many a meal with a simple bowl of tomatoes, cucumbers with a little vinegar on them, fresh fruit, and a crusty loaf of bread with some good cheese. For more elaborate summer meals, though, these next few recipes incorporated some of the wonderful summer produce and have really made us happy.

One evening recently, I got a text from Dolan with this beautiful photo attached:

Ali Marie had prepared this for dinner.  I’ve been a little more interested in adding some other protein sources into our dinner repertoire lately, so I immediately asked for Ali Marie’s recipe which, turns out, was her adaptation of a Heidi Swanson recipe. The original can be found here. I also think you could substitute tofu for the tempeh. Just be sure to use extra firm tofu and press as much of the water from it as you can before marinating.

Ali Marie’s Maple Glazed Tempeh (or Tofu)
Serves 2-4
• Olive Oil
• 8 oz Tempeh (or Tofu)
• 6 Tbsp Tamari or Nama Shoyu
• 6 Tbsp Maple Syrup
• 2 tsp Rice Vinegar
• 4 cloves Garlic, peeled, crushed and chopped
• 1/4 tsp Cayenne
• ½ Jalapeno Pepper, chopped finely
• 1 cup sliced Mushrooms
• 2 1/2 cups cooked Brown Rice (or Quinoa as I used in my version)
• a handful of steamed Broccolini or Green Beans
• 1 small handful Marcona Almonds
• Kale Leaves (you can mix with other greens), cleaned with center vein removed and chopped
• Chopped Carrots
• Balsamic Vinegar
• Sea Salt
• Hard Boiled Eggs, cut in half and served on the side (optional)

Cut the tempeh diagonally into 4 triangles. If possible, depending on the tempeh you use, thin those triangles out by slicing each in half horizontally – 8 triangles total. Set the tempeh aside while you make the maple marinade by combining the tamari, maple syrup, rice vinegar, garlic, and cayenne in a small bowl. Reserve a few tablespoons of the marinade to use later as a drizzle. Place the pieces of tempeh, sliced mushroom, and jalapeno flat in a large baking dish. Pour the remaining marinade over and marinate for 30 minutes or so.

Heat a large skillet to medium and add olive oil. Saute the tempeh and mushrooms for a few minutes on each side – brushing with the remaining marinade from the bottom of the baking dish. When the tempeh is golden brown remove tempeh and mushrooms from the pan. Mix with brown rice and steamed broccolini or green beans and drizzle some of the marinade, which you set aside, over top and sprinkle with the almonds. Serve on top of a simple chopped kale, lettuce, and carrot salad splashed with olive oil, balsamic (which is really nice with the maple syrup glaze on the tempeh) and some sea salt.

For more protein, Ali Marie likes to serve with a hard boiled egg on the side.

I can’t always find Marcona Almonds in our neighborhood so this time, I made some by simply blanching almonds and then frying them up in an iron skillet with some olive oil and adding sea salt.

Our garden is overflowing with basil. It is so easy to grow down here in Nashville and I think because of that, it is very satisfying to do so. I just put it in the ground and there it goes, and it keeps on going, and going… but then, every year, I suddenly start feeling bad because I cannot use enough of it fast enough and I try to give it away but all my friends seem to also have tons of basil in their gardens.

For a few years, I made pesto and I came up with many different varieties with many different applications for incorporating it into our meals. This year, I have been racking my brain to come up with some new ways to cook with basil. I turned to my old favorite stand-by, a risotto. This recipe uses most of the same ingredients of a pesto so I decided to call it Pesto Risotto.

Pesto Risotto
• 6-8 cups good Vegetable Broth
• Small Bunch Parsley
• 1/4 Onion, sliced
• 2 cloves Garlic, crushed and chopped

• 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
• 1 White Onion, finely chopped
• 3 cloves Garlic, crushed and finely chopped
• 2 cups Arborio Rice
• 1 cup White Wine (Sauvignon Blanc)
• 4 cups Fresh Spinach Leaves, chopped
• 1 cup Fresh Basil, chopped (You can mix all types if you have several in your garden.)
• 1 cup finely grated Parmesan Reggiano
• Salt & freshly ground Black Pepper to taste
• Toasted Pine Nuts (or Walnuts) to Sprinkle on top
• Grated Lemon Zest to garnish

The key to cooking risotto is to stir constantly so be sure to have all ingredients prepped ahead of time. Heat stock in medium sauce pan. I like to use Seitenbacher Vegetable Broth and Seasoning which you add to water. Whether you use that or a boxed stock, if you are not making your own from scratch, I add chopped garlic and fresh parsley sprigs to the broth to give it a little more flavor. Keep the broth on the stove at a medium heat.

Next, mix the chopped spinach and basil together and set aside. Heat oil in large flat pan on medium heat. Add onion and saute. Stir. Cook for a couple minutes. Add garlic. Add rice. Stir. Add wine. Stir. Gradually begin to add stock in, about half a cup at a time and continue to stir. Stir until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add another addition of stock and stir until most of the liquid is absorbed.

Repeat this process until the mixture is creamy and a bit loose; the rice should still have some chew to it. The process will take about 20-30 minutes. Right when you think you are getting close, add the spinach and basil. Stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir. Add parmesan to risotto and stir. Top with the toasted pine nuts (or walnuts) and lemon zest.

My newest favorite summer meal is this Summer Squash Tart that my friend Nicole inspired me to make. We work together and are forever sharing our recipe ideas throughout the day. She made one of these recently with zucchini. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Here’s how my version ended up. I will for sure put this into my favorites list and make it every summer. This would surely impress any dinner guests and would make a nice gift to take a neighbor or friend. Also, leftovers made for a perfect weekend brunch.

Summer Squash Tart
For Pie Crust:
• 1 cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour (I use White Lilly)
• 4 oz (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, chilled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (I use organic butter)
• 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
• 3-4 Tbsp Ice Water

Place flour and salt in a medium sized bowl. Add butter. Gently mix with your hands, be gentle- your objective is to make the butter into little crumbs or grains, not to mush it all together, do not over mix. Go slow. The largest pieces of butter should be the size of peas or grains of rice. Sprinkle with 3 Tbsp of ice water. Make your hand into a claw as if you are trying to grab a basketball one handed, and stir dough briefly until the liquid is incorporated.  Squeeze a handful of dough in your palm.  It should have just enough moisture to stay together.  If it seems dry and crumbly, add more water a teaspoon at a time until you can squeeze it into a ball that doesn’t crumble when broken apart. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.  Roll out, into a circle, onto floured surface as quickly as you can.  Place the rolled out dough onto a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.

For Tart:
• 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
• ½ medium or 1 small Vidalia Onion, sliced in rings
• 4-5 Yellow Summer Squash
• Small handful of Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half
• 2-3 oz Beechers Flagship Cheese (or any sharp cheddar really), cut in slices
• 1 Egg, lightly beaten
• Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
• 1-2 Tbsp Fresh Herbs, chopped (I used Basil, Oregano, and Thyme)

Preheat oven to 425. Heat a saute pan on medium heat. Add olive oil. Saute the onions and set aside. Cut the squash into thin rounds. Mix with the onions and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Place the cheese slices on the rolled out dough, leaving about a one-inch border all the way around. Place the squash mixture on top of the cheese, spreading it out evenly. Gently fold over the edges of the dough to form a rustic edge all the way around. Pour the egg over and sprinkle with the herbs. Place in the oven at 425 for 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 and bake for another 25-30 minutes, or until lightly golden brown and fully set. Let it cool for a few minutes and then cut into slices as you would a pie.

For various reasons, I have not seen as much live music the last couple of months. One show I did make it out to, however, was New Orleans band Hurray For The Riff-Raff. What fun! I love these guys.

They are on tour now so be sure to be on the lookout for these folks. You can purchase their music and find out more about them here and I will close with this video for their song, “Look Out Mama.”