happy birthday to me! (well, in 3 weeks...)

Hi all!

Happy Canada Day! (and early Happy Independence Day!)

July is my favorite month, because, well, it is the month of my birth. So this month I will be taking time off to go upstate and get some real nature.

I will also be cooking a lot too, don't get me wrong. July in New York is when the greenmarkets just explode! I can smell the strawberries and peaches literally from a block away. And this is the only time of year I can eat tomatoes, so I try to get my fill over the rest of the summer.

Salmon with Chermoula I made this the other night when I was craving something light and Moroccan-inspired. I served it with French green lentils and Roasted Fennel and Grape Tomatoes. It was so good I wanted you guy to get a chance to have it!

Panzanella This Classic Italian salad is the easiest thing in the world and takes about 20 minutes from start to finish. If you have a grill, grilling the bread adds a dimension of flavor that is unbelievable. But toasting the bread makes for a dang tasty salad.

Peach-Thyme Ice Cream This is based on recipe from one of my all-time favorite cookbooks The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz. If you are looking for and ice cream recipe book, get this one. Along with amazing ice cream recipes, it's got wonderful recipes for loads of accoutrements.

Enjoy July! I will see you in August, one year older (for sure) and wiser (not crossing my fingers).


Salmon with Chermoula

These are the measurements I used, but feel free to use more or less of whatever if you prefer. You can also swap in orange zest and juice for the lemon or add 1/2 cup finely chopped onion with the parsley.

      • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
        1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
      1/2 teaspoon black pepper
      • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
      • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
      1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
    • a large pinch saffron threads, crumbled
        • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
        1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
      • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
      • 2 tablespoons olive oil
      • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

    4 center-cut salmon fillets (about 6 ounces each), pin bones and skin removed

    Harissa (Middle-Eastern hot sauce), for serving (optional)

    In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the dry spices. Whisk in the garlic, lemon zest and juice, and olive oil until blended. Stir in the parley and cilantro.

    Add the fish and turn to coat it in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.

    Place an ovenproof pan (preferably cast-iron)underneath the broiler and heat the broiler. When the pan is smoking hot, carefully remove it from the broiler and place the salmon skin side down in the pan (it should sizzle mightily). Spoon the marinade over the fish and return the pan to the broiler. Broil the fish without turning until medium, about 7 minutes.

    If you serve it like I did (with green lentils and roasted veggies), place a pile of lentils just north of center on each plate, then top with a salmon fillet. Spoon the vegetables down one side of the fish.

    Serve with harissa on the side, if you like.

    Roasted Fennel and Grape Tomatoes

    You could also use yellow pear tomatoes, or a mix of the two, for more color on the plate.

    2 medium bulbs fennel, trimmed and cut into sixths (leave some of the fronds on--they get crispy and yummy!)
    1 pint grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
    1/4 cup olive oil
    salt and pepper

    Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, combine the fennel and tomatoes with the olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

    Spread the vegetables out in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast until the fennel is caramelized and the tomatoes are soft, about 12 minutes. Turn the fennel halfway through cooking so it browns on both sides.


    This is a way to use up stale bread, or, if you're like me, to use bread that you have bought specially to make this salad. I like to use a bunch of different kinds of heirloom tomatoes, because I love them, and they make a really pretty salad. You can use whatever kind of maters you like. Mint is also delicious with tomatoes--I sometimes like it better than basil!

    • 1 pound loaf crusty peasant-style sourdough or whole-grain bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 6 1/2 cups)
      • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
      • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
      • 1 garlic clove, grated on a Microplane*
      1 1/2 pounds mixed heirloom tomatoes, cut into similar-size wedges
    • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
    • 10 fresh basil leaves, shredded
    • salt and pepper

    Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spread the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast until beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Let cool until just cool enough to handle.

    Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, and garlic. Add the tomatoes and cheese and toss to coat them with the dressing. Add the bread and toss until mixed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let stand 10 minutes, toss again, and garnish with basil just before serving.

    * If you don't have a Microplane, you can mince the garlic then crush it with the side of a chef's knife untiI it's nearly a paste. Then go out and get a Microplane! You won't believe how much you use it!)

    Peach-Thyme ice cream

    This is based on David Lebovitz's Peach Ice cream recipe in The Perfect Scoop. You can use almond extract instead of the vanilla, if you like. The sour cream is a perfect foil for the sweetness of the peaches and keeps it from being cloying, and the slight pepperiness of the thyme really sets the peach flavor off. My favorite Strawberry Ice Cream recipe also uses sour cream (and happens to be in the same book, go figure). I highly recommend it!

    1/2 cup water
    1 tablespoon thyme leaves
    1 1/3 pounds peaches (about 4 large peaches)
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/2 cup sour cream
    1 cup heavy cream
    1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/8 teaspoon lemon juice

    Combine the water and thyme in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, and let stand while you peel and pit the peaches. (See below.)

    Strain the water and combine with the prepared peaches. Simmer about 10 minutes, or until the peaches are mostly cooked through. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sugar.

    Combine the peach mixture with the sour cream, heavy cream, vanilla, and lemon juice until smooth. Chill thoroughly (I usually do it overnight), then freeze in the ice cream maker until frozen.

    TO PEEL PEACHES: Cut an X in the bottom of each peach. In another saucepan, bring about 3 inches of water to a boil, then immerse each peach in the water for about 20 seconds. Transfer to a colander and shock them with cold water. The peels should slip right off!

    Strawberry Ice cream

    You can leave the vodka out and use an additional tablespoon lemon juice. But don't skip the macerating either way. You can also use a couple tablespoons more sugar if your strawberries aren't very sweet. This ice cream is best eaten very soon after it's made--it does not need to "cure" like many other ice creams.

    1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced
    1 tablespoon vodka
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1 cup sour cream
    1 cup heavy cream
    1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

    Combine the strawberries, sugar, and vodka and toss until the sugar is dissolved. Let stand for 1 hour, stirring every once in a while.

    Combine the strawberries and their liquid with the remaining ingredients and puree until smooth. (I like to strain my strawberry ice cream to get rid of the seeds, but it's up to you.) Chill thoroughly and freeze in an ice cream maker.