Be Inspired Seasonally with Rita Calvert
There is total focus on Buy Local Week once again for the summer season. The Governor's Cook Off takes place, restaurants make a big effort to showcase the local products they serve and we locals give extra support for our regional farmers by spending a bit of extra time to support our farmers markets and road-side farm stands. We frequent stores which support our farmers. This week’s blog post introduces some new flavor combinations...especially of produce at its apex. The best dishes work this way; they emphasize the amazing merger of seasonal, high-quality ingredients without being complicated.
Basil, Corn, Nectarine and Cucumber Salad
A burst of the best of summer is this simplistic sturdy salad of just 3 main ingredients fresh from our local fields or garden and orchard.
- 4 ripe nectarines
- 1 large or 2 medium seedless cucumbers
- 2 ears freshly cooked corn, kernels removed
- 2 tablespoons red onion, cut into very thin slivers
- red pepper flakes, if desired
- Kosher salt, to taste
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 4 tablespoons fresh basil threads
Slice nectarines into 1/2 inch wedges. Thinly slice cucumber into half-moons.
Place nectarines, cucumbers and corn in serving bowl.Top with remaining ingredients, except basil, and toss. Allow to sit for at least 15 minutes, add the basil, and toss again before serving.
Grilled Shrimp Scampi
Nothing is more scrumptious than huge quality shrimp with a few "impact ingredients". This recipe takes a Greek turn and is so stellar we were licking the skillet!
- 1 pound extra large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- Fresh juice of half a lemon
- 2 gloves fresh garlic, minced
- Olive oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 2 tablespoons pitted Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
Place the shrimp, lemon juice and garlic in a medium bowl and marinate, refrigerated for 20 minutes.
Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat. When hot add a drizzle of olive oil and the shrimp mixture; sear on each side. Toss in the parsley, capers, olives and stir. When the shrimp has turned pink and become solid, add the feta and toss gently.
Remove from the heat and let the feta continue to melt as the shrimp rests for a minutes or two.
Dish out on serving plates.
Fresh Strawberry, Blueberry and Cream
This was a great idea I experienced recently at a gathering on the Severn River. Fresh (maybe local?) strawberries are scooped out leaving a tiny well. A creamy sweet mixture is piped in and topped with a blueberry. Aside from addicting, they are quite patriotic, don't you think?
The recipe is basically an assembly, so use your own style to put it together.There are many variations on how to present these stuffed strawberries from deviled egg platters, decorative mini muffin cups or just resting on one another in a bowl.
- 1 quart fresh strawberries
- 1 cup mascarpone or whipped cream cheese
- Confectioners sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup blueberries
Clean the strawberries and pat very dry. Using a rounded 1/2 teaspoon measure, scoop out the stem and a small well in the top of each strawberry. Turn over on a paper towel to drain off any juice.
Mix the mascarpone or cream cheese with confectioners sugar desired and fold in vanilla. Place in a piping bag or a quart size zipper storage bag. If using a plastic bag, snip off a small piece of one corner to create a simple disposable pastry bag.
Hold each strawberry upright and pipe a mound of cream filling into the well. You may want to rest in a mini muffin cup to hold upright. Insert a fresh blueberry into the mound of cream filling in each strawberry.
To serve, arrange all berries, standing tall, in a low flat bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.