How To Make A Summer Farmer’s Market Feast


It’s August and you have no excuse: tomatoes and peaches are calling. Not the ones with little stickers on them at the supermarket, but the superior, positively bursting-with-summer ones you’ll find at your farmer’s market. “Ugh, but do I really have to go to a farmer’s market?” If that’s you, listen up: yes you do. And I’m going to walk you through it, tell you what to buy, in order to make an incredible Summer Farmer’s Market Feast for six. Are you ready? Let’s do it.

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Easy Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese


Sometimes I write recipe posts where I share a recipe at the end and other times I write recipe posts where the recipe is embedded in the post itself. There’s a reason for that!

Recipe posts where the recipe’s at the end are the kinds of recipes where specific amounts matter; recipe posts where I just write a recipe as part of a larger narrative are recipes where you can just wing it. So, Sam Sifton’s Pear Cobbler? You need to follow those instructions. But my Butternut Squash Soup with Whiskey Ginger Cream? That’s a totally improvised recipe and I wanted to give you the power to improvise your own version. If I’d written that with specific amounts, chances are you would’ve just replicated what I did instead of doing it your own way. The soup will taste better if you do it your way.

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The Iron Chef of Ditmas Park


After the movers whisked my stuff away to California on Saturday, it occurred to me: “I won’t be able to cook for several weeks!”

That’s a problem for a food blogger. So while making plans with my friends Patty and Lauren, who live in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, they made mention of their C.S.A. box. (For those not in the know, C.S.A. stands for Community Supported Agriculture. You pay a set price and get a box of goodies from a farmer each week.) “I have an idea!” I said, suddenly excited. “What if I come over and cook you both dinner based on whatever’s in the box? It’ll be just like Iron Chef!” I’m sure pretty Patty and Lauren exchanged nervous glances at this point (this was over I.M.) but before I knew it, Patty wrote: “Sure.”

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A Ratatouille Recipe


It’s been more than a month since I made the ratatouille you see in the above photo. I made it for a dinner party where there was lamb (a leg of lamb, actually) and, as many will tell you, ratatouille goes well with lamb. When I wrote my last book, the final chapter “Feast” featured a leg of lamb paired with a ratatouille just like you see above. In fact, it was the exact same recipe as the one you see above, a recipe from Gourmet magazine that now lives on Epicurious.

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Michael Symon’s Spicy Tomato & Blue Cheese Soup


At the end of yesterday’s video podcast with Michael Symon, you may have heard me sheepishly express doubt about adding blue cheese to tomato soup. For some reason, I thought the result would be grainy and gloppy and just kind of gross. Instead, this tomato soup was absolutely the best tomato soup I’ve ever had–and the best part about it is you’d never know that blue cheese was what was making it taste so good. It adds depth and creaminess but it doesn’t taste funky and you don’t notice the texture.

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Nectarine Cake


So yes, when you come home from a foreign country, you want to cook all the things you ate there–to see if you can recreate the magic–but then you also want to cook something familiar: the kind of food you missed when you were abroad. The very first thing that I made when I came back from Barcelona was a tomato salad. Sure, there were tomatoes there in BCN, but I wasn’t looking for a tomato rubbed on toasted bread with garlic and oil; I wanted big chunks of tomato with basil, olive oil, All American corn, and (here’s the doozy) big pieces of toasted bread. I bought all my ingredients from the Union Square Farmer’s Market, which I visited bright and early the Friday after we got back, still jet-lagged and able to awake at 6 AM.

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Tomato Time Is Now


Your biological clock may be ticking, but your gastronomical clock is practically stomping on the ground and demanding that you get thee to a farmer’s market to enjoy the last of this summer’s tomatoes.

It’s a truth that often goes unacknowledged that tomatoes are at their best not during the hot, sweaty days of summer but during the crisp, clear, brand new days of fall. I first learned this watching “Molto Mario” but now I’ve confirmed it by buying the brightest red tomatoes I’ve ever seen and serving them with varying accoutrements. The salad you see above, for example, features sliced tomatoes with basil, blue cheese, oil and balsamic vinegar. Salt and pepper, natch. Actually, I hate using the word “natch”–that was the first time I ever used it–and I didn’t enjoy it.

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Molly’s Slow Roasted Tomatoes (Pomodori al Forno)


A journey of a thousand miles may begin with one step, but a recipe of several steps begins with precisely 2,408 miles. Specifically: the distance from New York to Seattle.

It was on the plane from New York to Seattle that I read last month’s Bon Appetit magazine which featured our friend Molly Orangette’s recipe for slow roasted tomatoes. The recipe was adapted from the one at Cafe Lago, a restaurant Molly writes lovingly about in the accompanying article, and a restaurant that’s back-to-back with an apartment where Craig used to live with his friends Ryan and Kristen.

The story might’ve ended there, with me reading about Cafe Lago’s Pomodori al Forno on the plane, except the story–like those slow-cooked tomatoes–gets richer as it goes along.

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