summer vegetable soup


Over the past few weeks, emails have been trickling into my inbox with urgent subjects like “End of Summer Sale!” and “Last Call Before Fall!” Target already has Halloween junk on display and Gap is trying to sell me turtleneck sweaters and flannel shirts.

My question is: What’s the big rush? Fall doesn’t start, officially, until September 22nd — weeks away from now. Not to mention that September is usually the finest month of  the year where I live in the Northeast – lots of sun, blue skies and low humidity, which in my opinion, make the best beach days of the entire season.

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spaghetti with squid and cherry tomatoes

This is one of my favorite ways to cook squid, using a method I often use when I want to simplify things — one-pan roasting. The beauty of it (aside from cleaning up fewer pans) is that the tomatoes and squid cook quickly, at the same time, and create a delicious garlic and chili-scented pan sauce for the pasta.

The toasted breadcrumb topping is key: as much as I love (and crave) pasta showered with cheese, the contrast here between the crunchy crumbs, al dente pasta and springy squid rings is really wonderful. It’s super traditional — almost verboten — for Italians to serve seafood with an aged cheese like Parmigiano or Pecorino, because its salty sharpness can overwhelm the delicate nature of fish or shellfish. Although I tend to push the rules a bit when I cook, in this case tradition wins.

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chocolate amaro cake

I wasn’t always a bitter person. But my interest in singling out that particular tastebud over other basic ones has grown from what was once adventurous curiosity to a bona fide obsession. It’s a big leap. I had a childhood love of sweets and soft drinks (hello mouthful of dental work), but now I crave the opposite, along with heated spice and saltiness.

And I’m not the only one. Unlike Italians, who have been cultivating and cooking bitter foods for centuries – think of radicchio, rapini, arugula, and dark-roasted coffee “corrected” with shots of Fernet-Branca – American palates are just now getting caught up with them. [Read more…]