White Bean Bruschetta

White Bean Bruschetta

If you’ve bought a tomato recently you’ve been reminded that while it may be hot outside it’s far from summer.   Though plump and red, it’s only skin deep and the tomatoes that have tempted me into purchasing them lack the flavor of the late summer tomato that I dream about all year.

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Cookies n’ Cream Ice Cream

Cookies n' Cream

I grew up in Florida.  Summers were hot.  Really hot.  Parking lots waved and shimmered before your eyes, things left in the car melted, and by 10 am you were ready to give up on any outdoor fun and retreat inside to the a/c.

My family was lucky to have a place on the beach and we spent as much time as we could there during the hot summer months.  It was still hot, but a good breeze and the water (despite being more bathtub hot than refreshing by the end of the summer) helped make those stifling days seem more bearable.

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The Caipirinha

Capirinha from the Side

I know Moscow Mules are all the rage and that at the very least, with it being Cinco de Mayo, I should have margaritas on the mind, but it’s the caipirinha that’s become my cocktail of choice this spring.

Sliced Limes

What is a caipirinha?  It’s Brazil’s most well-known alcoholic beverage and a refreshing cocktail perfect for warmer days.  Thinly cut lime slices are muddled together with granulated sugar to release the lime’s oils and its fresh citrus taste.  You then add crushed ice and the Brazilian liquor cachaça to the mix and shake to combine.  Pour it into a glass and you have a caipirinha.

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Pão de Queijo Mineiro

Pao de Quiejo

It’s the texture, not the taste, that will give you pause with this bread.  Hot from the oven, when you break these small golden brown puffs open you’ll find a stretchy filling that is more tender than chewy and packed with cheesy goodness. What, you might ask yourself, is this?

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Llapingachos con Salsa de Mani

From 2003 to 2004, I lived in Ecuador.  I spent the majority of that year teaching English as a Second Language in the coastal town of Manta, but my first month in the country I lived with a host family while I attended teacher training in Quito.

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Slow-Roasted Salmon with a Dill-Yogurt Sauce

Slow-Roasted Salmon with Cucumber-Dill Sauce

I stumbled on the inspiration for this dish a couple of weeks ago on the Eat Drink Garden blog by Valerie Rice.  I was in search of a good salmon recipe for a buffet dinner that could be made ahead, served cold or at room temperature, and that didn’t require poaching.    This recipe, originally credited to Suzanne Goin and published in Sunday Suppers at Lucques, was a winner on all counts.

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Peruvian Causa

Causa from Above

Last week, my little kitchen in Charlotte, NC took a trip to the Andean countries of Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador.   Aji amarillo, aceite de achiote, yuca, potatoes, and beef heart (yes, seriously) were just some of the ingredients I used to test recipes for a class I’m teaching this June at John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC.

The class, which will last a week, is a survey culinary course of South American cooking and after months of research, drooling over recipes, and innumerable adjustments to my course outline, I’m now deep into recipe-testing.  Cooking, jotting down notes on an achiote-stained pad of paper, and tasting, tasting, tasting are contributing to an expanding course packet and waistline.

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