Sheet Pan Pork Chops with Squash and Potatoes

4 (1-inch-thick) frenched pork loin chops
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
2 medium yellow squash, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 large zucchini, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1/2 pound small red potatoes, quartered

Place pork chops in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Whisk lemon juice, oil, garlic, oregano, pepper, and 2 1/2 teaspoons salt; reserve 2 tablespoons marinade. Pour remaining marinade over pork, turning to coat. Chill 1 to 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine squash, zucchini, potatoes, and reserved marinade. Spread squash mixture in an even layer on a heavy-duty aluminum foil-lined rimmed sheet pan.

Remove pork from marinade, discarding marinade. Pat dry with paper towels, and place on top of squash mixture.

Bake 25 minutes. Increase temperature to broil, and broil until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 140°F, about 5 minutes. Transfer pork to a serving platter, and cover with foil. Return pan to oven, and broil squash mixture until slightly charred, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer squash mixture to a serving bowl; toss with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and serve with pork.

Lemon Green Beans with Almond Breadcrumbs

1/2 cup blanched and slivered almonds
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Flaky sea salt
Pepper
1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed

Lightly toast almonds in a skillet over medium heat. Let cool, then transfer to a food processor and grind to the consistency of breadcrumbs.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add almonds, breadcrumbs, garlic, and lemon zest and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and golden. Remove from heat and stir in parsley. Set aside.

Place lemon juice in a small bowl and slowly whisk in the remaining olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add green beans and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain green beans, return to the pot, and toss with the lemon juice and olive oil vinaigrette.

To serve, arrange green beans on a platter, drizzling with vinaigrette left at the bottom of the pot. Sprinkle almond and breadcrumb mixture on top.

Sour Cream and Balsmic Whipped Sweet Potatoes

3 to 4 pounds sweet potatoes (4 to 5 medium potatoes), baked and peeled
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Mash the still-warm sweet potatoes until smooth in a large bowl. Add the brown sugar, sour cream, vinegar, and salt. Stir to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Make ahead: The sweet potatoes can be baked up to 5 days in advance and stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Peel and mash the potatoes, then reheat over medium-low heat on the stovetop when ready to finish and serve.

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Strawberries with Swedish Cream

1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sour cream
Sugar or honey to taste
1 tablespoon any liqueur, like Cointreau or amaretto (optional)
1 quart strawberries, washed, hulled, and halved or quartered, if necessary

Whip the sweet cream until it holds soft peaks, then fold it into the sour cream; add sugar to taste and liqueur if you like.

Put the berries in four to six bowls or stemmed glasses and top with the cream. If desired, garnish with a leaf of fresh mint.

No-Bake White Chocolate Cheesecake with Strawberries

CRUST
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (7 ounces)
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of fine sea salt

FILLING
7 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons strawberry jam mixed with 1 teaspoon hot water
Quartered strawberries, for garnish

MAKE THE CRUST
In a medium bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs with the butter, sugar, vanilla and salt until evenly moistened. Press the crumbs over the ?bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan. Freeze until firm, about 20 minutes.

MEANWHILE, MAKE THE FILLING
In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave the white chocolate on high power in 10-second intervals until just melted. Let cool slightly.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the cream cheese with the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla bean paste and orange and lemon zests until smooth. Gradually beat in the white chocolate. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl.

Wipe out the bowl of the stand mixer and add the cream to it. Attach the whisk and beat the cream at high speed until firm peaks form. Stir one-third of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture, then fold in the remaining whipped cream until no streaks remain. Spread the cheesecake filling over the chilled crust in an even layer. Cover with foil and refrigerate for at least ?3 hours or overnight.

Unmold the cheesecake. Top with the strawberry jam and garnish with quartered strawberries. Cut the cake into wedges and serve.

MAKE AHEAD
The cheesecake can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Top with the jam and strawberries before serving.

No-Bake Ricotta Cheesecake with Strawberries

CRUST
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cups packed graham cracker crumbs (10 to 12 whole crackers)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of ground ginger
Pinch of cinnamon

FILLING
1 pound fresh ricotta cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of ground ginger

TOPPINGS
1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup honey

MAKE THE CRUST
In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the sugar over moderately low heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 4 minutes. In a medium bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs with the salt, ginger and cinnamon. Stir in the melted butter until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the side of a 9-inch fluted tart pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour.

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MAKE THE FILLING
In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the ricotta with the cream cheese, agave nectar, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and ginger just until smooth. Using a spatula, spread the filling in the chilled crust. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours.

MEANWHILE, PREPARE THE TOPPINGS
In a medium bowl, toss the strawberries with the sugar and lemon juice. Let stand at room temperature, stirring once or twice, until the berries are juicy and slightly softened, about 30 minutes.

MEANWHILE, PREPARE THE TOPPINGS
Warm the honey over moderately low heat for 10 minutes. Strain the honey into a bowl, discarding the seeds; let cool.

MEANWHILE, PREPARE THE TOPPINGS
Cut the cheesecake into wedges, top with the strawberries and honey and serve.

MAKE AHEAD
The cheesecake can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. The honey can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.

Roast Pork with Mustard, Shallots, and Carrots

1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup whole-grain mustard
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
One 3-pound boneless pork loin roast, trimmed of all fat
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound baby carrots, peeled
16 large shallots, peeled
1/2 cup dry white wine
12 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

In a small bowl, whisk the Dijon and whole-grain mustards with the grated lemon zest, thyme and butter. Set 2 tablespoons of the mustard mixture aside. Season the pork with salt and pepper and spread the rest of the mustard mixture all over it. Let stand at room temperature for 2 hours or refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350;. In a medium saucepan of boiling salted water, blanch the carrots for 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the carrots to a bowl. Add the shallots to the saucepan and cook for 4 minutes. Drain and halve the shallots lengthwise and add to the carrots. Add the wine, garlic, crushed red pepper, 1/4 cup of the stock and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the vegetables and toss well. Spread the vegetables around the edge of a shallow roasting pan, setting the shallots cut sides down. Leave enough room in the center for the pork.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the pork loin and cook over moderately high heat until browned on 2 sides, about 6 minutes total. Nestle the pork in the vegetables and roast for about 45 minutes. Turn the pan 180 degrees, add 1/2 cup of the stock and roast for about 20 minutes longer, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 140;

Transfer the pork to a board. Roast the vegetables on the bottom shelf for 15 minutes longer, until very tender; transfer to a bowl and keep warm. Set the roasting pan over moderately high heat, add the remaining 1/2 cup of stock and simmer for about 1 minute, scraping up the browned bits. Add the vinegar and bring to a simmer. Off the heat, whisk in the reserved 2 tablespoons of mustard and season with salt and pepper. Slice the pork and serve with the vegetables and sauce.

Drop Strawberry Shortcakes

SHORTCAKES

2 1/4 cups (295 grams) all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons (40 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
6 tablespoons (85 grams or 3 ounces) unsalted butter, cold, cut into chunks
2 large egg yolks
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (205 ml) heavy cream
3 tablespoons (35 grams) raw or turbinado sugar

TO FINISH

1 pound (455 grams) strawberries or mixed berries, hulled and halved if large
2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar, or more to taste
1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh lemon juice (optional)
1 cup (235 ml) heavy or whipping cream

Make shortcakes: Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, granulated sugar, and salt until thoroughly combined. Add butter and using your fingertips or a pastry blender, break it into small bits, the largest should be no bigger than a small pea.

In a small bowl, whisk yolks with a splash of cream, then pour rest of cream in and whisk to combine. Pour into butter-flour mixture and use a rubber spatula to mix and mash it together into one cohesive dough.

Divide dough into 6 (for large, 3 1/2 to 3 3/4-inch wide and up to 2-inch tall) shortcakes or 8 smaller ones. Do this by pressing the dough somewhat flat into the bottom of the bowl (to form a circle) and using a knife to divide it into pie-like wedges.

Place raw or turbinado sugar in a small bowl. Roll each wedge of shortcake into a ball in your hands and roll it through the raw/turbinado sugar, coating it in all but a small area that you should leave bare. (The sugar underneath the shortcakes will burn, so better to leave it off.)

Place it, bare spot down, on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining wedges of dough. Bake for 15 minutes, until lightly golden all over. Let cool completely on tray or on a cooling rack.

While cooling, prepare fruit and cream: Mix berries, 2 tablespoons sugar (more or less to taste), and lemon juice, if desired, in a bowl and let macerate so that the juices run out.

In a larger bowl, beat cream until soft peaks form. Add sugar to taste, or leave unsweetened, if that’s your preference.

To serve: Carefully split each cooled shortcake with a serrated knife. Spoon berries and their juices over bottom half. Heap generously with whipped cream. Place shortcake “lid” on top. Eat immediately and don’t forget to share.

Do ahead: Shortcakes keep well for a day at room temperature. I prefer to keep them uncovered. I found on the second day, they were a little more firm but not half-bad, but they’re definitely “best” on day one.

Balsamic Vegetable Kebabs

For the Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon fresh juice from 1 lemon
2 teaspoons freshly minced garlic (about 2 medium cloves)
2 teaspoons DIjon mustard
2 teaspoons finely chopped thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Skewers:

1 large zucchini, ends trimmed, halved lengthwise, and cut into 3/4-inch slices
1 large yellow squash, ends trimmed, halved lengthwise, and cut into 3/4-inch slices
1 large red onion, cut into 1-inch cubes and separated into 3-layer segments
2 medium red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1-inch squares
1 pint grape tomatoes

For the Vinaigrette: Whisk together balsamic vinegar, oil, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, and thyme in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Place all vegetables in a large bowl, add vinaigrette, and toss to coat.

For the Skewers: Skewer vegetables, alternating between zucchini, yellow squash, red onion, bell peppers, and tomatoes. Reserve any remaining vinaigrette in bowl.

Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Grill skewers, turning, until vegetables are browned around the edges and beginning to soften, 5-8 minutes total. Transfer skewers to platter and spoon on reserved vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

Halloumi and Vegetable Kebabs

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon, plus 1 additional lemon cut into wedges for serving
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons freshly minced garlic (about 2 medium cloves)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound halloumi cheese, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 medium zucchini, cut into into 1/2-inch rounds
2 medium red onions, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
1 pint grape tomatoes
Wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes prior to use
Tzatziki, for serving (optional)
Pita, warmed, for serving (optional)

Whisk together oil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, oregano, and mint in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add cheese, zucchini, onion, and tomatoes, and toss to combine.

Alternatively thread cheese, zucchini, onion, and tomatoes on skewers.

Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Grill skewers over direct heat until cheese browns and zucchini has slightly softened, 3-5 minutes per side. Remove skewers from the grill to a serving platter. Squeeze lemon wedges over skewers and serve immediately with tzatziki and warm pita.

Strawberry Freezer Jam

1 box of Pomona’s Pectin
4-5 cups pureed or crushed strawberries, about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds of strawberries (crush or puree to desired consistency, I like the mixture fairly smooth)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (or honey, see note above)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cups boiling water

Take out the small white packet of calcium powder and measure 1/2 teaspoon into a jar or container with a lid. Pour in 1/2 cup water. Shake well; set aside.
Add the sugar and lemon juice to the strawberries and stir well.
In a blender, combine the boiling water and 1 tablespoon of pectin (in the large white packet). Process until smooth.
Add the warm pectin mixture to the strawberries and mix to combine. The mixture will start to jell and thicken.
Shake the calcium water to recombine and measure out 4 teaspoons; add to the jam. Stir well. (Extra calcium water can be stored in the refrigerator for months.)
Portion the jam into containers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Seal with a lid. Store in the freezer (for up to a year) or in the refrigerator (for several weeks).
NOTES:

This recipe has only been tested and made using Pomona’s Pectin; other brands of pectin will not work the same in this recipe. I’ve never made the jam with all honey (although you can); but half sugar/half honey is delicious. And speaking of sweetener, you can cut the sugar down even more if you like, the minimum being 3/4 cup sugar or 1/2 cup honey.

Following the recipe below, you’ll have leftover pectin and calcium powder, simply fold down the tops of the packet or place in a small bag and store it in the Pomona’s box to use later. It won’t spoil. One box of Pomona’s Pectin will make three batches of the recipe below (so about 8-9 pints of jam, depending on amount of sweetener used). This recipe can be doubled. I use my food processor to puree the strawberries and it makes adding/mixing in the pectin and calcium water simple, too.

Strawberry Ice Cream

30 ounces (1 quart plus a little extra) fresh strawberries, divided (see note above)
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
4 tablespoons 80-proof liquor such as vodka or, preferably, Cointreau
2 cups half and half
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste
Scant drops of lemon juice, if needed

Hull and quarter 6 ounces (about 1 cup) strawberries, then slice quarters crosswise into very thin pieces. In a mixing bowl, combine strawberries with 1/2 cup sugar and alcohol and let stand in refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.

Hull remaining strawberries and purée at high speed in a blender until very smooth, about 30 seconds. Strain through a fine mesh strainer to filter out all seeds and fibers, then measure and reserve 1 1/2 cups purée. Extra purée, if there is any, can be put to another use.

In a clean mixing bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups strawberry purée with half and half, corn syrup, and remaining 3/4 cup sugar until fully combined. Add salt to taste, and, if mixture is too sweet, a few drops of lemon juice.

Chill in refrigerator or ice bath until base is very cold, at least 45°F, then churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. In the last minute of churning, retrieve strawberry mix-ins from the refrigerator, strain off syrup, and add mix-ins to the churn; reserve strawberry syrup for another use (it makes a great daiquiri). Transfer ice cream to airtight container and chill in freezer for at least 4 hours before serving.

Creamy Cucumber and Potato Salad

2 pounds small to medium Red Bliss potatoes (about 12)
Kosher salt
1/3 cup crème fraîche or mayonnaise
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup or 2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup canola oil, plus more for brushing
Pinch of crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano
1/2 cup chopped parsley plus 1 teaspoon minced parsley
Freshly ground pepper
1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion

In a large saucepan, cover the potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Add a generous pinch of salt and simmer over moderately low heat until just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and let cool completely, then cut them in half lengthwise.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the crème fraîche, vinegar, corn syrup, mustard, celery seeds and garlic. Gradually whisk in the 1/4 cup of oil. Stir in the crushed red pepper, oregano and 1 teaspoon of minced parsley and season the dressing with salt and pepper.

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Generously brush the potatoes with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the potatoes, cut side down, over moderately high heat, turning once, until lightly charred and hot, 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool slightly.

Toss the potatoes with the dressing and season them with salt and pepper. Fold in the cucumber, red onion and the 1/2 cup of chopped parsley and serve.

Barbecued Shrimp (or Pork, or Beef) with Tomato Salad

1/3 cup packed basil leaves, plus extra leaves for garnish
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 1/4 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons pure ancho chile powder
1 1/2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
24 jumbo shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 large yellow heirloom tomatoes (1 1/2 pounds), sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced

In a blender, puree the 1/3 cup of basil leaves with the olive oil until smooth. Season the oil with salt and black pepper.

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. In a small bowl, mix the sweet smoked paprika with the pure ancho chile powder, light brown sugar, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Brush the shrimp with the canola oil and season all over with the spice mixture. Grill the shrimp over moderately high heat, turning once, until they are lightly charred and cooked through, about 4 minutes total.

Arrange the tomato and onion slices on a platter and drizzle with the basil oil. Top with the shrimp, garnish with the remaining basil leaves and serve.

Yellow Bean Salad with Coconut Milk

1 pound / 16 oz yellow runner beans

1 serrano chile, stemmed and seeded
5 green onions, green parts trimmed & reserved
a big handful of cilantro
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 cup coconut milk, well mixed

1- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste

2 big handfuls / 1/2 cup toasted pepitas
1 1/2 cups tiny pan-fried tofu cubes, optional
basil flower garnish, optional

Cut the beans into 1-inch segments on a deep bias. Cook in a pot of well-salted water for just 30 seconds, drain, and run under cold water to stop cooking. Drain, and aggressively shake off as much water as possible. Set aside.

To make the dressing, pulse the chile, onions, cilantro, garlic, salt, and sunflower oil into a paste with a food processor. Pulse in the coconut milk in two additions, before adding the lemon juice to taste, a half tablespoon at a time.

Place the beans in a large bowl with most of the pepitas and tofu cubes (if you’re using them). Toss well with a generous amount of the dressing (you’ll have plenty of leftover), even so, as I mention up above, this is one of those salads that benefits from over-dressing versus under. Serve in a bowl or platter topped with the remaining pepitas and tofu, and basil flowers if you happen to have them.

Classic Plum Torte (and 5 Variations)

3/4 to 1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup unbleached flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt (optional)
2 eggs
24 halves pitted purple plums
Sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon, for topping

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the sugar and butter in a bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and eggs and beat well.

Spoon the batter into a springform pan of 8, 9 or 10 inches. Place the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter.

Sprinkle lightly with sugar and lemon juice, depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, depending on how much you like cinnamon.

Bake 1 hour, approximately. Remove and cool; refrigerate or freeze if desired. Or cool to lukewarm and serve plain or with whipped cream.

To freeze, double-wrap the torte in foil, place in a plastic bag and seal. To serve a torte that was frozen, defrost and reheat it briefly at 300 degrees.

Variations:

1. Replace the plums with almost any seasonal fruit: apricots, halved and pitted; cranberries or any summer berry; sliced apples, nectarines, peaches and pears. Canned and frozen fruit can stand in for fresh. Reader comments:
–Made this for the first time using 4 cups of blueberries and raspberries (mixed). It was perfect!

–I’ve been using a version of this for years as a cranberry holiday bread.

–I have made this with about a quart of drained canned fruit of any type, as well as frozen. I can plums, peaches and pears in season, and if a jar fails to seal, you can bake this cake with it rather than reprocess the jar.

2. Experiment with spices, herbs and extracts: vanilla extract, almond extract, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, rosemary, orange or lemon zest. Reader comments:

–I add about a half teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract to the batter. This cake is so easy and good. I even memorized the recipe — except my memorization was imperfect and I baked the cake with the fruit on the bottom by accident. It still was delicious!

–I added a teaspoon of finely minced fresh rosemary to the batter… nice, subtle flavor.

3. Play with the flours. You can add almond or cornmeal flour to the all-purpose flour, or swap in gluten-free flour blends, with excellent results. (Melissa Clark made a version with whole wheat flour.) Reader comments:

Made this with gluten-free flour and it turned out Perfectly! Everyone loved it.

I substituted 1/2 cup almond meal and 1/2 cup brown rice flour for 1 cup of wheat flour. I also added parchment paper over the greased bottom of the spring pan. It was delicious served warm.

Made this last night after tasting the one made by our daughter. Used raspberries and blackberries, one basket each, instead of plums, and 1/3 cup cornmeal and 2/3 cup flour. Fantastic!!! The cornmeal adds a very sophisticated “Italian” character to it, very slight crunch, and amazing flavor.

4. Double, triple, even quadruple it. The batter scales up like a dream, and the baked cake freezes well. Reader comments:

This is one of my favorite recipes and has been for many years. In addition to plums, I’ve used blueberries, peaches, apples and various combinations of more than one fruit. It also freezes great. I line the baking dish with aluminum foil and once baked and cooled slightly, turn the baking dish upside down on a plate, peel off the foil, then turn it right-side up on another plate.

Double the recipe and it fits nicely in 13-by-9-inch disposable aluminum pans.

5. Change up the pan. The torte can be baked in any dish provided it’s approximately 8 to 10 inches in diameter and oven-safe.

Make it in any Pyrex, casserole, anything.

Used my pie plate because my springform pan was nowhere to be found.

A 9-inch pan gives greater height and moisture to the tart than a 10-inch pan.

Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes with Red Pepper Dressing

2 pounds zucchini or summer squash, sliced lengthwise 1/8-inch thick
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup roughly chopped roasted red pepper (see note)
1 teaspoon Maras pepper flakes, Korean pepper flakes or sweet paprika
Pinch of cayenne
Salt and pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved and lightly salted
A few fresh oregano leaves and flowers, for garnish, or a few small basil leaves
Parsley leaves, for garnish
Olives, for garnish

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Working in batches, blanch zucchini strips for 1 minute, then remove with a spider or slotted spoon and spread on a kitchen towel-lined baking sheet to cool.

Make the dressing: Put roasted red pepper, garlic, oil, mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, Maras pepper and cayenne in a blender and purée until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust acidity with a few drops of lemon juice or vinegar.

Arrange zucchini and cherry tomatoes on a platter. Drizzle judiciously with dressing (reserve excess dressing for up to a week) and garnish with oregano, parsley and olives.

Grilled Chicken with Green Beans, Olives, and Capers

FOR THE CHICKEN:
4 boneless chicken breasts, preferably skin-on, trimmed (about 6 ounces each)
Salt and pepper
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1/2 teaspoon grated garlic
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

FOR THE VINAIGRETTE:
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated garlic
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped capers
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

FOR THE OLIVE PASTE:
1 cup pitted Niçoise olives
1/2 teaspoon grated garlic
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

FOR THE SALAD:
1 pound small green beans or Romano beans, or a mixture, topped and tailed
Salt and pepper
4 hard-cooked eggs, quartered
Green and black olives, for garnish (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley, for garnish
Handful of green or purple basil leaves, for garnish

Marinate the chicken: Season breasts on both sided with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with lemon zest, rosemary, garlic, olive oil and red pepper flakes. Smear seasoning on meat to coat well and leave at room temperature for 15 minutes. (You may season the meat up to 4 hours ahead and store covered in refrigerator.)

Make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, stir together lemon juice, garlic, mustard and capers. Whisk in olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Make the olive paste: Chop olives roughly with a food processor. Transfer to a bowl and stir in garlic and olive oil. (May be prepared in advance; keeps 1 week, refrigerated.)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Simmer beans for 2 minutes or until tender, then drain and spread on a towel-lined baking sheet to cool.

Meanwhile, grill the chicken: Lay skin-side down on a medium-high grill. If the fire is too hot, the skin will scorch — you want it to brown gradually. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes on the skin side, until skin is golden. Flip the chicken and cook on the other side for 2 minutes or so, until firm to the touch when pressed with index finger. (If using skinless breasts, reduce cooking time to about 3 minutes per side.) Remove chicken to a platter and let rest for 10 minutes.

To assemble salad: Put beans in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and dress with vinaigrette, coating well. Transfer beans to a large platter or individual plates. Cut breasts on an angle into 1/2-inch slices and lay on top. Quickly dab about 1 teaspoon olive paste on each breast and spread on meat with back of spoon. Surround with quartered egg and scattered olives, if using. Sprinkle with parsley and basil.

Green Bean and Cherry Tomato Salad

3/4 pound green beans, stems pinched off

1 teaspoon finely chopped chives
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon minced shallots
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons heavy cream
scant 1/4 teaspoon salt
tiny pinch of freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon honey (optional)

a handful of frisee or little gem hearts

a handful of small cherry tomatoes, each cut in half
1/2 cup hazelnuts, smashed and toasted

Start by making the dressing. Whisk together the chives, thyme, shallots, lemon juice, heavy cream, salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil with a fork, stirring until everything comes together. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Sometimes my lemon dressings have a puckery edge to them, and when that happens I just whisk in just a touch of honey to counterbalance the sour. Set aside.

In the meantime, bring two quarts of water to a boil. Salt generously and stir in the green beans. Cook for about 1 1/2 minutes. Just until the beans brighten up and soften a touch, I go a bit beyond “al dente” here for this salad. Quickly drain them and run under cold water to stop the cooking.

In a large bowl toss the green beans with the frisee, about 1/2 of the hazelnuts, with a big splash of the dressing. Toss well. Taste, and add more dressing, salt or pepper at this point. Toss again if needed. Add the tomatoes and toss very gently.

You can turn this out onto a platter or plate individually topped with the remaining hazelnuts

Cucumber Peanut Salad

medium cucumbers, partially peeled
1-2 green serrano chiles, stemmed and minced
1/2 cup / 2.5 ounces / 70 g peanuts, toasted
1/3 cup / 1.5 ounces / 45 g dried large-flake coconut, toasted
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon natural cane sugar
1 tablespoon, ghee, clarified butter, or sunflower oil
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
a handful cilantro, chopped

Halve the cucumbers lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and chop into pieces roughly the size of pencil erasers. Just before you’re ready to serve, transfer to a mixing bowl and toss gently with chiles, peanuts, coconut, lemon juice, and sugar.

Over medium heat melt the ghee in a small skillet. When hot stir in the mustard seeds. They are going to sputter and spit a bit, and when this starts to happen, add the cumin for 15-30 seconds, just long enough to toast the spices. Cover with a lid if needed. Remove from heat, stir in the salt, and immediately stir this into the salad. Turn out onto a patter topped with the cilantro.