By Kim Dannies
In the waning days of a blissful summer, I try to enjoy as many meals as possible on our lovely vine-covered porch. The market is bursting with delectable veggies and fruits and the grill is on stand-by, so the only question is what to combine for a party.
Tonight’s menu looks elaborate, but is actually pretty easy. Grilled lamb chops with mint, Componata (a variation of ratatouille), fresh greens with feta and tomato and grilled Red Hen Waitsfield Common bread smeared with goat cheese, thyme and olives. A big berry Zinfandel pairs nicely with this meal. For dessert, Blueberry Bread Pudding will seal another day of summer bliss.
Basil Lover’s Componata
Slice four stalks of celery into 1/4-inch pieces; slice 3 medium sweet onions into thin rings. Heat a large pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the vegetables for 10 minutes. Add 3 finely chopped garlic cloves and sauté 1 minute more. Add 6 chopped tomatoes, with seeds and juices, plus one 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes. Stir together ½ cup red wine vinegar and ¼ cup sugar. Slice 2 cups pitted black olives; add olives, along with 4 T of capers and the vinegar. Stir; cover, and simmer for 10 minutes, then turn off heat.
Cut 2 medium eggplants into ½-inch cubes (skin remains on). Heat a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Drizzle a little olive oil in the pan. Sauté eggplant, in batches, until golden on all sides. Drizzle in more olive oil as needed, up to ½ cup. The eggplant will scarf up the oil, so use sparingly. Fold eggplant into veg mixture; serve hot or cold and top with lots of fresh basil. Serves 12.
Blueberry Bread Pudding & Lemon Curd
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large prep bowl, blend together 3 eggs; 4 cups heavy cream; 2 cups sugar; 2 T vanilla. Stir in 3 cups of fresh blueberries and 1 pound of challah bread cubes; rest 15 minutes. Pour into a greased 13×9-inch baking dish. Bake, uncovered, 55 minutes. Top with Lemon Curd; serves 12.
Lemon Curd: in a saucepan whisk together 3 whole eggs; 3 egg yolks; 1 cup sugar; ¾ cup fresh lemon juice; 2 tablepoons lemon zest; a pinch of salt; 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until filling thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.
Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three twenty-something daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.