Our current spate of sunny warm days is easy to appreciate after a soggy August. My rosebushes are coming into their second bloom and the red stands out against the 6-foot hydrangeas with their scattered bright blue flower heads. Even the eggplant finally proudly displays a veritable crop of white and purple striped fruit.
September is gracing us with a few more days of summer-like weather with shimmering multicolored mounds of produce.
While fall harvests can be overwhelming, there is still time for the cook to revel in cooking with some of the fresh ingredients that abound in summer. We love cherry tomatoes for salads and appetizers, but they can also add a different dimension to cooked dishes, especially pasta.
Spicy andouille pasta with cherry tomatoes
Cook 6 oz mini farfalle (bow tie pasta) in salted water for 1 minute less than al dente. Save a cup of cooking water, drain pasta, and set aside.
In a large pan heat 1 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp butter and saute 1 chopped medium onion with 3 oz sliced fresh mushrooms and 2 sliced cloves of garlic for 7 minutes. Stir in juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/2 seeded diced red pepper, 1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives cut in half, 1 tbsp capers, 1 1/2 tsp Sicilian seasoning, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp lemon pepper, 1/3 cup white wine or chicken broth, 1 1/2 cups multicolored cherry tomatoes cut in half, pasta, and 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid.
Bring to slow boil and stir in 2 ready to eat diced andouille sausages. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat.
Stir in 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley. Plate in shallow bowls, sprinkle with feta cheese and serve.
Maine blueberries were late this year. Blueberries forever denote a Maine summer and last weekend it seemed the perfect time to remind ourselves that summer is still technically here despite it being Labor Day. Old time desserts often have strange functional names and so does this classical New England dessert: blueberry grunt or blueberry slump, a stovetop blueberry dessert with steamed dumplings. Presumably the name was to imply the impending state of the overstuffed diner.
In a 10-inch-deep pan with a lid, place 4 cups fresh (or frozen) wild blueberries, 1/2 cup water, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 3 tbsp lemon juice, 2 tsp grated lemon rind, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, and 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg. Cook with occasional stirring until the berries release their juices and the mixture comes to a boil.
For the dumplings, mix 1 cup flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tbsp sugar, 1/4 tsp salt. Add 3 tbsp unsalted butter cut in small pieces and using your fingers rub it in the flour mix. Stir in lightly 1/2 cup milk and mix just until the flour holds together.
Drop 1/4 cup measures of the dumpling mix in the bubbling blueberries. Cover with the tight-fitting lid and simmer for 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the dumpling comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature in small bowls, topped with a dollop of whipped cream.
The autumn equinox arrives Saturday, Sept. 23 this year, which means we have close to three weeks to still enjoy summer, when “the living is easy!”
(I. Winicov Harrington, of Waldoboro, is the author of “How to Eat Healthy and Well for Less Than $5.00 a Day: The Smart-Frugal Food Plan.” For more information, go to winicov-harrington.com.)