I’ve never loved baking (rather, never been particularly good at it), so when a baking recipe works out for me, I consider it a huge success. After testing 3 damn pie crust recipes in one day, I finally was able to make a pie with a braided crust. Truth is, I’m very particular about pie. I’m not a big fan of lots of cooked fruit and the only kind of pie I really like is one that has an almost equal fruit to pie crust ratio. That’s why I was so drawn to a slab pie– it’s got the perfect amount of fruit! The thin pie is baked in a shallow baking sheet giving you, in my humble opinion, the best pie ratio! Originally I tried a butter-based crust that had never failed me in a regular pie, and is still a perfectly great pie crust. The base and lattice with a butter crust worked fine but when I started to braid the crust for the edges they would just break and fall apart. Lots of pie dough later, we finally decided to try a pie crust with shortening and it worked! I never use shortening so never have it on hand for a pie crust but I have to say this crust is fantastic. After you pull this pie from the oven, let it rest and get happy with the pie crust for a while. Serve this on its own or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream–this is the ultimate summer dessert!
I’ve never been one for salting fruit. I think my distaste dates back to my childhood, when my mom would soak apple slices in salt water to prevent them from oxidizing. That just ruined it for me. I never understood how a salted apple could possibly taste better than a brown apple looks. So, strawberries in a savory salad? Salt and chili on mango? Salted prunes? No, thanks. However, melon and prosciutto? I love! Somehow, that became the exception after I experienced it while on a trip to Italy years ago. The combination of cold and juicy melon with dry and salty cured ham is divine.
Perhaps I’ve romanticized it with fond memories of a summer spent in Tuscany. Regardless, it’s the perfect summer starter and with melons in season, I was inspired to build a spread that went beyond just your classic marriage of cantaloupe and prosciutto. For the ultimate melon and prosciutto platter, I’ve incorporated melons that range in an assortment of textures and sweetness, like watermelon, honeydew, Galia melon, cantaloupe, and Canary melon. Italian cured hams also come in a wide range of flavors. Prosciutto San Daniele is sweeter and more delicate compared to it’s more savory and mature counterpart, Prosciutto di Parma. For me, Speck is most intense in flavor, with its rich, smoky quality. Spanish Jamón Serrano is made from an entirely different breed of pig and cured for a longer time than prosciutto, which makes it drier and more salty. The fun is letting your guests experiment with the variety of potential combinations. Add burrata, mozzarella, basil, and a sprinkling of chopped pistachios and honestly, you’ve got yourself a party!
You can’t beat the smell of freshly baked muffins in the morning. Well, lucky me because that’s exactly what I woke up to last weekend. As some of you know, I’ve been dealing with some health issues recently; one of which being a possible food-related allergy. I’ve been following an elimination diet of sorts, and the last few weeks I’ve been without gluten (this makes my daily Cheeseboard addiction a bit more difficult). So naturally, when I first smelled those muffins, I just figured I’d have to skip them this time around. As it turns out, Audrey adapted her baking regimen to meet my dietary restrictions! And I’m so happy she did because these muffins are BANANAS . . . quite literally!! Oh, and I lied – the only thing better than the smell of freshly baked muffins in the morning is actually eating warm, chocolatey, freshly baked muffins along with a strong cup of black coffee.
When it came time to pick a honeymoon destination, my husband and I knew we wanted to indulge in some far-flung paradise. For us, the Maldives were the answer. After a 20-hour journey (and a couple weeks in nearby Sri Lanka), we arrived in what we could only describe as a dream– shades of blue, aquamarine, turquoise and every shade in between. Powder white sand beaches that stretch for what seem like forever. Truly surreal. We chose to stay at the Soneva resorts, first at Soneva Fushi, the original deserted island hideaway in the Maldives, and Soneva Jani, one of the newest hotels in the Maldives with luxurious overwater bungalows located in its own 6.5 km private lagoon.
I can’t get enough of stone fruits right now. It’s as if I’ve discovered them for the first time. Peaches and nectarines, soft or crunchy, I’ve been eating them all lately. I made a lovely stone fruit salad today with yellow peaches, cherries, tomatoes French feta, fresh basil and farro. This salad is full of bright summer flavors that just work. Feel free to swap out the peaches for nectarines or French feta for fresh mozzarella or farro for another grain– this salad is totally adaptable and perfect for those lazy summer nights!
Summer at our new house this year has been bountiful, indeed. Audrey’s garden has simply exploded! We have blueberries, strawberries, green beans, snap peas, bell peppers, jalapeños, tomatoes, and even a couple of ever-elusive watermelon!! The verdict is still out as to whether or not those melon will be edible, but a feat nonetheless. We did have a carrot failure. The tops looked great, but the roots ended up resembling something out of a horror movie more than they did a healthy snack. Fiona has been adorably helping to keep an eye on things. Each morning, the first thing she wants to do is head outside to check on the plants. And each morning, without fail, she lights up with joy, exclaiming proudly how everything grew overnight. I have to say. it’s pretty cute.
I’m thrilled that she’s such a fan of being outside. Even back in her colicky infant stage, long walks in the cool evening air was the only thing that seemed to calm her down. Her first birthday party was a barbecue in the park. Now that she’s almost three, the idea of a picnic excites her even more than playing in her room, or inside watching television. In fact, our dinners this summer have almost exclusively been outside on a blanket in the garden; or at the very least, out on the front porch. As long as the weather cooperates, that’s where you’ll find us. Fiona with her big glass of milk, and Audrey and I with our cocktails. We’ve found that simple is best for these situations, so a couple Patrón Derbies (or as I like to say . . . Honey, I’m Paloma) usually do the trick. Grapefruit, honey syrup, and Patrón Añejo shaken to frosty perfection – a lovely take on LA’s Griffith cocktail. And if you think that sounds refreshing, I highly suggest hop over to Patrón the Summer and check out all the other recipes being featured. You just might find a Patrón Summer Tour stop in a city near you! Always remember, the perfect way to enjoy Patrón is responsibly.