Let’s be clear: summer is still here. Pope Greg’s calendar says I have twenty-two days left. Twenty-two days before I have to brace myself for bitter winds and replace my peach tea with heartening hot chocolate (with peppermint schnapps, of course).
Yet even with the recent resurgence of sauna-like weather, underneath its sweaty persona, the air is carrying a tremor of autumn – it’s a scent, a stirring, that’s as musty and familiar as a box of high school memorabilia. It tickles my memory and makes my taste buds crave pumpkin and nutmeg, preferably together.
It’s always in this pre-fall season that I wish the recipe books gave me more guidance. What do I do with it? Fashion has its pre-fall collection, so why not cooking? I refuse to roast squash during 95-degree weather but ripe tomatoes seem like the fruit of yester-season. Kids are back to school and cantaloupes are no more, it’s time for a little change.
My solution? Turn on the oven. But instead of comfy spices right now I’ll be whipping up dishes with winter personas but giving them some late-summer attitude by adding fresh veggies.
Two of my favorite recipes this year are:
i) Fresh Corn Spoon Bread: Fresh, rather than frozen or canned (ugh.), corn brightens this normally heavy bread. It’s great with grilled meats and salsa or eaten for breakfast with scrambled eggs and a grating of Parmigiano and
ii) Roasted Carrots with Feta: That word, roasted, usually evokes slowly smoldering food and heat-flashes in the kitchen world but it is actually a quick process for this simple recipe. A quick toss with creamy feta and leafy parsley keeps this dish from being too dark.
Fresh Corn Pudding
2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 to 3 ears)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, separated
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Bring milk, cornmeal, corn kernels, butter, and salt to a boil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, and simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then whisk in yolks.
Beat whites and a pinch of salt with an electric mixer at medium speed just until soft peaks form. Whisk one fourth of whites into cornmeal mixture in pan to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly. Spread mixture evenly in a buttered 9 1/2-inch deep-dish glass pie plate or 1 1/2-quart shallow casserole and bake in middle of oven until puffed and golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately (like a soufflé, spoon bread collapses quickly).
Roasted Carrots with Feta
3 lbs carrots, peeled and sliced thick
3 T olive oil
½ c feta, crumbled (or more)
¼ c parsley, chopped
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Preheat oven to 350°F.
Spread carrots on a roasting sheet and toss with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until brown and tender (yet still firm). Let cool 5 minutes, then toss gently with feta and parsley.