I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Cherry Tomato and Sweet Onion Bake

I am always enticed by cherry tomatoes at the farmers market. All the pretty colors and shapes and sizes. They are all just so pretty, though the perfect orbs of a classic Sweet 100 or Tumbling Toms always catch my eye. And, as with much of the bounty of summer produce, I have a tendency to over buy, with no fixed plan for how to use them. And though popping the little tomatoes straight in my mouth, or serving them simply drizzled with a vinaigrette are good options, sometimes I want to try something a little different with a little more intrigue. And adding heat brings out the sweetness in the tomatoes beautifully. And to complement that sweet tang of the melting tomatoes, I love a bed of candied caramelized onions. The bread crumbs add a crispy finish, but also soak up the lovely juices that ooze from the onions and the tomatoes.

I prefer evenly round, classic cherry tomatoes for this dish rather than the multicolored and unevenly sized versions. Oregano is a great complement to summer tomatoes, but thyme or marjoram would work just as well. I have eaten this dish on its own as a meal, but it makes a wonderful side dish to grilled meat or a roasted chicken. And though I adore this with fresh summer cherry tomatoes, it can boost the flavor of hothouse cherry tomatoes throughout the year.

Cherry Tomato and Sweet Onion Bake
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  2. 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  3. one bunch of fresh oregano
  4. kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  5. 1 pound cherry tomatoes
  6. ½ cup dried bread crumbs
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Pour the olive oil into a medium sized oven-safe skillet. Add the onions and cooke over medium heat until they are soft and just beginning to brown. Pour in a ½ cup of water and stir, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid evaporates and the onions area nice soft and glassy and a nice caramelized brown. This should take about 20 minutes. Finely mince about ¼ cup of oregano leaves and add 2 Tablespoons to the onions with a generous pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper and stir to evenly distribute the herbs. Remove the pan from the heat and spread the onions out in an even layer. Spread the cherry tomatoes over the onions in as even a layer as possible (some make stick up into a second layer). Mix the bread crumbs with the remaining oregano and sprinkle evenly over the top of the tomatoes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 20 - 30 minutes until the tomatoes are soft and collapsing and slightly charred in some places and the bread crumbs are browned. I like to turn the broiler on for a few minutes, watching carefully, just to create a nice, browned top.
  3. Let the dish cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
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Curried Corn Soup with Toasted Corn Kernels

Fresh corn and curry are a favorite combination of mine, and for years I have made a quick blender soup using frozen corn and boxed stock. It’s such a treat for me, that I figured I ought to work out a proper recipe using a full complement of the beautiful summer corn I find at the farmers market. And I love this version even more. Softened with leeks, redolent with corn flavor and a healthy dose of curry powder, this beautiful yellow soup is a perfect summer bowl. Just a few ingredients create a remarkably complex and rich flavor.

I love the base of fresh corn stock, and it is easy to make. You could use vegetable broth for a shortcut, but make sure you use one that is light in color so you don’t muddy the final result. The chewy, toasty corn kernels make a wonderful topping, but get as creative as you want. I could see toasted coconut shards or roasted, salted cashews as a nice contrast. You could add a dollop of yogurt as well. This soup freezes really well, so make a big batch (or several) with in-season corn to stock up for the winter. I love this soup warm, but it is lovely served chilled in the heat of summer.

Curried Corn Soup with Toasted Corn Kernels
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 8 ears corn
  2. 2 large or 3 medium leeks
  3. 4 green onions
  4. 2 cloves garlic
  5. 3 teaspoons curry powder
  6. 1 teaspoon salt
  7. ½ teaspoon garam masala
Instructions
  1. Fill a large bowl or the sink with cold water and ice. Bring a large stockpot full of water to a boil. Blanch the corn in the boiling water for 30 seconds and remove it immediately to the ice water bath to stop the cooking. When the corn is cool enough to handle, cut the kernels off the cobs into a large bowl. Scrap the cobs to release any juices. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and place in the refrigerator.
  2. Cut the corn cobs in half and place in a large stockpot (if you use the pot you blanched in, rinse it well to remove corn silks) and cover with 10 cups of water. Bring the stock to a boil, skim off any scum that rise, reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 1 ½ hours. The liquid should reduce by about half. Pour the stock through a strainer and discard the solids.
  3. Cut the white and pale green parts of the leeks in half, then into thin half-moons. Rinse the pieces thoroughly with cold water to remove any dirt or grits. Rinse out the stockpot and add the olive oil. Cook the leeks, with a little water clinging to them, over medium heat until soft and glossy, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently and do not let the leeks brown. Add the garlic and cook a further minute, then sprinkle over the curry powder, salt and garam masala. Cook, stirring well, for a few minutes until the spices are toasty and fragrant. Measure out 1/2 cup of corn kernels and set aside, then add the rest or the corn and any accumulated liquid to the pot. Stir to combine the leeks and corn, then pour in 4 cups of the corn cob stock and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium low and cover the pot. Simmer the soup for 30 minutes, until the kernels are very soft. Leave the soup to cool a little, then carefully puree it in batches in a blender. Pour each batch through a fine mesh sieve set over a large, pressing the liquid through. Rinse out the pot again, and return the smooth soup to it. At this point, you can refrigerate the soup for up to 2 days.
  4. Toast the reserved in a dry skillet until browned and beginning to make a popping noise. When toasted evenly, transfer to a plate so the kernels don’t continue cooking.
  5. The soup can be served chilled, or warmed through over medium heat. Serve topped with toasted corn.
Notes
  1. Corn stock is a wonderful thing to have around, it pumps up the flavor of a winter chowder made with frozen corn or any vegetable soup. Make big batches and freeze. I keep a Ziploc bag in the freezer and add a striped cob everytime I use corn. When I have about a dozen cobs, I make stock.
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Crispy Pork Schnitzel with Fresh Tomato Dill Sauce

In the height of tomato season, I am always looking for creative ways to make the most of the bounty. I can, I sauce, I freeze, I dry, I soup. And I use the other ingredients I find at the farmers market as much as I can too. So when I found myself with a few extra tomatoes and the rest of a bunch of dill from canning Dilly Beans, I figured I could make it into something. This sauce is a nice departure from the classic tomato basil combo, with a great fresh note from the celery and lots of spiffy fresh dill. The sauce can be used in any sauce situation, but I found myself with a craving for crispy schnitzel and this sauce makes a perfect pairing.

I think schnitzels are a wonderful summer dinner – the prep takes a little fiddling, but they are super quick to cook and can be made ahead, ready to fry up and serve. You can use the same technique for chicken breasts if you’d like. In summer, I love these with a simple green salad, rather than the more traditional, and to me more cold weather, mashed potatoes or dumplings. If you want to go the potato route, try a vinegary potato salad.

Crispy Pork Schnitzel with Fresh Tomato Dill Sauce
Serves 4
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For the Sauce
  1. 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  2. 1 small onion, finely diced
  3. 2 stalks celery, with a few leaves if possible, finely diced
  4. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  5. ½ cup white wine
  6. 6 plum tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
  7. ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
  8. salt and pepper to taste
For the Schnitzels
  1. 4 thin-cut boneless pork chops
  2. ½ cup all-purpose flour
  3. 1 teaspoon paprika
  4. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  5. 1 teaspoon black pepper
  6. 1 egg
  7. 1 Tablespoon milk
  8. 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  9. 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  10. olive oil for frying
For the Sauce
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high and add the onions and celery. Sauté until the onions are glossy and the celery has softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Pour in the wine, bring to a bubble and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the tomatoes, stir well and bring to bubble again. Lower the heat, cover the pan, and cook for 15 – 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and have released some liquid. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool slightly. Transfer the tomatoes to a blender and blend to a rough, textured sauce. Scrape the sauce back into the pan, add the dill, salt and pepper and stir well. The sauce can be made several hours ahead at this point, covered and refrigerated. When ready to serve, heat through over medium heat, stirring to prevent scorching.
For the Schnitzel
  1. Place the pork chops one at a time in a large zipper bag. Pound them to an even, thin piece about 1/ inch thick. Remove each chop to plate and continue with the next. In one shallow bowl or plate, mix together the flour, paprika, salt and pepper until evenly combined. Beat the egg with the milk in a second shallow bowl, and mix the panko and dill in a third. Dip each schnitzel in the flour, turning to coat evenly, then saking off any excess. Next, dip it evenly in the egg, then in the panko, pressing the crumbs evenly to cover the entire chop. Repeat with the remaining chops, placing them back on the plate as you finish. The chops can be loosely covered with plastic and refrigerated for several hours at this point if you’d like.
  2. Put the oven on a low heat, just to keep the schnitzels warm as you go. Heat about 3 Tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet until shimmering. Add a schnitzel to the oil and let it crisp and brown for about three minutes, then flip it over and cook until crispy and browned on the other side. Remove to a baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm while you continue with the remaining pieces. If there is a lot of burned residue in the pan between any chops, wipe it out, heat more oil and continue.
  3. Serve each schnitzel topped with the warmed tomato dill sauce.
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Creamy Butter Bean Casserole

My mother tells me, often now, that when I was a child, I would no more have eaten a butter bean or a field pea than a piece of shoe leather. She marvels every time I serve, write about or just generally express appreciation for the glories I now see in them. But she never turns down a dish that I make. And this one has become a family favorite. I mean, juicy butter beans, creamy sauce, gooey cheesy, a dash of lemon – what’s not to love.

Though I am always looking for new and interesting ways to cook with these jewels, I tend to lean in the direction of simmering beans and peas with cured pork. But I love the difference here, the sauce that coats the butterbeans is rich and creamy, but really fresh because of the lemon. The crispy bread crumb topping adds a great textural contrast as well. And it can easily be made ahead to serve hot and bubbly at the table. I put lots of fresh butter beans up in the freezer in summer and use them in this dish year round.

Creamy Butter Bean Casserole
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound fresh butter beans
  2. ½ cup butter
  3. ¼ cup flour
  4. 2 cups milk
  5. Zest and juice of one lemon
  6. Salt and pepper
  7. 1 cup grated Swiss cheese
  8. 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  9. 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  10. 3 Tablespoons butter, melted
Instructions
  1. Soak the butter beans in a large bowl of cold water for 30 minutes. Skim off any floaters and pick out any damaged beans. Drain the beans and put into a large saucepan. Cover with fresh water by about ½ an inch, bring to a boil and skim off any foam that rises. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes until the beans are tender, but with a little bite to them. You can cook a bit longer if needed. Drain the beans.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet, then whisk in the flour until smooth and white. Pour in the milk slowly, whisking constantly until smooth. Whisk in the lemon juice, lemon zest, about 1 teaspoon salt and several generous grinds of black pepper. Cook, whisking, until the mixture is smooth and thick. Remove from the heat and gently fold in the cooked butter beans. Taste the beans, and add salt if needed. These beans can take quite a bit of salt. Layer one half of the creamy beans in a greased 8 by 8 inch casserole. Sprinkle over the cheese, the gently spread the remaining beans over the cheese.
  3. Mix the bread crumbs, parsley a dash of salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Add the melted butter and stir with a fork until combined. Spread the breadcrumbs over the top of the casserole.
  4. The beans can be cooled, covered and refrigerated overnight if needed. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350°. Bake the casserole until it is hot through, bubbling around the edges and browned on the top, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.
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Caramelized Corn Pudding

I talk often here about how I come about recipes, and this one has a story with it too. A friend and I were eating at a popular local restaurant and I told her about the amazing creamed corn dish they sometimes make (sadly not on the menu that day). This led to a larger discussion of corn preparations, and she told me her husband couldn’t stop raving about a corn pudding he had at a restaurant on a business trip that had “some kind of sugary topping.” She asked if I had ever heard about this and I told her I hadn’t but it sure did sound good. Low and behold, a few days later I was flipping through my collection of community cookbooks and came across a recipe for “The Best Corn Pudding Ever” that involved sprinkling the top with brown sugar. Well, I just couldn’t wait to give it a try and am I ever glad I did. I served it to my family as part of a full dinner of summer produce and they absolutely raved. They did indeed think it was the best corn pudding ever.

The second time I made this, I admit I accidently let the butter brown a little, but it was a serendipitous mistake, because it added even more depth to the final result. Adding a hint of sugar to the mix brings out the sweetness of good summer corn, and the lightly caramelized top is a revelation, providing a perfect sweet-salty balance.

Caramelized Corn Pudding
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 8 ears fresh corn
  2. ½ cup (1 stick) butter, divided
  3. 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  4. 2 Tablespoons flour
  5. ½ cup heavy cream
  6. 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  7. 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  8. 1 teaspoon salt
  9. 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 2 quart baking dish. Cut the kernels from the corn into a large bowl.
  2. Melt 6 Tablespoons of the butter over medium high heat in a deep skillet. When the butter starts to foam and little flecks of brown appear, about 3 minutes, stir in the granulated sugar and stir until smooth and the butter has browned a little more, about 3 minutes, then stir in the flour until smooth. Remove from the heat and slowly stir in the cream until well combined. The mixture may look a little odd or curdled at this point, but don’t worry, it will all come right in the end. Stir in the corn kernels to combine, then add the beaten eggs, baking powder and salt and stir until everything is mixed together. You may see some lumps of the cream mixture, but that’s okay.
  3. Spread the corn in the prepared baking dish, evening out the top. (You can make the dish to this point up to a few hours ahead, keep it loosely covered with a towel on the counter). Bake the corn pudding for 45 minutes, until firm and golden around the edges. Melt the remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter in a measuring jug with a spout (I use the microwave), then stir in the brown sugar until smooth. Drizzle the butter and brown sugar mix over the top of the corn pudding, gently spreading it out with a heat proof spatula or the back of a spoon. Cook for a further 5 minutes and serve immediately.
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Simple Summer Peach Pie

Pie speaks so of summer to me, particularly ones bursting with the best of summer fruit. And when it easy to make, like this one, it is a real bonus. I pulled the original version of this recipe from a community cookbook years ago when I had some peaches sitting on the counter. Like most of the best of summer produce, I buy peaches in bulk when they are at their peak, some to eat but mostly to make jams and preserves. When I buy by the quart or the basket, I always end up with a few more than I need for a canning. The first time I made this, I chose it because it uses ingredients I always have on hand. Now I buy peaches just to make the pie. I have often thought of this as a peaches and cream pie, but there is no cream, and though it has a creamy filling, it isn’t really a custard pie either. Just a simple summer peach pie.

I leave the peels on the peaches, because I think it adds extra flavor and color and helps keep the peach slices intact (and because it is easiest), but you can peel them if you prefer. And get creative with filling – use almond extract instead of vanilla, or scrape in the seeds of a vanilla bean. Add some cinnamon or cardamom, or a little fresh ginger. Some orange or lemon zest would work nicely as well.

Simple Summer Peach Pie
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. Pastry for on 9-inch pie, homemade or store bought ready rolled
  2. 3 large or four small peaches
  3. 3 eggs
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  5. 1 cup granulated sugar
  6. 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a pie plate with the pastry and set aside.
  2. Slice the peaches into thin slices and layer in the pie crust. Fill the crust with peach slices right up to the top.
  3. Beat the eggs and vanilla in a bowl, then beat in the sugar until well combined. Stir in the melted butter, then pour over the peaches in the crust. It may not look like enough filling, but it will all come right in the end. Try to pour some over the surface of every exposed peach slice. Bake the pie for 45 minutes to an hour, until the center is firm with just a little bit of a wiggle. If the crust starts to brown more than you’d like, loosely cover the pie foil.
  4. Cool the pie completely, then refrigerate until chilled through.
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Lady Peas and Lacy Cakes

I have stated many times before, I love field peas and go on mad buying frenzies when they are in season at the farmers market. I put many of the peas up in the freezer, but my standard weekend summer supper is field peas, fresh corn and tomatoes. It’s easy to set a pot of peas simmering on the back of the stove while I get on with my obsessive summer canning. And it the end of a day of making jar after jar of jams, relishes and pickles, it’s nice to have a comforting supper waiting without much extra work. Some days, though, I am looking to jazz things up a bit, to add a little extra to my standard field pea pot. And I think cornbread is a wonderful way to do that, so I tend to fiddle around with the ingredients I have on hand.

Lady peas are at the top of my field pea love list, not least because of the sweet and pretty name. My go to is butter braised lady peas, served with pillowy buttermilk hoecakes. This recipe is a riff on that basic formula, and I’ll be honest, it came to me because I like the silliness of the name lady peas and lacy cakes. The lady peas here are served with a lightly creamy, but not at all heavy, sauce, this one inspired by my Southern Girl Butter Beans. Lacy cakes are a traditional cornbread preparation, in which the cornmeal batter is sizzled in hot oil to produce lacy edges and an open bubbly crumb. They are the perfect foil for delicate lady peas. So here’s to a new twist to summer supper.

Lady Peas and Lacy Cakes
Serves 6
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For the Peas
  1. 1 pound fresh lady peas
  2. 3 strips bacon
  3. 1 small shallot or ¼ of an onion
  4. 3 garlic cloves
  5. 3 -4 stems of fresh thyme
  6. 2 bay leaves
  7. 2 Tablespoons butter
  8. 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  9. salt and pepper to taste
For the Lacy Cakes
  1. 1 egg
  2. 3 cups whole buttermilk
  3. 2 cups yellow cornmeal
  4. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  5. 1 teaspoon salt
  6. vegetable oil
For the Peas
  1. Place the lady peas, bacon, onion half, garlic clove and seasoning in a heavy saucepan.  Add water just to cover the beans. Bring to a boil and skim off any scum that rises. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook until the beans are tender, about an hour. When the beans are done, strain the beans, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Remove and discard the bacon, thyme stems, bay leafs, onion (which may have fallen into pieces – fish them all out) and garlic cloves if you can find them.
  2. Now make the sauce.  Wipe out the pot and melt the butter in it.  Sprinkle over the flour and stir until smooth.  Slowly pour in the cooking liquid, whisking until the sauce is smooth and thickened.  Add lots of pepper to taste.  Add the beans and stir to coat with the sauce.  Warm the beans through.  Season with salt to taste.
For the Lacy Cakes
  1. Beat the egg and buttermilk together in a large mixing bowl. Add the cornmeal, baking soda and salt and stir until thoroughly combined. Let the batter rest at room temperature for 15 minutes, then give it a good stir. Generously grease a shallow skillet or griddle pan with vegetable oil. You want more than just a light coating, but we are not deep frying here, so just a little pool of oil. When the oil is shimmering, scoop a ¼ cup of batter into the hot oil and spread into a circle from the center of the cake. Cook until golden brown on one side, about three minutes, then flip over and cook until crisp on the other side. Remove to a wire rack or a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with the remaining batter. Add more oil as needed. The cakes can be kept warm in a low oven.
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Blueberry Buttermilk Bread Pudding with Lemon Caramel Sauce

I have to say, this recipe involves a lot of words I like. Juicy fresh summer blueberries, rich buttermilk and caramel. Bread pudding has always been a favorite of mine and this fresh summer version bursting with berries is a great way to make the most of the farmers market fruit. Buttermilk adds a nice tang to the luscious custard. Top the whole with a silky caramel sauce freshened up with lemon juice for a lovely dessert, or brunch dish.

This recipe started life as a way to use up a basket of blueberries and an unused loaf of bread, but the idea was so solid that I set to work on a formal recipe. I added buttermilk because, well, I love buttermilk and always have some around. Challah is an airy, soft, eggy pairing for this summery version. I found a traditional caramel sauce a bit heavy for the fresh fruit, so lightened it up with a nice hint of fresh lemon. And, obviously, the sauce is delicious over ice cream or any variety of sweets.

Blueberry Buttermilk Bread Pudding with Lemon Caramel Sauce
Serves 6
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For the Caramel Sauce
  1. 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  2. 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  3. 1 cup boiling water
  4. Zest and juice of one lemon
  5. 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  6. Pinch of sea salt
For the Bread Pudding
  1. 1 pound loaf challah
  2. 2 cups fresh blueberries
  3. 3 whole large eggs
  4. 2 egg yolks
  5. ¾ cups packed light brown sugar
  6. 3 cups buttermilk
  7. 1 cup heavy cream
  8. zest and juice of one lemon
  9. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  10. ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
For the Caramel Sauce
  1. Whisk the brown sugar and flour together in a medium saucepan, then pour over the boiling water and whisk until smooth. Heat over medium heat, and when it just begins to bubble, stir in the lemon zest and juice, then add the butter, whisking until melted. Bring to a low boil and cook for five minutes, watching carefully and stirring occasionally. The sauce will be just a little thicker than maple syrup. Stir in a pinch of salt. Remove from the heat. The sauce can be made a few hours ahead and served at room temperature or served warm.
For the Bread Pudding
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Cut the challah into 1 inch cubes and spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 10 minutes. Don’t brown the bread, just let it crisp up slightly.
  2. Spray a 13 by 9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread half of the bread cubes in a solid layer in the dish. You don’t want too much of the dish showing through, so use a little more than half of the bread if needed. Sprinkle over half of the blueberries, then repeat with the remaining bread and berries.
  3. Beat the eggs lightly in a large bowl, then whisk in the brown sugar. Add the buttermilk, cream, lemon zest and juice, vanilla and nutmeg and whisk until smooth. Pour the custard evenly over the bread in the dish. Press the bread cubes down into the custard to saturate. Leave to soak in for at least half an hour, but you can cover and refrigerated for several hours.
  4. When ready to serve, cook the bread pudding at 350 until set, golden and firm, about 30 minutes. Let rest for a few minutes, then serve drizzled with the caramel sauce.
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Greek Style Green Bean Salad

Every year, I look forward with great anticipation to the Memphis Greek Festival. I go as soon as it opens and stock up on frozen spanikopita, delight at the flaming cheese saganaki and pig out on the cookies and pastries made by the ladies of the church. And it always gets me thinking about Greek recipes. I’ve only been to Greece once, many years ago, with friends on a budget and without a lot of knowledge about Greek cuisine. But we ate well, and those flavors have always stuck with me. One dish we found on many menus was green beans stewed with tomatoes, garlic and herbs, and it sometimes just came with whatever cheap plate meal we ordered. I’ve used that idea as a template for cooking fresh green beans at home, or for maximizing the flavor of frozen beans. But I flipped the script here to create a refreshing summer salad that makes great use of the farmers market abundance here in the South.

Beans cooked just until crisp, tomatoes roasted to bring out their sweet richness, fragrant oregano and salty feta cheese marry together perfectly. I prefer to use a solid block of feta cheese which I cut into small pieces. Pre-crumbled cheese tends to dissolve and muddy up the finished product.

Greek Style Green Bean Salad
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 2 pounds fresh green beans
  2. 12 ounces fresh tomatoes (about 2 medium)
  3. 3 cloves garlic
  4. 6 -7 sprigs of fresh oregano
  5. 7 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  6. 2 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
  7. salt and pepper to taste
  8. 1 large shallot
  9. 8 ounce block feta cheese
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, and fill a large bowl or sink with ice water. When the water is boiling, drop in the beans and cook for 5 minutes. Drain the beans and plunge them into the ice water to stop cooking. When the beans are cold in the water remove them to a tea towel to air dry. The beans can be cooked up to a day ahead and refrigerated in a ziptop bag.
For the Vinaigrette
  1. Preheat the oven to 300. Cut the tomatoes into quarters and place in a small baking dish close together. Tuck the garlic cloves into the tomatoes, so they do not touch the bottom of the dish. Tuck three – four sprigs of oregano into the tomatoes, then drizzle over 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Turn the tomatoes around in the oil so they are coated, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 1 ½ hours, until the tomatoes are completely soft. Scrape the tomatoes and all the collected juices into the carafe of a blender and leave to cool. When the tomatoes are cool, add the vinegar and blend until smooth. Drizzle in the remaining 6 Tablespoons of olive oil until the dressing is smooth and completely blended. The dressing can be made ahead and kept covered in the fridge. Blend again before adding to the salad.
  2. When ready to serve, cut the beans into ½ inch pieces and place in a large bowl. Thinly slice the shallot and add to the beans. Cut the feta cheese into small cubes and add to the bowl. Finely chop the remaining oregano and add to the bowl. Toss everything to combine, then pour over some of the dressing, then gently stir to coat the beans. Start with about three-quarters of the dressing, then add more as you like. You may have a little more dressing than you want to use. Taste and season well with salt and pepper.
  3. The salad can be kept in the fridge for a few hours. Serve chilled.
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Blueberry Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

Recipes are born from many things. This one came one summer when I had promised to bring cookies to a gathering. When I volunteered, I was no doubt thinking it would be the easiest assignment – just whip up some chocolate chip or peanut butter cookies and go. But when it came down to it, I had this desire to make something lighter and more summery. I had some lemons on the counter, so I turned to an old recipe for a lemon poppy seed cookie and that seemed more like what I wanted. I opened the fridge to get out the butter, eggs and sour cream and found some blueberries I’d picked up in bulk at the farmers market. Why not, I thought. Thus this cookie was born.

These are a lightly sweet cookie in the old-fashioned Southern tea cake style. Pillowy and cakey with a simple glaze to sweeten things up. I love the burst of juicy berries this version has, and the poppy seeds add interest, and make them very pretty. By the way, they were a big hit at the event.

Blueberry Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies
Yields 24
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Ingredients
  1. 10 Tablespoons (1 ¼ sticks) unsalted butter
  2. 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  3. 2 eggs
  4. ¼ cup sour cream
  5. zest and juice of one lemon
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  7. 1 ½ teaspoons poppy seeds
  8. 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  9. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  10. ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  11. 1 cup fresh blueberries
  12. 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer to break it up, then add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in the sour cream, most of the lemon zest (save a pinch for the glaze) and 2 Tablespoons lemon juice (save the rest for the glaze), vanilla and poppy seeds. Beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the flour, baking powder and salt until the batter is smooth and well combined and there are no dry ingredients visible in the bowl. Fold the blueberries into the batter with a spatula.
  3. Use a cookie scoop or large spoon to scoop mounds of dough an inch or so apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until firm and just lightly golden on the bottoms, about 15 minutes. Cool on the pan for a few minutes, the remove to a wire rack placed over paper to catch drips from the glaze. Cool completely.
  4. Whisk the confectioners’ sugar and a little lemon zest together with enough lemon juice to make a glaze you can drizzle over the cookies. If you don’t have enough lemon juice, add a touch of milk. You can add a pinch of poppy seed to the glaze as well if you’d like. Drizzle the tops of the cookies with the glaze and leave to set.
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