During the summer months, you don’t even have to think twice about getting your daily allowance of fruits and veggies. They are so fresh and delicious, like nature’s candy, you just want to pick them right off a tree and eat them. When produce is in season, it is a completely different eating experience. Let’s celebrate a little of summer’s bounty while it lasts.
- From beautiful heirlooms to little baby cherry and grape, tomatoes in the summer are sweet like candy—you can just eat them with a sprinkle of salt. You want to make sure they are beautifully firm and perfectly ripe, not mushy. Some say that putting tomatoes in the fridge will make them mealy and they are best left at room temperature; others say it’s OK to put them in the refrigerator.
- Sweet and juicy or firm and crisp, peaches are wonderful in the summer. They come in different varieties, with white and yellow flesh, and can be big and round or even flat and doughnut-shaped. Smell your peaches to see if they are fresh; don’t squeeze them or they will bruise.
- Summer barbecues are not the same without a good corn on the cob. It’s best to buy corn still in the husk, which should be still green with a moist golden silk. Kernels should be plump and appear in tight, evenly spaced rows. Eat it right away or store in the refrigerator.
- Figs are magical. They have a fleeting season, so you have to take advantage of it when they make a short appearance at the market. They are beautiful with purple or green outer skins and beautiful little pink seed-studded centers. Purchase figs fully ripe and keep refrigerated, as they are highly perishable.
- Containing a burst of flavor, these little berries are tart and sweet and wonderful at their peak. With abundant health benefits, blueberries are full of fiber and antioxidants like Vitamin C and others that boost the immune system, help prevent cancer, and have anti-aging properties. Look for plump, firm berries that have uniform color and don’t stick together. Store them unwashed in the refrigerator until you’re ready to eat them. v
Sticky Fig & Balsamic Lamb Riblets
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1½ cloves garlic, minced
1½ sprigs rosemary, de-stemmed and minced
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
¼ cup softened butter substitute
5–6 fresh figs
½ cup fig preserves (or mixed berry preserves)
2 packages lamb riblets
Preheat oven to 250°F. In a small bowl, combine butter substitute, garlic, and rosemary. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, reduce balsamic vinegar to half a cup. Add fig preserves, remaining herbs, salt, and pepper and bring to a simmer until it reaches a syrupy, sticky glaze consistency, about 10–15 minutes. Remove from heat.
Season lamb riblets with salt and pepper. Place riblets in a foil packet on a baking sheet, drizzle half of the fig–balsamic sauce on top, and seal foil tightly. Place in oven and bake for 2 hours. Open foil packet, place fresh figs next to lamb, and drizzle more sauce over lamb and figs. Raise oven temperature to 350° and place lamb back in oven for 20–25 more minutes to caramelize figs and finish cooking. Serve riblets with figs drizzled with sauce.
Want to learn how to cook delicious gourmet meals right in your own kitchen? Take one-on-one cooking lessons or give a gift to an aspiring cook you know. For more information, contact Take Home Chef personal chef services by calling 516-508-3663, writing to elke@TakeHomeChef.net, or visiting www.TakeHomeChef.net.