Friday, June 26, 2009



Summertime and the livin is easy
Fish are jumpin and the cotton is fine
Oh your daddys rich and your ma is good lookin
So hush little baby, don’t you cry

One of these mornings
Youre goin to rise up singing
Then youll spread your wings
And youll take the sky
But till that morning
Theres a nothin can harm you
With daddy and mammy standin by
- George and Ira Gershwin / Dubose Heyward

Slow and easy, relaxed and cool. Summer is finally upon us, easing into place, wrapping herself around us in her warm embrace. She brushes a loose strand of hair from our face with a still-cool hand and whispers loving promises in our ear, promises of gentle breezes washing over us, promises of lazy days and naps in the green grass under trees and promises of the soothing lullaby of crickets and frogs as she gently rocks us to sleep at night.

Yet beware! Soon she will release her rage and breath her fire all around until we drop to our knees and beg for respite. Our clothing sticks to us, pressing against our burning skin like devils’ hands and we tear at the little that we wear as if those hands were trying to choke us. We wander around the house desperately seeking the one cool place, praying for comfort, as in one final despairing attempt we stand in the one cold spot in the house, bathed in the glow of the refrigerator light.

We toss and turn all night, wretched in the heat, the sheets knotted around our ankles, cursing the gods of summer as we count the ticks and the tocks of the night inching along on little sloth feet, praying for morning to finally arrive hoping that with it will come the hint of even the slightest breeze. We drag ourselves out of our bed, step over the poor dog splayed across the parquet floor panting even in his sleep and readjust the fan one more time knowing that anyway we will find no relief.

We wander into the kitchen in our mindless hot-weather roamings and wonder if we even have an appetite. We lean into the fridge and think that maybe the only thing inside worth coming for is the cold air. We should be working but have no strength and we wonder why oh why did we pray so hard for this unforgiving season to arrive. Do we dream of beaches and bike rides with the sun beating down on our backs and the day ending with our face the color of lobster? Or long car drives battling between the icy air conditioning or the open window, the air rushing at us only hotter than burning cement. We stare out the window, peering up into the sky and hoping upon hope for one of summer’s flash thunderstorms and the wind and drop of temperature that accompanies it. We slip into last year’s swimsuit and trudge down to the beach, loaded down with towels and coolers, children and dogs skipping excitedly alongside us, forgetting that by the end of the afternoon they’ll be hot and tired, itchy with sand in hard-to-reach places and thirstier than Moses after 40 years in the desert.

Ah, to sit on a shaded terrace somewhere, a glass of chilled pinot grigio or Prosecco in our hand, the soft breeze rustling the leaves in the nearby trees while the waiter brings us a platter of oysters and cracked crab nestled in ice, the quiet chatter around us lulling us into daydreams, only the gentle droning of the dragonflies and the clatter of glasses breaking through the murmurs. Or sitting lakeside, feet dangling over the pier, toes making lazy circles in the cool water, waiting for the barbecue to heat up and someone to bring us a plate of grilled shrimp and refill our glass with chilled Rosé, only to end the evening strolling back through the cool grass to the chalet where we will slip in between the cool sheets and snuggle up with the one we love.

Well, if it could only be that way. Here we are working and packing, vacation a distant dream, tossing and turning in the heat, trying to deal with the summer weather. We still need to put a meal on the table occasionally and we are loath to light the oven and simply add to the heat. We open the windows and pull closed the shutters and make a list of all the possibilities; the salads and cold soups, leftover Chinese food and thick slices of chilled watermelon. What to make? What to make?

Here is the ideal summer meal, light and cool, healthy and a snap to put together. I am sending this over to Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her super SOUPER (SOUP, SALAD and SAMMIE) SUNDAYS. My first time ever with Deb and her gang, but this salad is too delish not to share!


For the Carpaccio you will need:

Zucchini, 1 or 2 for two people depending on what you are eating with it
Sea salt
An excellent quality extra virgin olive oil, I use peppery Carapelli
Freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese

Peel the zucchini, cut off the two ends and discard all. Using a potato peeler, peel the zucchini into long, thin, wide strips all around until you get to the center section with the seeds. This seedy center you discard.

Pile the strips of zucchini onto a plate. Drizzle olive oil over the carpaccio, sprinkle with sea salt and a good grinding of black pepper.

Using the potato peeler, peel curls of cheese off of the block of Parmesan and distribute over the Zucchini Carpaccio.

For the Mozzarella Tomato Salad :

Again, quantities depend on how many people, what you are serving this with and how much people eat.

Juicy, ripe seasonal tomatoes
Balls of fresh mozzarella, preferably the more flavorful buffalo mozzarella, if available
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Very good quality extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
A handful of rocket or basil leaves

Slice the tomatoes and mozzarella into medium-thick, even slices. If using rocket, distribute it evenly over serving platter and then lay the tomato and cheese slices all over it in an overlapping pattern. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, sprinkle lightly with salt and a bit more generously with freshly ground black pepper. If using basil, distribute the leaves on top of the tomato and cheese slices.

Serve as is, with a bit of fresh bread if you like and a bottle of chilled white or rosé.


cooknkate said...

This is my kind of dinner for a hot night, and a kid-free one as Griffin would look at that as a form of torture, not nourishment.

Culinary Wannabe said...

So perfect for summer! Especially since our AC still isn't turned on - gosh darn these old nyc buildings! Have a fantastic weekend. Hope most of the packing is done!

SarahKate said...

That looks like summer on a plate... cooling and fresh and delicious! Yum!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

So right! I love summer, but when it's too hot, then I change my mind...

A delightful carpaccio!

Cheers and have a great weekend,


Barbara Bakes said...

I have never eaten fresh zucchini. I'm going to give this a try as soon as my garden is overflowing with squash!

Jamie said...

@Kate - I knew Griffen was a meat kinda guy, but I thought he ate everything? Well, more for you!

@Ashley - Arrgggghhhhh! No! And I am wondering why oh why I thought this would be fun!

@SarahKate - Welcome!

@Rosa - LOL Yep!

@Barbara - ahha! Another recipe for all that squash which may change things a bit.

bethany (dirtykitchensecrets) said...

Great writing! and even better salad! thanks for sharing! yum yum x

Mary said...

Another delightful post and a salad perfect for summer. Now that's hard to beat. Have a wonderful weekend.

girlichef said...

Gorgeous! I always love the retro photos you use...they make me feel like I'm in a different place :) And the, love, love it!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Oh my ... gorgeous presentation on this one!
Summer ... I just decided I'd try setting my temp read outs to C° then maybe I could pretend it was freezing here ... just can't open the door if I want to believe. Probably it'll just teach me what 32°C is ... hotter than ...

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Very healthy salad you've made Jamie.
I love those old black and white photos - really fun.

Christina Kim said...

shaved parm-reg cheese is probably my #1 favorite thing in the world. beautifully done!

Dan Kent said...

Yes, this is the Dan you knew a long time ago in Satellite Beach. Surprised? :) I live in Miami where, of course, it is perpetual summer. My oldest son is studying in Metz, France for school so the world seems smaller now, and I thought of you..a few clicks and here you are!

I am glad to see that your life's been a feast! Seems like you've experienced many wonderful things. And you are so talented.. Beautiful blog - wonderful cooking! Alas I missed the reunion but maybe one day we'll meet again. Meanwhile, stay well.

Deeba @Passionate About Baking said...

Loved reading your post jamie. Can I just live here in the aura of days gone by...just in a little corner of your beautiful blog! the opening lines remind me of an old Don Henley song...Oh & the salad is fresh & perfect for summer!

Sara said...

This looks like the perfect summer salad! I am just waiting for my tomatoes to ripen so I can make great salads like this.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

What a great story and pictures to accompany it. It's Winter here so I long for that kind of food although for us it's all about hot soups and roasts at the moment :)

La Table De Nana said...

I am so glad I found your blog..The Life Photos remind me of our coffee table when we were growing up.My mother LOVED this magazine.
The salad looks yummy too..I will be perusing your pretty blog today~

Jamie said...

@Dan : amazing! Hello! How'd you find my blog!!!

@Sara : great to see you and yum on the homegrown tomatoes! Lucky!

@Deeba : Howdy!!!

@Lorraine : when I saw you post soup I realized you were just heading into winter.

@La Table de Nana : Welcome!!

teresa said...

I love that you posted the song Summertime. When I was younger I actually sang that song for a recital at a music festival, and loved it!

This looks like heaven! I love tomato mozzerella salad, but I really love the zucchini in the middle, gorgeous!

Debinhawaii said...

Great post and a beautiful salad that is perfect for summer. Thanks for sending it to Souper Sundays. Just got the round-up posted.



asiangrrl said...

First of all, you should move more often as you seem to post more often when procrastinating.

Second of all, SOME of us NEVER pray for summer to arrive.

Lastly, this salad looks like it would be great to eat poolside. Nice job.


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