Summer’s Bounty Delivers Delicious Holiday

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With Rosh Hashanah falling early this year, cooks have the opportunity to play with a different set of ingredients from the traditional autumn harvest.

Less the apple, squash, yams and carrots, more the fresh herbs, berries and tomatoes.

With that in mind, we offer the following menu for a light, delicious holiday feast.


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Herb-Baked Fish

Serves six

Choose any mild, white-fleshed fish — flounder, cod, haddock, fluke, etc. Cook times may vary pending the thickness of the fish; thin, delicate flounder may only need 15 minutes in the oven, while a thicker cod will require closer to 30. Fish is done when it flakes easily and the translucence is gone, leaving a white, opaque color.

Use whatever herbs you have on hand; keep it simple with just one flavor or mix a bunch up for a mélange. One piece of advice: I’d avoid mint for this dish, sticking to more traditionally savory herbs.

  • 2 pounds white fish filets (cod, flounder, fluke, etc.)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ stick butter
  • ½ cup chopped fresh herbs — a single variety or a blend (dill, basil, thyme, rosemary)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat your oven to 375 degrees. Butter the bottom of a baking dish, and place the fish in a single layer in the bottom of the dish.

Cut the butter into small pieces and sprinkle it over the fish, then sprinkle the lemon juice, herbs, and salt and pepper.

Bake for 15-30 minutes, depending upon the thickness of the fish, until done. Serve immediately.

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Panzanella

Serves six

This is a great way to use ripe tomatoes and surplus bread. Because it contains both the carb and the vegetable, this is a nice way for the cook to save time and effort. Oh, and one more thing, it is delicious.

For the bread:

  • ½ loaf day-old Italian or French bread, cut or ripped into bite-sized cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Generous sprinkle of garlic powder, salt and pepper

Heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Spread the bread cubes onto a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle them with oil and sprinkle with seasonings.

Toss well and bake for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cubes are brown and crispy. Remove them from the oven and cool completely.

For the salad:

  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped (or 2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved)
  • 20 basil leaves, cut in ribbons
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Lots of fresh ground pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Place the cooled bread cubes in a large, shallow bowl.

Add the tomatoes, onions and basil.

In a small bowl, mix the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic. Pour it over the bread mixture and stir well to blend.

Allow the panzanella to sit for about 15 minutes and serve at room temperature.

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Blackberry Tart

Serves eight to 10

This iteration of my “magic dough” recipe came about when I ended up with a pint of not very sweet blackberries. It was initially disappointing, but this is the epitome of making lemonade out of lemons. If you don’t have blackberries, any summer fruit works — sour cherries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, plums, apricots, etc.

For the filling:

  • 1½ pints blackberries, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup sugar (adjust per the sweetness of your fruit)
  • For the tart:
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2¼ cups flour

Place all the filling ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring it to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes until the liquid forms a syrup. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, blend the butter, flour and sugar until pea-sized balls form.

In a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, press two-thirds of the dough firmly in the bottom and up the sides of the pan.

Pour the filling into the tart shell, and crumble the remaining dough over the filling.

(Do not let the filling overflow; if this is the case, save the extra to serve with cheese or yogurt or as a topping for vanilla ice cream.)

Press gently, and bake for 40 minutes until the edges and crumble topping are lightly brown.

Cool and carefully remove the tart from the pan. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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