The onset of fall can be a sobering time. Gone is the green foliage, the late-evening sun, the open warmth of the breeze. Gone, too, are the peaches, splitting with sweetness, the sapid summer corn—gone, in short, are all the bursting, burgeoning summer fruit and vegetables.
But sometimes you get lucky, and summer comes rushing back in for a fleet swing-by before it takes off for the year. For a magical week or two the march of the seasons is halted; the slant of the sun gets lower but the farmers’ markets still, inexplicably, have all their summer bounty—tomatoes, corn, shaggy bundles of fresh herbs, all perfumed with the stored-up heat of warmer days.
A couple of weeks ago, when we were blessed with a freak spell of summery weather, I headed over to Heirloom Kitchen, one of my favorite places to cook, to prepare an Indian Summer menu, combining the best of the late summer produce with the fall produce already making its debut.
Keep this menu safe as a reminder that forbidding weather can always break. Save it up for next summer, or adapt it to what you have handy. Don’t have perfectly ripe summer tomatoes for the corn and tomato salad? No problem—use persimmons, peeled and sliced into translucent discs. No romaine lettuce to grill and drizzle with a cashew-lime cream? Don’t sweat it: use radicchio instead.Summer is a state of mind: you can find color, flavor, and excitement in every season if you just look for it.
Meanwhile, don’t forget to check out Heirloom Kitchen in Old Bridge, NJ. They’re launching an exciting new chef’s table restaurant with David Viana at their beautiful cooking school space. Reservations are available every weekend starting this weekend! You’ll be blown away by the beautiful space and Viana’s inspired, seasonally driven menu.
Why mess with perfection? A plain corn and tomato salad is sublime just as it is. But what fun would life (and cooking) be without a little experimentation! We up the ante on your favorite summer salad by adding some pickled shallots and toasted hand-torn breadcrumbs flavored with peppery curry leaves. More>>>
Terrified of salad greens wilting before your eyes as you dress them? Worry no more. In our grilled romaine salad we want our greens to wilt—over a hot flame, that is, before we douse them with a cashew cream dressing that packs a wallop from a healthy dose of green chile and fresh lime. More>>>
Why does cauliflower have such a wintery reputation? The robust, earthy flavor of a good cauliflower lends itself perfectly to a creamy, coconut-rich soup gently spiced with garam masala powder and topped with toasted hazelnuts, fried lentils, pickled cauliflower, and pomegranate seeds: equally perfect on a blustery fall day or a late-summer afternoon. More>>>
You know what’s good summer, fall, winter, and spring? A good roast chicken, that’s what. Marinating the chicken in a mixture of coconut milk and warm Indian spices (curry leaves! Black pepper! Ginger!) turns this old chestnut (not to confuse poultry and nut metaphors) on its head. More>>>
Go ahead, dive into summer, whenever you feel like it, whatever the season.