As June ends and July begins, the farm stands come alive and we are blessed by an abundance of local produce. After June’s asparagus, spinach, sugar snap peas, rhubarb and strawberries comes the arrival of sweet corn in July. Then the tomatoes, the melons and the berries. And in the midst of all this we still enjoy the bounty of the sea. Here is a meal that includes some of July’s many ingredients:
Cantaloupe and Cherry Tomato Salad
Cut one cantaloupe in half and scrape out the seeds. Scoop out the flesh using a melon baller and place the melon in a large bowl.
Cut one pint of cherry or grape tomatoes in half and add them to the melon.
Peel a cucumber and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and slice into quarter-inch slices before adding to the cantaloupe.
Add 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion.
Cut an avocado in half and cut squares through the flesh with a paring knife. Using a spoon, scoop under the squares and place the avocado flesh in a bowl. Squeeze a wedge of lime on the avocado and add to the melon mixture.
Fold in 1/2 cup fresh chopped mint leaves.
Make a dressing by combining the juice and zest of 2 limes, 1 tablespoon honey and 2 tablespoons olive oil.
Add the dressing to the salad and toss gently, then serve over baby arugula. Garnish with a mint leaf.
Corn and Sea Scallop Stew
Purchase 6 ears of very fresh corn, a pint of sugar snap peas and 1 1/2 pounds of large sea scallops.
Scrape off the kernels of corn into a bowl and set aside, reserving the husks.
Trim and rinse the peas and rinse the scallops quickly under cold water, removing the small muscle attached to the scallop meat. Refrigerate the scallops and peas and place the corn husks in a soup pot.
Add 2 cups chicken stock and 1 cup water to the corn husks and season with 2 sprigs of thyme, 6 parsley stems and a bay leaf. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes before straining into a bowl.
Heat a large saucepan and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Chop 4 ounces of pancetta and add to the oil. When it begins to brown, add 2 diced leeks (white part), 2 minced shallots, 1 stalk of diced celery and 2 minced cloves of garlic. Cook on very low heat for 5 minutes.
Rinse 1 bag of small, white, new potatoes and slice into thin slices, leaving the skin on. It will be about 4 cups.
Add the potatoes to the leek mixture and pour the reserved corn stock over them. Simmer until the potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes, then add the corn kernels and the sugar snap peas.
Season with 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, 2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon ground pepper.
Continue simmering at low heat for another 5 minutes, carefully folding the ingredients together.
Remove from the heat and stir in the zest and juice of 1 lemon and 1/2 cup chopped parsley. Keep the stew in a warm place.
Just before service time,heat a large sauté pan and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. When very hot, add the sea scallops individually, making sure they don’t crowd each other. After about a minute, turn them using a thin, metal fish spatula and continue cooking for another minute. Cook the scallops in small batches, removing them to a warm place.
Portion out the stew into pasta bowls and arrange the sea scallops on top. Serve with cornmeal biscuits.
Cornmeal Buttermilk Biscuits
Whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/3 cup cornmeal, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar in a bowl.
Cut 6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter into small squares and cut them into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or with your fingers.
Stir in 3/4 cup buttermilk with a dinner fork and form a coarse dough. If it seems too dry, add a little more buttermilk.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently into a 1-inch-thick round.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and cut the dough into biscuits using a small glass or a biscuit cutter. They should only be about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. (You will get 6 or 7 biscuits.)
Place biscuits on the sheet pan and cook in a 400-degree oven for 15 minutes. Serve warm on the side of the stew.
Fourth of July Mousse
Separate 2 large eggs into 2 small bowls.
Add to a small saucepan 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin, 1/4 cup sugar and a pinch of salt.
Whisk together the 2 egg yolks and 1 1/4 cups milk. Add this mixture to the saucepan with the gelatin, whisking all ingredients.
Cook at medium heat only until the sugar and gelatin are dissolved, about 5 minutes. Do not boil.
Remove from the heat and stir in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.
Transfer to a stainless steel bowl and place over ice cubes or chill in the refrigerator. Stir occasionally so it does not become set.
Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, whip the egg whites until foamy and add 1/4 cup sugar. Continue whipping until stiff peaks form and set aside.
In a clean bowl whip 1 cup heavy cream until stiff peaks form.
Fold together the chilled milk mixture, the egg whites and the whipped cream.
Divide the mousse between six rocks glasses and chill.
Prepare a raspberry sauce by adding to a small saucepan 1/2 pint fresh raspberries, 1/4 cup currant jelly and 2 teaspoons sugar. Bring to a slow boil, stirring with a wooden spoon.
Transfer to a food processor and process until smooth. Strain back into the saucepan to remove the seeds.
Dissolve 1 tablespoon cornstarch in 2 tablespoons cold water and add to the raspberry mixture. Bring to a boil, remove and chill.
When chilled but not set, portion the raspberry sauce over the chilled mousse and refrigerate.
At service time, rinse 1 pint fresh blueberries and place them on top of the chilled raspberry/mousse. The three colors, (red, white and blue) make it a Fourth of July specialty.
Serve with whipped cream if desired.