Back to the Kitchen: Quick Fun Recipes with Summer Fruit

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People often ask how I come up with my recipes. It is my greatest joy to create new dishes and play with ingredients. When I work I am required to make certain dishes, but when I entertain friends and family for dinner, I  just have fun making things up.

Here are some new recipes inspired by some of summer’s best offerings. My friend has a Meyer lemon tree that is bursting. I used them for grilled chicken and just HAD to make lemon curd.  Meyer lemons are almost like a cross between lemon and key limes.

I just got my first bag of figs from another friend and I can assure you that by the end of August, I will have a whole column dedicated to the short, but abundant fig season. Play with these recipes or make up your own. Grab up whatever fresh ingredients strike your fancy and just have some summer fun!

Have fun creating with Meyer lemons this summer.

Grilled Swordfish with Heirloom Tomato Salsa

1 1/4 pounds heirloom tomatoes (about 6), halved

1 red onion, thickly sliced

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/4 inch dice

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced (to taste)

1-teaspoon fresh-ground pepper

4 swordfish steaks, about 1 inch thick (about 2 pounds in all)

Light the grill or heat the broiler. Coat the tomato halves and onions with 2 teaspoons of the oil. Grill the tomatoes cut-side up (or broil them cut-side down), until the skins start to blacken, about 10 minutes. Right next to them grill or broil the onions until tender. Slip off the skins and put the tomatoes and onions in a medium bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients except fish. Stir to break up the tomatoes and to combine the ingredients. Chill until ready to use.

Coat the swordfish with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill or broil the fish for 4 minutes. Turn and cook until golden brown and just done, 4 to 5 minutes longer. Serve with the salsa.

Flank Steak with Nectarines

1-1/2 pound beef flank steak

1/4-cup beef stock

1/4-cup honey

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon grated ginger root

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 small red onion, minced

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)

4 nectarines, very ripe, cut in half

Cut the beef in a crisscross pattern 1/2″ apart and 1/8″ deep on both sides of the steak. Place beef in a zip lock bag. Combine beef stock, honey, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, onion, and red pepper flakes in small bowl and mix. Pour this marinade over beef and seal bag. Place bag in glass baking dish to catch any leaks. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours. When ready to grill, heat coals. Remove beef from marinade and reserve marinade. Grill beef 4-5″ from medium heat for 12-15 minutes until medium (10-12 minutes for medium-rare), brushing twice with marinade. Add nectarines to grill for last 6 minutes of grill time, turning once and brushing with marinade. Discard leftover marinade. Cut beef across grain to serve and serve with nectarines.

Lemon Thyme Chicken

4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon peel

2 teaspoons garlic salt

½ teaspoon pepper

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 pounds)

Place drip pan directly under grilling area, and arrange coals around edge of firebox if using a charcoal grill. Spray grill rack with cooking spray. Heat coals or gas grill for indirect heat. In small bowl, mix all ingredients except chicken. Sprinkle mixture over chicken. Cover and grill chicken over drip pan or over unheated side of gas grill and 4 to 6 inches from medium-high heat 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until juice of chicken is clear when center of thickest part is cut. Garnish with additional fresh thyme and lemon rings.

Penne with Salmon and Snap Peas

1-pound penne pasta

1 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved diagonally

1-cup heavy cream

1 pound baked salmon, flaked

1 tablespoon finely grated fresh lemon zest

1 bunch dill, chopped

Salt & pepper

In a large pot of boiling water add Penne and cook for 7 minutes. Add sugar snaps and cook 2 minutes more. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water, then drain pasta and sugar snaps in a colander and return to pot. Boil cream in a saucepan, uncovered, 2 minutes, and then add to pasta along with zest, reserved cooking water, dill, salt, and pepper and toss until combined. Place on serving platter and sprinkle salmon over the top and serve.

Gingered Snow Peas

1-pound snow peas, de-stemed

2 tablespoons each, butter and olive oil

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

3-tablespoon soy sauce

In a skillet or an electric wok (high heat) heat oil, butter add snow peas and ginger and sauté for about 3 minutes, until tender. Place in a bowl and toss with soy sauce. Serve at once.

Green beans with Red Pepper and Walnuts

1-pound green beans, cleaned and desiring

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon crushed pepper

In a skillet or electric wok (high heat) heat oil. Saute green beans, walnuts and pepper about 5 minutes until the beans are tender.

Mini Meyer Lemon Curd Tartlets

3 eggs

6 tablespoons melted butter

1-cup bakers sugar (super fine)

Juice and zest from 3 Meyer Lemons

Beat the eggs and melted butter. Add the sugar and beat thoroughly. Add the lemon juice and zest and combined well. Place in the top of a double broiler and stir constantly until thickened. Chill overnight.

Mini Crust

½ cup butter

½ cup cream cheese

1-cup flour

Mix then form in small balls. Press in mini muffin pans push up the sides. Bake at 325 for 10 minutes until golden. Fill with Meyer Lemon Curd, top with a raspberry and chill.

Cream Fig Tart with a Blue Corn Rosemary Crust

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup blue cornmeal

1-tablespoon sugar

1/4-teaspoon salt

1 stick unsalted butter, grated and frozen for 30 minutes

1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary

4 to 5 tablespoons ice water

Preheat oven to 400

Pulse together flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add butter and rosemary and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Drizzle evenly with 4 tablespoons ice water and pulse until just incorporated. Gently squeeze a small handful: If it doesn’t hold together, add more water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition and continuing to test.

Press dough evenly onto bottom and up sides of tart pan with floured fingers. Smooth dough with a small offset metal spatula or back of a spoon (floured if necessary), then roll a rolling pin over top of pan to trim dough flush with rim. Chill crust until firm, about 30 minutes. Bake crust in middle of oven until center and edges are golden, 25 to 30 minutes (don’t worry if bottom of crust cracks), then cool in pan on a rack.

Meanwhile, make your cream:

1 ½ cups cream

Zest of ½ orange

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 egg

Bring cream and orange zest to a boil then simmer for 5 minutes until reduced by half. Remove from heat and add brown sugar. Allow to cool.

Whisk in 1 large egg.

To assemble: Line the pastry base with fresh figs that are cut in quarters about 10 small. Pour over cream mixture Bake for 25 min at 400. Cool and serve!

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.