SWEETENED WHIPPED RICOTTA WITH BERRIES AND TARRAGON

BERRY SALAD-9253.jpg

When I was coming up with this summer dessert, it was 90 degrees and unbearably humid. I wanted something that didn't involve heat; not even the grill (going outside wasn't an option). Just the thought of turning on the oven made me sweat. But, of course, by the time I finally got around to preparing it, the temperature had dropped 30 degrees and, not long after, the rain came. Go figure! I have no doubt that the heat and humidity will return... and now I'll be prepared. 

No-fuss desserts are my jam and this one is about as no-fuss as you can get (though you'll definitely impress dinner guests with the presentation). Ricotta is blended with a bit of maple syrup, vanilla, and lemon zest, until light and creamy. Top with a mix of your favorite berries and herbs (I went with tarragon for its vanilla notes, but mint or basil would also work nicely). You can go traditional with your choice of fruit, or you can get a bit more playful. I like contrasting flavors, so I paired the deeper, sweeter blackberries and blueberries with tart raspberries and currants. The gooseberries (aka ground cherries, husk cherries) may be harder to find, but if you can get your hands on some, they not only look great, but they have a subtle sweetness (a blend of cherry and pineapple) that make them the perfect addition to your fruit salad.  

BERRY SALAD-9270-3.jpg

SWEETENED WHIPPED RICOTTA TOPPED WITH BERRIES AND TARRAGON

SERVINGS
Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS
2 cups whole milk ricotta
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of half a lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups mixed berries (I used blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries, and currants)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves

DIRECTIONS
1. Place the ricotta, maple syrups, vanilla extract, lemon zest and salt into the bowl of a food processor (alternatively, you can use an immersion blender). Blend until smooth. 

2. Spread the ricotta out onto a platter or board. Top with berries and garnish with a sprinkle of tarragon leaves. 

ROASTED POTATOES WITH GARLIC AND ROSEMARY

ROASTED POTATOES AND GARLIC-8718.jpg

For the last couple of years, my parents have rented a house in the Berkshires, located about three hours west of Boston, for us to stay in over the July 4th holiday. This summer, however, they decided to get a place on the Cape. The property, surrounded by trees but walking distance to the beach, was the perfect retreat. Eric and I slept at our house, just a few miles away and on a lake. It was the best of both worlds. They could do their beach time in the morning and then we would all go swimming or boating in the lake in the afternoon. My nieces loved it... I loved it. Eric and I have been working so hard to get the place in order that we've had little time to enjoy ourselves. This forced us to slow down a bit and, by the end of the week, I was reminded why I love being down there and the memories we can create.

During our stay, many of our meals consisted of three things: fish, vegetables, and corn; all prepared on the grill. It's so simple and, yet, it embodies what I love about summer; mainly, cooking and eating outdoors. It's no-fuss preparation (just olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh herbs), is a plus. Besides corn, I'm all about roasted potatoes. Paired with rosemary and a couple heads of garlic (maybe the real star of this dish), and you have yourself the perfect side to go with any grilled protein. 

ROASTED POTATOES WITH GARLIC AND ROSEMARY

SERVINGS
Serves 6, as a side

INGREDIENTS
2 lbs baby potatoes, halved
2 heads garlic
2 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
Olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.

2. Remove the outer layer of skin from the garlic, but leave the peel on each clove. Place baby potatoes, garlic, and rosemary into a bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil and toss with a spoon to make sure they're evenly coated. Season with salt and ground pepper.

3. Spread potatoes and garlic out evenly on prepared baking sheet.

4. Roast in oven, flipping halfway through, until crispy and brown, approximately 50 minutes. Remove from oven, transfer to a serving bowl, and season to taste.