Crunchtime Food Blog

seafood boil

Change of seasons in Southern California is determined by the shade of grass and the thickness of sweaters.  In deep January, believe me, we are grateful, but without harsh winters, we just don’t celebrate summer like everyone else. There’s a quiet in our town. Sometimes I miss that authentic neighborhood barbecue atmosphere with kids running through sprinklers, lightening bugs, laughter that hums through screendoors, humidity, and enough water to go around. To me, summer is more a state of mind than a season. We ramped things up the other day with a spicy seafood boil that we borrowed from our coastal friends, where shellfish is a summer staple.

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fresh tomato tart

For all practical purposes, if you need to sell-in fresh tomato tart to your family, tell them it’s like pizza.  Yet comparing fresh tomato tart to pizza is like comparing Vegas to Rome – they both have fountains and statues of Caesar, but the experience is quite different.

Taking advantage of super ripe sun gold tomatoes, roasted to perfection on top of caramelized onions, a melted mozzarella & pecorino blend, and a flaky, buttery crust, this savory summer pie serves up well, hot from the oven or room temp,  for lunch, brunch, picnics and barbecues.

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guacamole with kale

For some, homemade guacamole is made with one scoop of guacamole, one quart of serving bowl, and a four-hand grip of tortilla chips. Step 1: dip and devour.

Creative types show us new and better ways to heighten this party essential without abandoning the charm.  Two of my favorite additions, championed by friends, are sour cream, just a dollop, and cumin, just a bit. Both have made their way into our guac version and never left.  And then an even better way emerged…

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mixed bean salad

Three bean is a summer salad staple, but if you’re like me, three bean is one bean too many.  Kidney, you’re welcome in my chili, but I do not dig your chalky bite of paste in my cold salads.  Yotam Ottolenghi  improves three bean salad’s taste and visual appeal with toss in of barely roasted red peppers. Sexy.

Now, a seemingly boring bean salad gets a Middle Eastern spice and herb kick, making go-time for this tribute to traffic lights.

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honey grilled shrimp

This rave-worthy fare offers all we need out of a summer recipe. Little effort, big flavor and temperature agnostic to survive and thrive at most barbecue buffets.  We like to say it’s food served “roomcoldhappysad,” borrowed from a favorite satirical article exploiting absurdities of restaurant dining. Take five to read the amusing one-pager, we’ll wait.

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