05 August 2012

Dog Days and Tapas ...

It was so hot yesterday. These are the dog days of summer. The late summer sun bakes everything and the gardens go blowsy and the grass is parched in places. The Corgis rush out the back door full of energy and drag themselves back after a brief run around with their tongues hanging low. They flop ... and pant ... and drop off to sleep.  They inspire me to do much the same. I get things done in spurts and then flop and pant ... talk about people resembling their pets!

I puttered around all day. The morning was still cool, so I cranked up the slow cooker and put about fifty tomatoes into it, thinking that by the end of the day there would be a thick tomato sauce to use for a pasta dinner. The rest I plan to can for pizza sauce. It's hard to think about winter right now, but we will appreciate that homegrown sauce on those wintertime pizza pies. 

Once the tomatoes were bubbling, I went to farmer's market. The air conditioner in the car was such a blessing ...  picked up good cheese, some baby bok choy and a lovely little head of Boston lettuce, a pint of black currants, a rack of beef short ribs, a loaf of rosemary and olive bread, and beautiful red peppers. On the way home, I stopped at the lobster shack and got three chicken lobsters at $3.99 a pound - the lowest I've seen it in this area.

The humidity was making everything hazy and sticky and uncomfortable, so I took the easy way out for the afternoon. I boiled the lobsters and picked the meat from the shells, put the meat in the fridge, threw the shells back in with the boiling water and cracked the lid. It boiled away all afternoon to a concentrated lobster broth that I used to make an easy lobster pasta sauce. While the tomatoes bubbled and the lobster broth simmered away, I plunked myself out on the porch with the currants and a colander. I sat with my feet up, picking over the currants and thinking about using them for a sweet currant sauce. Two pots bubbling  in the kitchen - why not three? So, I made a black currant sweet syrup with the currants and left it to strain on the island while I went back to the porch with my computer and whiled away the afternoon playing Gardens of Time  - a really addictive time waster.

Late in the afternoon, I broiled those red peppers and used the last of the loaf of Vienna bread to make an easy tapas plate. Cracked a bottle of Sauvignon blanc, used the Boston lettuce to make sweet  little salads with garden cucumbers, tomatoes and some red onion, and put together an easy lobster pasta sauce ... and while I did this the air changed, and a wind blew in with dark dark clouds. There was thunder rumbling and the Corgis dashed here and there, finally hiding in my office when the skies opened ...

The electricity blinked on and off, the lightning flashed, we had an inch of rain in a matter of minutes, the wind blew. Mimi, little girl Corgi, panicked and ran around the house barking and hiding here and there. I set the table, lit some candles and we ate tapas and drank wine. I thanked the heavens above for cooling rains and propane gas stoves that are not dependent on electricity, while the pasta cooked in the kitchen. Mimi and Pete were coaxed out of hiding to crunch on a few of the garlicky crusts from the tapas toasts and the occasional pasta noodle - ahhhh, the dog days of summer.

This easy tapas recipe is from the random cookbook chosen this month for Dom's Random Recipe post. I always get the book chosen right when he releases the month's challenge ... then, I can get ingredients and decide when I want to make the dish.  I knew when I made that Vienna Bread the other day that I would be making this quick plate sometime this weekend ... it's easy and fast and timed well with the fresh produce and good cheese that I got at the market.

Roasted Red Bell Peppers on Garlic Toasts

For 8 toasts

2 large sweet red peppers
8 thin slices of crusty rustica bread
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 large cloves garlic
black pepper,
two large sprigs fresh flat leaf parsley

Place the red peppers on a roasting sheet and pop them under the broiler (or on the grill), turning them, as their skins blacken and pop. This taks about 20 minutes to get them blackened and roasted all the way around.

Place the hot peppers on a plate and cover the plate with a big bowl, so that it's sealed nicely from the surrounding air. leave the peppers for about 15 minutes.

Peel the skins from the peppers and then, gently slice them into wedges. Pull the seeds and veins from the wedges. Slice the peppers into long thin slivers and place them in a dish. Set aside.

Place the olive oil and minced garlic in a mortar and use a pestle to smash the minced garlic to a smooth paste.

Brush both sides of the thinnly sliced bread, and place the toasts on a baking sheet. Toast in a pre-heated 400 degree Farenheit oven until golden and crisp.

Remove and place the toasts on a platter, top with a mound of the roasted red pepper slivers, sprinkle on black pepper and chopped flat leaf parsley.

Serve with a glass of wine or a cold beer.

Optional: Place a wedge of soft goat's milk cheese on the side for spreading.


  1. YUM! Love the roasted peppers, but even more, I love the idea of lobster shells for the pasta broth. That's genius!

  2. We lost are electricity for a little while during the storm last night. I live across the street from the Merrimack River and it always seems the storms settles right over us.You sure were busy in the kitchen yesterday. The lobsters are cheaper than steak this summer. We have been enjoying the price deduction. Love your tapas. I always enjoy bread as a snack.

  3. This sounds like a super romantic evening, from the tapas to the storm. I miss weather, any weather---here in southern california it's always the same!

  4. You cooked all day in the heat!! Wow, I am impressed. I am lucky to pull together a cool gazpacho soup on these dog days! I will, however, pin this divine looking recipe to make when the peppers are in and it's cool enough to bake a loaf.

  5. You are to be admired for your work in the kitchen yesterday! Your dinner and tappas sounds delicious! I'd love to hear more about that sauce!

    Have a great week!

  6. It sounds like you had an almost lyrical day. I'm glad the heat wave has broken and I'm delighted you shared your red pepper tapas with us. They sound truly delicious. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  7. so evocative... I can feel the electricity in the air...and it's making the hairs on my arm stand on end because we have just had one of those rare electric thunderstorms here where it's like someone just switches on a tap and the rain hits hard... amazing!!! and look at the tapas!... glad you get it right so often, it's nice to know some people get it right!!! thanks so much for entering this month... always a pleasure to have you on board xxx

  8. What a wonderful post Susan - I could almost feel the heavy warmth - a big dear when I'm sitting in the worst summer I can remember!!

    Delicious food, beautifully photographed and perfectly described.


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