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I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with ‘C‘.

Clouds sure are pretty; Cows are mighty cute; and Cats may be cuddly, but nothing—absolutely nadda, can top the wide-eyed, childlike glee of spying Cherries. Cherries make me happy.  When they dangle delicately in two’s, and those coveted three’s, I’m especially happy.  Skirt-twirling, hop-scotching, happy.  They’ve been our house guests for the past few weeks, and if it were up to me, I’d plea with them to apply for a Green Card to establish permanent legal residency in the comforts of the refrigerator drawer.  I never, ever, want them to go.

But like all good things, their time with us will soon come to an end.  So, meanwhile, I’ve been doing mental somersaults, trying to make the most of every second of their stay.  Sussing out new adventures, so they never leave our side.  We see them in the morning atop our granola, at the beach with our picnics, in the car on long drives through the countryside, on hikes in our backpacks, and nestled in a clafoutis, or two.  But, they tend to shine most at midday.  They shine most at lunch.  Their sweet nature paired with handsome, peppery wild arugula and the superfood queen herself, Queen Quinoa, makes this salad a tour de force, worthy of spying today, and everyday.

WILD ARUGULA QUINOA SALAD WITH CHERRIESWILD ARUGULA QUINOA SALAD WITH CHERRIESWILD ARUGULA QUINOA SALAD WITH CHERRIESWILD ARUGULA QUINOA SALAD WITH CHERRIESWILD ARUGULA QUINOA SALAD WITH CHERRIESWILD ARUGULA QUINOA SALAD WITH CHERRIES RECIPEMUSIC PAIRING: Fruit Bats, When You Love Somebody

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As we finished up dinner last night, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  Laugh as a result of the delicious delirium which ensued after such an epic cant-stop-licking-your-fingers-kind-of-meal, or cry uncontrollably from the fact that it was over.  I’ll be honest, one or two welled-up tears may have puddled in my eyes, but at least, I tell myself, I can look forward to next time.  Typically, I know a recipe is worthy of dog-eared status, and a next time, when I’m still pining over it the following day.

Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.

Fast forward to 6:30 a.m. this morning, and as suspected, I opened my eyes and immediately started thinking of last night’s Rosemary Lamb Popsicles. There’s not much more to be said, really.  Summer’s around the corner and she is screaming—literally SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF HER LUNGS, for these herb encrusted (by the way, I LOVE using panko breadcrumbs for this crust), minty, garlicky, flavor-wholloping popsicles.  You can easily whip these little gems up on any weeknight, or turn it into a showstopper for all those upcoming summer BBQ’s and soirees.  Topped with a big helping of mint gremolata and served along side some couscous or a simple green salad, and you’ve got a pretty darn good reason to laugh all summer long.

ROSEMARY LAMB POPSICLESROSEMARY LAMB POPSICLESMUSIC PAIRING: Miles Davis, Tenderly

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It started simply enough.  Innocently enough.

Somehow, someway, somebody snuck not one, not two, but three bunches of baby beets into our home.  Given the fact that I’m a lifelong, card carrying member of the N.A.B.A., otherwise known as the National Anti-Beet Association, I knew the ‘somebody’, was certainly not me.

Growing up, I believed beets were served and eaten one, and only one way:  out of an aluminum can packed by the folks who lived in a town called Del Monte. Those fine folks made fruit cocktail, too.  Even as a little girl, beets were horribly off-putting to me.  To be honest, they scared the bejesus out of me. The gelatinous texture, the pungent smell, the unnameable taste, and an alien color which didn’t match any in my sacred box of 64-Crayola Crayons, the bible of all things pigmented and pretty.

Since then, I’ve had a rather turbulent on-again, off-again relationship with beets.  Every time I think I can commit to a bigger bite, I back off.  And RUN.  With 3 bunches of beets at my mercy, I was in a conundrum.  “Take one more chance on us”, I hear them say. “We promise this time it’ll be different”.  How many times had I heard that before?  Reluctantly, I put them back in the fridge (instead of in a bag on my neighbor’s doorstep) and with no other N.A.B.A. members in sight to commiserate with, I head to the bookstore for an afternoon distraction.

Lo and behold, THE beet recipe of all beet recipes lands in my lap.  Thyme Roasted Baby Beets with Mint Vinaigrette.  THE beet recipe which, in an insanely delicious, hocus-pocus, abracadabra instant, converts me from beet basher to beet worshipper.  Just like magic.  Just like that.  Yes, roasted beets are a now a weekly staple and somebody is very happy about it.

Make sure to use an assortment of beets, not just the old familiar red ones.  Not only are golden and chioggia beets gorgeous to look at, they add a subtle nuance of sweetness to the final dish.  If I can’t make to the farmer’s market, I like buying my beets in the loose bulk bin at Whole Foods.  I can pick and choose the exact mix I want and get only as much as I need for that evening (plus, it costs less than buying them in full bundles).  If you have trouble finding baby beets, medium ones are dandy.  Slice them in half before cooking.  For larger beets, slice into quarters.  Just make sure all pieces are more or less the same size to ensure even cooking.

And whatever you do, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT leave out the fresh mint.  This dish without the mint is like a crème brûlée without its heart-stopping crackly top.  It just wouldn’t be the same without it.

Adapted from Harvest to Heat

Music Pairing: ABBA, Take A Chance on Me

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