Posts Tagged ‘Panzanella’

Cocoa with Friends

Monday, August 31st, 2015

Cocoa with Friendsweb

Peaches are still in high season here in western Massachusetts so I have been on the lookout for new peach ideas. I got a delicious one from Dave MacDonald of Highland Barbecue in Northfield. (If Highland were closer to my home, I would be in serious dietary peril; Dave’s barbecue is versatile and authentically Southern.)

His peach lemonade is perfect for a summer day, tart and refreshing with just enough sweetness. The lemon flavor dominates brightly, but one can taste the peaches and the ginger as well.

Why is a post about lemonade called “Cocoa with Friends”? Because when I went to Mass Appeal on Wednesday to make the lemonade I took my adorable new puppy, Miss Cocoa Chanel. Yes, I know the original Chanel spelled her name “Coco,” but I do love giving my pets culinary names so I deviated just a tad. I kept the designer’s surname. Basic black is always chic.

baby on bedweb

Cocoa came from Mulberry Farm, the birthplace of my dear, late Truffle. Breeder Carol Bobrowski really wanted to keep the little black girl for herself, but in the end she decided that I needed the puppy more than she did. We picked Cocoa up on Monday, and two days later she visited the TV station. (Her life is very exciting, but I already know that she can handle excitement.)

My sister-in-law Leigh and nephew Michael were visiting, along with Michael’s friend Carson, so Cocoa had plenty of attention while I was on camera. And Michael and Carson helped with my prep in the kitchen, making a simple recipe even easier.


You can watch the video below, along with the one for panzanella, for which I provided the recipe a few years back. Meanwhile, be assured that Cocoa and the peach lemonade were huge hits with everyone at WWLP-TV.

Peach Lemonadeeb

Peach Lemonade


4 cups water 2 cups coarsely chopped local peaches 3/4 cup sugar 1 1-inch chunk ginger, peeled and grated (or diced if you must, but Dave thinks grating gives better flavor, and I’m inclined to agree) 1 cup lemon juice (from about 6 lemons; grate some of the zest to use as the syrup cools) lots of ice


Place the water, peaches, sugar, and ginger in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer the syrup for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove it from the heat, and add the lemon zest.

When the mixture has cooled, blend it thoroughly in a regular or immersion blender until it is smooth. Chill the result thoroughly.

Sieve the cold puree through cheesecloth or a very fine strainer to release the peach syrup. (You may discard the pulp.) Stir in the lemon juice, and pour over ice.

Serves 6 ish.


Here is the lemonade video:

And here is the one for the panzanella:


Tuesday, August 18th, 2009
The Queens of Basil: Denise and Mary Ellen

The Queens of Basil: Denise and Mary Ellen

My cousin Mardi reported last week that this year’s rainy summer has made the basil in her garden grow to record heights. She asked what she could do with the stuff aside from making pesto and sprinkling it over tomatoes.
I said I would think it over. Little did Mardi know that I had a secret weapon up my sleeve: Stockbridge Farm and its annual Pestopalooza celebration.
Stockbridge Herb Farm in South Deerfield, Massachusetts, is owned by Mary Ellen and John Warchol and Mary Ellen’s sister Denise Lemay. Mary Ellen, Denise, and John grow herbs and market a variety of herbal products to the public.
Every so often they host public events. Their down-to-earth, fun-filled personalities make these offerings entertaining as well as informative.
Last weekend they held their annual salute to basil, Pestopalooza. John showed off his healthy herb patch, which features 40 different varieties of basil. Denise and Mary Ellen cooked under a tent for a couple of hours, demonstrating different uses for basil and pesto.
Naturally, I came home with some plants and herb mixes–and a recipe or two. Mary Ellen and Denise explained that one can add other vegetables to this panzanella, an Italian salad starring bread and fresh tomatoes.
They used red-basil vinegar, but since my basil vinegar is still steeping (more on that in a future post) I suggest using red-wine vinegar as a substitute. Be sure to wash the lemons well and slice them into very thin pieces (organic ones are best) since you’ll be eating them rind and all.
The bread should be at least a day old, preferably a little older; use up your stale bread on this one!
It’s a lovely dish for a warm day on which one can’t be bothered to cook. If you want a little protein, add grilled chicken or tuna.
Panzanella web
1 lemon
1 pound firm, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 2 cups); the Stockbridge gals used mixed red and yellow/orange
3 to 4 slices hearty sourdough or whole-grain bread, toasted and cut into squares
1/4 cup capers, drained
1 cup fresh basil leaves (use leaves from a miniature basil plant or chop larger leaves coarsely)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red-basil or red-wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Slice the lemon into paper-thin slices, catching the juice and placing it in a salad bowl. (You may discard the seeds!)
Add the tomatoes, toast cubes, capers, and basil. Drizzle the oil and vinegar over the salad, add the salt and pepper, and toss gently. Let the salad sit for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. (Don’t let it sit for more than 2 hours.)
Serves 4 to 6.
Forty Kinds of Basil