Monday, August 31, 2009

The Book Has Landed!

Dear Readers: I'm pleased to announce that my book, Fat of the Land: Adventures of a 21st Century Forager, is now available at a bookseller near you, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell's, and many independent bookstores across the land.

So, what can I tell you about it? The book is 15 chapters, plus an introduction, arranged according to season, with each chapter focusing on a specific group of wild foods and ending with a recipe. Regular readers of this blog might recognize a situation or two, but 99 percent of the content has not appeared here. The book examines the settings, natural history, and culinary lore in greater detail, not to mention the characters doing the foraging. And it's funnier, I've been told.

Here's what the jacket blurbs say:

“Smart, funny, and hugely knowledgeable, Langdon Cook is a walking field guide and a gifted storyteller. Fat of the Land is a welcome kick in the pants to get outside and start foraging for our suppers.” —Molly Wizenberg, author of A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes From My Kitchen Table

“Langdon Cook understands that the goal of hunting and foraging is not just to eat, but to eat well. Any city-eater can grab something at a supermarket, but to feel the thrill of grappling with lingcod or plucking dubious mushrooms gives the reader maximum pleasure—and zero pain. Provided you follow Cook’s recipes to satiate your whetted appetite. As a forager with a well-trained palate, Cook knows best.” —Betty Fussell, author of My Kitchen Wars and Raising Steaks: The Life & Times of American Beef

“Langdon Cook celebrates the bounty of the land and sea through the pleasure of foraging. It’s an inspiration and a reminder that eating your local foods connects you to the land you live on.” —Maria Hines, Chef/Owner, Tilth Restaurant

“In Fat of the Land, Langdon Cook invites us to share in his enthusiastic, salubrious, wild food foraging quests. Get out of town, breathe in the fresh air, hear the quiet, exercise, feel good, connect with nature and the season—then return to the kitchen to delicious preparations of dandelion greens, squid, fiddleheads, or whatever the quarry. Lively, informative, soul-satisfying narrative.” —Jon Rowley, Contributing Editor, Gourmet

The next few months will be a whirlwind as I hit the road in promotion of the book. Check back here periodically to see what events and readings are on tap and whether I'll be in a town near you. For Seattle and Portland area readers, here's a quick roundup of kick-off events for early September:

Thanks for your support and I hope you enjoy the book!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Wild Surf 'n' Turf

After making ceviche with the neck meat of my hard-won geoduck, I was left with a big hunk o' body meat. What to do? Stir-fry seemed like the right approach. Earlier this year I made Kung Pao Chicken for the first time and discovered that Chinese cookery was not magic.

Here's a little secret: Anyone can cook Kung Pao at home, no problem. Just stock up on a few key items at your local Asian market, such as Chinese cooking wine (Shaoxing), rice vinegar, and dried red chilies. Other ingredients—soy sauce, sesame oil, corn starch—you probably have already. Though not traditional, I added wild chicken-of-the-woods mushrooms (Laetiporus conifericola), which are all over the Cascade forests right now, and snap peas.

Kung Pao Geoduck with Wild Mushrooms

1/2 lb geoduck, thinly sliced
1/2 lb chicken of the woods (or shitake)
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine (Shaoxing)
2 tbsp corn starch dissolved in 2 tbsp water
1 tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp brown sugar
2 handfuls cocktail peanuts
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 thumb ginger, cut into slivers
8-10 dried chile peppers, halved and de-seeded
2 handfuls snap peas
2-3 green onions, chopped
1 tbsp peanut oil

1. For the marinade, combine into a bowl 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine, and 1 tbsp of the corn starch/water mixture. Immerse sliced geoduck and refrigerate 30 minutes.

2. For the sauce, combine into small bowl 1 tbsp soy sauce (note: use dark soy, if you have it), 1 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine, 1 tsp rice vinegar, 2 tsp brown sugar, and 1 tbsp corn starch/water mixture. Stir in garlic, ginger, peanuts, and half the green onion.

3. Heat peanut oil in wok or large skillet on high until nearly smoking. Stir in dried chilies and cook until fragrant, less than a minute. Add mushrooms and cook another minute or two. Add geoduck with marinade and cook a couple minutes, stirring. Add snap peas and sauce and cook another couple minutes, all the while stirring.

4. Ladle over rice and garnish with remaining green onion. Now say a prayer for your local take-out joint, which might have less of your business in the future.

Serves 2.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Duck Hunting

Looking back over the past year and a half of posts, it might seem that here at FOTL headquarters we've managed to run down and sample all manner of wild foods out there for the taking this side of the ungulates. But in reality, we've barely scratched the surface. The rhizome of a buckler fern, for instance, remains an unknown quantity, as do camas bulbs, and unlike some recent gastronauts at the famous Herb Farm, this forager has yet to taste our local slimebag, the banana slug.

A few days ago, however, I filled a major gap in the repertoire. Marty called it my lacuna, and it had been gnawing at me for a while because it's such a Pac Northwest specialty: Geoduck.

Say what? Pronounced gooey-duck, which translates from the Salish into "dig deep," this largest of the world's burrowing clams is a poster child for my region's eccentric character. "Now tell me about those clams again," my dad says to me each time he visits Seattle. Yeah yeah, we've got some big clams with a funny name.

But geoducks are more than that. They're an unusual delicacy appreciated by clam connoisseurs the world over, most of whom seem to live in the Far East. Secreted deep within their sandy lairs, geoducks live long lives (in excess of 100 years) and grow to tremendous size, with reports of 'ducks weighing as much as 14 pounds. Though found up and down the West Coast, it is in Puget Sound where the geoducks reach their apotheosis, accounting for as much as 2 percent of the Sound's total biomass.

The problem is getting at them. A typical geoduck is a couple pounds and buried about three feet beneath the substrate. Most are beyond the intertidal zone, but those that choose to set up house closer to shore are within range of a stealthy clammer during the lowest tides of the year.

This past Thursday was our last minus tide of significance for 2009's daylight hours. I met my friend Jon Rowley that morning on the ferry to Bainbridge Island. He would be my guide. Besides being the man who introduced most of the civilized world to Copper River salmon, Jon is also a big-time evangelizer of geoduck. We drove to a beach near Quilcene owned by Taylor Shellfish, which has an oyster rearing operation on the property. Ed, one of the staff, assured us that geoducks should be exposed on the lowest stretches of beach. In our rubber boots the three of us headed for the clam beds with a couple sections of 30-inch diameter PVC pipe.

PVC pipes? Soon I would understand their role in the proceedings. It didn't take long to find the half-dollar sized shows of a couple geoducks. As instructed, I made an impression in the sand with the pipe, dug out the perimeter, and then fitted the pipe back into the circular trough. This humble section of pipe, I now realized, would be my sole fortification against an incursion of wet sand that continually attempted to reclaim my hole. As I dug out the area inside the pipe I worked the PVC deeper into the sand and eventually placed another section on top. Fifteen minutes later both sections, one on top of the other, had disappeared down into the hole.

That's when we noticed the tide. We were past the turn and now the water was coming up again. Fortunately I had constructed something of a sea wall with my diggings. Waves lapped at the berm. "You better hurry up," Jon said calmly. A few more shovelfuls and I got down on my belly to inspect the hole. An average person will extend his arm past the shoulder before having a shot at a 'duck. One of Ed's colleagues at Taylor would tell me a story later about how his brother held him by the ankles and lowered him into a hole. He was 11 years old at the time and their 'duck weighed in at an appropriate 11 pounds.

About this time I started to get a sinking feeling. The tide waits for no man. Muddy water now filled my hole to the brim. All our effort seemed to be for nought. "Feel around down there again," advised Jon.

"What am I looking for?"

"You'll know when you find it," he said cryptically.

I dug some more, but fatigue was setting in. Despite my PVC bulkhead, each shovelful seemed to be replaced by a steady stream of mud and sand seeping back into the hole. The rising tide was quickly eroding away my berm. We had a few more minutes at most and then the entire operation would be underwater. Already I was composing a blog post in my mind about failure. Out of breath, shoulders and arms aching, I flopped back down on what remained of the beach to take another measurement, if only to get a moment of rest. I had my ear to the water as I reached deep into the hole—and there it was! A rubbery hose-like thing in my grasp. I've got it! I yelled out like a little kid on a treasure hunt. I shook the neck back and forth and worked the clam out of its burrow, finally holding it up in triumph. Every part of me was soaking wet.

Geoduck Ceviche

To clean a live geoduck, immerse it in boiling water for eight seconds. Now you can pull off the thin sheath that protects the siphon. It slips off like a condom, in case you were wondering. Slice off the siphon at the base and nip off the last half-inch or so of the dark tip. This neck meat can be used for sashimi or ceviche. Extract the rest of the clam with a paring knife, cutting the adductor muscles on the inside of the shell. Throw away the bulbous gut and use remaining meat in sauté or stir-fry.

For the ceviche I poked around on the Web a bit. I wanted mine to have kick like Jon's, so a hot pepper would be essential. But I was also looking for some sweetness. Two recipes stood out, Xinh Dwelley's and Bobby Flay's, and so I borrowed bits of each. The ingredient amounts below are rough estimates; adjust to your own taste. I used less than a pound of neck meat.

1 geoduck neck (siphon), about 1 lb, thinly sliced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/4 cup sweet red pepper
1/2 cup cucumber, peeled & chopped
1/2 cup papaya, peeled, seeded & chopped
1 serrano pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 handful cilantro, stemmed & chopped
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1-2 limes

1. Combine garlic, hot pepper, fish sauce, and brown sugar into small bowl. Stir with juice from half lime.
2. In large bowl, cover sliced geoduck with juice of 1 lime, stir, and let sit for 30 minutes.
3. Add contents of small bowl to large bowl and add onion, pepper, cucumber, papaya, and cilantro. Stir and season with salt.
4. Chill and serve.

For more 'duck entertainment, watch this trailer for the movie Three Feet Under and this cleaning and cooking demonstration from the Discovery Channel's "Dirty Jobs" show.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pickled Sea Beans

A couple weekends ago I attended an oyster fest on Samish Bay complete with sea kayaks, local beer, midnight skinny-dip, and a bluegrass band that retired fireside to play late-night requests. Good times. In addition to being fed ridiculous quantities of fresh oysters, clams, Dungeness crab, and salmon, the beach boasted a patch of sea beans stretching for hundreds of yards. The property owner, who runs ACME seafood, told me to have at it. We packed my daughter's sand pail the next morning before driving home.

Sea beans (Salicornia sp.) are known by many names: beach asparagus, glasswort, pickleweed, samphire. They're a succulent, salt-tolerant plant that grows along beaches, marshes, and mangroves around the world. In my region we find sea beans near the high tide mark along sandy or pebbly beaches. Fresh, they make a crunchy snack while clamming, and retain that pleasing crunch even after cooking. The flavor, if it can be called that, is subtle, a salty taste of the sea with a hint of wild green. I like sauteed sea beans mostly for the texture, the bright color, and the salt, as in an oyster succotash.

Sea beans also make an excellent garnish. Pickling them means you can have sea beans whenever inspiration strikes. I looked around for pickling recipes, of which there are few, and settled on two styles: Far East and Southwest.

Spicy Pickled Sea Beans

For the Southwest I adapted a fairly standard pickling recipe for spicy green beans:

4 handfuls sea beans
4 red chiles
6 garlic cloves
pinch peppercorns per jar
pinch coriander seeds per jar
pinch mustard seeds per jar
4 sprigs fresh dill
1 1/4 cup water
1 1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1. Sterilize jars and lids in boiling water.

2. When jars are cool enough to handle, add pinches of coriander, mustard, and peppercorns. Pack half full with sea beans. Insert chiles, garlic cloves, and dill around outside edges. Finish packing with sea beans.

3. Bring water and vinegar to a boil. Ladle over the sea beans leaving about 1/2-inch head space. Wipe jar edge clean and screw on sterilized lids.

4. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely at room temperature. Check lids for proper seal. Store for at least one month before using to allow flavors to develop.

Yields 2 pints.

Asian Pickled Sea Beans

For the Far East I used Matt Wright's recipe.

sea beans
rice vinegar
1 tbsp sugar per cup of vinegar
3 1-inch slices ginger per jar
1 star anise per jar

Figure on using at least 1 cup of vinegar for 2 half-pint jars. Oh, and rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar are essentially the same thing, in case you were wondering.

1. Sterilize jars and lids in boiling water.

2. When jars are cool enough to handle, pack with sea beans. Insert ginger slices around edges and a single star anise at top.

3. Bring rice vinegar and sugar to a boil. Ladle over the sea beans leaving about 1/2-inch head space. Wipe jar edge clean and screw on sterilized lids.

4. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely at room temperature. Check lids for proper seal. Store for at least a few days before using to allow flavors to develop.

Word of warning: If you don't own a dedicated canner with a rack (i.e. you use a big 'ol pot instead, like me) be very careful with your jars to avoid breakage. I discovered this the hard way. Because the contents of the jars—the sea beans—are packed cold, your jars can experience a terrible fate called thermal shock and pop their bottoms off. Not pleasant. Keep the jars in the hot sterilization water until ready, pack them, don't overscrew the lids (you know what I mean), then place carefully in the pot before bringing to a boil. In restaurant/software speak, this is called a "soft launch."

And don't forget to use any leftover sea beans post-pickling. They make a salty garnish, or you can saute them in butter and garlic with a drizzle of lemon juice for a side dish. To leech out some of the salt, try blanching and shocking in two changes of water.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Salmon Head Soup

"When the buffalo are gone, we will eat mice, for we are hunters and must have our freedom." - Chief Sitting Bull

Wouldn't you know the day I forget my camera is the day my boy catches his first salmon off the beach—on a Snoopy rod no less. (The photo at left is his second salmon off the beach, taken the next day. He's looking a little more blasé about the whole thing.)

Riley let out a whoop when the fish hit his lure, and I'm sure I probably thought it was a false alarm, some weeds or a bottom snag. But then I saw the Snoopy rod doubled over. Next came the yelling and screaming and carrying on. Other anglers on the beach interrupted their casts to take notice of the commotion. I ran over and set up a station behind the boy, making sure the fish didn't rip the rod right out of his grip. He reeled and kept the tip up like a pro. Pretty soon the fish was in the surf and I figured for sure it would break the line. But Riley held on and pulled that salmon right up onto the beach. The kid knows what to do.

We ate the fillets in two sittings. The heads I saved for something special.

My kids are big soup eaters. Because we live near Seattle's International District, at a tender age they discovered noodle houses and the "subtle yet profound" pleasures of an Asian noodle soup, as one blogger has jokingly put it, parroting cooking shows like "Iron Chef." These soups are so tasty and cheap that I never really considered trying to make my own before, but after reading Hank Shaw's post on the "nasty bits" of fish, I just had to give it a shot. Besides, we're fishermen here at FOTL. When the salmon are gone I suppose we'll fish sculpin; in the meantime we can do honor to our catch by eating every last morsel.

I haven't cooked many fish head soups. None in fact. Luckily we have the Interwebs from which to draw on a nearly bottomless well of inspiration. Two recipes in particular, in addition to Hank's, informed my final improvisation: [eating club] vancouver's Mama's Fish Head Soup is home cooking at its best, and gave me the courage to use canned Szechuan prepared vegetables; a column by Steve Barnes from Albany, N.Y.'s Times Union convinced me that the double-strain was the way to go, and that aromatics such as green onions and cilantro would give the broth extra depth when applied after the first straining.

The advice was good. I have to say, if you'll allow me, this soup was every bit as good as soups I've had in the I-District. Those of little faith might get spooked during the proceedings, especially when the salmon heads are rolling around in there with the leeks and other stuff, going to pieces and spraying their bones about willy-nilly. But that's what the strainer is for. Ever glanced into the kitchen of a back alley noodle house? Not a good idea. But all the crazy stuff going into that bubbling cauldron will eventually get strained out, leaving—yes—a subtle yet profound broth in its place.

Hank's Salmon Head Soup is in the Japanese tradition. We like that—but my kids are most enthusiastic about the many varieties of Chinese noodle soup, so I went down to Uwajimaya to see what ingredients I could dig up. Sure enough, they had the sketchy can of Szechuan prepared vegetables (some sort of radish, I think). I also got some udon noodles, our nod to the Japanese style. Here are the ingredients in full:

2-3 salmon heads, cut in half
2 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
1 tsp sesame oil (optional)
1 3-inch thumb of ginger, peeled and sliced
2 leeks, tops discarded, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Thai red peppers, thinly sliced
Chinese cooking wine
2 tbsp fish sauce (optional)
rice vinegar (optional)
aji-mirin (optional)
1 can Szechuan prepared vegetable (optional)
1 can bamboo shoots
1/2 head Napa cabbage, shredded
1 handful cilantro for garnish, stemmed, with stems reserved
1 package Asian noodles (e.g., udon, soba, ramen)

Despite the long list and the double strain, this is actually a fairly easy soup to make without the sort of pitfalls that can bedevil other soup recipes.

1. Over medium-high heat, brown fish heads and ginger in oil for a few minutes, turning at least once. De-glaze pot with a splash of wine and add chopped leeks, garlic, and half the green onions and red peppers. Saute together for several minutes.

2. De-glaze pot again with another splash of wine, then add 8 cups of water and optional fish sauce. Bring to a light boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.

3. Strain contents, picking and reserving as much salmon meat as possible. Return soup to simmer. Adjust for salt. Add half the remaining green onion and the cilantro stems. (Optional seasoning: Add a tablespoon of each: Chinese wine, rice vinegar, aji-mirin; add a few heaping tablespoons of Szechuan prepared vegetables.) Simmer another 15-30 minutes.

4. Strain soup a second time and return to low heat to keep warm. Dole out reserved salmon meat into bowls, along with noodles, a handful of shredded cabbage, and spoonfuls of both Szechuan prepared vegetables (optional) and bamboo shoots. Ladle soup. Garnish with green onion, cilantro, and Thai red pepper. Serves 4.

Prepared Szechuan vegetables will be hard to find unless you have access to an Asian market. If you can find 'em, I highly recommend. I also recommend the optional seasoning, though you'll be tempering the fish flavor in the process. A second strain with green onions and cilantro stems (or similar aromatics) is de rigeur; this is where the umami effect really kicks into high gear. If you've eaten in a quality noodle house, you know what I'm talking about. How do they do it? I once wondered, savoring every last drop of broth in my bowl.

Now I know.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

B.C.: It's not just a comic strip

We made our annual pilgrimage to a friend's cabin on Thetis Island recently. Thetis is two ferries away from Seattle, in the Gulf Islands of British Columbia off the east coast of Vancouver Island. It's pretty much an all-day affair to get there, but once you're there, oh boy is the effort worth it.

We lucked out this year with low tides in the mornings, making clam digging the first order of the day. The butter clams, which apparently hold the toxins of red tide longer than other species, are off limits—even though there hasn't been a red tide in recent memory—but littlenecks are plentiful and as big as I've seen them anywhere.

Bottom fishing is another regular distraction. Flounder, greenling, rockfish, and lingcod all haunt the lower depths. One of the kids even caught a dogfish. In the ensuing melee of trying to land and release it without losing a digit, the little shark thrilled its antagonists by snapping the rod in two with its jaws. Down, Fido!

Besides the usual chowder and oyster po 'boys, we made a cioppino one night, cooking the catch of the day (flounder, littleneck clams, mussels) in a tomato-wine broth gussied up with chopped fennel bulb and saffron. The other key ingredient wasn't a food item—it was the camp stove that made the cioppino seem all the more authentic (if I can use a term that normally curdles my appetite).

The kids, or some of them at any rate, experimented with their taste buds and their courage. Steamed sea lettuce drizzled with soy sauce over a bed of couscous wasn't so bad after all, a few admitted. And a small gill-hooked flounder didn't even require utensils.

There was one big difference between this year and previous: our young charges eventually tired of clamming and fishing, announcing their desire to go after bigger game. In keeping with the practical tenants of The Three-Martini Playdate, we parents heartily encouraged them during one evening's cocktail hour, suggesting they cease running around underfoot and fully investigate the woods out back. Next thing we know, a small mob has armed itself with sticks and is in pursuit of the rather tame local squirrels and robins.

The next few days saw steep technological changes—not unlike those occurring over the course of millennia—as the little primates used their enhanced cranial capacity to invent a variety of tools/weapons, including bow-and-arrow and spears with honest-to-god spearpoints. Though the rodents and birds escaped harm this year, we shudder to think what future trips will hold for the hapless critters of Thetis Island.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Broiled Halibut with Red Huckleberry Compote

What the heck is a compote anyway? I dunno exactly, but I made one with these beautiful red huckleberries foraged not too far from home in a park loaded with hikers who pass these bushes by in numbers that must make the poor huckleberries think they suffer from an extreme case of cooties.

Because they're more tart (tarter?) than most other species of huckleberry, red hucks are good candidates for jam or sauce. Plus, they look terrific atop a cut of meat or fillet of fish. Probably the most enduring way to enjoy huckleberry sauce (or compote) is with a game bird or pork loin, but don't write off the "fibbies," as my daughter calls them. Last year I made a somewhat different sauce for rockfish; this time I aimed for something a little chunkier. It's a sweet sauce, so depending on your tolerance for sugar, you may want to adjust.

1 1/2 cups red huckleberries
1/4 cup port
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp balsamic
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp lemon juice
4 6-8 oz halibut fillets (or other white flakey fish)

1. In a saucepan bring ingredients to a boil over medium heat, lower heat, and reduce until syrupy. Keep warm until ready to serve. Makes enough sauce for 4 servings.

2. Slice halibut fillet into serving portions and arrange on a greased broiling pan. Season with salt and pepper, brush on melted butter, and drizzle with lemon juice. Broil 4 to 6 inches from burner, about 10 minutes per inch of fillet thickness.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Biggie Props to the Locals

Himalayan blackberries may steal most of the culinary applause 'round here and everywhere else, but the Pacific Northwest—besides being a mushroom magnet—is home to many other delicious berries, most of them native. If you live in the Puget Sound region, my advice is to get outside NOW and scour lowland woods.

I went for a walk the other day in second-growth foothill forest west of the Cascades and found thimbleberries, trailing blackberries, and red huckleberries. Thimbleberries (Rubus parviflorus) I've written about before. They make terrific jam if you can exercise the necessary self-control to get them home. (I didn't.) Same goes for trailing blackberries (Rubus ursinus). (Did.)

Though not as prolific as the invasive Himalayan, these impish blackberries are native to the Pacific Northwest, have excellent flavor, and their appearance is more pleasing to me. Himalayas are the Mark McGuires of the blackberry world: pumped up to the point of raising suspicion. Trailing blackberries are the Ken Griffey, Jr.'s, circa 1995: lean, defined, with pop and a winning smile.

I use Himalayas for my baking. You need a lot of berries to make a pie or cobbler and the Himalayas are good for that. (Hint: if, for aesthetic reasons, you want a few of the Himalayas to keep their shape even after cooking, make sure you pick a handful of red or under-ripe ones.) The trailing blackberries, on the other hand, I prefer to eat fresh. Look for trailing blackberries in areas of disturbance: clearcuts, burns, slides. They're common in second-growth forests, especially along trails.

Red huckleberries (Vaccinium parvifolium), another native Northwest berry, are the first huckleberries in the region to ripen. Crops can vary considerably from year to year, and even in a good year, such as this one, there's significant variation in the size of berries from bush to bush. It pays to scout for bushes with larger berries. And the bushes can be quite tall for huckleberries—up to 4 meters high. Look for red huckleberries in lowland coniferous and mixed forests.

Admittedly, picking huckleberries can be tedious work, so relax, get comfortable, and just soak up the atmosphere of the woods while you pick. On this day I had winter wrens, vireos, and an opinionated Pacific-slope flycatcher to keep me company.

Summertime, especially when it's hot out, is made for fresh, local ingredients simply prepared. Who wants to spend a lot of time in the kitchen when the mercury's topping 90 degrees—or 100 for that matter? I love summer pastas with tomatoes, garlic, and basil cooked merely by the heat of the pasta. Similarly, a dessert of fresh fruits bathed only in a little cream (or half 'n' half, as was the case) is a perfect way to enjoy the season's sweet treats. For this one we used Berryman's Twin Springs Farms peaches along with trailing blackberries and red huckleberries gathered mere hours earlier. Great colors, even greater taste.