These Waning Summer Days

It’s the last day of August.

We are in that uneasy border zone again, between summer and fall. The heat, when it happens, is delightful and unsettling, like a kid in a party dress at the wrong time of day.

It’s the absolute best time of year to cook. The variety is unbelievable, dazzling; fruits and vegetables sing with operatic flavour. A bounty of fresh herbs grows outside my kitchen door.

My tomatoes, are, as usual, reluctant to ripen. The Tennis Player, joining me for a drink on my patio, eyes them skeptically. The next day there is a manila envelope full of her own red, candy-like cherry tomatoes outside my front door.

I drift to Toronto Island, on one of the last hot days of summer. The beach is full of feral children, moms on cellphones, people alone reading novels, people in couples drinking beer, groups of youth playing ball. I have brought my new memoir manuscript with me, all 194 pages. This does not make for the most relaxing of afternoons. The lake is full of wind and waves.

I have friends over for dinner, they are apologetic about their respective wheat and yeast intolerances. I am up for the challenge. I eschew aged cheeses, wheat flours, anything fermented. No olives, capers, or balsamic. I manage to create a meal that surprises me with its sweet, spicy flavours. My favourite new recipe discovery is Piedmontese peppers (recipe below), which I allows me to show off the Tennis Player’s sweet, juicy tomatoes.

What are you cooking or baking these last waning summer days?

Piedmontese peppers

This recipe is adapted from the blog Rachel Eats, who in turn got it from Elizabeth David via Simon Hopkinson’s ‘Roast chicken and other stories’

* 4 fine sweet red or yellow peppers
* 4 plump cloves of garlic peeled and finely sliced
* about 30 cherry tomatoes
* olive oil
* salt and freshly ground black pepper.
* Anchovies to decorate OR goat cheese to sprinkle over top

Heat the oven to 220°c

Halve each pepper and carefully cut away the white pith and shake out the seeds but try and leave the green stem intact – a totally aesthetic exercise.

Season the insides of the peppers with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Put a few slices of garlic in each halve and then cut the cherry tomatoes in halves and tuck 4 or 5 in each one, of course, the number of halves will depend on the size of your pepper

Season each pepper halve with a little more salt and pepper and transfer to a baking tray.

Dribble olive oil quite generously over each pepper halve and then roast in the oven at 220°c for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, turn the oven down to 180°c and roast the peppers for another hour or so or until the peppers are tender, collapsing and gently charring at the edges.

Allow the peppers to cool in the tin for a good long while while before carefully transferring to a serving plate, being careful to catch and precious juices and spoon them over the peppers

If you are going to add the anchovies, drape them over about 30mins before serving.

if you are going to add goat cheese, sprinkle the crumbled cheese over top after you pull the peppers out of the oven.

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