Sunday was the first Sunday we have been home all summer. Yes, we have been gone quite a bit. A family vacation in Maine was followed by a week at work, then a cruise to Bermuda, a trip to New Jersey, and finally, a visit to Pennsylvania. Yes, we realize that all we've told you about so far is Maine. We have a lot to get to, and we will get to it eventually. For now, however, we are settling back into our home, catching up on our laundry and TV, lamenting the state of our garden, and playing with our cats who obviously missed us. And yes, taking our first visit this season to the Coventry Regional Farmers' Market. At last!
The harvest is in full swing (except at our house, where every plant has been choked by weeds or eaten by who-knows-what), and we couldn't wait to make something with the bounty of summer offered by the market's vendors. Since it seems that all we've done is eat rich foods (did we mention that cruise?), we wanted to make a dish that was heavy on vegetables. We bought all sorts of fresh fruits and vegetables and a crusty bread, and when we grabbed the last couple dozen Stonington littlenecks from the fish truck, a dish started to come together in our minds. A beautiful pint of blackberries inspired the pre-dinner cocktail, and for dessert, we split a "boozy" cupcake from the NoRA Cupcake Company Truck.
Note: Everything in these two recipes is fresh from the farmers' market, our herb garden, or the neighbor's garden, with the following exceptions: the pantry staples of olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper; the Italian sausage (from our freezer); the bourbon (Woodford Reserve); and can of beer (Heineken).
Blackberry Mint Julep
(makes 2 cocktails)
1/2 cup blackberries (saving 2 for garnish)
4 tablespoons mint leaves (saving 2 for garnish)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 ounces bourbon
In a large cocktail shaker, muddle together the blackberries, mint and sugar. Fill shaker with ice then add bourbon. Shake well, then strain into ice-filled cocktail glasses. Serve garnished with a mint leaf and a blackberry.
Clams with Sausage and Swiss Chard
4 links hot Italian sausage
6 new potatoes, quartered
6 cipollini onions, peeled and quartered
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 dozen raw littleneck clams
4-5 leaves Swiss chard, stems removed
1 can beer
In a large, somewhat deep cast-iron pan, brown the sausage on all sides over high heat. Remove from pan and set aside to rest. Place the quartered potatoes and onions in the pan and season with salt and pepper. Cook until softened and caramelized. Cut the sausage into rounds and rinse the clams. Place sausage, clams and Swiss chard in the pan. Pour beer over the ingredients and cook, covered, for 10 minutes, until clams open. Serve with grilled crusty bread.
NoRa Cupcake Company's "Jamaican Moon" Cupcake, a chocolate cake soaked with Onyx Moonshine then topped with both mocha and marshmallow frostings and garnished with a chocolate-covered espresso bean.