Holy Guacamole- it’s finally summertime! by Nikki

It's Guacamole time!

It’s Guacamole time!

When the temperature outdoors turns all summery, I often find myself very fussy about what I want to eat. Nothing big, nothing too hot, nothing too salty… I just need something light or cool and of course, something refreshing! It is not uncommon for me to devour a bowl of popcorn for dinner with a cold, Czech lager. When visiting my parents during the summer months, my mama and I can be found eating a bowl of salsa with tortilla chips… as our weeknight, summertime dinner. The way I see it is that we are adults and we can do what we want, right?!?

perfecto avocado

perfecto avocado

Well, this week, the weather has improved in Praha and the sun is shining. It was imperative that I use my avocados before they went brown. Naturally, I whipped up them up into guacamole. I use a traditional recipe with red onion, de-seeded tomatoes, cilantro and fresh lime. Throw it all into one bowl and mix until it looks and tastes like you want it to taste! I like mine more limey and less salty!

a one bowl job

It’s easy; it’s a one bowl job!

Guacamole is a super-food that I think makes other foods taste so much better… top your burgers with a heaping scoop, enjoy it on your summer tacos, or dip those salty, tortilla chips into a bowl of this healthy, green stuff and just enjoy it solo! You’re an adult, you can do what you want, right!?!

Traditional Guacamole

Holy Guacamole, that’s yummy!

 Guacamole

ingredients: 2 ripe, avocados + 1/2 medium red onion, diced + 4-5 red cherry tomatoes, de-seeded and chopped +1 to 2 tablespoons, fresh, chopped, cilantro (coriander) + 1/2 fresh lime + salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Halve avocados, remove the pit and scoop into a medium bowl. Mash well, with a fork.

2. Add tomatoes, onion, and cilantro. Gently fold ingredients together.

3. Mix in lime juice, salt and pepper.

4. Add more lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.

5. Enjoy!

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Watermelon Wow! by L

My daughter T and our watermelon

I needed a break and I wanted some rest. So, my dear husband loaded up our twin daughters into their stroller for a walk. After more than an hour they returned home, along with a huge watermelon. When I asked what they did, he told me that they visited some friends in town and one of our neighbors handed him this watermelon. I’m still not sure how he managed pushing the double stroller and carrying the watermelon at the same time back to our home. But that’s what happens when you go walking around this town of Bonrepòs i Mirambell, Spain. Someone either hands you a home-grown watermelon or a shopping bag full of vegetables tended from one’s own field. I like small towns.

Lately, we have been ending most of our meals with a generous slice of watermelon. To change things up a bit, I decided to recreate a salad that I first tasted at a friend’s wedding reception in Israel. The main ingredient was watermelon, which was cut into small pieces, along with cubes of feta cheese and thin strips of chopped mint leaves and served in the melon’s rind. I was surprised to see this mix of cheese and watermelon together and at first glance I wasn’t interested in trying it, but I am glad my curious taste buds encouraged me to do so. The contrast of the sweet juicy flavors of the watermelon with the salty bits of feta, and the hit of mint left quite an impression on my palate. When the summer temperatures reach incredible heights, this is the salad that I crave for. It is the perfect dish to perk up your senses when you are trying to fight off the lazy urges of the summer heat. And it is so simple to make!

Queso de Burgos, Hierbabuena and the watermelon we were given.

The ingredients that my Israeli friend used were watermelon, feta cheese and mint. For my Spanish version, I used a local cheese called Queso de Burgos con sal and instead of mint, I used a herb called hierbabuena (the good herb)  which looks exactly like mint, smells like mint and tastes like mint, but according to my father-in-law it is not mint. If I was making this dish in Prague, I would purchase some Balkan cheese and mint from my local farmer’s market to add to the watermelon.

When I served the salad for lunch at the home of my Spanish in-laws, they were also surprised to see such a strange combination of ingredients mixed together. However, after a few bites and bowls of seconds and thirds, this watermelon salad made quite an impression. There weren’t any leftovers.

Watermelon with Feta Cheese and Mint Salad

1/2 Watermelon

1/2 block of Feta (or Balkan or Queso de Burgos ) cheese

1-2 stalks of mint leaves (or if in Spain: hierbabuena)

Cut watermelon in small cubes or pieces

Chop cheese into tiny cubes

Slice mint leaves into thin strips.

Use either the watermelon rind for the bowl  or another large bowl, place all the ingredients together.

Mix and blend all the ingredients well.

Refrigerate before serving.

Best enjoyed on one of the hottest days of the summer!

Early Summer Yellow Zuchinni by Nikki

Farmer’s Market by the Vltava River

It is the first weekend of summer vacation. As a teacher, it is one of the most important weekends in our busy teaching life. At the end of a busy school year, this particular weekend signifies not only the beginning of summer holiday, but of becoming human again! I started my summer holiday by meeting up with a good friend and heading out to explore a new market in town. Actually, I have been to the Farmer’s Market on the river before; however, recently, I have mainly been frequenting my neighborhood market. It was a beautiful day to walk along the river and enjoy the atmosphere of the market especially the colors of the vegetables- they are so bright and crisply colored this time of year!

I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, but was oh so happy to find these early summer yellow zucchini. I haven’t seen yellow zucchini since I was home in Portland last year. So with delight, I snatched up a few. The same vendor had these beautiful, fragrant Roma tomatoes, and I couldn’t resist the fresh carrots either!

My market finds…

I love summer veggies!

This evening, I had friends for dinner. The weather in Prague has finally begun to resemble Summer, so I wanted to make something easy, fresh, but not very labor intensive for a summer’s evening dinner. I decided on a summer veggie pizza! Because I am more and more interested in healthy eating, I used a whole wheat pizza dough recipe I found online from a blog called Kristen in her Kitchen. The crust was soft and tasted great topped with a fresh herb-ricotta spread and a sauteed mixture of the yellow zucchini from the farmer’s market, red peppers, and mushrooms. Very easy summer dinner!

Summer Veggie Pizza with Herb-Ricotta base

This pizza was perfectly accompanied by a green salad using (of course) the Roma tomatoes and fresh carrots also found earlier in the day at the market by the river…  there is something very satisfying about cooking a meal, sharing it with friends, and knowing that you made a good choice at the market that day! Happy Summer everyone!

Green Salad with farmer’s market veggies