Amy Artisan

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Summertime in the Kitchen

One of the things I was most looking forward to this week was being back in my kitchen & not eating out for everything. On Saturday morning I was practically giddy as I was shopping at my local produce market & picking up lots of fruits & veggies.

Summer Produce

(these aren’t pictures of my produce, rather a mosaic I created from pictures I found on Flickr)

With all the mushrooms that I bought I tried a new recipe that I had discovered in blogland: Mushroom Caviar. Elise at Simply Recipes first published the recipe & I thought “that sounds good, I’ll have to give it a try.” Within a week Nic at bakingsheet had made the recipe & offered her review to it as well. Here is the original recipe:

3 Tbsp butter
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, wiped clean and finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup of minced shallots
1 Tbsp dry white wine (e.g. Sauvignon Blanc)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp pine nuts
2 Tbsp sour cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
A couple dashes of cayenne pepper, to taste

1 Melt butter in a large skillet on high heat. Add the mushrooms and shallots. Sauté for 5 minutes stirring frequently.

2 While the mushrooms are cooking, heat a small skillet on high heat. Add the pine nuts. Cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to get a little toasted. (Keep your eyes on the nuts, they can burn pretty quickly.) As soon as they begin to toast, remove the pan from the heat and put the pine nuts into a small bowl. Set aside.

3 While the mushrooms are cooking, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Once they have cooked for about 5 minutes, add the garlic and a tablespoon of dry white wine. Cook for an additional minute and remove from heat. Put mushroom mixture in a bowl, add the toasted pine nuts, and set aside to cool.

4 Once the mushrooms have cooled down a bit, mix in the lemon juice, sour cream, and parsley. Add more salt and pepper, if needed, to taste. Sprinkle on cayenne pepper, to taste. Chill before serving.

Spoon onto a large butter lettuce leaf and serve with crackers. (Use rice crackers for wheat-free option.)

Makes about 1 1/2 cups. Serves four.

I’ve made this dip twice this week & it will definitely be a “go to” recipe in the future. I took it to an impromptu pizza party on Sunday evening to rave reviews & then made a larger batch for Tuesday’s July 4th BBQ. Some of the modifications that I’ve made to the recipe:
– I used greek style yogurt for the creaminess.
– Instead of salt & pepper I used the Pepper-Orange Seasoning from The Spice House.
– When I didn’t have shallots for the 2nd batch I used a vidalia onion which was a great flavor addition.
– I toasted the pine nuts in the toaster oven instead of on the stove.
– For the 2nd batch I added some button mushrooms into the mix.

I would definitely recommend this as a new appetizer option. I served it with the mini toasts from Trader Joes.


As I’ve mentioned before, on our trip to Italy & Greece I loved all of the iced coffee options – especially the frappe in Greece. Last August when we were in Michigan we went to the local Greekfest where I learned how to make frappe at home & have been tweaking it ever since. While at the produce stand (which is where I buy my Greek Nescafe) I saw that they had Frappe shakers so of course I had to pick one up.


How do you make a frappe? I’ve found a couple of recipes here and here. These have been a great refreshment each day – both the hot/humid days & also the more pleasant days where I’ve been able to keep the windows open all day.

Other kitchen adventures this week have included Cherry Knox Blocks for the kids at the BBQ; Baking & Fireworks: baking sugar cookies at 10PM on July 3rd (once the kitchen had “cooled” down, ha ha) for the BBQ & watching the spectacular fireworks being set off by the neighbors from the back deck (similar to these pictures from last year); creating an impromptu Middle Eastern stir fry with assorted veggies, chicken, couscous & an “on the fly” marinade/sauce.

What are some of your favorite signs of summer in the kitchen?


  1. I’m not a cook, so I don’t have a lot of “freshies” about to indicate Summer in my kitchen. So, the big hint of Summer for me is the sun tea jar on the sidewalk!

  2. Amy’s chicken salad (hint, hint)…. 🙂

  3. We had our first fresh blueberries this morning. Yum! And our first tomatoes are just starting to turn red.

  4. Fresh fruit. Corn on the cob. Farmer’s market veggies. Yummy!

  5. I make my frappe with water ice and coffe and just shake it. When there is a lot of foam, I poor it into a glas and add some milk. I’ve stoped using sugar this year in my frappe, and it felt strange in the begining, but now I love it. So cool and nice!

  6. I get absolutely giddy about fresh veggies and fruit too!!
    Cantaloupe is one of my summer faves – as are all melons. Of course, I love the squashes and tomatoes too. It is too hard to narrow down!
    Great post 😉

  7. Summertime is dinner is pasta with tomatos, zucchini, peppers & basil straight out of the garden. I can’t wait for the tomatos to be ready this year, but nagging them doesn’t seem to be helping them grow.

    I’ve been making frappes in the morning! Cool. Well, I’ve been using cold coffee but it’s pretty close. It was starting to really add up, buying frappacinos & whatnots at the coffee shops.

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