Farewell to Summer

yummy portabella burger

yummy portabella burger

I picked up some local sweet corn at the co-op a few days ago but couldn’t decide what to make with it.  Sweet corn is especially sweet in Minnesota; I haven’t had it quite as good anywhere else, so I wanted to make a meal that captured the spirit of summer in the midwest.  It needed to be simple, comforting, and traditional.

What I ended up choosing was a combination of my favorite summer foods from childhood.  Portabella burgers, fresh watermelon and corn on the cob, baked beans, and a not-too-sweet shortbread for dessert.

Of course you don’t need recipes for watermelon or corn on the cob, so here are some ideas for the rest.  Again, you know me–measurements are approximate and completely up to your creative influence.

First up: Portabella Burgers for Two

two portabella mushrooms, stems removed

1 Tb soy sauce

1 tsp barbeque sauce

sprinkles cracked pepper, oregano, sage, thyme, celery seed

1 tsp apple cider vinegar (lemon juice may be substituted)

olive oil

Combine the soy sauce, barbeque sauce, apple cider vinegar and seasonings in a cup or small bowl.  Add olive oil until the marinade reaches a thin enough consistency to pour (approx. 1 tbs).  Pour half the marinade into a shallow, wide dish (like a pie pan) and spread it around.  Place the mushrooms in the dish and wet the tops of the mushrooms, leaving them gill-side up.  Pour the remainder of the marinade over the gills of the mushrooms and let sit 5-10 minutes.

Heat olive oil in a fry pan over medium heat.  Cook one mushroom at a time, frying each mushroom 5-6 minutes per side.  The mushrooms will turn dark in color but should not burn, and they will shrink up a bit and become tender.  Press the mushrooms with a spatula before removing from the fry pan, to squeeze excess marinade from them.  Place on a firm toasted bun or bread (such as ciabatta) topped with Vegenaise, tomato slices, lettuce or chard, and a few rings of fresh onion.

Note: the bread is really important!  In the photo, I used a regular sandwich bread, which got soggy after a few minutes.  The mushrooms remain moist even after cooking, so use a thick, firm bread.

Baked Beans

This isn’t so much a recipe as a little tweak to an already-made product.

1 family-size can vegetarian baked beans

1/4 block tempeh bacon (use the pre-made tempeh bacon or make your own)

2 Tb brown sugar

1 tsp molasses

1 tsp maple syrup (no cheating! use the real stuff)

Heat the baked beans over medium heat.  When they begin to bubble, add the tempeh bacon in crumbles.  Mix in the brown sugar, molasses and syrup.  Reduce heat to low and continue to cook for 15 minutes to let the flavors soak in.

Blueberry Shortbread

1 Cup Earth Balance Buttery Sticks (two sticks), softened

3/4 cup powdered sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour (I use a 50-50 combination of wheat and unbleached)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup blueberries

1/4 cup chocolate chips (I use Guittard semi-sweet, they are among the highest quality vegan chips available)

granulated sugar

Using a pastry cutter, combine the butter and powdered sugar, adding the flour and other ingredients after the butter is in small chunks.  Use your hands to finish mixing the ingredients–it should be crumbly and a little on the dry side.  Try to get the butter into as small of pieces as possible without creaming it.  Gently mix in blueberries and chocolate chips.  Press into an 8×8 pan (glass, preferably), sprinkle granulated sugar on top, and bake at 340 until golden.  Insert a toothpick into the center to test for doneness.  Use a cookie cutter to cut into shapes, or simply cut into bars.

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