End-of-summer fete celebrates lazy evenings

Photos Courtesy of Christine Moore

I am determined to enjoy every last bit of laziness our September schedule can afford. An especially good way to achieve this goal is to invite a group of friends over for an easy, breezy outdoor dinner. Pizza on the grill and a drink made by the pitcher are just the menu items to serve my crowd of late-summer-lovers.

If you’ve attempted – and failed – to create perfectly crispy crust pizza at home, it might be because you haven’t used your backyard grill. It is shockingly straightforward to turn out spectacular pizza on your grill. Once you’ve grilled your first pizza, it’s likely to become a favorite technique for uncomplicated entertaining.

Food Briefs

Town Crier File Photo
An apricot picker gathers fruit at Los Altos’ Civic Center Orchard. Tours of the orchard are available weekly in September.

LA Farmers’ Market continues for four more weeks

The Downtown Los Altos Farmers’ Market, staged 4-8 p.m. Thursdays on State Street, continues through Sept. 27.

The Los Altos Village Association and the city of Los Altos co-host the event, which includes booths from local groups and merchants and children’s activities in addition to produce, meat, baked goods, prepared foods and made-to-order hot meals. Shelling beans are coming into season.

Fresh corn tastes best straight off the cob – even in soup and salad

Photos by Rita Held
The yellow, white or multicolored corn starting to proliferate in local markets lends itself to summer soups and salads. To top greens, cook whole cobs to al dente, above, and then pair the kernels with cherry tomatoes, left.

Summer isn’t quite summer unless there’s fresh sweet corn.

Corn on the cob from the farmers’ market – yellow, white or bi-color – is so tasty, yet sometimes that buttered cob can be a bit too routine, too predictable.

Leave no Stone beer unturned

Courtesy of Derek Wolfgram
Stone Brewing’s Ruination Double IPA showcases hop aromas of grapefruit, gooseberry and pine.

Since 1996, Escondido’s Stone Brewing has been known for its bold beers, love of hops and in-your-face marketing. It’s currently one of the top 10 craft breweries by volume in the United States, and has added several new outposts throughout California (as well as in Berlin, Germany). With the number of new small, independent breweries that have sprung up in the past decade, it’s easy to forget about one of the classic craft brewers.

Stone IPA

This is an iconic West Coast IPA, originally brewed to celebrate Stone’s first anniversary in 1997. At 6.9 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) and 71 International Bitterness Units (IBU), this seriously bitter brew still packs a punch relative to most single IPAs that have come out in the past two decades. The original recipe was tweaked in 2016 to add five new hop varietals to the dry hopping regimen, which originally included just Chinook and Centennial but now also includes Azacca, Calypso, Motueka, Ella and Vic Secret.

A quick summer dinner assembled under pressure

Eliza RidgewayTown Crier
Once you’ve mastered a basic understanding of how beans cook at pressure, adjust your flavors to the season and the whim of the day. As tomatoes sweeten with the summer, use fresh instead of canned both in the bean pot and chopped as a raw finish.

During summer months when grilling reigns supreme, vegetarian options and side dishes play second fiddle. But the surging popularity of the Instant Pot, an electric pressure cooker, provides a behind-the-scenes resource for assembling meat-free complements to the grill.

Cooked from scratch, beans gain a rich, aromatic cooking sauce in addition to their fundamental charms of protein, fiber, economy and versatility. And the rich, soupy “pot liquor” of frijoles de olla can be assembled spectacularly quickly under pressure.

Grilling your veggies is easy

Courtesy of Rita Held
Any mix of summer squash, tossed with oil, salt and pepper, can cook as quickly as meat on your grill when chopped small enough. Scoop them into an already-hot grill basket for easy transfers and cleanup. Add eggplant, mushroom, onion and garlic – as many as your ambition allows.

Summer is a tasty time to eat your veggies, and it’s so easy to grill them alongside your steak, chicken or fish. What I really like about grilling veggies is the extent to which it’s an “ad lib” kind of cooking. You can prepare 4-5 cups of cut-up veggies or just 2 cups. Use more or less olive oil or vinegar. Try different herbs. The more often you grill vegetables, the more you’ll learn how long to grill them to suit your taste and how big or small to cut them. 

There are three basic ways to grill vegetables:  1) Use a metal grill basket or flat grill pan for cut-up veggies.  2) Grill directly on the grates using large pieces of vegetables – zucchini, for instance, cut in half length-wise.  3) Skewer cut vegetables on wood or metal skewers. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water before adding the veggies.

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