Dog Day Afternoons {CtBF}

I like relatively unstructured summers.  Even though I’m no longer in school or have anyone in my family in school, my whole frame of mind changes when Memorial Day arrives.  Summer feels like a lazier time than the rest of the year.

I wait all year for August, a solid month of perfect tomatoes.  Meal preparation becomes conflicting.  I’m torn between the simplicity of enjoying the tomatoes sliced and raw and the desire to transform them into something more.  Caprese salad, Panzanella, tomato tarts of many forms, sauce, salsa.  The list goes on and on.

Insert into my tomato frenzy, recipes for Cook the Book Fridays.  I’ll be honest that I haven’t been inspired.  I did cook the two recipes selected so far for August, but in the heat of the dog day afternoons, sitting at the computer is not high on my list of activities.  I’d rather be gardening or playing with tomatoes.  This afternoon is rainy, so I’ve managed to sit myself in my chair and start to write.

The first assignment for August was Stuffed Vegetables.  David Lebovitz suggested stuffing zucchini, eggplant, and tomatoes.  Given that Howard doesn’t eat zucchini or eggplant, and even if I were filling a tomato, that filling contained the dreaded zucchini and eggplant, I had to get creative.  Actually I wasn’t that creative.  My solution was to scale back and stuff one zucchini just for me.  The filling was delicious!  Ground beef was extended with diced zucchini, eggplant and tomato along sautéed onion and garlic and lots of herbs.  An egg binds the mixture together.  I filled both halves of a single zucchini for two satisfying lunches for myself.  The filling would be delicious in stuffed pepper, though I’d have to keep quiet about the full list of ingredients…

The second recipe assigned in August was Kirsch Babas with Pineapple Cherries.  Howard wasn’t excited about this one.  I wasn’t either.  Despite the tropical fruit, babas seemed much more like a winter dessert.  And what’s a baba anyway?  It’s an eggy yeasty cake doused in alcoholic syrup.  See, doesn’t that sound like something you’d enjoy around the holidays?

Knowing I was the only eater, I halved the recipe.  What I set aside for the first rise was much more like batter than dough.  I didn’t know if that was a result of halving the recipe or some other mistake.  It did rise, and once the softened butter was whipped in, it miraculously transformed into a soft, sticky dough.  The little cakes rose again, quickly (less than an hour).  My kitchen in the summer is a very warm place.


The finished cakes are soaked in a light simple syrup spiked with alcohol.  In my case, it was a mixture of kirsch and rum (I ran out of kirsch).  I’ve never soaked cakes in this way before.  They were like edible sponges.

These babas were meant to be accompanied by sautéed pineapple, however, the kirsch (cherry brandy) inspired me to substitute cherries that I already had on hand.  In the end, I thought the babas were interesting though unremarkable and certainly more work than they were worth, even if it had been winter.

If either of these recipes interest you, they can be found in David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen.  Stuffed Vegetables is on page 160 and the Babas on page 279.  Follow the respective links for my friends’ impressions of Stuffed Vegetables or Kirsch Babas.

And for those of you I’m not connected with on Facebook, I want to share the sad news that on the last day of July, we said an unexpected farewell to our beloved dog Bella.  Her distinct personality filled our life with love and joy and, of course, exercise.  In our grief, I know that she adored us as much as we did her (though maybe she preferred Howard more than me), and her life, at least since we rescued her 9 years ago, was a good one.


Posted on 18 August 2018, in Bella, Cook The Book Fridays, my paris kitchen and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Betsy, I have to admit the stuffed veggies were not worth the effort, so dry and tasteless. The babas were pretty good, I used rum, skipped a fresh pineapple but bought canned chunky ones and continued with the recipe. Not bad. Tricia and Pete loved them, and since I still have one left in fridge, it does get boozier?? So sorry about your Bella, I know it hurts, been there a few times over the years.

  2. I agreed that both the stuffed vegetables and babas recipes need more reworking to bring out their best. Sounds like you have been enjoying your summer. Sorry about Bella. What a lovely picture of her. Happy gardening!

  3. I agree re: both these recipes. And I’m SO sorry about Bella – sending you both hugs and love xo

  4. Oh, Betsy, I am so sorry to hear about Bella. She was such a lovely girl. Many hugs.

    Re: the babas, this dough was really more like batter than dough, so sounds like you did it perfectly. Glad your treats for one worked out.

    I am very sad that summer is almost over. As much as I love autumn in NY, it does mean that the general pace of things does speed up. Everyone seems to use September as a reboot month…

  5. Liked reading your Post, Betsy. I think you were the only one who likes the stuffed veggies so I will give it another look. My summer activities are just beginning to slow down. My music class and concerts are over for the year. The hunting seasons have begun and I am not interested in being mistaken for a deer, elk or moose. So,I just hike for exercise locally, with in the city limits, and put my uniform in mothballs. We are actually having a bit of fall here. It’s cold in the morning and somewhat dark by 7pm. Welcome to the mountains. Read “Circe.” Again, let me say how sorry I am for your sadness right now. Losing a beloved pet is hard.

  6. I’ve finally caught up on the recipes for August, save for the ice cream. I know what you mean about not wanting to sit down and write. We’ve had such a hot, smoky summer here. I’m glad that seems to have passed, for this year at least.

    Bella was such a beautiful dog. I’m so sorry she’s gone.

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