Kasey Wilson: Simply perfect recipes for summer gatherings

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Channeling the delights of Perfect Recipes for People by acclaimed cookbook author Pam Anderson.

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When a friend suggested we host a lunch for colleagues we haven’t seen since pre-COVID (easy for her to propose), I thought it was a great idea.

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The first thing I did was grab Perfect Recipes for Having People Over from acclaimed cookbook author Pam Anderson. One of my favorite cookbook authors (of seven cookbooks), she considers herself “Every Cook,” that person who identifies with and speaks to the average person in the kitchen. I couldn’t agree more.

I interviewed her and remember her suggestion for a classic year-round gazpacho, the chilled Spanish summer soup that served as an appetizer for a dinner in warm weather or a cold picnic soup when quality fresh tomatoes aren’t available.

“The canned diced variety is an excellent substitute for fresh,” says Anderson. Another advantage of using canned tomatoes: they are not affected by refrigeration, unlike fresh tomatoes, which have a dull taste and texture deteriorated by the cold.

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You can also vary the flavors by replacing the tomatoes with pineapple, mango or watermelon, or make it a more hearty meal by garnishing the dish with shrimp. The ingredients for Anderson’s orange pudding cakes drizzled with an impromptu sauce are so simple, but the results are almost magical.

Classic Gazpacho all year round

This soup retains its flavor when cooled.

2 cans (398 ml) diced tomatoes, preferably Hunt’s “petite cubes”

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 greenhouse seedless cucumber, peeled enough and cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 2 cups)

1 small yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice enough to yield 3/4-cup

1 small onion, diced small (about 1/2 cup)

2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped

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1 small jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped (optional, but tasty)

2 tbsp sherry vinegar

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp chopped parsley or coriander

Combine 1/2 cup tomatoes, 1/2 cup water, and olive oil in a food processor or blender and process until pureed. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. To cool soup quickly, transfer to a 13-by-9-inch Pyrex bowl or other shallow non-reactive pan.

Serves 6 as an appetizer.

Pineapple Gazpacho

Make as directed, but substitute 2 heaping cups diced fresh pineapple and 2 cups pineapple juice for tomatoes and water. Use a red bell pepper instead of a yellow one. Replace 3 tablespoons of fresh lime juice with vinegar.

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Mango Gazpacho

Make as directed, but substitute 2 heaping cups diced fresh mangoes and 2 cups pineapple juice for tomatoes and water. Use a red bell pepper instead of a yellow one. Replace 3 tablespoons of fresh lime juice with vinegar.

Watermelon Gazpacho

Make as directed, but substitute 2 heaping cups of diced seeded watermelon and 2 cups of orange juice for tomatoes and water. Replace 3 tablespoons of fresh lime juice with vinegar.

Orange pudding cakes with marmalade drizzle

Make this batter and bake in custard cups – 30 minutes later you will have two desserts in one: pudding on top, cake on the bottom. These are delicious drizzled with an impromptu sauce made with orange marmalade to carry the theme, lemon juice to cut down on the sweetness, and liqueur to give it a kick.

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2 tbsp butter, very soft

3/4 cup sugar, divided

1-1/2 tsp finely grated orange peel

1/4 cup instant mixed flour

1/4 cup fresh orange juice (from 1 large orange)

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

1 cup of milk


6 tbsp orange marmalade

2 tbsp orange flavored liqueur

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Heat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Coat eight 6-ounce custard cups with vegetable cooking spray; place them in two 9-inch square or round baking pans. Bring about 1-1/2 quarts of water to a boil.

Beat butter, 1/2 cup sugar, and grate in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in the egg yolks and beat in the flour until smooth. Whisk in the orange juice, lemon juice, and then milk.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer. Gradually whisk in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until the whites have a firm peak. Fold the egg white into the batter until just smooth.

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Divide the batter among the custard cups. Place baking pans on oven rack and gently pour enough boiling water into each pan to reach halfway up the sides of the custard cups. Bake until cake tops are golden brown and spring back when lightly pressed, about 25 minutes.

Remove the pans from the oven and let the cakes stand in water until just warm, about 15 minutes. Remove the custard cups from the pans and let them set for about five minutes.

Meanwhile, to make the drizzle: Combine marmalade, liqueur, and lemon juice in a small bowl.

Place a dessert plate over each custard cup and invert the cake on the plate. Spoon drizzle over cakes and serve.

Serves 8.

Lemon Pudding Cakes

Replace lemon zest with orange zest, omit orange juice and use a total of 1/4 cup lemon juice. Continue as directed, omitting marmalade drizzle.

Serves 8.

Hack: Chopping tomatoes without the mess

Instead of slicing tomatoes on a cutting board and ending up with tomato juice all over the counter, cut them into the can with kitchen scissors.

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