from the kitchen: July Summer Menu

We've had such a beautiful, warm summer in Sonoma this year! To help you embrace the season, we've pulled together a set of three delicious summer recipes straight from our Plats du Jour cookbook. This 3-course summer menu for July features Mozzarella, Tomatoes & Oregano on Crostini bites, Grilled Lamb Loins with Summer Beans & Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette, and Apricot & Blackberry Cobbler - the perfect summer dinner to enjoy on a long summer night with family and friends. And, don't forget to dine outdoors and take full advantage of patio season while it's still here!

Bite: Mozzarella, Tomatoes & Oregano on Crostini

You can't go wrong with these flavorful bites! Play around with the type of cherry tomatoes - add whatever herbs you have in your kitchen garden, or simple sprinkle the crostini with Lavender Sea Salt. You can also prepare this bite without the bread by serving the mozzarella and tomatoes on a spoon or a skewer.

Makes 18 Bites


For the tomatoes:

54 cherry tomatoes, about 1 to 2 pints depending on size

3 cups olive oil

2 sprigs fresh thyme

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1/2 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

For the crostini:

18 1/2-inch slices ciabatta bread

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

To finish:

8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into 18 pieces

2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves

1/2 tablespoon Maldon Sea Salt

To prepare the crostini:

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Using a pastry brush, brush the oil evenly on both sides of the bread and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the bread on a baking sheet and bake until the edges begin to color, about 10 to 14 minutes. Set aside.

To prepare the tomatoes:

Place the tomatoes, olive oil, thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper in a medium saucepan and heat to a simmer. Remove from the heat and let the tomatoes cool to room temperature. Remove the tomatoes from the oil using a slotted spoon and set aside. (The oil can be used again to cook more batches of tomatoes but must be refrigerated after use.)

To finish:

Place the crostini on a platter, cover with mozzarella, and then place 2 tomatoes on top of each crostini. Sprinkle the tops with the oregano and salt.

Meal: Grilled Lamb Loin, Summer Beans, Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

Summer means grilling! The meat's flavor is in its prime and the grill provides just the right amount of heat without melding the flavors.

Serves 6


For the lamb:

3 pounds lamb loin

1 bunch fresh rosemary, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

For the beans:

1 pound haricots verts, blanched

1 pound yellow wax beans, blanched

2 pounds fresh Shelling Beans, cooked (see below)

1 tablespoon blended oil

For the Shelling Beans:

1/2 small onion, finely diced

1 garlic clove, slivered

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 large carrot, diced

1/4 celery stalk, diced

2 pounds fresh shelling beans, removed from pod (we prefer cranberry beans)

1 tablespoon fresh marjoram leaves

Salt to taste

For the vinaigrette:

1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, julienned

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish

2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, for garnish

2 tablespoons chives, cut into 1-inch pieces, for garnish

1/4 cup oil-cured olives, such as Nyons, pitted and cut in half, for garnish

To prepare the Shelling Beans:

In a sauce-pot, slowly cook the onions, garlic, carrots, and celery in the olive oil on medium heat until soft. Add the shelling beans and marjoram and add water to cover. Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat for 10 to 20 minutes (taste the beans to make sure they're cooked through and creamy). Add salt to taste.

To prepare the marinade:

In a large pan place the lamb loin, rosemary, garlic, and olive oil. Cover and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

To prepare the vinaigrette:

In a small bowl rehydrate the sun-dried tomatoes in warm water for 15 minutes. Drain the tomatoes, place them in a food processor, and purée with the olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To prepare the lamb:

Preheat a grill to high. Remove the lamb loin from the marinade, removing any excess oil and the garlic. Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Cook the lamb on a hot grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side.

To prepare the beans:

While the lamb is cooking, place a large sauté pan over medium heat. Heat the blended oil and add the Shelling Beans. Season with salt and pepper to taste and heat through, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and toss the beans with half of the vinaigrette.

To serve:

Slice the lamb in 12 portions. Place two pieces of lamb on each plate and distribute the beans evenly over the top. Garnish with the herbs and olives and drizzle the remaining vinaigrette around each plate.

Dessert: Apricot & Blackberry Cobbler

This is the quintessential summer dessert! The best, ripest fruit doesn't need much help as the sun has already done its job. A squirt of lemon and a nice crispy crust is sufficient.

Makes 6 to 8 mini cobblers, or 1 large 8x8-inch cobbler


For the dough:

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

12 fresh apricots

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons cornstarch

4 pints blackberries

1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

To prepare the dough:

In a mixer on slow speed, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, allspice, and salt. Add the egg to the dry ingredients. Add the melted butter and mix. Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic and chill the dough for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Divide the chilled dough into 6 portions. Roll out the dough between pieces of wax paper so the dough is at least 1/2-inch larger than the size of the ramekin on all sides if making mini cobblers.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

To prepare the filling:

Quarter the apricots and coat them with lemon juice. In a separate bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in 2 tablespoons water. Add the blackberries, apricots, and brown sugar to the bowl with the apricots and mix gently. Place an equal amount of the filling into each baking dish. Add 1/2 tablespoon of butter over each portion. Cover with a layer of solid dough or create a lattice topping by trimming the dough into 14 to 16 1/2-inch strips using a knife or a pizza wheel. Weave the dough strips over the filling by going over and under to create a lattice. Let the strips come a bit over the edge of the baking dish as the dough will slightly shrink as it bakes. Bake the cobbler for 40 to 50 minutes until the crust is golden brown.

Let cool.

To serve:

Serve each portion with a scoop of ice cream or gelato.

For more summer recipes & dinner menu inspirations for every season, grab yourself a copy of Sondra Bernstein's Plats du Jour cookbook, here.

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