While the days are still warm but evenings begin to feel pleasantly crisp, this simple but elegant dinner party menu will carry you from late summer to early fall: Peak tomatoes are delicious stuffed and roasted, garden-grown thyme is the perfect adornment for simple grilled lamb chops, and a blackberry-apple cake topped with a dollop of crème fraîche makes the most of the overlap of seasons.
- Old-Fashioned Sherry Cocktails
- Ricotta Fritters
- Herb-Stuffed Tomatoes
- Whipped Mashed Potatoes with Celery Root
- Lemon-Thyme Lamb Chops
- Blackberry and Apple Cake
The cake can be baked a day before serving and kept tightly wrapped in plastic wrap. Drizzle with blackberry juice right before serving.
The sherry used for the cocktails is also used in the stuffed tomatoes. For more on how to use sherry, see David Wondrich's article Civilized Company »
The ricotta fritters can be formed a few hours before dinner, and kept in the refrigerator until ready to fry and serve. You can make your own ricotta by following the step-by-step instructions in our gallery »
For more late summer tomato recipes, see our gallery »
RECIPE: Stuffed Tomatoes
Herbs, garlic, and bread crumbs add a savory topping to tomatoes in this simple Tuscan side dish.
3 large firm-ripe tomatoes (about 1½ lbs.), halved crosswise
2 tbsp. dry vermouth or sherry
Kosher salt, to taste
3 cups loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
2 tbsp. salted capers, soaked, drained, and chopped
1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh oregano
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp. dried bread crumbs
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
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1. Heat oven to 500˚. Using your fingers, remove the seeds from the tomatoes. Pour vermouth or sherry into an 8"x8" baking pan and place tomatoes on top, cut side facing up; season with salt. Combine parsley, capers, oregano, and garlic and sprinkle over tomatoes.
2. Sprinkle bread crumbs over tomatoes and drizzle with oil; bake until soft and golden brown, 10-15 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.
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RECIPE: Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Green Olives
The chicken in this simple but exotic dish from Yacout is so moist and succulent that its flesh can easily be lifted from the bones and eaten, Moroccan-style, with the fingers.
SERVES 4 - 8
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
8 ½"-thick lamb rib chops, frenched Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
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1. In a shallow baking dish, toss olive oil, lemon juice, thyme, and lamb; cover with plastic wrap and let marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes.
2. Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium-high. (Aternately, heat a 12" cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.) Season lamb chops with salt and pepper and cook, turning once, until browned and cooked to desired doneness, 2-3 minutes per side for medium rare.
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