Cold Melon Soup Duo

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"Summer time, and the living is easy..." This is the season when we want to eat lightly and not spend hours in the kitchen preparing food that's cool, refreshing, delicious, and beautiful. My dear friends Judy and David introduced me to this delicious and beautiful cold melon soup duo. It's the perfect starter for an easy summer lunch or dinner (or, you can even serve it for dessert with some vanilla ice cream on the side). I've "tweaked" the recipe a bit to suit my taste. What's so wonderful about it, is that the prep time is minimal, but the impact on presentation is huge! It's important, however, to prepare it at least several hours before you plan to serve it (or in the morning). It needs to sit in the fridge for a few hours for two reasons: 1) the flavors need time to "marry"; and 2) it is best served chilled.

Roasted Beet and Cilantro Gazpacho

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Summer on the north shore of Long Island is divine! Every day, the Long Island Sound provides breath-taking views, no matter if the weather is sunny or cloudy, rainy or blistering hot. The Long Island farm-stands and CSAs (Community Supported Agricultural collective) are overflowing with the most gorgeous bounty of fresh, Long-Island grown vegetables, fruits, and flowers. CSAs are now popping up across North America. What makes them so special is not only do they allow us to "eat locally," but they also allow us to reconnect with the land, they enable us to try new produce that we not have purchased otherwise, they help create community by introducing us to those around us. Perhaps one of the most important features of the CSA is that often, many CSAs contribute their extra produce to soup kitchens and shelters, providing fresh sustenance to those who usually rely on canned vegetables and fruits. This past Shabbat (Saturday), one of my congregants brought some of her extra CSA produce to our Torah study group. I was the lucky recipient of some beautiful beets: golden yellow beets, candy-cane red-and-white striped beets and ruby-red beets. I had seen some recipes for a beet and cilantro gazpacho, but wanted to try my own version of it. I love a cold soup on a hot summer's day. I think you'll find this version perfect for a summer lunch, brunch, or a light fish/chicken dinner.

Marinated Kale and Mango Salad

One of my friends was having a serious health issue and he was not permitted to eat any leafy green vegetables with the exception of kale. So, I found a  kale salad recipe, changed it around to suit my taste and made it when he and some others came for dinner. This salad is a huge hit! Everyone loves it. The trick is to make it several hours in advance. This allows the kale to "marinate" and soften. It takes away that "earthy"/"grassy" taste that some might not like. It is refreshing and healthy and pairs well with a rich meal. It also saves well for the next day. My preference is to buy the pre-washed, pre-torn kale. But you can also buy regular kale, wash it and de-rib it (you don't want the tough, fibrous ribs). Enjoy!

Roasted Tomato-Basil Soup

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I set out to create a soup full of tomato flavour, perfect for a wintery day. By combining lots of ripe Roma tomatoes, rich sundried Italian tomatoes and a can of organic fire-roasted whole tomatoes, I was able to ramp-up the flavour and create a full-bodied and delicious soup. I have two secret ingredients that always add that little extra touch to my soups: some lemon juice to add a little brightness, and a touch of maple syrup to round out the flavours and add a little more body and richness. (Just be careful to add both in small amounts at a time and: taste, taste, taste!)

Susie Fishbein’s Tri-Color Matzah Balls

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Susie Fishbein creates dishes that are both delicious and beautiful to look at! These matzah balls are gorgeous, easy to make and you can make them ahead of time, store them in the fridge until you are ready to heat them and serve them in your soup. They make an unusual and special presentation for Pesach (Passover). If you are gluten-free, use gluten-free matzah-ball mix.