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5 Cool Summer Suppers To Beat The Heat In San Diego

The Blind Burro's Baja Ceviche made with white shrimp and baby scallops.
The Blind Burro
The Blind Burro's Baja Ceviche made with white shrimp and baby scallops.
5 Cool Summer Suppers To Beat The Heat In San Diego
San Diego food writer Caron Golden and Consultant Executive Chef Sara Polczynski of The Blind Burro Mexican Restaurant.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition, I am Maureen Cavanaugh. For summer suppers, we like our salads to taste fresher, our entrees a bit later, and our drinks frosty. It takes talented hands or a very good recipes to capture and satisfy the special taste of summer time. So we decided to ask a couple of experts were kinds of foods go hand-in-hand with summer in San Diego. I would like to welcome my guests, Caron Golden of the San Diego food writer, and a frequent guest on the show. Welcome back. CARON GOLDEN: Hi Maureen, good to be with you again. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Sara Polczynski is the Consultant Executive Chef of the Blind Burro Mexican Restaurant in downtown San Diego. Sara, welcome. SARA POLCZYNSKI: Thank you so much for having me. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I will ask you both first, what are some of your favorite foods of summer? CARON GOLDEN: Anything cold with cold, fresh seasonal summer produce. I love anything made with tomatoes, cucumbers, and just salads and cold soups, things like that which are easy to make which do not have you sweating over a hot stove or even a grill. People love to grill in the summer, but remember May is the heatwave. I don't want to be out by the grill. I made cucumber soup. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We'll hear about that a little later in the show. Sara, what taste like summer to you? SARA POLCZYNSKI: Summer fruits are definitely the thing I look forward to. I have to actually not purchase summer fruit during the rest of the year even though they look very appealing to my daughter sometimes, I tell her it is not time to buy plums in December. We wait until those watermelons are fresh, and the peaches are perfectly ripe, and all of those fruits we really look forward to have a really short growing season. I love working with those in the summertime. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: When we are dealing with trying to eat seasonally, we would have to reeducate ourselves as to what exactly is in season during the summer and what isn't. CARON GOLDEN: It is a big problem, if you think about how easily accessible so much of that fruit is, or any of the produce available year-round for us because it is shipped from South America. We are sort of deluded into thinking things are in season locally, when they are not. To be honest, our taste buds and our whole body is not necessarily acclimated to watermelon in March, unless we have another heatwave then. We crave cold heavier foods, apples, pears, things like that in colder weather, and we want watermelon, other melons, palms, stone fruits, and strawberries in the summer. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Even San Diego has its seasons. CARON GOLDEN: Even San Diego does have growing seasons, and we are luckier than folks in the Midwest and back East, who don't necessarily have a growing seasons in the winter. At least we have that too. But in the summer, you go to farmers markets, you will see a definite change in what is offered in the summer. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Exactly. What types of things do restaurant goers order in this time of year? Are there more salads and appetizers? SARA POLCZYNSKI: Absolutely. We actually put on an extra salad in the restaurant just for spring and summer. I wanted to take advantage of the fact that people were going to be coming in and wanting lighter fare. Our ceviche sells more, we have a seafood cocktail that sells more, and a salad that I put on was a shocking surprise how much more it was selling the and some of our other items because it screams summer. It was pleasure to see the way people were responding to what we were putting out there and excited to see seasonality in the menu. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want to ask you, when we get into the heat, it is hot and muggy now, but it is not really hot. What are some of the best local ingredients that we can use at this time of year? CARON GOLDEN: Tomatoes. You know, we're just starting to see the first of the heirloom tomatoes come in fully ripe and begging to be used. Cucumbers, stone fruit, a lot of great herbs, basil, get as much basil as you can. You can either buy it, grow it, whatever. Most peppers are coming in now. There are a lot of things you can do with all of these. Peppers, you can roast, peel, and marinate them in garlic and olive oil. You have a great appetizer you can make so easily with a little toast, something like that. There are so many things you can do with tomatoes it is crazy. I think people should be thinking about down the road, we will not have these beautiful tomatoes, October, November, or in the winter. It is wonderful to be canning them. I did a story that would be published in the fall on canning tomatoes. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You talk about tomatoes and peppers, you wanted to tell us about your gazpacho soup. CARON GOLDEN: Well, one of the things I've been known for and I have to thank my mom for this because she made up for us when we were kids, is a chunky gazpacho soup I have been making for years, and years, and years. SARA POLCZYNSKI: I've had it, it is amazing! CARON GOLDEN: It is one of the things I used to make when I was teaching at Olivewood Gardens. Kids love it. It is easy to make, you basically take every wonderful piece of summer produce you can get your hands on. Tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, jalapeno peppers if you like heat, bell peppers if you don't, cilantro, all sorts of different things. You basically just put each one individually into either a blender or food processor and put it in a bowl. That way, you can judge how much you want to have it chopped up. And how chunky you want it. Add roasted corn, tomato juice, Tabasco, cilantro, and you basically have a soup that takes no effort and no heat to make, it is healthy and kids love to eat it. I make corn tortillas or a big loaf of sourdough bread and sometimes some shrimp to it or crab, something like that. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want everyone to know this recipe is on our website, so if Caron is making you hungry right now, you can go to our website and find out what to do about it. Sara, you brought in something beautiful looking, is this an appetizer? SARA POLCZYNSKI: It was, and then we changed it to our taco menu. We wanted people to consider it a taco because of this. We have won some awards locally with this taco, this creation of a which has been fun. It is our jicama taco, this is another thing which is perfect for summer. People like to eat light and healthy, the tortilla is a slice of jicama. We slice it extremely thin so that you can pick it up like a taco and eat it, and the inside has a lemon serrano crema, poached shrimp, fresh avocado slice, mango salsa, and a little cilantro. It is very simplistic but super fresh and delicious. Everyone who has one of these says oh my gosh, I could eat twenty of these. And you don't feel full, and you feel great, that is what is nice, sometimes what you eat heavier foods during the summer you just want a nap. Siestas are great in other countries, but here does not seem to work very well. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You also make ceviche, right? SARA POLCZYNSKI: We do a great ceviche. What is great about ceviche, you can alter it to however you like. If you have extra produce or fruits, if you have mangoes or passionfruit you can add that, you can add coconut milk and really have fun with ceviche, but just using basic fish, fresh fish from the market, scallops, shrimp, got set up a little bit. A lot of people don't like the texture of it lightly cooked in lime juice. The alternative is to lightly poaching, chop it and soak it in lime juice and you still get the acidic flavor. And whatever you like to it. We had tomatoes, onions, avocado, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, it is fantastic. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It sounds great. I also wanted to let everyone know that we also have your recipe for cucumber radish confetti soup on our website as well. You have also some recommendations for summer desserts. CARON GOLDEN: To make or buy? One of my favorite places to buy we were just talking about, our friend Lisa Alterman's Viva Pops over on Adams Avenue. Also sold in various supermarkets. She also makes the best poletas, which is basically mostly fruit but also chocolate and espresso, she has a number of them. Crazy combinations that worked beautifully, and they are so delicious. But at home, if you have an ice cream machine which is not a difficult or expensive thing to operate or have, you can make sorbets very easily. I make granita, I have a bush filled of sorel, and I looked at it last summer and thought I wonder if I can turn this into desert. I made a sorel mint granita, which is a very simple thing to do. You basically just cook up sugar, water, add flavorings, and makes it all up and grind it up, pure it, put it in a flat pan and put it in the freezer. An hour or so you go and take a fork and run it through the mixture as it is cooling, and eventually it will be a great a thing that you can put in a container and you can serve that, use it as desert or serve it with something like poached fish or something like that which cools things off a little bit. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Sara, do you have any suggestions to serve these things like stone fruits? Instead of just plopping it on a plate, how would you presented elegantly as a dessert? SARA POLCZYNSKI: One of my favorite things growing up I have to give credit to Leslie Cohen, it is her recipe, a peach arch, it is the simplest thing. There are actually only three ingredients in the crust, you take some fresh peaches and purÈe them with cinnamon, lemon juice and sugar, and you create a sauce with that, he slice the peaches and fend them so they look like a beautiful rose on the inside of the tart. You pour the sauce over it and let it set, it is to die for. It is so simple, it only uses one fruit, you could do a nectarine, peaches, anything like that. That is great if you want to turn your oven on. If you don't want to turn your oven on, when my favorite summer desserts is taking lemon curd, and Trader Joe's makes a great lemon curd if you don't want to cook it and you are in a rush. You can always have a job in your pantry, take fresh heavy cream, no extra sugar, folded half and half into the lemon curd and making almost a tray full with just poundcake, or any other flavored cake, dissect, put that lemon mousse, fresh blueberries, strawberries, whatever fresh berries, and if you want extra flavor take gingersnap cookies. Trader Joe's makes a great sin gingersnap cookie. Folded up and I swear everyone will wonder how you made it. It is amazing and takes ten minutes to make, which is always wonderful to have. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: If you had one drink during the summer, what would it be? CARON GOLDEN: Probably a margarita. Margaritas, does not have to be the conventional kind. I love interesting combinations. I just found out about this company called the Ginger Pear, which makes simple syrups, and they are really great way to make a great drink with anything you want. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Sara, I have ten seconds. SARA POLCZYNSKI: I am a fan of the Mule. I'm a sucker for that any day. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How do you make that? SARA POLCZYNSKI: With gin. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You have just made us hungry, thirsty, everything. Thank you so much. [END SEGMENT]

For summer suppers, we like our salads to taste fresher, our entrees a lighter and our drinks frosty. It takes a talented hand — or a very good recipe — to capture and satisfy the special tastes of summertime. So we decided to ask a couple of experts what kinds of foods go hand-in-hand with summer in San Diego.

For more San Diego food stuff you can follow food writer Caron Golden on Twitter @carondg

Here are some of our favorites by San Diego food writer Caron Golden and Consultant Executive Chef Sara Polczynski of The Blind Burro Mexican Restaurant.


Yields: 1 qt

  • 1 pound shrimp peeled, deveined
  • 1 pound bay scallops
  • 1 cup lime juice or enough to cover the fish
  • 6 oz diced tomato
  • 3 oz red onion, finely diced
  • 1⁄2 oz chopped cilantro
  • 2 oz EV olive oil
  • Salt, to taste
  • Diced avocado, tossed in to order

Poach the fish half way in a seafood stock or water, shock in ice water, drain and chop to desired size. Toss in lime juice to finish cooking, about 1-2 hours, in the refrigerator. Drain the excess juice. Flavor the ceviche. Add the tomatoes, onions, cilantro salt and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and toss with diced avocado, olive oil, lime juice and salt to order.


Cup of Gazpacho, a cold soup, made with tomatoes, cucumber, corn kernels and a dash of hot sauce.
Caron Golden
Cup of Gazpacho, a cold soup, made with tomatoes, cucumber, corn kernels and a dash of hot sauce.

Serves 8 – 10

  • 5 -8 large tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1⁄2 English cucumber, roughly chopped
  • 1 or 2 red peppers, roughly chopped
  • 6 – 8 scallions, roughly chopped
  • 6-8 radishes, roughly chopped
  • 1⁄2 medium onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1⁄2 bunch parsley with major stems removed and/or 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 tbl lime juice
  • 2-6 tbs red wine vinegar
  • A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • A few dashes of your favorite hot sauce
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1⁄2 tsp sugar
  • 1 regular-sized can beef broth
  • 1 can low-salt V8 juice
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 pound pre-cooked bay shrimp, lump crab or cooked chunks of chicken or pork

Pull out the food processor and a very large bowl. Process each of the vegetables and add to the bowl, then add the rest of the ingredients, except for the proteins, which I would have at the table separately for guests to add as they wish. Refrigerate until cold and then adjust seasoning to taste. Top when serving with sour cream or Mexican crema. Serve with fresh tortillas or even hearty sourdough bread.

Mexican Panzanella Salad

The Blind Burro's Mexican Panzanella Salad with Shrimp
The Blind Burro
The Blind Burro's Mexican Panzanella Salad with Shrimp

Mix the following quantities to your liking:

  • Mixed Greens, torn
  • Baby Heirloom Tomatoes, halved
  • Pickled Red Onions
  • Queso Fresco, cubed
  • Cucumbers, seeded and sliced thin
  • Avocado, fanned and sprinkled with sea salt
  • Flour Tortilla Crisps

Mix all of these ingredients together in a bowl and toss with dressing to coat. Top with fanned avocado. Top with fried flour tortilla strips.
Serrano-Lime Vinaigrette

Yields: 1 cup

  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil blend
  • 1⁄4 cup EVOO
  • 1⁄4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp iguana sauce (or other green hot sauce)
  • 1 lime, zested
  • 2 T lime juice
  • 1 tsp minced shallots
  • 3⁄4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp agave

Place all of the ingredients except the oils in a bowl or blender. Whisk or blend in the oils slowly to create an emulsification.

Cucumber and Radish Confetti Soup

Caron Golden's Bowl of Cucumber and Radish Confetti Soup.
Caron Golden
Caron Golden's Bowl of Cucumber and Radish Confetti Soup.

Serves 4

  • 1 large English cucumber or 3 good-sized Persian cucumbers (about 6 inches long)
  • 1 dozen radishes
  • 2 cups unflavored yogurt
  • 2 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 small cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek (for a different flavor, try dill or mint -- they're all equally good)
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Slice the cucumbers in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and discard. (If you're using a conventional cucumber first peel the skin; for the other types, leave the thin skin on for color.) Cut into chunks and put in the bowl of a food processor. Trim all the radishes and cut all but one into chunks and add to the food processor. Save the remaining radish for garnish. Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and blend thoroughly. Remove to a bowl, cover, and chill at least two hours or overnight. Just before serving, slice the remaining radish very thinly, again with the little mandoline, and use it to top the soup. Feel free to squeeze in a little hot sauce when serving.

French Sorrel and Mint Granita

Two scoops of French Sorrel and Mint Granita
Caron Golden
Two scoops of French Sorrel and Mint Granita

Makes 1 quart

  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 sprigs or more of fresh mint
  • 2 cups fresh French sorrel leaves

Combine the water, sugar, and half the lemon juice in a non-reactive saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and transfer to a glass container. Add the mint and let cool to remove temperature. Wash the sorrel leaves, remove the tough spine, and coarsely chop the leaves. You'll want two well-packed cups.
When the sugar syrup has cooled, remove the mint and discard. Add the syrup, the rest of the lemon juice, and the sorrel leaves to the bowl of a blender. Puree until smooth.

Pour the mixture into a large shallow pan or casserole dish. Freeze until icy--about 3 hours. Then using a fork, scrape through the mixture to break it up. Refreeze another 2 hours and repeat. Do this once more and it should be ready to serve. You can store it in a container for up to a month.

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