Fresh fruit, cool gazpacho and Israeli fare make for yummy celebrating

To mark the arrival of summer, my family traditionally goes out to Brentwood to pick our own fruit. We get an early start before it gets too hot. After spending about an hour picking cherries and apricots, we rinse them off, munch ourselves into oblivion and head into San Francisco to celebrate Israel’s anniversary with the Jewish community.

There’s always plenty of delicious Israeli and festival food available at Israel in the Gardens. In addition to the great offerings, we bring other summertime dishes for our picnic: like cool and refreshing gazpacho, rosemary and garlic flat bread, Mediterranean chicken and, of course, the yummy fresh fruit we collect during the early morning.

My Brother Joshua’s Gazpacho | Serves 8-10

2 cups day-old bread, cut into cubes
1 lb. tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 small clove garlic, through the press
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 avocado, chopped
2 cups fresh corn kernels
6 Tbs. olive oil
4 Tbs. sherry vinegar
2 Tbs. chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tsp. chili sauce
2 tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. sugar

Combine all ingredients together in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate until very cold. Serve well chilled.

Rosemary and Garlic Flat Bread | Serves 10

1 1/2 Tbs. yeast
1 Tbs. sugar
2 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees)
1 1/2 lbs. flour
1 Tbs. fine sea salt
2 Tbs. chopped rosemary leaves
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. coarse sea salt

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the water. Mix in the flour, salt, rosemary and garlic and knead for 15 minutes by hand (5 minutes by machine).

Sprinkle the dough with a little flour, cover and let rise until it doubles in bulk.

Lightly oil a baking pan with the olive oil. Spread the dough out with your fingers until it covers the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the dough with coarse sea salt, cover and let rise for 45 minutes.

Bake the flat loaf for 20 minutes in a preheated 425-degree oven. Remove from the pan and allow to cool on a rack before serving.

Mediterranean Chicken Breasts | Serves 8-10

6 boneless chicken breasts, poached and skinned
2 Tbs. capers
1/2 cup olive oil
4 anchovy fillets
1 1/2 Tbs. flour
1 1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock
2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. pepper
4 Tbs. red wine vinegar

Slice the chicken and place on a serving dish. Sprinkle the capers over the chicken and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the anchovies, mashing them with a wooden spoon into a paste. Add the flour and stir until the flour is golden brown. Add the chicken stock and stir for 3 minutes more. Add one of the red peppers and the garlic. Let simmer for 15 minutes, remove from heat and puree until smooth. Add the salt, pepper and vinegar.

Pour the sauce over the chicken. Cut the remaining pepper into thin strips and use to garnish the serving dish. Allow to marinate several hours before serving.

Rebecca Ets-Hokin is a Bay Area cooking teacher and food professional. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to j. or to [email protected] .