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Easy Summer Recipes

Tasia Malakasis, Southern cheesemaker and owner of Belle Chèvre goat farm in Elkmont, Ala., shares her love of the region’s food through approachable recipes that use the best of local, homegrown produce.

Tasia’s journey back home began during the late 1990s. While still working in the business world, she took some classes at the Culinary Institute of America. It was there that her love of cooking, instilled in her at a young age by her grandmother, re-emerged. And while she realized her true calling was in the culinary world, Tasia knew that she was not meant to be a chef. “I was a single mom with a son to raise, and working till 2 a.m. in a restaurant wasn’t for me,” explains Tasia. 

As it turned out, Tasia’s calling took her to Bell Chèvre, a goat farm in Alabama. She became so enamored with the cheesemaking business on the farm that she went to work for Belle Chèvre founder Liz Parnell for free. After six months, Tasia bought the business, and she has been living out her passion for making cheese ever since. 

“My personal journey has taught me that the South is the place on the planet that owns my heart,” says Tasia. “Here, I can celebrate my deep appreciation for the South, its wonderful food, and the people who prepare it with love.” And this is exactly what Tasia is doing daily at her fromagerie and through her fresh Southern recipes that she shares with others. 

She shares her love of the region’s food through approachable recipes that use the best of local, homegrown produce in her new cookbook, Southern Made Fresh. (Southern Living, 2015)

Tomato Pie with Fresh Corn & Herbs

A tomato pie is a delicious creation—almost as good as the first tomato sandwich of the season. Every summer, I look forward to it. If you’ve never heard of a tomato pie, think of it as an eggless quiche. Trust me, it will become your new favorite.

1/2 recipe Basic Pie Crust (recipe below)
2 lb. heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (1 lemon)
1 cup (4 oz.) finely shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (2 ears), divided
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil, divided
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives, divided
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, divided

1. Prepare Pie Crust: Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Roll Basic Pie Crust dough into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Fit pastry into a 9-inch pie plate; fold edges under, and crimp. Line pastry with aluminum foil; fill with pie weights or dried beans (this will keep the crust from bubbling up).
3. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove weights and foil, and bake 5 more minutes or until browned. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 30 minutes). Reduce oven temperature to 375°.
4. Place tomatoes in a single layer on paper towels; sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt. Let stand 10 minutes.
5. Whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice, and ¾ cup cheese in a small bowl.
6. Sprinkle ¾ cup corn in bottom of crust; sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. basil, 1½ tsp. chives, ¼ tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper. Pat tomatoes dry with a paper towel.
7. Arrange half of tomato slices over corn, overlapping slightly. Repeat layering with remaining ¾ cup corn, remaining 1 Tbsp. basil, remaining 1½ tsp. chives, remaining ¼ tsp. salt, and remaining 1/8 tsp. pepper. Spread mayonnaise mixture over filling. Arrange remaining tomatoes over mayonnaise mixture, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup Parmesan cheese.
8. Bake at 375 degrees, shielding crust with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning, for 1 hour or until filling is bubbly and cheese melts. Let stand on a wire rack 15 minutes before cutting into wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 6. 

Basic Pie Crust

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. table salt
1 1/2 cups cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
5 - 7 Tbsp. ice water

1. Pulse flour and salt in a food processor 3-4 times or until combined. Add butter, and pulse 5-6 times or until crumbly.
2. With processor running, add ice water, 1 Tbsp. at a time, just until dough forms a ball and pulls away from sides of bowl.
3. Shape dough into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap, and chill 1 hour or until ready to use.
4. Roll to 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface according to recipe. Makes 2 (9-inch) or 8 (5-inch) pie crusts. 

Muscadine Sangría

​Kitchen Tip: Try the muscadine wine on its own before making the sangría. If it’s very sweet, omit the added sugar in the recipe.

1/2 cup brandy
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cantaloupe, seeded and cut lengthwise into 3 wedges
2 firm ripe peaches, unpeeled, pitted, and thinly sliced
1 lime, thinly sliced
1 Fuji apple, peeled and thinly sliced
3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
1 (750-milliliter) bottle white muscadine wine, chilled (we used Tsali Notch Sweetwater Muscadine Wine)
1 (750-milliliter) bottle Prosecco, chilled

1. Combine brandy and sugar in a large bowl or pitcher; let stand 5 minutes. Stir until sugar dissolves.
2. Meanwhile, peel cantaloupe wedges, and cut crosswise into thin slices to measure 3 cups; add to brandy mixture. Add peach, lime, and apple slices. Stir in lime juice and wine. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.
3. Gently stir in Prosecco. Serve immediately over ice. Serves 10. 

DID YOU KNOW? Muscadines are regional grapes, native to the Southeast, that have thick skins and an unmistakable sweet, musky flavor. Using the wine made from them gives you all the flavor and a break from juicing the grapes. Muscadine wine is available in red or white, and you can find it in Southern wineries and some grocery stores, too. Its sweeter flavor profile makes it perfect for pairing with fresh fruit in a sangría.

Picnic Bean Salad

Bean salad may conjure up images of old-fashioned church picnics; while that is a favorable image, this salad is an updated and enhanced version that will change its old reputation. 

1 cup sugar snap peas
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
1 Tbsp. chopped shallots
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. honey
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
5 large radishes, thinly sliced
1 (16-oz.) can navy beans, drained and rinsed

1. Cook peas in boiling water to cover 30 seconds; drain. Plunge peas into ice water to stop the cooking process; drain. Cut peas in half crosswise.
2. Whisk together oil and next 8 ingredients in a large bowl. Add peas, radishes, and beans; toss well. Let stand, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Serves 6. 

Goat Cheese & Tapenade Toasts

These super-simple appetizers take only 10 minutes total. Whip these up, and you can get out of the kitchen quickly to mingle with your guests. Kitchen Tip: To add another flavorful element to these toasts, top them with quartered cherry tomatoes or sliced roasted red peppers.

1/2 (12-oz.) French bread baguette
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice 
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 (3-oz.) Belle Chèvre goat cheese log
1/2 cup organic black olive tapenade
2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh oregano

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut baguette half in half lengthwise; brush cut sides with 2 tsp. oil. Place on a baking sheet, cut sides up. Bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes or until edges are golden.
2. Place lemon juice, pepper, goat cheese, and remaining 4 tsp. oil in a bowl; mash with a fork until blended. Spread cheese mixture on cut sides of baguette halves. Top with tapenade, and sprinkle with oregano. Cut each half into 6 pieces. Serves 12. 

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