First up, a dish to be made sooner than later—before this year's asparagus crop is finished.
1 pound fresh asparagus
11 ounces Arborio or Carnaroli rice
Half a leek
5 cups vegetable broth
2 ounces grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 knobs (approximately 2 to 3 tablespoons) butter, divided
Half glass white wine
(1) Prepare the broth in a pot and keep it warm on a low flame.
(2) Wash the asparagus and cut into thin slices, except for the heads. Cook the heads in the broth then set aside.
(3) Use a large pan to brown the thinly sliced leek in extra virgin olive oil and add a knob (about 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons) butter.
(4) Add the sliced asparagus and the wine wine to the pan then add the rice. Wait a few seconds until it is golden brown, and then cook with the broth, adding broth one ladle at a time.
(5) Keep stirring until the rice is almost done, stop adding broth and turn off the flame. Add the Parmigiano Reggiano, a knob (about 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons) butter, and pepper, to taste.
(6) Serve and decorate with the asparagus heads and chives. Enjoy!
For dessert, try one of Valentina Bertazzoni's favorite summer treats.
Makes eight peach halves
4 big yellow peaches
7 ounces Amaretti crunchy cookies
3.5 ounces sugar
1 egg yolk
Eight knobs (about 8 to 12 tablespoons) butter
Half glass white wine
(1) Wash the peaches then cut them in half and pit.
(2) Use a spoon to remove some pulp in the center of each peach and cook it in a saucepan over low heat with the sugar for about 15 minutes.
(3) In a bowl, crush the Amaretti cookies and mix with egg yolk. You can add a drop of sweet liquor, like Sassolino, if you'd like.
(4) Fill the peaches with the mixture and add a knob (about 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons) butter and a dash of sugar to each one.
(5) Pour the wine into a tray, arrange the peaches on it, and cook at 340 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes.
(6) Enjoy warm or even cold. "They're also delicious the day after," Valentina says.
When not writing, Miyoko Ohtake can be found cooking, training for her next marathon, and enjoying all that the City by the Bay and the great outdoors have to offer.