Mango Lassi Tart

This light and delicate tart filling is based on the popular Indian drink that’s not unlike a mango smoothie. In India, mango lassi is sometimes perfumed with a few pinches of ground cardamom. If you’d like to try that combination, just sprinkle a little on the tart right before serving or pass some ground cardamom in a tiny bowl for the guests to add on their own if desired.

Pear and Almond Dumplings

Most fruit dumplings are constructed by wrapping a piece of fruit in a square of dough. This one is a little different—the fruit and a dab of almond filling are sandwiched between two layers of puff pastry, and the dough never shrinks, falls away, or does anything but rise to flaky perfection around the fruit.

Tarte Tatin

I first encountered Tarte Tatin in early 1974, when I lived briefly with the Pinelli family at their small hotel in Monte Carlo. Raymonde Pinelli loved apples in all forms and had beautiful 19th-century earthenware Calvados jugs in the shape of apples, which I have to confess I coveted. Raymonde’s method of preparing Tarte Tatin involved repeatedly turning wedges of her favorite apples, les Golden, in a buttery caramel in a flimsy aluminum tart pan set atop a flame tamer on her big commercial range.

Tramezzini - Italian Snack Sandwiches

First made at the Caffè Mulassano in Turin in 1925, tramezzini were and still are an Italianized version of British tea sandwiches. Made on white Pullman bread called pan carré, or square bread, in a very Turin combination of Italian and French, they were named by Italian poet Gabriele d’Annunzio. Because the word sandwich was difficult to pronounce in Italian, d’Annunzio invented the word tramezzino (the singular) which has overtones of both “between” (tra in Italian) and “half” (mezzo).

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Pain De Mie - French Sandwich Bread

Mie is French for the interior or crumb of a loaf of bread and this sandwich bread, or Pullman loaf, as it’s called in English, has a fine white crumb perfect for delicate sandwiches and toast. To bake this, you’ll need a special Pullman loaf pan that’s straight sided and has a cover so that the dough bakes to a perfectly symmetrical shape. If you’d like to try the bread before purchasing the special pan, it may be baked in a standard loaf pan. This is adapted from Professor Calvel’s formula in his book, Le Goût du Pain (The Flavor of Bread/Editions Jerome Villette, 1990).

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Blueberry and Apple Pie

Tart apples marry well with sweet, spicy blueberries, even though their seasons are fairly opposite. In early summer when blueberries come into season there are always imported apples available, and when apples come into season it’s okay to use frozen blueberries. I find that dicing the apples quite small makes them cook through easily, and their tartness gives a better boost to the blueberry flavor than adding lemon juice or zest.

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Cialedda - Bread and Tomato Salad from Apulia

Any tomato salad depends on one thing: perfectly ripe, height of summer tomatoes. Cherry or grape tomatoes might be fine in a tossed salad during the winter, but just don’t have either the strength of flavor or the moisture for a salad like this. Like the famous Tuscan bread salad, panzanella, the bread here is moistened with a little water first. Letting the salad stand for an hour or so both develops the flavor and further moistens the bread, so it’s perfect to prepare in advance to serve to guests.

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Turkish Pistachio Pastry (Katmer)

My friend Cenk Sönmeszoy first told me about katmer— a square pastry that contains several layers of dough as well as clotted Turkish cream, sugar, and finely chopped pistachios —and sent me links to videos of some very skilled bakers who throw the dough around like a bedsheet to make it larger and thinner. The method here is simplified but gives excellent results. Make a batch of katmer to celebrate Eid al-Adha, which falls on September 1 this year.

Pa Amb Tomàquet - Catalan Grilled Bread Rubbed with Tomato

Food is central in Catalan life. Tapas bars and casual cafés serve pa amb tomàquet (bread with tomato) already assembled, but some restaurants merely deliver the components to the table: a piece of chewy bread grilled over a wood fire, a perfectly ripe tomato, fine salt, and local extra-virgin olive oil. Such a simple combination depends entirely on the quality of the ingredients—they have to be perfect. The instructions here are adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, Paula Wolfert’s World of Food, with her permission. This is the perfect appetizer for a casual late summer meal. Eat with a knife and fork!

Strawberry Raspberry Mille-Feuilles

In France it’s popular during the summer to make tarts and other pastries like mille-feuille aux fruits rouges or “with red fruits,” meaning basically whatever berries are in season. We can’t obtain the tiny, intensely flavored wild strawberries or fraises des bois as easily as the French, but small, perfectly sweet, height-of-the-season berries work very well in this dessert. It’s fun and tasty to combine several types of berries, and if you have access to red currants, sprinkle in a few—not too many, or the fruit mix might be too tart.

Summer Vegetable Pie

This pie came about when my friend Nancy Nicholas shared some of the produce from her Long Island garden with me. I had a couple of several kinds of vegetables, and not having enough to make a full dish from just one type, I combined them. You can add and subtract at will as long as you keep to the same weight of vegetables so you’ll have the right amount of filling for the pie. This pie is excellent on its own, but it’s also a handy side dish for simple grilled meats or fish.

Plum and Raspberry Crisp

You could use almost any combination of summer fruits in this, but sweet-tart ripe plums are perfect with tart raspberries. Choose red or green plums; prune plums come in to season later in the summer and work beautifully too. Peaches or apricots would stand in well for the plums, and earlier in the season, you could sneak in some rhubarb instead of the raspberries. Baking the topping for a few minutes while the fruit begins to cook makes it much more crisp.

Summery Tomato Tarts

Perfectly ripe tomatoes, cheese, and herbs are a great combination, so much so that I think I’ve done at least three recipes featuring them before. This time around, though, I decided that the combo needed revamping, because I wanted to be able to serve the tart completely cooled as well as fresh from the oven. That ruled out cheeses I’ve used in the past, like Gruyère, Cantal, or mozzarella, all of which get rubbery on cooling. Fresh cow’s or goat’s milk cheese is perfect—but because I don’t like how goat cheese dries out when exposed to the oven’s heat, I hid it under the tomatoes.

Strawberry and Raspberry Tart with Mint

While I hate the indiscriminate use of mint leaves as a decoration for desserts in general, the flavor of mint in moderation is wonderful with berries. Right before serving this tart, I like to scatter tiny mint leaves on it, then lightly dust it with confectioners’ sugar. If you only have large mint leaves, then stack them and cut them into fine ribbons

Mexican Cheese Tartlets (Tartas de Requesón)

In Mexico these tarts are both sold and consumed with panes dulces, Mexican sweetened breads that are eaten for breakfast and later in the day for merenda, the late afternoon meal. The cheese used in Mexico is requeson, which is very similar to Italian ricotta, as it is made from whey rather than milk. But it’s usually clotted at a higher temperature, making the curds harder than ricotta, and has a higher salt content. Part-skim-milk ricotta is a perfect substitute.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Crumble Tart

I’ve often confessed in the past to being addicted to crumb topping. Recently I even found a new way to enjoy it—atop a tart that has a prebaked crust and a creamy filling. This does necessitate the extra step of baking the crumb topping separately, but you can do that while baking the tart crust. The crisp crumb topping with a hint of chopped almonds is a perfect contrast to this tart’s light cream cheese filling and juicy strawberries

Perfect Elephant Ears

This little pastry has a different name in every country where it is made. Palm leaves, butterflies, pig’s ears, and elephant ears are the names I know, but there are doubtless many others. Really simplicity itself, they are made by rolling the puff pastry in sugar and causing it to absorb as much sugar as possible during the process. When the “ears” bake, the sugar caramelizes, and that delicate caramel flavor mingles with the butter in the dough.

Raspberry Meringue Wedge

In the fall of 1986, I was teaching my first career-training intensive baking course at Peter Kump’s New York Cooking school when I learned that Peter’s birthday was a few days away. I asked Gaynor Grant, our registrar, what kind of a cake I should make for Peter, and she told me that he absolutely adored the raspberry meringue cake from Maurice Bonté’s bakery, then the best pastry shop in Manhattan.

Mozzarella In Carrozza (Mozzarella “In a Carriage”)

This is a fun first course when served with a tomato salad, but it can also stand as a quick light meal on its own when there’s nothing else available but a piece of bread, some mozzarella, and a few eggs. There are countless variations on this recipe, some including a bit of anchovy along with the mozzarella, but this simple version is the best.

Molded Chocolate-Filled Napoleons

This was a specialty of my teacher chef Albert Kumin, who used to make it with a Grand Marnier flavored mousse at the Four Seasons restaurant in New York when he was the head pastry chef, about 50 years ago. I like to use this light chocolate mousse to fill it, and I’ve retained the orange liqueur as a flavoring.

Olive Bread from Nice

Olives are a natural complement to bread, especially when they’re baked inside it. Be sure to buy firm unpitted olives for this—pitted olives tend to be softer, and though buying them that way may save you time, the olives will easily disintegrate and add extra moisture to the dough.