Food Notes: Make room on summer menus for cool soup and tomato pies


More than any other county fair in New Jersey, the Mercer County 4-H Fair is all about farming and food.

That includes 4-H members showing off the animals they have raised, local residents competing for blue ribbons for their best cakes, jams, pies and garden vegetables, and the homemade ice cream made by Howell Living History Farm.

Pie-eating contests, hayrides, farm tours, animal shows and dozens of exhibits are planned for the fair, which will take place from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, July 30 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, July 31 at Howell Farm in Hopewell Township. The opening show will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Gardeners and home cooks can find categories where they can compete at Other categories where they can compete include arts and crafts, photography, clothing and woodworking.

The fair is an opportunity to showcase the many sides of Howell Farm, which is a living museum and working farm operating as though the clock has been turned back to 1910.

Admission to the fair and parking are free. For more information see the above website. Visitors can support Rutgers Against Hunger by bringing a free canned good to donate.

Just Peachy Festival

Peaches are in the spotlight again for the annual Just Peachy Festival at Terhune Orchards in Lawrence from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday Aug. 6 and 7.

There will be peach foods (including ice cream!), festival foods, music and activities for children including a traveling zoo and pony rides.

There will be seatings for groups of up to eight in the winery where peach wine is among the wines sold.

Timed tickets are $12 for those 3 and older. For information and tickets see the website and click on the Just Peachy Festival icon.

According to the New Jersey Peach Promotion Council, it’s a good year for peaches and nectarines with more varieties than ever being grown in the Garden State. The peach season continues into September.

Summer’s bounty

You can thank all of the recent hot weather for the sudden arrival of the always popular tomato season in New Jersey.

Tomatoes and sweet corn are a highlight of the summer harvest, and plenty of both are available. That means it’s time for gazpacho, fresh salsa, salads and sauces.

The bounty of vegetables includes eggplant, cucumbers, green beans, broccoli, cabbage, radishes, collard greens, peppers, kohlrabi, kale, cauliflower, zucchini, yellow squash, lettuces and much more. Fruits include peaches, nectarines, blueberries, raspberries, plums, a variety of melons, and even apricots, depending on the farm.

A busy chef

Chef Jose Diaz has been busy coming up with new ideas for the restaurant at Old York Cellars winery in Ringoes.

On weekends through this year he and the winery staff are creating wine and tapas and wine and chocolate tasting experiences. His objective is to showcase the wines created by Old York Cellars and how they can best be paired with foods. Each tasting experience lasts one hour.

For reservations call 908-284-9463. For more information on Old York Cellars see

Best-Ever Gazpacho

With hot weather comes cold soups, and gazpacho is the most popular. This recipe from lets you enjoy the long tomato season.

  • 2 pounds tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 Persian cucumbers, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for pan and garnish
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 slices country bread, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil

1. Combine tomatoes, cucumbers, pepper, garlic, vinegar, and water in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth, then add oil and blend to combine. Taste and season with salt, pepper, and more vinegar if needed. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add bread and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp. Remove from heat, season with salt, and let cool.

3. To serve, divide soup among bowls and top with basil, croutons and a drizzle of oil.

Fresh Tomato Pie

Trenton, and now its suburbs, is famous for its tomato pies, but this recipe from is very different. It’s an actual pie that is filled with tomatoes fresh from the vine.

Fresh tomato pie!

Not all tomato are pies are like the ones made famous in Trenton. This one is an actual pie filled with fresh local

  • 1 (9-inch) pie shell
  • 7 ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 yellow onion
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • ⅓ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Bake the pastry shell for 8 to 10 minutes or until browned.

3. Slice onion and place in the bottom of pastry shell. Slice tomatoes and arrange over onions. Add black pepper to taste.

4. In a medium bowl, combine mozzarella, parmesan and mayonnaise. Spread this mixture evenly over tomatoes.

5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Once cooked, garnish with fresh herbs.


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