I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like it’s just too warm to cook. This is the time of year when I often resort to using the oven and the grill in the morning, then gently reheating the meal when supper time rolls around. 

When I was a young teenager, I remember sleeping over at my grandparents’ farm during summer vacation. I would awake early to find my grandmother prepping the evening meal while she waited for me to come downstairs for breakfast. My grandfather had been up for hours to tend to the cows and other barn chores. At their house, it was nothing to have green beans snapped, corn shucked and cookies coming out of the oven before Grandpa came in for his mid-morning coffee break. Those were the days.

For the summer meal I’m sharing with you this week, you can choose just about any kind of steak to marinade. I often choose round steak as it is more inexpensive than other cuts and holds marinade flavors well. Portobello mushrooms, sponges that they are, also absorb marinades well. Adding a few to the steak on the grill is an economical, delicious way to stretch the meal.

 As for a zucchini pie, you all are surely looking for a way to use those over-grown squashes that sometimes appear out of nowhere. Just the other morning, I opened my kitchen door to find two rather large specimens on the doorstep and didn’t know whether to be thankful or to cry. After a fashion, I decided to make a pie similar to one I had enjoyed in Ireland last spring. 

This pie, the steak, and crisp lettuces, juicy tomato slices and tender cucumbers from your garden is your next supper. 

For “afters,” Citrus Carrot Cookies are a dainty, light, summery bite that goes beautifully with iced tea and a dollop of ice cream served in your prettiest dishes. Theses old-fashioned cookies make me think of doilies, Glen Miller tunes, and that farmhouse of my childhood where I spent many a contented hour.

Grilled Steak With Portobello
1 1/2 pounds top round steak, 1 1/2 inches thick

3/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 tsp. orange zest

2 tsp. fresh orange juice

4 tbsp. flat-leaf parsley, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

4 large Portobello mushroom caps

Combine olive oil, vinegar, zest, juice, and 1 tbsp. parsley in a large glass measuring cup. Place steak in a large re-sealable plastic bag and add marinade. Seal and shake gently until steak is saturated with marinade. Place on a plate and refrigerate for 1-3 hours.

When ready to grill, remove steak from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Place mushroom caps in bag, seal, and shake gently to coat with marinade. Remove the mushrooms from the bag and season with salt and pepper. 

Oil the grill and preheat to medium heat. Remove steak from the bag and season generously with salt and pepper.

Place the steak on the hot grill and cook for 5 minutes on each side. Move steak off to the side, away from direct heat and cook for 5 minutes more. For medium-rare, steak should be at 125 degrees when checked with a meat thermometer.

Grill mushrooms, caps down, for 10 minutes. Move them off to side of grill, and cook with caps up for 8 more minutes, until edges are beginning to char. 

Remove steak and mushrooms from grill and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Slice into strips, sprinkle with remaining parsley and serve. Yield: 4 servings

Zucchini Pie
2 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. butter

1 1/2 pounds zucchini, sliced thinly

4 large eggs

1/2 cup prosciutto, finely chopped

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Red pepper flakes, to taste

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat oil and butter in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini and cook until softened, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. 

Beat eggs in medium-sized mixing bowl. Stir in prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes and cheese. Season to taste. Pour mixture over zucchini in pan. Bake for 20 minutes, until center of pie is set and top is golden brown. Remove from oven. Yield: 4 servings.

Citrus Carrot Cookies
3/4 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. lemon or orange extract, or 5-10 drops food-grade lemon or orange essential oil

3 tsp. lemon or orange zest

2 cups flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cup carrot, grated

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well. Blend in flavorings and zest.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add dry ingredients to creamed mixture; mix well. Stir in carrots. Drop a few teaspoons at a time about 2 inches apart on cookie sheets covered with parchment paper.

Bake for 15 minutes or until bottoms are beginning to brown. Remove from cookie sheets and cool on racks. Yield: 2 1/2 dozen.