A Lemon Curd Icebox Cake to Ring in Warm Weather

This lovely light dessert comes from chef Lauren Katz. Her version of the recipe calls for homemade lemon curd, but the store bought variety would work well too. This cake is easy to pull together, but needs to chill for at least 6 hours, so plan ahead. 

lemon curd icebox cake slice
Just look at those layers

I like to think of this as a cross between ice cream cake and frozen lemon meringue pie. The recipe is based on one of my favorite things to make: tart and luscious lemon curd. Two other easily accessible ingredients, whipped cream and graham crackers, play a supporting role. The cake itself is easy to make; the layering process is one of my ultimate forms of zen. The best part (second to eating it) is that I always end up with some extra lemon curd to mix into yogurt, spread on toast, and spoon into ice cream throughout the week.

All together now

Lemon Curd Icebox Cake

For the lemon curd 

  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 7 lemons)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 stick room temperature butter, diced
  • 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk

For the cake

  • 1 batch homemade lemon curd (or store bought) 
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 18 full graham cracker sheets 

Make the lemon curd:

1. In a small pot, combine the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar. Whisk until thoroughly combined, then stir in the lemon juice, salt, and 2 tablespoons of the lemon zest. 

2. Cook on medium, stirring constantly, for 4 to 6 minutes, or until the mixture is thickened and coats the back of a wooden spoon (you should be able to run your finger through the mixture on the spoon and leave a trail). Transfer to a fine mesh strainer set over a medium bowl and strain thoroughly to remove any lumps. 

3. While the mixture is still hot, gradually whisk in the butter until melted and combined, then whisk in the sweetened condensed milk. Let cool to room temperature. 

Assemble the icebox cake:

1. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, whisk the heavy cream on high until slightly thickened. Add the lemon zest and continue to whisk until stiff peaks form. 

2. Line an 8 x 5 inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving a 3-inch overhang on each side. Cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of graham crackers (breaking into small pieces if necessary). Spread an even layer of lemon curd over the crackers, followed by an even layer of whipped cream over the curd. Repeat layering until you’ve reached the top (ideally ending with a layer of graham crackers). Tightly cover with the plastic wrap and freeze until firm, about 6 hours.

3. When ready to serve, unwrap the plastic on top of the cake, then invert the pan onto a serving dish. Carefully remove the pan and plastic wrap. Slice and enjoy! 

lemon curd icebox cake oozing
Seriously, how good does this look?

Looking for more easy desserts? Try these five-ingredient blondies.

Greenmarket Inspo: BLT Salad with Grilled Romaine & Bacon Fat Croutons

Every week, our test kitchen team pays an early morning visit to New York City’s biggest farmers market: the Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan. Comprised of over 70 stalls bursting with flowers, local products, and beautiful seasonal produce, it’s the perfect place for a hit of mid-week inspiration. Follow us on Instagram to tag along (bring a tote bag, it’s impossible to leave empty handed!) and see what we decide to make with our market haul.

We understand how this looks. Of all of the bright and juicy late summer produce to choose from at the greenmarket, we went with bacon? But hear us out: thicker cut and with a serious layer of fat, farmers’ market bacon cooks up to the platonic ideal of the breakfast food, both melt-in-your-mouth crispy and meatily chewy at once. It definitely costs more than your average supermarket brand, making it an “every once and a while” treat, but when you are looking to splurge, it’s a worthwhile way to spend your market cash — and certainly warrants being the centerpiece of a dish.

This recipe uses bacon two ways: first, crisped in the oven and crumbled to scatter over the salad, and second (and this is where the extra fat from the farmers’ market variety comes in handy), to bake up a batch of golden brown croutons. Cooking bacon on a wire rack set on a rimmed sheet pan means the bacon stays crispy while the rendered fat drips down below. We toss torn pieces of crusty bread (and a grated garlic clove, for bite) in that reserved fat to evenly coat each piece before tossing the pan back into the oven. The result is a crisp and crunchy crouton with a subtle salty, savory flavor, ready to soak up any juices from the bursting September tomatoes we tossed over the salad (see, we managed to get some seasonal produce in there!).

BLT Salad with Grilled Romaine & Bacon Fat Croutons


Serves 4
Special equipment: grill or grill pan, wire rack


2 heads romaine lettuce, halved lengthwise through the core
8 slices bacon
½ pint (about 1 cup) cherry tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tbsp sour cream
2 tbsp buttermilk
2 tbsp mayonnaise
3 oz blue cheese, divided
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 bunch chives, thinly sliced
3-4 slices crusty bread, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 clove garlic, finely grated
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil


1. Roast the bacon:

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven, then preheat to 450°F. Fit a wire rack into a rimmed sheet pan. Place the bacon slices on the prepared sheet pan. Roast 14 to 16 minutes, or until browned and crispy. Leaving the oven on, remove from the oven. When cool enough to handle, crumble the bacon into small pieces. Remove the wire rack from the sheet pan, reserving the bacon fat in the pan.

2. Toast the croutons:

To the pan of reserved bacon fat, add the torn bread and garlic paste; season with salt and pepper (add a drizzle of olive oil if the pan seems dry). Toss to coat. Arrange in an even layer. Toast in the oven 6 to 8 minutes, tossing occasionally, or until golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven.

3. Grill the lettuce:

While the croutons toast, heat a grill or grill pan to medium heat; lightly oil the grates. Drizzle the cut side of the halved heads of lettuce with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill, cut side down, 3 to 4 minutes, or until lightly charred. Transfer to a plate.

4. Make the dressing:

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, buttermilk, mayonnaise, 2 oz blue cheese, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Assemble the salad & serve your dish:

Spoon half the dressing onto a platter; spread into an even layer. Place the grilled lettuce on the dressing, grilled side up. Top with half the tomatoes, half the crumbled bacon, and half the croutons. Drizzle with the remaining dressing. Garnish with the remaining tomatoes, remaining crumbled bacon, remaining croutons, remaining blue cheese (crumbling before adding), and chives. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Greenmarket Inspo: Cantaloupe-Coconut Agua Fresca

Every week, our test kitchen team pays an early morning visit to New York City’s biggest farmers market: the Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan. Comprised of over 70 stalls bursting with flowers, local products, and beautiful seasonal produce, it’s the perfect place for a hit of mid-week inspiration. Follow us on Instagram to tag along (bring a tote bag, it’s impossible to leave empty handed!) and see what we decide to make with our market haul.

On summer mornings in Mexico City, waiting in line for a colorful agua fresca from a street vendor is just as common as ordering an A.M. cup of coffee. Made by blending fresh fruit, water, and sugar, an agua fresca is a smoothie’s lighter, more refreshing cousin, and an ideal way to utilize the season’s sweetest produce.

A ripe cantaloupe doesn’t need a ton to turn it into a flavorful cold drink, so this agua fresca recipe starts at the market. To pick the best cantaloupe from the pile, look for one that smells sweet and feels heavy and firm for its size, with a slightly indented stem. Then, add just a drizzle of honey to bring out the sweetness, lime juice for a tart note, and coconut water to give the whole thing a slightly tropical vibe. Freezing the cantaloupe first and straining after blending keeps it thin, icy, and very chuggable.

Cantaloupe-Coconut Agua Fresca

Serves 6


1 ½ lbs cantaloupe, cut into large pieces (about half of 1 medium cantaloupe)
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeds scooped out, cut into large pieces
¼ cup lime juice (about 2 limes)
4 cups coconut water
1 tbsp honey
Pinch kosher salt


1. Freeze the cantaloupe:

Place the cantaloupe pieces on a sheet pan. Freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

2. Make the agua fresca:

Combine the frozen cantaloupe and cut cucumber, lime juice, coconut water, honey and a pinch of salt in a blender. Blend until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer before serving. Enjoy!

8 Recipes That Celebrate & Send Off Summer

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Say a final farewell to summer with eight unforgettable recipes starring the warm-weather season’s best and brightest ingredients!  

1. Saffron & Tomato Bucatini Pasta

This sophisticated pasta dish celebrates the bright flavors of summer with a robust sauce of charm tomatoes and sautéed summer squash.
















2. Cherry Tomato & Peach Panzanella

Tuscan panzanella salads are defined by the easy combination of ripe summer tomatoes and rustic bread, elevated with a bit of oil and vinegar to some of the season’s best eating.
















3. Tomato, Watermelon & Farro Salad

In this dish, we’re serving it atop a delicious summer salad of juicy watermelon, tart tomato and hearty farro, flecked with fresh mint and basil.
















4. Tomato-Basil Burgers

In this unique spin on the classic burger, we’re serving succulent beef patties nestled between tart tomato slices on one side, and fresh basil leaves and creamy aioli on the other.
















5. Shrimp, Potato & Corn “Boil”

In coastal regions of the South, the seafood boil is a treasured culinary tradition—often enjoyed al fresco at celebrations.
















6. Miso Chicken Ramen

For a summery take on a Japanese favorite—ramen—we’re preparing a brothless version with plenty of colorful seasonal produce.
















7. Avocado Burgers

These burgers celebrate Tex-Mex cuisine, known for weaving together Mexican and American ingredients into hearty dishes.
















8. Corn & Green Bean Empanadas

“Empanadas de humita,” or corn empanadas, are a tasty South American specialty that features flaky pastry dough wrapped around a savory-sweet corn filling.


The Taste of Eternal Summer

Of every season, summer is the hardest to lose. The weather cools down, pool floaties disappear from store shelves, piles of knobby gourds take the place of melons at the farmers’ market, and it can be tempting to eat every tomato in sight in a desperate attempt to make August last forever.

But flipping past summer on the calendar doesn’t have to mean giving up on all the best flavors of the season.

Blistering and charring—or exposing fruits and vegetables to high heat until their skins darken and crisp up—is the easiest way to achieve the blackened, burn-y flavor characteristic of summer barbecues all year round. The open flame of a grill is the ideal warm weather method, but the same result is attainable in a cranked-up oven or in a hot pan over a stove. Below, two recipes that utilize these indoor, burnt-on-purpose cooking techniques.


Niçoise Salad with Charred Green Beans

Serves: 5
Cook Time: 25 minutes

¾ lb green beans, stem ends cut off and discarded
1 lemon, quartered and deseeded
1 lb multicolored baby potatoes
5 large eggs
2 Tbsps minced shallot
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsps white wine vinegar, divided
½ cup kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
1 cucumber, cut into ¼-inch-thick rounds
4 radishes, thinly sliced
2 large heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut into wedges
15 oz canned, olive oil-packed albacore tuna, drained
½ cup basil leaves
¼ cup chopped parsley leaves and stems


Blister the green beans

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling on high. Place the green beans on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Arrange in a single, even layer and roast 10 to 12 minutes, or until blistered in spots. Transfer to a bowl; top with the juice of 2 lemon wedges. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside in a warm place.

Cook the potatoes

While the green beans blister, to the pot of boiling water, add the potatoes. Cook 12 to 14 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Leaving the pot of water boiling, using a slotted spoon or strainer, transfer the potatoes to a large bowl.

Cook the eggs

Carefully add the eggs to the same pot of boiling water. Cook for exactly 6 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water for 30 seconds to 1 minute to stop the cooking process. When cool enough to handle, carefully peel the cooked eggs. Transfer to a cutting board.

Make the dressing & dress the potatoes

While the eggs cook, in a bowl, combine the shallot, garlic, mustard, and 2 tablespoons of the vinegar. Slowly whisk in 3 tablespoons of olive oil until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. To the bowl of cooked potatoes, add the olives and half the dressing. Toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Season the vegetables

In a medium bowl, combine the cucumber, radishes, remaining vinegar, and a drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the tomatoes in a separate bowl; drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Assemble the salad

Halve the cooked eggs lengthwise. In a large serving dish, arrange the halved eggs, dressed potatoes, blistered green beans, seasoned cucumber and radishes, seasoned tomatoes, and tuna in rows. Top with the remaining dressing and the juice of the remaining lemon wedges. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with the basil (tearing the leaves just before adding) and parsley.


Blistered Cherry Tomato Bucatini Pasta

Serves: 2
Cook Time: 15 minutes

10 oz cherry tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
⅛ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
6 oz dried bucatini pasta
2 Tbsps salted butter
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese
⅓ cup basil leaves


Blister the tomatoes

Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling on high. In a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil on high until hot. Add the tomatoes in a single, even layer. Cook, without stirring, 4 to 5 minutes, or until lightly blistered. Add the garlic and as much of the red pepper flakes as you’d like, depending on how spicy you’d like the dish to be; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until fragrant and the tomatoes are blistered. Add ½ cup of water; cook, stirring frequently and pressing down on the tomatoes with the back of a spoon, 3 to 4 minutes, or until slightly thickened and saucy.

Cook the pasta

While the tomatoes blister, to the pot of boiling water, add the pasta. Cook according to the package instructions, until just shy of al dente (still slightly firm to the bite). Turn off the heat. Reserving ½ cup of the pasta cooking water, drain thoroughly.

Finish the pasta

To the pan of blistered tomatoes, add the cooked pasta, butter, and half the reserved pasta  cooking water. Cook on medium-high, stirring vigorously, 2 to 3 minutes, or until thoroughly coated. (If the sauce seems dry, gradually add the remaining pasta cooking water to achieve your desired consistency.) Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Plate your dish

Divide the finished pasta between 2 dishes. Garnish with the cheese and basil (tearing the leaves just before adding).

Cooler Ways to Cook

Summer ushers in plenty of delicious produce to savor, usually along with temperatures too high to cook in. Luckily, many of the season’s crops shine even when raw—or practically so. Two of our favorite hand-in-hand, no-heat-required techniques are marinating and macerating. Learn the basics of each, and try out two simple recipes along the way.

How to Marinate:


Marinating is soaking vegetables, meat, or fish in a typically savory sauce to enrich their flavors and tenderize them. This marinated medley is refreshing on its own, or mixed into a pasta salad with fresh mozzarella and crème fraîche.

1. Eyes on the size: Help firmer veggies absorb marinade by cutting them into small pieces. Softer ones more readily soak up liquid, so they need fewer cut surfaces.


    • 1⁄4 lb wax beans, cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
    • 1⁄2 lb cherry tomatoes,
    • 1 summer squash, small diced
    • 1 cup fresh corn kernels

2. Pick your acid: Vinegar is perfect for adding punchy flavor and tenderizing vegetables’ exteriors, softening them as they marinate.


    • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar

3. Bring it together: Combine all your ingredients with salt, pepper, and olive oil. In addition to building flavor, the salt draws out water, which turns into more marinade.


    • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
    • Kosher salt and black pepper

4. Rest for the best: Marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour so hardier vegetables can soften slightly. When time’s up, finish with fresh herbs and season again to taste.


    • 1⁄4 cup thinly sliced basil leaves
    • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

How to Macerate:


Macerating is soaking fruits in a liquid to enrich their flavors and soften them, creating a saucy consistency. These macerated berries are ready to spoon over store-bought shortcakes, vanilla ice cream, or plain Greek yogurt.

1. Eyes on the size: Pick a blend of fruits similar in firmness. Prep them to about the same size, so they absorb liquid and soften at the same pace.


    • 1⁄2 lb strawberries, hulled and medium diced
    • 6 oz blueberries
    • 6 oz blackberries
    • 6 oz raspberries

2. Pick your acid: Super-sweet fruits do well with bold acids. Citrus juice adds tartness, plus another, complementary layer of fruitiness.


    • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

3. Bring it together: Mix everything with sugar—which helps extract water from juicy fruits as they start to break down, forming a light sauce—and salt, to enhance the fruits’ sweetness.


    • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
    • A pinch of kosher salt

4. Rest for the best: Macerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour, occasionally checking for your desired texture (delicate fruits break down quickly). Finish with fresh herbs and citrus zest.


    • 1⁄4 cup thinly sliced mint leaves
    • 1 packed tsp lemon zest

Cantaloupe & Lime Frozen Yogurt Pops


The ultra-sweetness of ripe, in-season melon meets the tang of lime and Greek yogurt in these fruity, creamy pops. Don’t have ice pop molds? No problem! Use small, disposable plastic or paper cups! Fill the cups as you would the molds, then cover each cup with aluminum foil. Carefully cut a slit in the center of each foil lid. Place an ice pop stick through each slit (the foil will help keep the sticks upright) and freeze.

Cantaloupe & Lime Frozen Yogurt Pops

Makes: 20 three-oz. pops
Special tools: popsicle mold (or small disposable plastic or paper cups), popsicle sticks, blender or food processor

1 ripe cantaloupe or 8 cups large diced cantaloupe
Juice and zest of 3 limes
⅓ cup agave nectar or honey
2 cups full-fat Greek yogurt
½ tsp kosher salt 


Prepare the ingredients

Wash and dry the fresh produce. Using a sharp, sturdy knife, cut off and discard the ends of the cantaloupe. Quarter the cantaloupe; scoop out and discard the pulp and seeds, then carefully cut off and discard the rind. Roughly chop the fruit.

Make the purée

In a blender or food processor, combine the lime juice and zest, agave nectar, yogurt, chopped cantaloupe, and salt. Blend or pulse 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until very smooth.

Assemble & freeze the pops

Divide the purée among the ice pop molds. Top the molds with their lids and the ice pop sticks. Freeze overnight, or until solid. When ready to serve, run the molds under warm water for a few seconds to release the pops.



A Recipe for the Rest of the Watermelon


Most of the time, we tend to treat watermelon rinds like ice pop sticks: just something to grab onto as you treat your parched tastebuds to waves of cool, refreshing fruitiness. But a humble rind can be transformed into a delicious ingredient in its own right.

In the South, there’s a longstanding tradition of—you guessed it—pickling the rinds. This technique does a couple of things: it tenderizes them slightly and then imparts a satisfying crunch, plus a delightfully tangy-sweet flavor. (Peeling the tough outer skin first helps the brine do its work.) How do you actually eat a pickled rind, you ask? Casually toss it into salads as a gourmet add-in, serve it alongside grilled meats for bright contrast, or even just enjoy it as a summertime snack.

Once you’ve picked out the perfect watermelon and made the most of the fruit itself, pickle the rind using the breezy recipe below. And remember: never leave another rind behind.

Pickled Watermelon Rinds

Serves: 8

2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 tablespoon pickling spice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1  2-inch piece peeled fresh ginger
Rinds from 1 8-to-10-pound watermelon, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice (about 8 cups)


Make the Pickling Liquid

In a large pot, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, pickling spice, salt, red pepper flakes, and ginger. Heat to boiling on high. Once boiling, cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 3 minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved.

Start the Pickle

Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the watermelon rinds and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes, or until just tender when pierced with a fork. Turn off the heat.

Finish the Pickle

If needed, place a plate on top of the watermelon rinds to keep them fully submerged. Let stand 1 hour, or until cooled to room temperature.

Refrigerate Overnight

Transfer the pickled watermelon rinds and pickling liquid to an airtight container (or containers). Refrigerate overnight, or until ready to use.



The Magic of the Pixie Mandarin

From the very beginning, the success of the pixie mandarin was improbable. While pixies possess unforgettable flavor, they’re also really hard to grow—much harder than many other citrus varieties. And unlike most citrus, they reach peak flavor in spring, when shoppers are thinking about asparagus, artichokes and peas. But where many farmers would have only seen risk, Friend’s Ranch saw opportunity.

“Maybe we’re half-crazy, I don’t know,” says Emily Thacher, fifth-generation grower at Friend’s, a family farm located in California’s Ojai Valley, about 80 miles northwest of Los Angeles. “But pixies taste better. And we’re all about growing for flavor.”


In the 1960s, Thacher’s grandfather, Elmer Friend, planted pixies on a whim. He first learned about them through a family friend who had started growing experimental citrus varieties developed by the University of California, Riverside, one of the nation’s top institutions for citrus research. One of those varieties was the pixie—seedless, easy to peel and remarkably sweet, with less acid than other varieties, but just enough tang to keep you coming back for more.

Unsurprisingly, they’re popular with kids. Growing up on the farm, Thacher and her brother George definitely had their fill. Thacher recalls (or seems to recall), “We literally would eat all of them and nobody ever got any—because they’re so good!” In 1970, Friend became the first farmer in Ojai to start selling pixies from his fruit stand, and they proved so popular that he planted 10 more trees. Today, there are about 240 acres of them in Ojai, and pixies are marketed nationwide.

When the first tree went in the ground, Friend couldn’t have imagined this level of success. As he knew, the researchers who had developed the pixie had their doubts about its commercial viability. The trees must grow for seven to eight years before any fruit begins to appear at all, longer than other varieties of citrus. Even more challenging: pixie trees are “alternate bearing,” which means that once they do start to bear fruit, they only bear a significant amount every other year. “This year a lot of our trees have three or four hundred pounds of fruit on them,” says Thacher. “Next year, the same trees will maybe have 10 pounds.” And like all varieties of citrus, the fruit takes an entire year to grow.


Outside of Ojai, there was also a fair amount of skepticism to overcome among potential customers, who thought that spring meant the end of citrus season—even in sunny California. But pixies are harvested from March through May (sometimes June). Thacher recalls that people would approach her family’s stand at farmers’ markets in Los Angeles, shake their heads emphatically and say, “No, no, no… tangerine season is done!” And in turn, she would respond, “No, no, no… taste these!” Slowly but surely, Friend’s built a loyal following, which is why, today, Thacher believes that folks who still think of citrus as a wintertime fruit need to start expanding their horizons.

Friend’s philosophy of growing for flavor is most apparent during harvest, when Thacher and her family taste and re-taste the fruit from every tree as the season progresses (and the fruit gets sweeter and sweeter). If it doesn’t taste good, they don’t pick it. Which leads to the truly remarkable aspect of pixies: consistency. Pick up a bag of pixies, and you’ll discover that just about every single one of them tastes equally good.

The quality of the fruit depends heavily on having the ideal climate. Pixies develop the best flavor when long, hot days are punctuated by cool nights. Even in the winter in Ojai, it’s not unusual for daytime temperatures to get up to the mid-80s, then plunge at night. That marked difference in temperature is what develops the ideal balance of sweetness and acidity.

Blogs_Pixies_Asset2Pixies, like any other citrus, start out as tiny green specks inside of blossoms that emerge in the spring (the same time fully grown fruits are picked). But very few actually make it through summer: only one out of every 400 blossoms turns into fruit. “When the fruits are about the size of a frozen pea, a lot of them fall off in June and that’s when the tree decides which ones it’s going to keep,” says Thacher. This is called June drop. “If there’s a bad wind or a heat wave in the early season, a lot of the fruits will drop before they’re able to mature.”

By December, the fruit will have reached picking size, but it’s still green-skinned and difficult to peel. As winter progresses and the temperature drops below 50 degrees at night, the trees reabsorb chlorophyll to conserve energy for the spring, and in turn, the fruit begins to blush orange. By March, it’s finally ripe enough to pick, and the cycle begins again.

All throughout the year, Friend’s has to take on not only the usual duties of caring for fruit trees—fertilizing, watering, pruning—but also hazards unique to California, including wind, wildfire and gophers (or a diabolical combination of all three).

Luckily, they’re not doing it alone. Today, there are about 53 farms growing pixies in the Ojai Valley. They’re small, family-run operations; the smallest one is just half an acre, while the largest is a modest 30 acres. Most are part of the cooperative that Thacher helps run, the Ojai Pixie Growers Association. It provides packing services, helps growers market their fruit and, most importantly, fosters a sense of community.

“We’re all friends and we all work together to make sure the fruit gets sold,” she says. “It’s a daunting task in a year when we have lots of fruit, but we have a lot of fun doing it.”

Your August Food Horoscopes Are Here


Long days, warm nights and sun to spare: August is all about the dog days of summer. For us, this month is a celebration of summer’s most flavorful bounty: eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, melons and cucumbers. If it’s juicy, colorful and fresh, we’re eating it in August.


Happy Birthday, Leo! This month belongs to you, the zodiac’s warm-hearted, passionate and (occasionally) headstrong lion. If you’ve got a bit of extra pep in your step this month, it’s no accident: that same bountiful energy feeding the August harvest is in your corner, too. You’ve got energy to spare, so now’s the time to tackle those ambitious projects you keep putting on the backburner. Have you long dreamed of canning your own veggies or making your own hot sauce? The farmer’s market should have no shortage of peppers for your homemade spicy masterpiece, or tomatoes to make and can the perfect marinara. Trust us: you’ll be glad you did when you’re enjoying a delicious bowl of spaghetti come fall.


You’re thinking big this month, Virgo—Jupiter is keeping you optimistic and open-minded, which makes August the perfect time for travel. If you’d rather stay close to home, why not take a culinary odyssey? Try cooking a cuisine you’ve never attempted before and experience a whole new culture without leaving your kitchen.


Diplomatic Libra, August is a great month for you to work on repairing fraught or challenging relationships. If there are any olive branches you’ve been waiting to extend, this is the month to do it. And is there anything that brings people together better than a delicious home-cooked meal? So fire up that barbecue and get ready for some catharsis!


If you’re feeling competitive this month, Scorpio, it’s no accident. In August, your determined and resourceful attitude is laser-focused, which makes it the perfect time to challenge yourself and set expansive personal goals. Have you always wanted to try your hand at soufflés? Never roasted a whole chicken before? Roll up your sleeves and dive in, because if there was ever a time for you to achieve a major culinary milestone, it’s now.


For Sagittarius, this month is all about simple pleasures. You’ll find that it won’t take a lot to delight you in August! Nurture your love of the outdoors by taking in a gorgeous sunset or meal al fresco. Even a simple breakfast in bed will feel like the ultimate treat—so go ahead and indulge!


August is a month of reversals: that is to say, Capricorn, you may find yourself with a new appreciation for things you once disliked. It might finally be time to revisit some of your least favorite foods—you may just find the way to prepare them and create something irresistibly delicious.


We feel you, Aquarius—there’s no shortage of delicious ways to eat, drink and be merry in August! It’s definitely a month for you to treat yourself and enjoy every minute of it. Of course, try not to go overboard: at the end of the day, there is such thing as too much of a good thing (even when that good thing is ice cream).


With options, requests and information coming at you from all angles, it’s no wonder you’re feeling a bit scattered this month, Pisces. We get it: it’s hard to know what you want, but we say, embrace the chaos—when it comes to your food, at least! Try Japanese one night, Southern comfort food the next, then Mexican or Filipino. A range of different flavors is sure to appease your subconscious desire for variety.


Aries, your August will be full of adjustments. You may find yourself in a new position at work, starting new relationships, or just in a new environment. To balance out all the adjustments you’ll have to make in your work and personal life, it will help to enjoy some familiar flavors. Try cooking a favorite family recipe, or bringing back homemade pizza night. Some deliciously comforting meals will be the key to keeping you sane this month.


You may be feeling stressed or worried in August, Taurus, but fear not! While you’ve got a lot going on, a well-timed break from the day-to-day will help get you out of your head. Bake bread, go berry picking and make your own pie or do some grilling. A few hours working with your hands will do you a world of good.


Someone wants burgers, someone else wants pizza. It seems like everywhere you turn, there’s a different demand. But what do you want? When you close your eyes and think about tonight’s meal, what’s in your heart? If it’s breakfast-for-dinner, we say go for it! Make yourself happy for once, because if there’s a lesson for this month, Gemini, it’s that you can’t please everyone.


Feeling inspired, Cancer? Run with it! Your sudden interest in new cultures, ideas and cuisines is no accident. Follow those impulses and you may find yourself with a whole new perspective on life. Go ahead and book the dumpling-making class you’ve been eyeing, or take that barbecue-centric road trip. Even trying out some totally unfamiliar recipes may do the trick—anything to get you looking at the world in a different way.


DIY Pea Shoots Grow Kits


Did you know that in about just two weeks, you can harvest easy-to-grow, flavorful pea shoots right at home? No backyard or garden required! Keep reading for the instructions on how to turn your grow kit into a pot for your pea shoots! But first…

Nutritious pea shoots make a perfect garnish to your warm-weather dishes or a crunchy addition to salads. We love chopping and sprinkling pea shoots on scrambled eggs, as well as adding them to Blue Apron dishes, like Seared Salmon & Red Quinoa, or Summer Squash Quesadillas with Elote-Style Corn.

quesadilla pea shoots

Growing microgreens like pea shoots is a simple DIY project that you can do using Blue Apron’s pea shoot grow kit, or even with household items like newspaper. All you need is tape, a 28-ounce aluminum can, soil and an empty spot on your windowsill where you can watch them grow. (If you don’t have Blue Apron’s grow kit, you can get pea shoot seeds from any garden store, or online.)

Our pea shoot grow kit is also a wonderful activity to do with kids. Growing their own produce helps kids understand where their food comes from, and gets them excited about trying new, fresh ingredients especially since they planted, nurtured and harvested it themselves.


Make sure you soak your seeds (six to eight per pot) in cool water for at least eight hours before planting. Although the seeds are small now, they’ll almost double in size while soaking so be sure to use enough water and a large enough bowl.


Step 1: In order to construct your paper pot, fold your sheet of newspaper in half lengthwise.

Step 2: Next place the can on its side atop the newspaper, putting it bottom-side up along the left-hand edge of the newspaper. Leave 1 ½-inches of newspaper exposed above the can. Wrap the newspaper completely around the can. See step two diagram for reference, or watch the Facebook Live tutorial.

Step 3: Tape the edge of the paper down to secure it.


Step 4: Fold the extra newspaper hanging over the top of the can down towards the middle and tape the loose paper down completely. This is the base of your pot. Slide the can out and there you have it–your constructed paper pot.

Step 5: Now it’s time to fill the pot with soil, leaving a ½-inch of space below the top. You may use rich, organic soil or even soil from your backyard, if you have one. Plant your soaked seedlings (about six to eight per pot) into the soil 1-inch down, leaving a few spaces in between. Poke the seeds down into the soil using your finger, or a spoon if you don’t feel like getting your hands dirty.

Step 6: Once they’re planted, give your plant some water and make sure to keep your pot atop a saucer of some kind, since water will dampen the paper base. Keep your paper pots on your windowsill or somewhere where it can get plenty of natural sunlight, water it daily (or when the soil is dry), and watch your seedlings grow!

You’ll start seeing your pea shoots in about three to four days, and then in just ten days, they’re ready to be harvested! It’s always extra exciting eating something you’ve grown yourself, too.

Check out all of Blue Apron’s pea shoot recipes here.


No-Bake Chocolate Cake for Summer

icebox_blog final cake

Icebox cake is the perfect dessert for your end-of-summer gatherings. Why? Because there’s absolutely no baking involved. After all, there’s nothing better than a recipe that doesn’t require you to turn on your oven when it’s especially hot out.

As the name implies, all you need to make this delectable treat is an icebox—which is just an old-fashioned way of saying refrigerator.

Inspired by a popular recipe from the ‘20s and ‘30s, our six-ingredient cake uses layers of freshly-made whipped cream and chocolate wafer cookies. Despite our shift from iceboxes to freezers, icebox cake has remained a classic throughout the decades because it’s both easy to make and delicious.

We love the sweet cream flavor and silky-smooth texture of freshly made whipped cream. Nothing beats making it from scratch, especially since the prep time is so minimal. Just a couple of minutes of whisking heavy cream and powdered sugar, followed by adding a dash of almond liqueur and a few drops of vanilla extract, and you’re good to go!

(Adding the liqueur is of course optional.)

ice box cake whipped cream

Build the cake by spreading a thin layer of freshly whipped cream to the bottom of a flat serving or cake dish. Arrange seven cookies side-by-side around the circumference of the whipped cream layer, placing one cookie in the middle. Repeat the layering with the rest of the whipped cream and cookies, finishing the top off with cream.

ice box cake assembly

A four-hour to overnight rest period in the fridge allows everything to chill and set, during which time the cookies will absorb some of the moisture from the whipped cream. This is what gives this dessert its soft, cake-like texture.

Before slicing and serving, put the finishing touches on your cake by garnishing it with flaky, dark chocolate shavings. You can never have enough excess chocolate!

shred chocolate ice box cake

Generously layered, creamy and delicious, icebox cake is a retro dessert staple and our pick for the dessert of the summer.

Icebox Cake Recipe


4 Cups Heavy Cream
½ Cup Powdered Sugar
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
2 Tablespoons Almond Liqueur
2 9-Ounce Packages Chocolate Wafer Cookies
5 Ounces Dark Chocolate

Make the whipped cream

In a large bowl, combine the heavy cream and powdered sugar; using a whisk, beat until soft peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the vanilla extract and almond liqueur.

Assemble & refrigerate the cake

Spread a thin, round layer (about 4 inches in diameter) of the whipped cream onto the bottom of a flat serving dish or cake dish. Arrange 7 cookies, side by side, in a circle around the circumference of the whipped cream layer. Place 1 cookie in the center. Carefully and evenly spread about ¾ cup of the whipped cream over the cookies to create another round layer. Repeat with the remaining whipped cream and cookies, finishing with the whipped cream on top. Carefully cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or up to overnight).

Shave the chocolate & finish the cake

Just before serving the cake, place the chocolate on a clean, dry work surface. Carefully drag the blade of a knife over the surface of the chocolate to create thin shavings. Garnish the cake with the chocolate shavings.

Tell us – what are your favorite no-bake recipes for summer?