An alfresco morning meal that won’t disappoint

by Sarah Waldman

Photographs by Elizabeth Cecil

The themes of this summer on Martha’s Vineyard are adaptability, ingenuity, patience, and hope. Despite the major shifts in the world around us—and on our little island—I find comfort in the fact that some things remain the same like the freshness of an outdoor shower, the smell of the salty ocean, and the look on our nine year old’s face when he catches a striped bass. 

Like many, our beach days look and feel different, but our family has found some new rhythms too. Now, we pack up and hit the beach early in the morning. I like to roll in with a coffee and breakfast and sit, swim, and enjoy the solitude before another car pulls into the lot. We’re often home by lunchtime, beating the other eager ocean-seekers and giving us space to spread out in our yard with the garden (and sprinkler) calling for our attention. 

The beach in the morning feels so fresh and new and is always a welcome kick-off to the day ahead. If you wake up in a bad mood or feel overwhelmed, the ocean always seems to wash it all away. Packing for the beach used to mean sandwiches, fresh fruit, and something crunchy and salty, but now that we’re shifting to an earlier routine, we’ve mastered the beach brunch. This meal is a great way to celebrate a summer birthday or anniversary, but is also perfectly acceptable to enjoy just because it’s summer and you’ve made it to the beach.

Here are three recipes that can be made ahead, are easy to pack, and are best enjoyed al fresco. And remember, if you can’t share a beach blanket with friends, you can still drop off a slice of Blueberry-Lemon Morning Cake on their porch.

Blueberry-Lemon Morning Cake 

Any cake that calls for a pound of blueberries is almost guaranteed to be good. This Blueberry-Lemon Morning Cake doesn’t disappoint. Each bite has a punch of sweet and tart berry and bright lemon—the perfect companion to a cup of hot coffee or cold Icy Blender Latte. 

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 16 ounces fresh blueberries
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and butter a nine-inch springform pan and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. 

Using a hand mixer, or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, start by beating the eggs and sugar together at high speed, and continue until light in color. Add in sour cream, canola oil, vanilla, and salt. Whisk until combined. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder. Then, slowly add the dry ingredients to the egg and sugar mixture. Do this in stages and do not over mix. Finally, add in half of the lemon zest and half of the lemon juice. 

In a small bowl, toss blueberries with cornstarch and remaining lemon zest and lemon juice. Stir until cornstarch is dissolved.

Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan and top with half of the blueberries. Repeat with remaining batter and remaining blueberries, and gently push blueberries into the top of the batter. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool on a rack for 15-20 minutes before removing the pan’s ring. Dust with powdered sugar before serving. 

Easy Tomato Tart

I love savory tarts and this one couldn’t be easier thanks to a sheet of frozen puff pastry and perfect summer tomatoes. You can adapt this recipe a million different ways—adding pesto, different cheeses, or topping with a fresh arugula salad or garden herbs. I find the tart tastes good at any time: warm, at room temperature, or pulled cold from the fridge on a scorching afternoon.

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (one 14-ounce package or half of a 17.3-ounce package), thawed
  • All-purpose flour for dusting
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound tomatoes, sliced thin and patted dry with a kitchen towel
  • Kosher salt and black pepper 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll out puff pastry on a lightly floured surface into a large rectangle, approximately 15 inches by 10 inches. Using a fork, prick pastry in a few places then slide pastry onto a piece of parchment paper. 

Mix minced garlic into olive oil. Spoon half of the garlic oil over the dough and arrange the sliced tomatoes on top. Spoon the remaining garlic oil over top, and sprinkle with lots of salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

Carefully transfer tart from parchment paper directly to an oven rack (if you bake on a baking sheet the bottom of the pastry will be soggy). Bake the tart until the edges are puffed and golden, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let the tart cool for 10 minutes then cut into 8 pieces. 

Icy Blender Latte

I treat myself to this super simple, blender coffee drink on hot summer mornings. I try to brew extra coffee so I have some on hand. You can either add the ice cubes to the blender or omit and pour the coffee mixture over ice. 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups room-temperature or cold coffee
  • 2 pitted dates
  • ½ cup ice cubes
  • ½ cup oat milk (or any milk you like)
  • Splash vanilla extra, cinnamon, or both

Directions

Simply blend everything together and pour into cups.

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