Monthly Archives: July 2012

Patty Pan Squash Two and a Half Ways

Farmer Kim, aka Kim Hartline, came by with my eggs, along with a surprise “challenge” package for me – patty pan squash.  He had picked some and when his wife asked what you do with it, he said, “I don’t know, I’ll give it to Andrea and see what she will do with it.”  Of course he added a twist when he handed them to me – it needs to look like patty pan, I couldn’t just chop it up and use it like zucchini.

 

So, after I laughed for awhile, I thought, “How cool is this? I am getting my own food challenges!”  I have never cooked patty pan squash before, so this took some thought.

Sliced – it needed to be dishes where I would slice the squash to show its shape.

I decided on 2 cooking techniques – pan frying and baking.

PAN FRYING

For the pan frying, I initially thought about coating it in a spicy cornmeal coating, but when I went to my pantry I also found cornflake crumbs.  Hmm, that could be interesting too.  So I would have a cook off within my challenge – cornmeal v. cornflake crumbs.  Once I was cooking, it even felt like a South v. North thing.  The cornmeal coating is similar to what I use on okra, so it felt very southern to me.  It would need a dipping sauce, so staying with the southern feel, I mixed equal parts mayo and ketchup – a surprisingly tasty condiment.

The cornflake crumb coating felt very much like something my mother would have cooked when I was growing up in New York – quite northern.  Initially, the cornmeal with the sauce was winning out with the tasters.  But then, I thought to combine the cornflake crumb squash with a slice of green zebra tomato – oh was that good!  So, they both ended up with thumbs up.

Pan Fried Patty Pan Squash – 2 Ways

1 large or 2 small pattypan squash – sliced 1/4″ thick (from Farmer Kim)

1 egg, beaten with about 1 tsp water (from Farmer Kim)

Cornmeal option:  

1 cup cornmeal

1/4 cup grated parmesan

dash cayenne pepper

pinch of salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Cornflake Crumb option:   

1 cup cornflake crumbs

1/4 cup grated parmesan

dash cayenne pepper

Safflower oil or Canola oil (safflower oil is a good option for frying since it has a high smoke temperature)

Place the beaten egg in a shallow bowl.  Combine the ingredients for  either of the coating options and place in a shallow bowl.

Pour the oil into a large non-stick frying pan to 1/2 inch deep.  Heat over medium-high heat.

Dip the slices in in the egg and then into the coating. Place it the hot oil and cook until lightly browned on one side.  Flip (I use a fish spatula so the oil will drip through) and cook until golden brown on the other side.

Remove, allowing the oil to drip through the spatula back into the pan.  Drain on paper towels.

The slices can be kept warm in the oven until ready to be eaten.  Cornflake crumb is on the left, cornmeal on the right.

BAKING

The baking technique I chose was from a recipe I found on the web – baked with butter and basil  from foodrenegade.com.  It was very simple, just squash, chopped fresh basil, melted butter and sea salt.  I did not change her recipe, so simply click here to try this recipe.

I used 3 smaller squash in this dish.  The slices from 2 of them tasted wonderful.  The third must have been an oder squash, because it was bitter, which took away from how good the rest of it was.  Would I try this one again…maybe.

  

Categories: Kosher, Recipe, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Cammy’s Popovers

Cammy’s latest creation won high approval from the rest of the family – light and airy popovers!  As we always do, we reviewed the recipe in Mollie Katzen’s Pretend Soup ahead of time; he is getting good at this, he was able to “read” many of the instruction pictures to tell me what he was going to need to do.  His confidence is building and he really has been enjoying his cooking adventures.

The day before, I made Daphne Oz’s Strawberry Honey Butter to serve with it.  The recipe for that is below.

Cammy’s popover ingredients and tools

Popovers

2 Tbsp butter, melted

2 eggs (from Farmer Kim)

1 cup milk

1 cup flour

1/4 tsp salt

Strawberry honey butter or other condiment such as preserves, honey, etc.

1. Preheat oven to 375F

2. “Paint” the muffin tins with the melted butter

This is a really fun part. Be ready for very buttery bottoms to the popovers – but who’s complaining?

3. Break the eggs into a medium-sized bowl, add the milk. Whisk til combined.

The first time Cammy ever poured – the pie pan is there to catch spills

Good thing the pie pan was there!

4. Add flour

Getting his whole body into the flour pour

5. Whisk til combined and smooth.

He has the whisking part dawn cold

6. Fill the muffin tins about 1/2 full.

Cammy really enjoyed this part

7. Bake 30 minutes.  Do not open the oven until time is up.

Fresh from the oven

8. Pierce with a fork, top with your preferred topping and enjoy!

With strawberry honey butter – Yum!

Strawberry Honey Butter

24 strawberries, hulled

1 stick of butter, softened

1 Tbsp honey

Puree the strawberries in a blender.  Place in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.

Mix together the puree, butter and honey.  You can either mis it to leave it a rough mixture (as I did) or use an electric mixer for a smooth butter.

Form into a log on parchment paper, roll up and store in the refrigerator.

Categories: Breakfast, Cammy's Cooking Adventures, General, Recipe, Strawberries, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Noodles, Zucchini & Carrots with Peanut Sauce

I love Thai peanut sauce, that creamy, nutty sauce with a slight kick of heat to it.  I have been trying different variations on it until I have come to the one that I think has the right balance of flavors and the right consistency.  This version gets its heat from a serrano pepper from my garden.  Cooking the serrano reduces its heat a bit, so that it is not too hot for my son.  To keep more of the full heat, add the serrano with the zucchini rather than with the carrots.  The flavor combination in this sauce is based on the “Asian Peanut Noodles” recipe on The Chew’s website.

Peanut sauces can be a bit heavy, adding all the vegetables to this dish lightens it up.  What really adds some brightness is the squirt of lime from the lime wedges.  The taste was good without it, but once I added the lime, it brought the dish up to another level of flavor.

Noodles, Zucchini and Carrots with Peanut Sauce

10 oz thick asian noodles – works well with soba, udon or lo mein

1 Tbsp safflower oil

1 leek, white and light green parts only, diced (from the garden)

2 carrots, julienned

1 serrano pepper, seeded and diced (from the garden)

2 medium zucchini, julienned (from the garden)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp hoisin Sauce

2 Tbsp fish sauce

1 tsp fresh ginger, grated

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup chicken broth

3 Tbsp creamy all natural peanut butter

~ 1 Tsbp sesame seeds

1 lime, cut into wedges

Cook pasta according to package directions

In a large non stick frying pan, add safflower oil and heat over medium flame.  Add leek, carrots, and serrano and cook for 4 minutes.

Add garlic and zucchini and cook another 2 minutes.

Add hoisin sauce, fish sauce, ginger, soy sauce and broth.  Simmer on medium for 4 minutes.

Lower heat to low and stir in peanut butter until smooth.

Add pasta and stir together until all the pasta is evenly coated with sauce.

Serve topped with sesame seeds and a lime wedge on the side.  Use that lime wedge and…Enjoy!

Serves 4.

Categories: Kosher, Main Dish, Pasta, Recipe, Zucchini | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Tomato Cucumber Salad – Variations

 

Nothing says “Summer” to me more than when I start making daily tomato cucumber salads.  The other ingredients can vary, but the stars are my cucumbers and heirloom tomatoes.  The vegetables are so flavorful in themselves, they need only the most minimal dressing to show off their flavors.  Thinking about it makes me smile, eating it makes me smile even more!

A few years ago, I was in Gratz, Austria and learned that that region is known for the quality of its pumpkin seed oil.  Since I had never even heard of pumpkin seed oil, I had to try it.  Not only is it delicious, it is a very healthy oil.  But beware, it is very green and shares that color with whatever it touches.  The flavor is warm and friendly, one of my favorites for the tomato cucumber salad.  It pairs well in a dressing with balsamic vinegar.

If you want very warm flavor, use walnut or hazelnut oil.  For lighter dressings, olive oil is my go to oil.  For the acid in the dressing, balsamic vinegar warms things up, while lemon juice and lime juice brighten the salad.  I also play with the salt.  Kosher salt is my standard salt, but I also use various sea salts, depending upon what I have in the house.

I always experiment and mix up the combinations in my dressings.  So, go ahead and play.  If it tastes too oily, add more acid, too acidic add more oil.  Watch the salt though.  Add it in small amounts; once you add it you can’t recover except by increasing all the other ingredients.

There are no hard and fast rules to this salad.  Just try some new flavors, celebrate the tomato, and make yourself smile.

Tomato Cucumber Salad

Diced or chopped tomatoes (about 2 times as much tomato as cucumber) (from the garden)

Diced or chopped cucumbers (from the garden)

Dressing (see below)

Optional:

Chopped or minced peppers (bell or italian) (from the garden)

Red onions (diced)

Combine all the vegetables you are using in a serving bowl, toss with dressing.  Serve and enjoy!

Dressings:

A little dressing goes a long way.  The amount below will be enough for a salad for 4.

I vary the dressing almost each time I make it, using different combinations of oils and acids.  The amounts are always very similar:

2 Tbsp oil

1 Tbsp acid

1/4 tsp salt

pinch freshly ground black

Types of oils:  Extra Virgin Olive, Pumpkin Seed, Walnut, Hazelnut

Types of acids:  Balsamic vinegar, Red Wine vinegar, Lemon Juice, Lime Juice

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, adjust seasoning to taste.  Pour on the salad and mix well to coat.

Play with different combinations.  If you do not want to commit to 2 Tbsp of the seed or nut oils, try using a mix of half seed/nut oil half olive oil.

Categories: Kosher, Recipe, Tomatoes, Vegetarian | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

Freezing Corn

There is something very calming to me about tasks like shucking corn, shelling peas, etc.  Perhaps it is the mindless repetitive activity, or the literal ‘feeling’ of being ‘in-touch’ with my food? Whatever it is, I never mind these tasks.

The last two ears waiting to be shucked

I am very picky about the corn I buy for my family, I have discovered that not all sweet corn is the same.  It really does matter who grows it.  I typically buy my corn from one of two farms, Freeman’s if I am down at the beach and Filasky’s Produce if I am traveling in the northern part of Delaware.  Both are so good and so fresh that I barely need to cook them at all.  So, when I buy corn, I buy more than I need for that day and freeze the rest for use in the off-season.  I don’t save ears for use another day, they lose sweetness each day after they are picked.  If I need corn again, I just go buy it, fresh corn is worth the extra trip.

A beautiful ear of corn from Filasky’s

How to Freeze Corn

What you need:

Corn

Water

Ice

Large pot

Spider or tongs

2 Large bowls

Sharp knife

Tube or bundt pan if you have one (makes things much easier)

Steps:

1. Shuck the corn

2. Bring the large pot of water to a rapid boil

3. Add the corn, the water should come back to a boil in about a minute, if it does not, you probably have too much corn in the put for the amount of water.  I do 4 ears at a time, which works well for my large soup pot.  Blanch for 4-6 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the large bowl of ice (LOTS of ice).

4. Remove the corn with your spider or tongs and plunge the blanched ears into the ice water. A good rule of thumb is to ice the corn for as long as you blanched them.  This works well if you are doing more than one group of corn –  put the next batch in the boiling water while the first batch cools, remove those and add more ice for the second batch.

5. Remove the corn from the ice water to the second bowl.

6. Cut the corn kernels off the cob.  I learned a great technique using a tube pan.  Cut the kernels off the end of the ear (see below), then stick the ear in the hole of the tube pan. Then cut the kernels off straight down.  They will fall neatly into the pan rather than shooting off the end of the cutting board.  (See second picture below)

Cut kernels off the end of the ear

Tube pan kernel cutting technique

A neat collection of kernels

7. Freeze in ziploc bags, pressing the air out of the bag before you seal it (or if you are lucky enough to have a vacuum sealer, use it).  I store them in 1 cup quantities, that seems to be the most useful for future uses, I can use multiple bags if necessary.

Press all the air out before sealing

Categories: General, Recipe, Vegetarian | Tags: | 10 Comments

Blueberry Cake

A blueberry coffee cake – another winner from JoyofBaking.com!  I made this last year to rave reviews by my friend Karen’s family.  So I decided to make it again this year for a work retreat.  The reviews were just as high this time around.

Since I, once again, did not change a thing about their recipe other than to use local eggs and blueberries, I will not repeat the recipe, but rather direct you to their site for it.  To make that journey (and it is worth it), click here.

If you are not enticed enough yet, here are some more pics…

Batter

The Blueberries

Topping

Hot out of the oven

A plate that went quickly!

Categories: Blueberries, Breakfast, Dessert, Kosher, Recipe | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Basil & Garlic Scape Pesto

 I think this is the third pesto recipe I have included so far.  Are you getting the hint that we like pesto?  It is a staple in our house, perfect for days when I come home late and don’t have time to cook.  I prepare the pesto the night before and then my husband just makes the pasta.  Add a salad and dinner is ready!
 Since I have the garlic scape from Beechwood Orchards, I decided to try a combo of basil and garlic scape, and, oh, did it work!
     
BASIL & GARLIC SCAPE PESTO
Put in a food processor (you can also use a blender, but it is more of a pain – if you do, put the oil in first):
2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves, no stems (from the garden)
sea salt – start with about 1/8 tsp, you can always add more at the end
6 garlic scapes (from Beechwood Orchards), cut up
1/4 cup shredded parmegiano reggiano
2 Tbsp pine nuts
pepper to taste
Pulse til well blended and a good consistency.
Whatever you don’t use right away can be frozen.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups.  Enjoy!
Categories: Garlic Scape, Kosher, Main Dish, Pasta, Pesto, Recipe, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Cammy’s Quesadillas

Cammy’s cooking adventure #2 was making cheese quesadillas for our lunch.  Again, we went over the recipe in “Pretend Soup” so he would know what to do.  First I gathered all the makings for one quesadilla, we set up anew with tortillas and cheese for each quesadilla.

All the makings and tools for Cammy;s quesadillas

We opted for just cheese, no beans.  Assembling the quesadilla was great fun, he really enjoyed doing it.  He did a really good job distributing the cheese over the whole tortilla.

Assembly, the the cookbook open for reference

Flipping the quesadilla was more stressful, but he did really well with just a little help. While cooking one of the quesadillas, he put his hand too close to the edge of pan and that scared him, but like a trooper he assembled the next quesadilla, deciding to let me cook it.  I was worried that this would turn him off, but when I told him our next cooking adventure would not need the stove, only the oven, he was very happy and is ready to make popovers.

Flipping skills

A beautiful quesadilla!

Cammy’s lunch

Categories: Cammy's Cooking Adventures | Leave a comment

SlimKicker Contest

Cooking from my garden is one part of the healthy, sustainable lifestyle I try to live and create for my family.  Eating healthy, staying fit and spending time in nature are all parts of our daily lives.  I know that many of my readers are interested in improving their heath and fitness, striving for healthier lives.  In that vein, I am sharing this with you.

SlimKicker (SlimKicker.com) has asked that I share a contest they are having with you.  SlimKicker  is a diet tracker and game that turns your diet and fitness goals into a level-up game with points, rewards and challenges. You level up by tracking healthy calories and exercises, and completing challenges such as quitting soda for a week.

They are looking for suggestions on fitness and/or diet challenges.  The challenge should be fun and creative.  To enter, leave a comment on this post with you 1-2 sentence suggestion.  They will pick their favorite and get back to me with the winner.

I guess they read my post on spinach and corn enchilada casserole in a slow cooker, because the prize is a Hamilton Beach 33165 Stay or Go Cooker and Steamer.

Categories: General | 1 Comment

Lentil Corn Chili

In honor of my going to see a taping of “The Chew” (I will in the entry when this post goes up), I made a adaptation of Mario Batali’s Corn Lentil Chili.  

The corn is from Filasky’s Produce, John grows the best corn I have ever tasted!  So, even though I only needed 4 ears for the chili, I bought a dozen so I could freeze the rest for use this winter.  Of course, the kernels from only about 6 of them made it to the freezer, the rest were grabbed up by ‘passersby’ as soon as I cut them off the cobs.

We have a large supply of cumin seeds (why, I do not know, they came with my husband); it is very nice, I grind all my own cumin. But although I had plenty of cumin, I did not have enough brown lentils to make the chili, so I used a mix of brown, red and green.  It added a little more texture since the green stayed firmer than the rest.  I also opted to omit the rice and serve it with dollops of plain yogurt – very nice.

Lentil Corn Chili

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

6 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice

6 ribs celery, cut into 1/4 inch dice

2 or 3 serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded and minced (from the garden) note: I used 2 since I have a few folks who don’t like heat, but I would have liked to have used the third

3 cups fresh corn kernels (about 4 ears) (from Filasky’s Produce)

2 Tbsp chili powder

2 Tbsp ground cumin

2 tsp salt

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatos

1 lb lentils, brown or mixed

2 cups water

plain yogurt

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium high heat.  Add te onions, garlic, celery, carrots and peppers.  Cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the corn and cook, stirring until the corn starts to brown around the edges, 6 to 10 minutes.

Add the spices and salt and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the tomatoes, stir well.  Add the lentils and water, stir well and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are cooked, between 20 and 40 minutes. (Mario’s recipe said 20 minutes, but the length of cooking will vary depending upon the type of lentil used, the green lentils took a little longer to cook).  If you cook it longer, you may need to add a little more water.  Adjust the seasoning to taste.

Serve in bowls, topped with dollops of yogurt.  Enjoy.

Categories: Kosher, Main Dish, Recipe, Vegetarian | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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