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Monday, July 27, 2015

"Fried" Green Tomato Caprese



I got the most adorable little green tomatoes in the CSA this week.  So no better time than now to try out fried green tomatoes.  I have never had them.  Love the movie, though.  Of course, as much as I love fried food, I am not one to fry things unless I am sure that the baked versions will not suffice.  Examples of this are potato latkes - really fritters of any kind - they don't call 'em "fritters" for nothin'.  So I looked for a recipe for a baked version of fried green tomatoes, and I was lucky enough to find a great recipe that used them as the star of a caprese salad...brilliant.  This came out fantastic.  I would not change a single thing.

I believe that the greatness of this simple of a recipe is certainly due to the sum of its parts...incredible produce from Berube Farm in Dracut, Mass, as well as amazing fresh mozzarella from Tuscan Market in Salem, NH.  You can't have an amazing caprese salad without amazing ingredients.  Next time you have some of these amazing things on hand, I highly recommend you make this.  Alongside a glass of wine, it was pure summer loveliness.



"Fried" Green Tomato Caprese
recipe from Diane, A Broad

4 green tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp medium grain cornmeal
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
cooking spray
2-oz ball of fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
8 basil leaves
1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp of honey

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Mix the breadcrumbs, cornmeal, flour, salt, pepper, and cayenne in a bowl.  Dip each of the tomato slices into the egg and then the breadcrumb mixture.  Make sure each slice gets completely covered, pressing the breadcrumbs down so they stick, and then place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Spray them with some cooking oil and then bake for about 25 minutes until golden brown.

While the tomatoes are cooking, place your balsamic vinegar and honey in a small saucepan and cook simmering over medium heat for about 8 minutes until it has thickened.  Do not let it overcook or you will have balsamic hard candy instead of a nice reduction.

Assemble the caprese however your foodie heart desires.  I took pictures as shown above and then realized I had miscalculated the number of tomato slices I had (I may be a math teacher, but I was working hungry, so cut me some slack.)  I then ended up serving it as one tomato slice with one slice of mozzarella and one leaf of basil.  With a little bit of balsamic drizzle below (of course you could also drizzle some on top as well!), it was perfection.



Feed Shark

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Stuffed Rondo (de Nice) Squash


Truth be told, this was my first time stuffing a squash.  I've never been that into squash, so I typically fry them up as fritters (because anything is better fried) or I mix it into a pesto where my unsuspecting daughter used to (note the words "used to" there) eat it up blissfully unaware.  Yet when I got my hands on these softball shaped globes in this week's CSA, I felt like I had no choice but to stuff away.  So stuff away I did.  Again, I am not the biggest fan of squash in general, but the stuffing in here was pretty tasty.  The recipe I used called for parsley alone, but I also had sage on hand from the CSA, so I threw that in there as well.  I kicked myself for not remembering to throw in a hot pepper that I was also provided - I bet that would have made this so so much better.  Next time I am given squash to stuff, I will add some hot pepper because the stuffing could have definitely used some spice...and maybe a bit of parmesan cheese.  I think those two things would have made this dish better.  (I will update the recipe if and when I try that out.)  Other than that, this was a fine dish, but I'm posting to also share in what I felt was a pretty unique squash that I had never heard of before.  I have never seen this at the grocery store among the typical butternuts, acorns, winters, and summers.  Apparently, from what I could find out about it, supermarkets prefer not to sell them because their flesh bruise easily.  I can believe it, but who really knows.

Stuffed Rondo Squash
adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen

serves 2

2 rondo squash
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Italian chicken sausage link (about 1/3 of a lb), removed from casing
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Cut the tops off the squash about 2 inches away from the stems.  If the squash are very round and won't stay upright, you can cut a little off of the bottoms to make them flat and stable.  Scoop out their inner flesh, leaving about a 1/4 inch wall.  Finely chop the scooped out  insides and reserve for later.  In a large saute pan, add the olive oil and set over low heat.  Add the onion and garlic, season with a little salt, and cook until the onion is soft.  Raise the heat to medium and add the sausage.  Break it up as it cooks.  When the sausage is cooked, add the insides, some more salt, and cook, stirring occasionally,  until tender, about 5 minutes.  Then add the tomato paste and incorporate fully.  Remove from heat.  If there is any liquid left over (there was none in my mixture), transfer the mixture to a bowl with a slotted spoon so the extra liquid is left behind.  Then add the herbs, bread crumbs, pepper, and any more salt (if needed.)  Scoop this mixture into the hollowed out squash.  Place a bit of oil on the bottom of your baking dish and fit the squash snugly inside.  Cover and bake for 45 minutes.  They are done cooking when a knife inserts easily into the outer flesh.  If they are not yet done, raise the oven temperature up to 325 and cook for another 10 minutes.





Pingoat

Monday, July 20, 2015

Strawberry Kale Salad

 Another kale salad recipe???  @#$& yes!  Berube Farm is churning out tasty kale on a weekly basis, so I apparently will be making many a kale salad this summer and I am loving it.  Super delicious.  Super healthy.  I never knew I could love kale so very much.  This recently discovered recipe included radishes, and if only I had found this during week 1 of the CSA when I was given two tasty bunches! (Damn it.)  Alas, I did not have any more radishes on hand, so they were unfortunately and very disappointingly excluded.  I will definitely be ready and waiting next year for radish/kale bag.  Regardless, it was still amaaaaaaazing.  It has a lemony dressing, which alone seemed too sour - so much so that I upped the honey just a smidge - but with the sweet strawberries, toasty granola, and tangy goat cheese, it ended up being perfect.  I didn't think I was going to find another kale salad I liked as much as the last one, but this one was so good too.  In fact, I think I may like this one a little bit more.  Okay, maybe they're tied.  They are so different.  Maybe you should make both and tell me which you like best.

Strawberry Kale Salad
adapted oh so minutely from Cookie + kate

1 bunch kale, ribs removed, leaves chopped into small pieces
1/2 lb strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 oz soft goat cheese, crumbled

for the Nutty Granola (this makes much more than necessary for the salad - you could absolutely halve the recipe - or save the rest to use on top of yogurt or more salad!):
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup shelled pistachios (or you could use walnuts or pecans)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp agave nectar (or honey)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all of the nuts, seeds, salt, and cayenne together.  (The recipe also called for 1 Tbsp of fennel seeds, but I am not crazy about fennel, so I omitted it altogether.)  Add the egg, olive oil, and agave (or honey) and combine.  Spread onto a lined baking sheet in a single layer and cook for 16 to 18 minutes, stirring once halfway through.  Set aside to cool.


for the dressing (I used about half on the salad):
3 Tbsp olive oil
juice from 1 small lemon (about 2 Tbsp)
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 Tbsp honey
salt and pepper to taste

Place the chopped kale in a bowl.  Sprinkle a small amount of sea salt onto the kale with a tsp of olive oil and massage for a bit to tenderize the leaves.  Top with about half the dressing (reserve the rest in case you'd like extra - as my husband did!)  and toss thoroughly.  Top with the strawberries, goat cheese, and nutty granola topping (I threw in two big handfuls.)

Feed Shark

Monday, July 13, 2015

Tropical Kale Salad


I don't even care that this didn't photograph very well (you can't see all the pretty wonderful ingredients after I tossed it all together...wah.).  But it is one of the best salads I have ever had and in my opinion it is one of the best ways I have eaten kale and so I just had to share it immediately.  My friend Bonnie made this salad for a barbecue and I immediately new I'd be making it in the future - and so I have...twice already since I've been getting a weekly supply of kale from the CSA.  If you like mango, coconut, avocado, and macadamia nuts, then you will love this salad.  The kale is sturdy and holds up well to the other sturdy ingredients.  Also, a light and extremely easy dressing makes this easy, healthy, and just perfect.  I really love this salad if you couldn't tell.  It smells and tastes like a tropical island to me and so it feels perfect for summer.  I hope you love it as much as I do.

Tropical Kale Salad
adapted from Lee Newlin

1 bunch kale (called for Lacinato but I use Red Russian - worked absolutely fine), torn into pieces
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup macadamia nuts, toasted
1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted
1 mango, peeled, pitted, and diced
1 avocado, also peeled, pitted, and diced

In a large bowl, place your kale.  Add the olive oil and orange juice and massage into the kale leaves (feel free to laugh at the idea of "massaging" your kale, it sounds silly, but it's supposed to tenderize the kale as well as incorporate the dressing into the salad.)  Add all of the remaining ingredients and toss carefully so that the avocado does not end up mashed.  Enjoy!




Feed Shark

Friday, July 10, 2015

Fried Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms and Baked Zucchini Chips

So it just didn't make sense not to post these two recipes together.  Not only is it fun to use up the entire plant all at once, but it's also nice to add something a little more out of the ordinary and a bit indulgent to the weekday norm.  I was given beautiful zucchini blossoms in my CSA bag today along with more zucchini.  So let's just use it all.  If I had a restaurant, this would be listed as "zucchini two ways" on my menu.  I sliced up the zucchinis, stuffed the flowers, tossed everything in some parmesan and breadcrumbs, and voila...I wish this happened every day...it makes me so happy.  If you have a mandolin, the zucchini chips are insanely easy to do, and since I already had some goat cheese mixed with herbs from something else I had done earlier, the stuffing for the blossoms was a no-brainer.  You could easily use ricotta, mozzarella, and basil in place of the goat cheese, cheddar, and thyme...really whatever kind of cheese and herbs you have on hand will totally work.  You could also crack a beer and make a batter from that and some flour to make for a puffier crust.  The whole point of this is to use what you have in a way that is easy and enjoyable.  My summer is most enjoyable when I cook things I love, but not if I'm spending the rest of my waking hours running back and forth from a supermarket and spending money on six different types of cheese every day.  Nor do I want to make a complete mess of my kitchen with a thousand different tools and ingredients every single day.  I made both of these dishes without a recipe and using only what I had on hand.  I'm sure there is room for improvement and I'm sure different variations would be equally good, maybe better - but both came out incredibly good and I would change nothing.  I ate all of the stuffed blossoms myself since Adrienne is a five year old and Jim is also a five year old - I'm kidding - he's actually just paranoid because he's allergic to pollen and so he thinks he will be allergic to zucchini blossoms.  More for me!  I'll tell you, I can't wait to make these again.  I would definitely do an Italian spin and have some marinara perhaps for dipping.  My mouth just watered.








**As a warning...I eyeballed all of the measurements listed below for the stuffed blossoms as I was cooking, so be willing to use more or less if you feel it's not working exactly as I've written.  You may want more stuffing if your blossoms are bigger - or less if they're smaller.  You may want a different ratio of cheese.  This is a great dish to make without a recipe...so be brave.  Why did I give measurements at all then?  Just to give an idea for people who may not have any idea of where to start.  I hope it helps a little.

Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

6 zucchini blossoms, insides removed and rinsed gently
4 oz soft goat cheese
1/4 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar
1 tsp thyme, finely chopped
1 tsp parsley, finely chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten, seasoned with salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
canola oil for frying

Combine the goat cheese, cheddar, and herbs.  Divide evenly among the six blossoms, nudging the cheese inside gently.  Press the blossoms around the cheese so they stay relatively closed.  Combine the parmesan and bread crumbs in a bowl.  Dip each blossom in the egg and then in the breadcrumb mixture so that they are coated evenly.  Fill a cast iron pan an inch deep with canola oil. Heat over medium until very hot. (Drip some water in the oil and if it immediately sizzles, the oil is ready.)  Place the blossoms in the pan and allow to cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes.  Flip and cook another 2 or 3 minutes until golden brown on the other side.



And now for the healthier option...baked zucchini chips.  Same breadcrumb mixture, different cooking method.

Baked  Zucchini Chips

1 medium-sized zucchini, sliced thin (or 2 smaller ones)
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 450.  In a bowl, combine zucchini slices, olive oil, salt and pepper.  In a large ziplock bag, mix the parmesan and bread crumbs.  Add the zucchini slices a few at a time, shaking as you go, removing the slices to a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer.  Repeat with more of the zucchini slices until you're all done.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove and serve immediately.



pingomatic

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Israeli Couscous with Mint and Lemon


They should just call this recipe "heaven in a bowl."  It's addictively good.  I have made it twice in the last three weeks since I discovered it, and that is a lot for me.  I wanted so badly to blog this the first time, but I brought it somewhere and I refuse to take food pictures at a party that is not my own (at this point anyway.)

So let's talk about how summery and delicious this pasta salad is with all the mint and lemon...it's kinda ridiculous.  The combination of mint and lemon and olive oil and almonds and raisins and salt...it's all awesome.  It's a sweet, salty, sour, crunchy plate of heaven.  It has everything and it makes me keep wanting more.  Going to a barbecue this weekend?  Bring this.

Israeli Couscous with Mint and Lemon
adapted from Martha Stewart

1-1/2 cups Israeli (or pearl) couscous
1/4 cup olive oil plus a little more for coating the couscous
the zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 tsp salt
4 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/4 cup of slivered almonds, toasted
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped

Cook the couscous according to the package directions and drain.  Coat with a little bit of olive oil to keep from sticking and spread the couscous in a single layer onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Place in the refrigerator and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, zest and salt.  Once the couscous has finished cooling, remove to a bowl.  Add the olive oil/lemon mixture and all of the remaining ingredients and combine.  Enjoy immediately as well as for the next several days if you store it covered in the fridge.

Ping-o-matic

Friday, July 3, 2015

Sauteed French Breakfast Radishes




First off, a big thank you to Dan Berube for the amazing CSA bag.  It was only the 1st week and I am so excited for the rest of the season and, more importantly, I'm excited to use all the beautiful fresh grown produce he just provided me.  

What you see above are the gorgeous French Breakfast Radishes that he grew.  Who knew there was such a thing as French Breakfast Radishes???  Just this new knowledge alone fills me with joy.  Despite the fact that I have always disliked radishes, I am still excited to try them.  One of the reasons I wanted to do a CSA is because it would inspire me as a cook as well as push me to try both new things and things I don't think I like.  After all, I used to not like asparagus (gasp!!)  How could I not like asparagus, you ask??? Well, growing up, I only knew of them as disgusting, smelly, inedible green (or sometimes white) shoots that came from a can.  It wasn't until I tried fresh asparagus well into my twenties that I understood what I had been cheated out of all those years.  I had a similar aversion to eggplant...no longer so after eating some amazingly prepared eggplant.  So now we have radishes.  I have only tried those obligatory sliced radishes you're always given on top of a salad.  Probably not the best way to experience any veggie.  So instead, I did them up this way, and although I don't think I'm ever going to crave a radish, they were delicious nonetheless, and I would certainly cook up and eat any that are given to me.  I also no longer feel the need to avoid a restaurant dish touting them as I would have prior to this day.  Thanks for expanding my horizons, Dan Berube.  He was also very thoughtful in providing some links to recipes, one of which served as inspiration for this dish - since I had never even thought about cooking a radish prior to today...this bunch I sauteed with some butter and olive oil and the garlic chives (also provided in the CSA bag.)  Next time, I'll try roasting to see the difference.  Look for the recipe.

So, to recap...this post is specifically to share the love of trying new things, whether it be cooking up radishes or taking part in a CSA, or singing in a band.  Be brave.  You'll never know without trying.

Sauteed French Breakfast Radishes

1 bunch of radishes, trimmed on both ends, sliced in half, their greens reserved (waste not, want not)
1 Tbsp of butter or olive oil or any combination of the two (I used a combination)
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
a sprinkle of lemon zest and some freshly chopped herbs of choice (I used garlic chives)

Heat the butter and/or olive oil in a pan over medium heat until nice and hot.  Add the radishes and saute until translucent (this took me about 10 minutes.) Add the radish greens and stir until wilted.  Then add the lemon juice, zest and herbs and stir to combine.  Serve immediately.
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