Archive for July, 2012

Zucchini Fritters

July 27, 2012

The other day, I was watching the Dolce Vita show on the Cooking Channel.  Let me tell you: that host is really actually living the sweet life, with his fields of fresh foods, and access to cheeses, and friends who all own a different type of food factory.  There was even a communal water fountain where you can get still and sparkling water!  Sparkling water that came out of a tap!  Insane.  I am very jealous and plans are underway for my move to Italy.

But I digress.  On one particular show, the host was making zucchini “meatballs”.  As you know, I don’t shy away from zucchini after my initial shunning of the vegetable.  But I have always paired it with lemon and garlic.  It’s so light and fresh and summery tasting.  But this guy, he not only suggested that zucchini should be paired with mint, he also said that mint and zucchini is the most natural pair!  Again, this blew my mind.

But who am I to argue with a guy who’s so cool that he picks his own tomatoes from his backyard and eats it like an apple.  (I mean, can you get cooler than that!?).  So I went with it.  And even added his suggestion of a smoked cheese.  And then ate them with a tomato salad with basil, another herb!  The fritters had all of these totally different flavors that went perfectly together.  I was amazed.  Seriously, you can find me in Italy soon.

Zucchini Fritters with Cherry Tomato Salad (recipe from The Cooking Channel)

For Fritters:

  • 3 large zucchini, chopped
  • 1/2 cup smoked mozzarella, cubed
  • 1 cup soft Pecorino cheese, cubed
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup, plus extra for coating
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

For Cherry Tomato Salad:

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 4-5 basil leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

For the fritters: Add the chopped zucchini to salted boiling water for 8-10 minutes, until fork tender. Drain the excess water from the zucchini.  Leave in colander until cool to handle and mash.

In a mixing bowl, add the zucchini, smoked mozzarella cheese, Pecorino cheese, fresh mint leaves, eggs, salt, pepper, and bread crumbs. Mix well until the ingredients are evenly distributed. With your hands, shape the fritters into the size of golf balls. Coat the meatballs in the additional bread crumbs.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a deep frying pan. Gently place the meatballs into the hot oil and let fry until golden, turning to make sure that all sides are crispy.  Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain the excess oil.  Serve with the tomato salad.

To make the tomato salad: Add the cherry tomatoes, basil, salt, and pepper to a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and mix together.


Breakfast Blueberry Pastries

July 22, 2012

Good morning!

Are you up yet?

Are you getting ready for your Sunday brunch?


You have a spare 25 minutes?

Wake up and make these!  They are fruity and tart and sweet and such a delightful addition to your Sunday!

Breakfast Blueberry Pastries

1/2 package puff pasty (does not need to be thawed)

1/4 cup lemon curd

1 pint blueberries

4-5 tsp. sugar

1 lemon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  On a lightly floured surface, slightly roll our puff pastry.  Using a mini tart pan, glass, or a cookie cutter, cut our a desired shape.  Place the shapes on the prepared baking sheet.

Score the pieces of puff pastry with a fork, making sure that you don’t pierce all the way to border (leave a 1/2 inch boarder so a “crust” will form).  Spread a generous amount of lemon curd on to each piece.  Sprinkle evenly with blueberries, and with the sugar.  Lightly spread lemon zest on each of the tarts.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until caramelized and golden brown.  Let cool on a wire rack for about 5-10 minutes and eat warm, or room temperature, or hey, even cold.  Because they’re so good!

Apricot Crisp

July 12, 2012

This is the thing about apricots.  For an embarrassingly long time, I did not know that they were actually fruit.  Like, real, live fruit that you can eat.  I thought that they were just a flavor.  Apricot baby food (which was my favorite even after I was old enough to not eat baby food, I’m willing to admit), and apricot jam, and dried apricots (which, no, I had not realized are dried from the actual fruit).  I never thought that all of these things came from something fresh.  I’m clearly a product of the processed food revolution.

But stop judging me because there is a reason why this happened!  Fresh apricots, with their unbeliveably short season (blink and you miss them – seriously), are, more often than not, quite sour, and likely without a firm texture that you expect from summer stone fruit.  But cook them and what you get is this sweet, soft, honey-like, melt-in-your-mouth flavor that is unmatched.  Grill them with a dollop of creme fraiche and a drizzle of honey, and you have a delicious snack.  Roasted topped with vanilla ice cream and you have the best dessert.

Or make this crisp.  Chopped apricots with just a sprinkling of sugar, topped with a nutty, oatmealy crisp topping.  Top with plain Greek yogurt, and you have every meal of every day until you get the next batch of apricots.  Go and discover the freshness of apricots!  And then cook them to find their true calling.

Apricot Crisp (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

6-7 apricots, pits removed and cut into quarters
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon flour
pinch of nutmeg

Crisp Topping
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons, 2 ounces) butter, melted
scant 1/2 cup light brown sugar tablespoons turbinado
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tablespoons mix of chopped walnuts and pecans

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare fruit by placing in an 8×8 square baking dish, or 9 inch round pan.  In the dish, stir in sugar, flour and pinch of nutmeg, until everything is well-distribuited.

For the topping, melt butter and stir in sugar, then oats, then flour, salt and nuts until large clumps form. Sprinkle mixture evenly over the fruit. Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes.  Let cool completely and then place in refrigerator (preferably overnight).  This will give the crisp a chance to blend all of the flavors and become insanely delicious.  Serve with plain Greek yogurt.

Cherry Tart

July 5, 2012

I promised you summer, didn’t I?  Here it is!  In a tart shell!

This tart is best served with homemade butter pecan ice cream.  But don’t worry, this will come too.  Summer isn’t going anywhere.

Cherry Tart (adapted from New York Times)

1 recipe pie dough, from here

3/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons instant tapioca

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

5 cups cherries, rinsed and pitted (I used a mix of Black and Rainier)

juice of 1 lemon

pinch salt

Heat oven to 375.  While dough is chilling, prepare cherry filling.  In a blender, process the sugar, instant tapioca, cinnamon and salt. Mix with pitted cherries.  Stir in lemon juice until everything is well mixed and combined.  Set aside.

Take prepared dough out of the refrigerator.  Roll it out until about 1/8 inch in thickness.  Fit it in tart shell, trimming as necessary.  Place the tart shell on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.

Fill the tart shell with cherry mixture.  Bake in preheated oven for about 50 minutes, until mixture is bubbling.  Let cool for about 1 hour.  Slice and serve with homemade butter pecan ice cream.