Sunday, August 28, 2011


I have been cooking.  A lot.  I just...ahem...haven't been blogging.  Here's a series of photos.  Just leave a comment if you'd like a recipe for any of the dishes, or if you have any questions!
Zucchini and Mint Frittata, Sauteed Zucchini and Mint, Cranberry Beans in Garlic Oil with Sage
                                                           Fresh Peach Crostata
                                                              Blueberry-Peach Crisp
                               Cucumber-Avocado Soup, Salad with Buttermilk-Chive Dressing
                                                     Freshly Shelled Cranberry Beans

                                                                      Pita Bread

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Travel the world's cuisines

It is that time of year.  Peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants, oh my!  It feels like it takes forever for this harvest to arrive, but man, when it does...  I love playing around with new recipes to use these ingredients, and revisiting old recipes that we can't get enough of (tomato-mozzarella tart, anyone?).  One of the (many) things I love about these ingredients is that depending upon what you mix them with, you can travel the world's cuisines.

Last night, we had jalapeno-corn "pancakes" with a huge salad of lettuces, radishes, tomatoes, and a buttermilk-chive dressing.  I might, ahem, have let the pancakes dry out a little while warming in the oven.  Oops.  But it turns out that they're really good with the dressing, so all's well that ends well!  (The pancakes are also really, really, REALLY good with maple syrup.  We have them for breakfast frequently during corn season.) 

Tonight, we had an Eastern Mediterranean/Middle Eastern style dinner.  Our local farmer's market had a vendor with lamb, so I bought two lamb shoulder steaks and threw those on the grill.  I rubbed them with raw garlic as soon as they came off the grill, and sprinkled on freshly chopped marjoram.  Paired with a tomato, eggplant, and zucchini bake that I (think) I first saw on Eggs on Sunday  (, they made a heavenly dinner.  Add a little fresh ricotta to the top of the vegetables, and you might even convert non-eggplant lovers.  The best thing?  Well, other than how good it tasted?

While the lamb was grilling, I grilled up extra balsamic marinated eggplant and zucchini to freeze for sandwiches during the winter, and I charred poblano peppers to make stuffed poblanos with later this week.  Multiple meals for the price of one grill firing. 

We had the vegetable bake with lamb, but serve it up with crusty bread and a salad of some sort, and you have a wonderful vegetarian dinner.  Since we had it as a side, we had leftovers; they'll probably go in a sandwich with some of that ricotta for breakfast or lunch one day. 

I LOVE August harvest time!

Tomato, Eggplant, and Zucchini Bake
originally seen on Eggs on Sunday (?)

1 medium, firm eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
1 medium to large zucchini, cut on a bias into 1/4 inch ovals
2 medium to large tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
1/4 cup of olive oil, divided
salt and pepper to taste
fresh and dried herbs of your choosing (I used dried oregano in the baking, and sprinkled on fresh chopped marjoram when it came out of the oven.  Thyme is really good with this, too.)
2 tbsp ricotta per person (optional...but not really)

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine eggplant, zucchini, 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper, and any dried herbs.  Toss to coat.

2.  In a large, shallow baking dish, layer the vegetables:  eggplant, zucchini, tomato, repeat.  Do this until the pan is snugly full of vegetables.  (I always have some left over.)  Drizzle over remaining olive oil, and add a little more salt and pepper, if desired.  (The photo at the header of my blog is actually this dish from a year or so ago--if you're wondering about the layers, just take a peek.)

3.  Bake, uncovered, on the middle rack for 25-35 minutes, depending on how caramelized you'd like your vegetables.  Remove from oven, and sprinkle with any fresh herbs you're using.  Dollop individual servings with ricotta cheese, if using.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The sun peeks through

I am frequently amazed at my absolute intolerance for humidity.  You'd never guess that I spent most of my life in Florida from the way I react to the sticky, sodden, heavy air.  Depending on the day, it leaves me cranky and listless, or cranky and full-steam ahead.  Yesterday was the former, at least after I finished getting some plants in the ground, and today is the latter.  It might have something to do with the sun peeking through the clouds today.  It was absent yesterday.  First order of business:  waffles!

I love waffles.  Not those overly-sweet Belgian things that you make at hotels (although those are occasionally nice, too), but savory and out-of-the-ordinary waffles.  There are the chocolate waffles I posted about a few months ago, and then there are cheddar-jalapeno, chicken and cheese, bacon and chive, get the picture. 

Today's are the sausage-cheddar-corn.  They're inspired by a recipe from Everyday with Rachael Ray, which is where I first got the idea to play around with ingredients.  I've tweaked the recipe to make it slightly healthier...but not too much.

Sausage, Cheddar, and Corn Waffles
adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray
makes 10-12 waffles*

1 cup a.p. flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (can use all a.p.)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
4 tbsp butter, melted
2 large eggs
scant 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar
1 cup, 1/4-inch diced, fully cooked sausage of your choice (I used a smoke maple sausage from Dakin Farm...because we'd live at that store if we could)
1/2 cup corn (I used fresh, but you could use frozen--thaw and drain well)

1.  Preheat a nonstick waffle iron, following appliance directions.  (I add cooking spray for insurance, since there's cheese in these.)  Preheat oven to 200 degrees, and place a large, rimmed baking sheet inside.

2.  In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper.  In a medium bowl, beat the buttermilk, butter, and eggs.  Pour into the dry ingredients and stir to form a slightly stiff batter.  Stir in the  cheese, sausage, and corn.

3.  Spoon some batter onto the preheated waffle iron, and follow appliance directions for cooking time.  Cook until golden-brown and crisp.  Repeat with remaining batter, keeping prepared waffles warm in the oven.

*This made 11 waffles for me on the size of waffle iron I used.  Each waffle used slightly less than 1/2 cup of batter.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ready for a little bit of normal

Some things don't always go as planned, do they?  Take, for example, vacations.  We spent the last week up at the farm in New York.  The weather was beautiful, which meant that all of the hard work we had planned was a little harder to get started because we wanted to be outside.  But duty called, so we went to work ripping out the kitchen and upstairs bathroom.  My stepfather worked on the bathroom while Larry worked on the kitchen, and my mom and I shuttled back and forth where we were needed.

Everything should have been done by Thursday night, and Friday through Sunday would be our play-days.  (Well, the kitchen wouldn't be done, but would be ready for the new cabinets to be installed.)  Unfortunately, on Thursday there were two separate accidents with a table saw, and work came to a screeching, bloody halt.  The good news: everyone is going to be fine.  Well, mostly.  Larry's thumb won't ever be the same, but like we keep saying, at least he still has it.

As you might imagine, cooking and blogging haven't been at the top of the list.  But I'm ready for things to get back to a little bit of normal.  Some food favorites:

-Stonewall Kitchen's Maple Chipotle Barbecue Sauce.  Give me a YUM!  We had this slathered all over grilled chicken legs and thighs on Wednesday when my Aunt Cathy and my cousins, Molly, Kelly, and Kelly's family came down.

-parboiling chicken before grilling.  I don't know about you, but sometimes I steer away from grilling chicken because of the fear of charred outside but raw inside.  I don't know why I never thought of parboiling--that's what Moms are for, right!  To teach us simple tricks.  Pop the chicken in a Dutch oven, fill the bottom of the pan with water, (come about 1/4 way up the chicken) clap a lid on it, bring the water to a simmer, and "steam" until the chicken begins to look just cooked on the outside.  Grill with your favorite sauces and seasonings.

-grilled green beans.  You'll need a grilling grate-thingy to do this, obviously, but it's so worth it.  Prep the beans as usual, spread them out evenly on the grilling pan, put them on a medium hot grill, and let'em rip, tossing occasionally so they don't get too charred on one side.  I tossed mine with a little olive oil before grilling, and then at the very end of the grill time added chopped tarragon, salt, and sliced almonds.

-not following recipes to the letter, but using them for inspiration.  I found a recipe on Epicurious for a Lemon-Rosemary-Pancetta Potato Salad, and turned it into a different version of itself.  My version below.

-refrigerator clean-outs that turn into great meals (that might not be particularly photo-worthy, but taste great!).  Last night's was a saute of chopped kale, green onions, eggplant, a tiny bit of leftover tomato, Italian seasoning, a little leftover zucchini, garlic, a half a jalapeno, slivered basil, white wine, salt and pepper, about a cup of rotisserie chicken, and cooked quinoa.  It looked like a hot mess, but was delicious!

-fresh, burstingly ripe tomatoes on the vine, waiting for me when I got home yesterday.  Oh, happy day!

Lemon, Rosemary, and Pancetta Potato Salad
adapted from Bon Appetit

2-3 pounds baby potatoes, or Yukon Gold potatoes
3 oz chopped (1/4 inch) pancetta, (you'll reserve about a tbsp of fat)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp minced rosemary
2 tbsp olive oil
zest of a lemon, juice from at least half  (more to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp chopped parsley

1.  Cover the potatoes with cold water, bring to a boil, and cook until done.  The baby potatoes took about 15 minutes; the Yukon Golds will take longer because they're larger.  When finished, drain and put back in hot pot.  If using Yukons, cut into bite-sized pieces.

2.  In a small skillet, cook the pancetta until almost crisp.  Spoon off all but about 1 tbsp oil.  About a minute before done, add the garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Remove from the heat.  Stir in the olive oil and lemon juice, whisking to semi-emulsify.  Scrape the pancetta mixture over the potatoes, add the zest, and toss all together.  Taste, and add extra salt and pepper and lemon juice to taste.  Add parsley, toss again.  Let cool to room temperature, and serve.