30 September 2014

The Zucchini Project: Zucchini Tots

I was never much for tater tots, honestly: what's the big deal?  They're just unseasoned mini hashbrowns.  But these highlight that delicate, almost mushroomy flavor that zucchini has so nicely.  Plus, they're crispy, so that's pretty good, isn't it?  You can bake these at a variety of temperatures--just keep an eye on them if you want to go a bit hotter or cooler.  In this way, you can pop these in the oven along with whatever main dish you're serving (I recommend some baked fish) and everything can be cooked together.

Zucchini Tots

Serves 6-8 as a side

cooking spray
1 packed cup grated zucchini
1 large egg
1/4 medium onion, minced
1/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Grate the zucchini into a clean dish towel until you have 1 packed cup. Wring all of the excess water out of the zucchini; as you know by now, there will be a lot of water. In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon 1 tablespoon of mixture in your hands and roll into small ovals. Place on the cookie sheet and bake for 16 to 18 minutes, turning halfway through cooking until golden brown.

26 September 2014

Mustardy, Mushroomy Goodness

You could omit the chicken in this recipe and happily keep it vegetarian; the chicken is really just for texture, in my mind.  If you do that, of course, just shave 20 minutes off the time it takes to cook this and start adding the remaining ingredients to the sauce once the mushrooms are cooked and the kale is wilted a little.

Is it French? Is it Italian? Some of my favorite comfort recipes are in that nebulous, Southern French-Northern Italian category.  This was inspired by a dish I had in Martigny, Switzerland long, long ago.

Chicken and Mushrooms in Mustard-Cream Sauce

Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 small chicken breasts
½ yellow onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
16 oz. mixed mushrooms, dehydrated if necessary and sliced
2 cups chopped kale, tightly packed
1 cup water
½ cup white wine or light beer
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
½ cup plain yogurt or sour cream
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 tablespoons capers
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 cups penne pasta

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the mushrooms and sauté, allowing to brown on both sides.  Remove to a plate and reserve.

Bring a well-salted pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente according package directions. Drain, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water.

Season the chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. Add a little more oil to the pan if necessary and lower to medium heat.  Cook the onions until translucent, stirring often. Add the garlic, stir to incorporate, and then lay in the chicken breasts.  Layer the kale on top, and add the wine or beer, lemon juice, and water to the skillet. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook 15-20 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in the middle. Add the mushrooms to the skillet and remove the chicken breasts.  Allow to rest while you mix the mustard, yogurt, tarragon, and capers in a small bowl. Add the mixture to the skillet and stir to incorporate into a creamy sauce.

Cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and return to the skillet.  Add the cooked pasta and pasta water, a little bit at a time, if the sauce I too thick.  Season with salt and pepper and serve, maybe with a little grated Parmesan cheese on the side.

I served this with some fresh tomatoes from the garden, with a little extra tarragon sprinkled on top along with some kosher salt and a drizzle of olive oil:

23 September 2014

The Zucchini Project: Zucchini Onion Pie

This is really a take on a fall household favorite, my Cheesy Cauliflower Pie.  It works well with any vegetable, so try it all winter long with whatever you have in the fridge.

Zucchini Onion Pie Recipe

Serves 6

1 frozen or refrigerated premade crust
3 eggs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon prepared mustard (I prefer Dijon)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3 cups sliced zucchini
1 small onion, chopped

Place frozen pie crust on a baking sheet, poke with a fork in a few places, and prebake at 400°F for about ten minutes, or until crust is getting flaky on bottom.  

In a large bowl, whisk the first seven ingredients. Stir in the zucchini and onion. Pour egg mixture into the pre-baked pie shell, return to oven, and lower the heat to 350°F.  Bake for 25-35 minutes or until lightly browned.

19 September 2014

Roasting and baking the garden leftovers, with weekend links

We had a couple of cold nights last weekend, which sent me scrambling to harvest what I could from the garden in case it would be last chance to eat fresh basil and tomatoes.  It was; although the temps are now back up near 90 during the day, those tomato, basil, and squash plants are deader that the proverbial doornail, and we have a hell of a lot of pesto in the freezer.  

I also grabbed a lot of kale and all the raspberries I could get my hands on.  Those little sugar bombs were the perfect amount for The Pioneer Woman's Raspberry Crisp, which was a fantastically simple recipe.  

With the kale, I did this...

Roasted Potato and Kale Salad

Serves 4

Olive oil
3 large baking potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch chunks
8 cups loosely packed kale, washed and roughly chopped
½ yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
Zest and juice from ½ lemon
¼ cup Castelvetrano olives, pitted and chopped (could substitute canned black olives in a pinch)
2 chopped hard-boiled eggs
1 tablespoon chopped or slivered almonds
Salt and black pepper to taste

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Place the chopped potatoes in a large mixing bowl and drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil on top.  Season with salt and stir to coat.  Spread potatoes into single layers on the baking sheets and place in the oven.  Bake at 425°F (no need to preheat) 20-25 minutes, or until they’re just starting to turn golden.

Meanwhile, place the chopped kale in the mixing bowl and season with salt.  Rub it around the edges of the bowl to pick up any residual olive oil (don’t worry if it’s not coated very much).  When the potatoes are at aforementioned state, spread the kale and sliced onion evenly over the potatoes on both baking sheets, give each a bit of a stir, and replace to oven.  Cook another 10-15 minutes, or until kale it crispy in spots and onions are soft.

Place roasted vegetables in a large serving bowl (or the mixing bowl I used in the steps above) and add the garlic, lemon zest and juice, olives, eggs, almonds, and black pepper to taste.  Stir to incorporate and taste for salt.  Serve piping hot.

Thinking of all things harvest-y, don't forget the fantastic Sustainable Living Fair in Fort Collins this weekend. While you're there, you can sample local brews to your heart's desire with this enormous Fort Collins Brewery Guide and enjoy the local Bike Library if you think you can keep your balance...

16 September 2014

The Zucchini Project: Veggie-loaded Pork Burgers

Zucchini really does come through in this confetti-colored burger recipe, so I'm including it in my Zucchini Project collection. Substitute ground chicken, lamb, or beef if you don't like pork.  (PS--Why don't you like pork? It's delicious!)

Veggie-Loaded Pork Burgers

Makes 4-5 patties

1 lb. ground pork (or meat of your choice)
1 medium zucchini, coarsely chopped
1 cup fresh or frozen corn, thawed and drained
½ medium red bell pepper, finely diced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
½ cup fine bread crumbs (panko works well)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Form into patties and either cook on the grill over medium-high heat (turning carefully to avoid losing vegetables) or sear in some olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat on the stove.

12 September 2014

Recipe for roasted spiced apples and weekend favorites

Thanks to an odd spring season that seemed to zap pests while sparing the blossoms, our apple tree is more prolific than it has been in the decade we've lived here. And so, we are burdened with the delicious problem of figuring out what to do with the results.  In lieu of starting up an "apple project" to mimic my zucchini project (which I hope you're not sick of yet), I'll just share my favorite universal recipe for apples along with clever ideas from some of my favorite blogs.  These roasted apples will keep, frozen or in the refrigerator, and can be stirred into oatmeal or your morning yogurt and granola, eaten on their own or as an ice cream topping, or even used as pie filling.

Happy weekend!

Roasted Spiced Apples

2 pounds apples, cored and chopped into approx. 1-inch cubes
¼ cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Preheat the oven to 425°F.  Prepare two baking sheets with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.

Combine apples and all remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir to coat.  Spread out evenly in single layers onto the prepared baking sheets and place in the oven.  Roast, stirring occasionally to ensure even browning, for 25 minutes or until golden.

Some other great apple ideas from around the web...

These apple and cheddar scones from Smitten Kitchen are to die for...

Heidi Swanson's Black Pepper Cauliflower Salad over at 101 Cookbooks combines cauliflower florets with a warm black pepper and red onion vinaigrette, and tossed with nuts, apples, olives, and a bit of feta. Amazing.

These Caramelized Apple German Pancakes over at I Heart Eating (hey, so do I!) are the best excuse ever to stop everything you're doing and stage a big, piggy brunch. And they're so beautiful I swiped their photo:

09 September 2014

The Zucchini Project: Peanut Butter Zucchini Bread

I told myself I wasn't going to resort to hiding my zucchini in baked goods for this project, but this recipe is just too good to pass up.  Heavily adapted from http://www.tastesoflizzyt.com/.  Lizzy, you are a genius.

Peanut Butter Zucchini Bread with Brown Sugar Streusel

Serves 12

3/4 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
1/4 cup canola oil
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
2 cups grated zucchini
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder

Streusel Topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
3 tablespoons softened butter

Mix together the peanut butter, oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla, zucchini and peanut butter chips in a bowl. Add the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Stir thoroughly to combine into a smooth batter.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour and softened butter. Mix until the streusel is crumbly.

Grease and flour two loaf pans. Split the batter between the two pans. Divide the streusel topping between the two loaf pans, sprinkling the streusel on top. Conversely, you could grease two medium muffin pans (to make 24 muffins) and top with equal amounts of streusel. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 5 minutes, or start checking after 45 minutes if making muffins.

05 September 2014

Kimchi Rice "Hash" with a Fried Egg on Top

I'm fascinated by different hangover foods from around the world. I often don't earn the hangover first; I just love how comforting most of them are.  Like an American brunch, most of the hangover foods I have been introduced to have just the right mix of carbs, protein, and grease to make me happy any time of day.  And they often involve eggs, which is always a plus in my book.

In that spirit, I came up with this recipe one day when I had no idea what to do with the slightly overripe asparagus sitting in my fridge. You could swap out green beans, broccoli florets, or any other green something if that's what you have on hand, though. I often keep extra cooked rice in the freezer for when I'm in the mood for it and don't want to wait, and I always have a jar of kimchi opened, so for me this was a no-brainer. If you have any of these ingredients already made, this is a delicious and simple way to use up leftovers when you're tired, hungry, and possibly hung over.

Kimchi Rice “Hash” with Fried Egg

Serves 4

2 cups jasmine rice
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1” pieces
1 cup dry shitake mushrooms
Salt and black pepper to taste

For compound butter:
¼ stick butter
1 teaspoon miso
1/3 cup kimchi, drained
1 garlic clove, minced
Zest and juice of ½ lemon
1 teaspoon grated ginger

Four fresh eggs and little butter for the pan

Cover the mushrooms in boiling water and allow to sit 30 minutes or until tender.

Cook the rice according package directions in a saucepan or rice cooker.  If you have a steamer insert, you can steam the asparagus at the same time.  Otherwise, steam asparagus in lightly salted water in a small saucepan. When mushrooms are tender, drain and thinly slice; add to asparagus.

Combine all ingredients for the compound butter in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

When rice, asparagus, and mushrooms are done, add to the bowl with the compound butter and stir thoroughly to coat.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm.

In a large frying pan, heat about a tablespoon of butter over medium high heat.  Crack the eggs, one at a time, into the pan and lower to medium-low heat.  Cover and cook until the whites are set and the yolks are done to your liking., between 2 and 4 minutes.

To assemble, place equal amounts of the rice on each of four plates and place one egg on top of each.  Serve immediately with soy sauce on the side.

02 September 2014

The Zucchini Project: Quick Pickles

I know, we pickle everything during gardening season.  Is this cheating?  I don't think so, because pickles are delicious.  I don't make them just to use leftover vegetables.  I love pickled things.  And if you want some more fussy steps, you can use these for your favorite oven "fried" pickle recipe, like this one.

Quick-Pickled Zucchini

2 – 2 1/4 lb zucchini (4 medium) (yellow summer squash works, too)
3 cloves of garlic, halved
2-3 bay leaves
6-8 pepper corns
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

Marinade Ingredients:
3 cups of boiling hot water
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup white vinegar (5% acidity)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp salt (we used sea salt, non-iodized)

Steam sterilize your clean jar: fill it with 1 cup boiling water, cover with lid and swirl boiling hot water inside the jar. Pour out water.

In the bottom of your clean jar, add garlic, bay leaves, and peppercorns.

Combine all of your marinade ingredients and stir until sugar and salt are dissolved. Carefully pour over the layered zucchini in the jar.

Cover tightly with lid and let the jar cool to room temperature on the counter, then refrigerate overnight. From the time you pour in the water, it should marinate a minimum of 12 hours. Will keep in the fridge for about a month.