Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Leftovers!

I really should have done this on Friday, I know. But by now you should be getting sick of your leftovers, and this may inspire you to use them up in some more creative ways.
Sweet Potatoes or Winter Squash:  Make soup: Slice a large onion and cook in a saucepan with one tablespoon of butter over low heat until it becomes quite soft and begins to get sticky. Add 2 to 3 cups of leftover vegetables and 2 to 3 cups of chicken broth (or vegetable broth-- bouillon works) and simmer for 10 minutes. Puree in a food processor or using a hand blender. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.
Cranberry Sauce: Combine 2 Tablespoons of cranberry sauce with 4 Tablespoons of cream cheese and 1 Tablespoon of blue cheese or gorgonzola. Spread over crackers or bread as an appetizer. OR place a dollop of marscapone in a pre-made tartlet shell (in the freezer case in the store) and top with cranberry sauce. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees and top with whipped cream for an easy dessert.
Turkey: any leftover bits of turkey and gravy can be put into a Shepherd's Pie- heat them with carrots, potatoes (sweet or white), peas and anything else you love. Pour into a shallow casserole or pie pan and top with leftover mashed potatoes. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. OR, saute some onions, garlic, bell peppers and add a can of crushed tomatoes, diced leftover turkey, a can of kidney beans, and chili powder (start with a tablespoon) to taste, along with 1 teaspoon of ground cumin and a 1/2 teaspoon each of basil and oregano and simmer for an hour for a Turkey Chili. To make it a Turkey "Mole" chili, add an ounce of unsweetened chocolate and 1/4 cup of leftover cranberry sauce. (I'm not crazy- try it!) OR make this Cassoulet. It uses leftover vegetables as well as leftover stuffing.

Leftover Turkey Cassoulet
Poultry, sausage and white beans are the essential ingredients in a cassoulet. This brings those flavors together using leftovers from your Thanksgiving meal. If you don’t have any leftover vegetables, it’s worthwhile making some for it!
1 Tablespoon butter or vegetable oil
2 onions
1 carrot
1/2 pound smoked sausage (such as kielbasa)
1 pound leftover cooked turkey (mixture of white and dark meat)
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup dry red wine or apple cider
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes 
2 cups water
2 cups leftover diced (not mashed) vegetables (sweet potatoes, roasted squash or root vegetables, green beans, etcetera)
2 (15-ounce) cans Great Northern beans, drained
2 bacon slices
1 to 2 cups leftover stuffing

1. Prepare the ingredients: Dice the onion, carrot, kielbasa and turkey. Mince the garlic and chop the parsley.
2. Melt the butter (or heat the oil) in a large ovenproof Dutch oven over medium heat. Add one half of the onion and garlic, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the wine or cider, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, basil, and the tomatoes. Bring this to a simmer, reduce the heat and continue to simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes. Spoon into a separate container and set aside. 
3. Combine 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 cups water, and the carrots in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, 10 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Drain. 
4. Partially mash the beans with a potato masher. Place the beans and the reserved tomato mixture in the Dutch oven. Cook over medium-low heat for 30 minutes or until thick. Remove from heat. 
5. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Cook the bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan, crumble, and set aside. Add the rest of the onion and the sausage to the skillet with the bacon fat and sauté for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the diced leftover turkey, crumbled bacon, and the sausage mixture to the Dutch oven and stir to combine.
6. Cover and bake at 325 degrees for one hour. Uncover and top with leftover stuffing. Bake an additional 30 minutes.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna and Brussel Sprout Leaves

It snowed in Connecticut- in October! I, blessedly, did not lose power, so I have time to record recent culinary adventures.
Did you know the leaves of the brussel sprout plant are edible? Not just edible- really delicious. They have the texture of collard greens, but are sweet without needing long simmering or a lot of fiddling with. The addition of some mustard into the cooking liquid (called 'likker' in the South) toward the end of cooking gives the dish a great added dimension. I had it with some roast chicken and a baked sweet potato with maple syrup and cajun seasoning.

Short Simmered Brussel Sprout Leaves
These are the leaves that grow on the top of the plant- not to be confused with the leaves that comprise each little sprout. 

Leaves from one Brussel Sprout plant
1 Tablespoon oil or butter
1 medium onion
1 garlic clove
1 cup chicken broth
1 heaping teaspoon brown mustard mixed into 1/2 cup warm water

1. Remove the leaves from the plant and cut into one-inch pieces. Peel the onion and slice thinly. Peel and slice the garlic.
2. Fill a bowl with cold water and put the leaves in, swishing around to remove any dirt or silt. Lift out of the water, and repeat with clean water. Repeat until there is no longer any visible dirt in the water. Do not dry the leaves.
3. Heat the oil or butter and add the onion. Cook over medium heat until soft. Add the garlic and brussel sprout leaves and stir to coat the leaves with the onions, garlic and oil. Add the chicken broth and lower the heat to a slow simmer. Simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes, tasting occasionally to see if it is the ‘toothsome-ness’ you prefer.
4. When it is the right texture, add the mustard-water and turn the heat on high. Cook, stirring, until the liquid is reduced, about another 5 minutes.

We are officially into the autumn-comfort-food season now! My CSA share brought purple-topped turnips, cauliflower, potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, escarole. peppers and eggplant. The escarole went into a soup with pigeon peas and pastina. I added carrots, onion and garlic to the eggplant, pepper and turnips, roasted them with lots of rosemary, and layered them into a lasagna. Much easier than it sounds, and redolent with the essence of autumn.

Roasted Vegetable Lasagne
You can substitute any hardy vegetable for these: sweet potatoes, parsnips, white potatoes, onions, fennel- all would work. Sage instead of rosemary would also be delicious. This recipe looks long, but it is mostly hands-off, so you can start roasting the veggies and simmering the sauce and read the paper until they are ready. Assemble, throw in the oven, and relax some more for another hour.
The Vegetables:
 1 medium eggplant
2 large carrots
2 purple-topped turnips
1/2 onion
1 banana pepper
4 cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary
salt and pepper
 The Sauce:
 One 32-ounce can tomato puree
1/2 onion
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 fat cloves garlic
1 stalk of celery
4 ounces mushrooms
1/2 cup red wine
salt and pepper
The Assembly:
 one package of no-bake lasagna noodles
1-pound ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces mozzarella

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Roast the vegetables: Wash the eggplant, carrots, and turnips and cut them all into strips 1/4” x 2”.  Cut the onion half into 4 wedges. Cut the pepper in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and cut into strips.  Peel the garlic and slice thickly (each clove will make about 4 slices). Place in a roasting pan and toss with the olive oil and rosemary and season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and roast for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and cook another 15 minutes. The vegetables should be tender, but not mushy.
3. Meanwhile, make the sauce: Mince the onion, garlic, celery and mushrooms. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onion and celery. Cook, covered, over medium-low heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic and stir to combine. Cook another 2 or 3 minutes and add the wine and tomato puree. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Combine the ricotta, egg and oregano and season with black pepper. Grate the mozzarella.
5. Spread a small amount of sauce (about 1/4 cup) over the bottom of a lasagna pan. Make three layers, starting with the lasagna noodles, then ricotta, vegetables, mozzarella, and then sauce. Finish with sauce and mozzarella.
6. Bake at 375 for about an hour. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting.

Escarole and Pigeon Pea Soup
White cannelloni beans could be used instead of pigeon peas. This is a very hearty soup, great served with whole grain bread and sweet butter.
1 onion
1 large or 2 medium carrots
2 cloves garlic
1 Tablespoon olive oil
One bunch escarole
1 can pigeon peas, or 2 cups cooked pigeon peas
4 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water
2 Tablespoon pastina or orzo
1 Tablespoon fresh herbs (sage, thyme or oregano)
kosher salt and pepper to taste

  1. Cut the escarole into 1/2-inch pieces and wash in several changes of water. Peel and chop the onion and garlic. Rinse and drain the peas. Dice the carrot and chop the herbs.
  2. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onion and carrots. Cook over medium-low heat until barely tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and escarole and stir. Add the peas and broth and cook, stirring, about 15 minutes. Taste to see if the escarole is done. When it is done, add the pastina or orzo and herbs. Cook an additional 10 minutes.
Even though the summer CSA season is over, I'll be shopping at the farmstand through November. More to come!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Corny Corn Chowder

Chowder. For several years I was responsible for regulating the judging of the Chowder Cook-Off at the South Norwalk Harbor Splash! Festival. In order to do that, we had to define what made a chowder a chowder. After much research, and interviewing chefs from around the country, we determined that to be a chowder, the soup had to be thick and chunky and had to contain potatoes (less chunky and no potatoes, you are really creating a bisque). Other than that, it can contain milk, cream, or any kind of broth as its liquid, and its main ingredient can be anything that is good in chunky form with potatoes.
Corn chowder can be very boring. It's often hard to get flavor from the corn. Here are two of my recipes. The first, made with just six ingredients, requires fresh, seasonal corn. This is a chowder to be enjoyed in the late summer or early autumn (I made it just last night). The second one can use frozen or canned corn, as its flavor is enhanced with bacon, herbs, garlic, and onion- and it uses dairy as part of the liquid. It is a great soup to have on a chilly winter day.
If you find yourself with too much corn from your CSA, husk the corn, boil it for 3 minutes, cool and freeze in plastic bags. When you want to make chowder, defrost it, and then cut the kernels off the cob. It won't be quite as good as fresh, but better than commercial frozen corn.

Corny Corn Chowder
This is the corniest corn chowder ever! No dairy (really!) and just six main ingredients (not counting salt and pepper).This is not just chowder with corn in it- by grating the corn and including the liquid you really get the essence of the corn. Pair it with a salad and crusty bread, or a sandwich. This recipe can easily be cut in half if you don’t have this much fresh corn.
8 ears of corn
3 Tablespoons oil
1 onion
3 Tablespoons flour
2 to 3 large baking potatoes
4 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)

  1. Put a box grater in a large bowl. Grate 5 of the ears of corn right down to the cob, catching all the liquid that comes from the corn. Cut the kernels off the remaining ears of corn and add to the bowl.
  2. Peel the onion and potatoes and cut them into medium dice.
  3. Heat the oil in the bottom of a large heavy saucepan. Add the onion and cook over medium-low heat just until it begins to change color and soften. Add the potatoes and flour and cook, stirring, for another 3 or 4 minutes. Add the corn and ‘corn milk’ and stir. 
  4. Simmer 10 minutes and then add the broth. Cook, simmering, until the chowder thickens slightly and the potatoes are tender, about twenty more minutes.
  5. Optional: garnish with chopped parsley or chives.
Corn Chowder
This is a good winter chowder, with lots of flavor not just from the corn, but from bacon, garlic, and herbs. 
8 ears of corn (or 16 ounces frozen corn, or 2 cans niblet corn)
1/2 pound thick bacon 
3 large yellow onions 
1 large clove garlic
1 bay leaf 
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
3 large baking potatoes
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup milk 
1 cup heavy cream 
Freshly ground black pepper 
1 bunch scallions

1. Husk the corn and cut the kernels off the cob. Set aside. Cut the bacon into small pieces. Peel and chop the onions and potatoes into medium dice. Mince the garlic and the thyme.
2. In a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed saucepan, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until lightly brown. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. 
3. Add the garlic bay leaf, thyme, potatoes and corn kernels. 
4. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer slowly, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
5. Add the milk and cream, and simmer for 5 minutes, making sure the soup does not boil. Slice the scallions.
6. Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaf.  Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. 
7. Ladle into soup bowls garnish each serving with the green onions.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sufferin' Succotash!

CSA Succotash Ingredients

Billy Brown (born William Xavier Brown) was my grandfather- “Pop-Pop”. He wore a white dress shirt, tie, creased charcoal grey trousers and a Derby hat every day. He was bald ‘like a monk’, with a strip of black hair from ear to ear. And he was the kindest person I’ve ever known.
He would pick me up from Sacred Heart Academy in his blue Bonneville. Really good pumpernickel bread and butter, wrapped in Saran Wrap, would be sitting on the center console of the big car. “Here you go, Toots. This is for your hungry tummy”. I’d munch on it during the drive home, telling him about my day. When I went away to college in Pennsylvania, Pop-Pop would send ‘Care Packages’ to my campus apartment. They’d be filled with food to sustain me: Skippy peanut butter, Ritz crackers, spaghetti and a jar of Aunt Millie’s Spaghetti Sauce, Spam, tuna fish, and cans of succotash.
Succotash. That is the last time I thought about the mixture of lima beans, corn, green or yellow beans and red pepper. In college, I didn’t care for lima beans, and picked them out of the mix (I could have eaten them and ‘offered it up to God’, but I chose not to. I might go to hell.) Now, many years later, I actually love all kinds of legumes and pulses, limas among them. Succotash can have any legume in it—fava, kidney, white, navy- as well as corn and green or yellow beans. I made succotash earlier in the season with fava beans that I bought at Whole Foods. But this week’s share contains yellow wax beans, edamame, and corn. So-succotash!! Peppers from last week’s share will round-out the dish. Oh…and some bacon, too, just ‘cause it’s yummy and will add some smokiness to the dish. I think Pop-Pop would like it!
Succotash with edamame

The key to a good summer succotash is to keep it fresh and simple. I used bacon here for a wonderful smoky flavor, but butter or oil (1 Tablespoon) could be substituted.

2 slices thickly sliced bacon
8 ounces fresh or frozen lima or fava beans (shelled), or shelled edamame*
3 ears of corn
2 bell peppers (any color, but red and purple look great!)
4 ounces green or yellow wax beans
3 scallions (optional_
freshly ground black pepper

1. Dice the bacon and add to a deep heavy skillet. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is almost crisp and the fat is rendered.
2. Meanwhile, cut the kernels off the corn and dice the peppers. Trim the beans and cut into 1-inch pieces. Trim the scallions and slice diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces.
3. When the bacon is nearly crisp, add the corn and peppers. Cook, stirring, over medium heat until the peppers are crisp-tender. Add the green or yellow beans, cover and lower the heat to quite low. Cook for 5 minutes, until the beans just begin to change color. Stir in the scallions and season with black pepper to taste. Serve hot.

To cook edamame pods: Bring a pot of water to boil- large enough to fit the edamame with 2-inches of water covering them. Add the edamame and bring back to a boil. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water. Squeeze the beans out of the pods.
Succotash with fava beans
This week's share also includes potatoes, leeks, eggplant, cucumbers, and eggplant. Potato-leek soup sounds good for tomorrow- it's supposed to rain all week!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Confessions of a Veggie Lover

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You would think that someone who writes about vegetables and explores what vegetables can do would love all veggies and all aspects of them. Not so much for me. I've tried, but there are some things that I've just had to accept that I- well- don't like.
Seeds in:
*eggplant. I don't like their texture, or how they taste (bitter) or how they look (scary).
*yellow squash. viscous and goopy.
*cucumbers. they make me burp. I dislike burping.
But I do love eggplant and cucumbers and I like yellow squash (not going to lie- it's not my favorite, but I like it). I just have to remove the seeds as much as I can before eating them.
And then there's corn. I LOVE corn dishes: chowder, creamed corn, succotash, corn in salads, in breads, in stews. I just really don't enjoy chomping on an ear of corn. While corn on the cob is, yes, yummy- I find it somewhat tedious to eat. And kinda messy.  So there you go.

Given my share this week (summer squash, eggplant and corn included) I had to find a way to enjoy these beautiful vegetables while acknowledging my newly admitted preferences. And now that I've 'come out' about my anti-seed perspectives, I dove in and worked with it.

Summer Squash and Eggplant Dip
This can be eaten as a dip with pita chips or crudités, or as a spread with avocado, sliced cucumber and turkey on whole wheat bread or in a pita. 
2 medium-large yellow squash
1 medium eggplant
1 clove garlic
1-inch piece of fresh ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
3 scallions
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon honey
1 and 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
2. Prick the squashes and eggplant with a knife, place on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, or until soft.
3. Peel the garlic and the ginger and cut the ginger into 4 or 5 pieces.
4. Slice each one in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. For the eggplant, you will find ‘pockets’ of seeds that can be simply pulled out. For the squash, there will be a sort of ‘well’ of seeds that can be spooned out.
5. Scrape the pulp out of the eggplant and squash into the bowl of a food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.

When in the store today, I found some fresh mozzarella and prosciutto roll on sale for $2.99 a pound. It was great in this layered casserole:

Layered Eggplant and Tomato Casserole
Serve with pasta and Chianti or syrah
1 medium eggplant
2 medium-large tomatoes
8 ounces fresh mozzarella (with or without prosciutto)
8 basil leaves
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
olive oil, as needed

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Slice the eggplant and tomatoes, and mozzarella crosswise, into 1/4-inch slices. Lightly oil a two-quart casserole. Tear the basil into tiny pieces. Combine the breadcrumbs and the Parmesan cheese.
3. Layer the eggplant, then tomatoes, then and mozzarella in the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture and some basil. Repeat. Drizzle all with olive oil. Cover with aluminum foil.
4. Bake for 45 minutes, until cheese is melted and eggplant is soft. If desired, uncover and bake another 5 minutes for a crispier crust.
Layered Eggplant and Tomato Casserole, before baking

Black Bean and Corn Salad
You can add diced avocado, if you want.
15.5 ounce can black beans
1 large or 2 medium ears of corn, cooked
2 medium tomatoes
2 scallions
1 clove garlic
1 – 2 jalapenos or other hot pepper, or to taste
2 tablespoons Pistou
  1. Rinse and drain the black beans. Cut the kernels off the corn.
  2. Cut the tomatoes crosswise and squeeze out the seeds. Cut into medium dice. Mince the scallions and garlic. Cut the jalapeno in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and veins. Cut into strips and then into small dice. and chop the pepper. 
  3. Put all ingredients in a bowl and toss together.
  4. Make the Pistou:1 large bunch basil, 2 cloves garlic, 1/4 clup olive or canola oil, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Place all in a blender of food processor and blend to a paste.
  5. Dress the vegetables with the Pistou and toss.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Eggplant and Shrimp Stir-fry, Potato-Cucumber Salad, Yummy Grilled Steak and Zucchini

Lots of cucumbers, some potatoes, some Japanese eggplant, tomatoes, green pepper and more zucchini made up my share this week. Lots of possibilities!! I love the Eggplant with Garlic Sauce at the local Chinese restaurant, and wanted to make something like it. Okay, I'm not going to lie: it's really hot and as much as I like to cook, I had a craving for it and wanted to just eat it, not make it. But, I had the ingredients, so I fooled around with all the Asian spices and sauces in my kitchen, and after several tries, came up with this one, added some shrimp and had it over rice sprinkled with chopped scallions and peanuts. 
I also had a hankering for some traditional potato salad with a mayonnaise-based dressing, but felt a responsibility to all the cucumbers. Adding them to the potato salad gave the salad some crunch, and the cucumbers went well with the mustard and chives. to go with it, I grilled some zucchini and steak. I also made Chocolate Zucchini Cake- the zucchini does add nutrition, but mostly it keeps the cake really moist. 

Eggplant and Shrimp Stir Fry
Asian (Japanese) eggplant are best for this, but you can use Italian eggplants if you cut them into 1-inch cubes. I added some yellow beans from my share- green beans or broccoli would do just as well.
4 Japanese eggplants or 1 medium-large eggplant
1/4 pound beans or broccoli florets
4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
4 ounces extra large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or smoked sharp paprika
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
4 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar

1 clove garlic
1 Tablespoon Chinese black bean sauce*
1/2 teaspoon chili paste, or chili-garlic sauce*
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch

chopped peanuts, scallions, and/or cilantro as garnish
hot cooked brown or white rice

1. Wash the eggplant and cut into 1-inch pieces. Trim the beans and cut into 1-inch lengths. Mash the garlic.
2. Blend together the water, Aleppo pepper, 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch, soy sauce, vinegar and sugar.
3. In a separate bowl combine the garlic, black bean sauce, chili paste, sesame oil and 2 teaspoons cornstarch.
4. Heat the oil in a wok to 350 degrees. Add the eggplant in batches and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown and soften. Remove to a plate while you finish with the rest of the eggplant, and then stir-fry the beans.
5. Remove the beans to the plate with the eggplant and add the shrimp. Stir fry until pink. Put on the plate with the vegetables.
6. Drain off any extra oil in the wok and add back the eggplant, beans and shrimp.
7. Stir to combine, and then add in the soy sauce mixture. Cook, stirring, until thickening.
8. Add the remaining sauce mixture and cook until sauce is of the desired consistency.
9. Serve over rice and garnish with peanuts, scallions or cilantro.
*available in the Asian section of the supermarket

Grilled Steak and Zucchini
You can do this on a barbecue or in a grill pan inside. Serve with Potato and Cucumber Salad.
sirloin steak
1/2 cup vegetable oil (not olive oil)
1 teaspoon chipotle pepper

1. Heat your grill or grill pan. Combine the oil and pepper. Slice the zucchini crosswise on the diagonal.
2. Brush the steak with the oil mixture and place on the hot grill or grill pan, oiled side down. Brush the top with the oil.
3. Cook for 5 minutes and turn over. Brush the zucchini with the oil and place on the grill. Brush the top with the oil. Cook for 4 minutes and turn over. Turn the steak over again, if you like it medium-well, or remove to a plate to rest for medium-rare.
4. Cook the zucchini for another few minutes, until tender. Serve.
Potato and Cucumber Salad
Very traditional in flavor, but the cucumber adds some crunch and the mustard gives it a zing.
4 potatoes
3 pickling cucumbers
1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon stone ground mustard
2 Tablespoons chives
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Scrub the potatoes and cut them into one-inch pieces. Fill a pot with cold water and place over high heat. Add the potato pieces and bring to a boil. Once the water begins to boil, set a timer for 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, scrub the cucumbers and cut off the ends. Cut in half lengthwise and then slice into 1/4-inch slices.
3. Mix together the yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard and chives. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cucumbers.
4. When the potatoes are done, drain and run under cold water. Shake well to dry. Add to the bowl with the cucumbers and dressing and stir to coat. Chill.
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
The end of the summer brings bumper crops of zucchini, often ungainly in size, resulting in recipes for zucchini pancakes, muffins, cookies, and cakes. The zucchini keeps this cake incredibly moist.
2-1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cocoa
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon espresso powder or 2 teaspoons instant coffee

1 cup sugar 
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup apple sauce
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 cups grated zucchini

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Generously grease and flour a bundt or tube pan.
2. Combine the dry ingredients, through the espresso powder. 
3. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients in 2 stages. 
4. Pour into the prepared pan and bake 40 minutes.

I still have cabbage from last week, more eggplant, pepper, zucchini and tomatoes. The eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and pepper are screaming 'ratatouille'. But I'm not there yet. I'm thinking more of a Moroccan stew with grilled flatbread or Vegetarian chili with cheddar corn muffins. Stay tuned!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Zucchini Lasagna and Zucchini Parmesan

Stone Gardens Farm, Connecticut
Zucchini is a most prolific plant. Plant a seed and get lots and lots and LOTS of squash. Because of its abundant output, recipes for zucchini abound-- breads, muffins, gratins, scrambles-- name a dish and someone has probably tried to make it with zucchini, or find a way to put zucchini in it. And I'm no exception. I've made cobbler, bread, muffins, pancakes, put it in chilies and stews, fried it, roasted it, blanched it, stir-fried it, put it into salads and soups.
You'll find the recipe for Zucchini Cobbler in a previous blog. This week I'm honoring my zucchini using some traditional Italian American recipes: Lasagna and Parmesan.
My shares continue to offer dark greens, which I work into the Bechamel Sauce for the lasagna, adding flavor, texture and more nutrition.
The Zucchini Parmesan is prepared as a casserole. It starts out with the breading and frying, then is layered in a baking dish with sauce and cheese and baked. Both can be frozen, bringing summer flavors into the winter months.

Green and White Lasagna with Summer Squash

1 bunch greens (turnip, kale or beet)
2 large summer squash or zucchini
 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 medium cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 cup flour
4 cups milk
2 bay leaves
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 ounces Parmesan cheese
 8 ounces ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
8 ounces mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9” x 13” pan.
2. Trim and wash the greens. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the greens and simmer for 10 minutes. Rinse under cold water until cool. Squeeze as much moisture as you can from them. Chop finely. Thinly slice the zucchini or squash crosswise. Mince the garlic
3. Grate the Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.
4. Make a béchamel: melt the butter in a saucepan and add the garlic.  Add flour and stir until combined. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil and add the bay leaves, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes, whisking occasionally. Add half of the Parmesan cheese. Remove and discard the bay leaves.
5. Combine the ricotta, egg and salt and stir until smooth
6. Distribute 1/2 cup béchamel sauce in bottom of baking dish; position 3 noodles on top of sauces. Stir the chopped greens into the rest of the béchamel.
7. Spread 1 cup greens mixture on top of noodles. Lay slices of squash over the sauce. Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan and top with 3 more noodles. Spread one cup spinach mixture evenly of noodles, layer with squash and sprinkle evenly with 1 cup mozzarella and top with 3 more noodles. Spread with 1 cup of greens mixture followed by ricotta mixture. Finish with 3 noodles, remaining greens and remaining mozzarella.
8. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until bubbling, about 40 minutes. Remove aluminum foil and broil until cheese is spotty brown, 4-6 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Zucchini Parmigiana
This is just like my recipe for Eggplant Parmesan with a few differences: I would peel the eggplant and if it is a very large eggplant, I'd salt the slices and let drain for 15 minutes, then rinse and pat dry before starting the breading process. This will alleviate some of the bitterness that a lot of eggplant seeds can bring.
8 servings
2 eggs
1 ounce Parmesan cheese
1 pound mozzarella cheese
2 Tablespoons parsley leaves
2 large zucchini
black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup flour
2 cups breadcrumbs
olive oil, for frying
2 cups marinara sauce

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grate the Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese and mince the garlic. Mince the parsley.
3. Cut the zucchini crosswise into 1/4-inch rounds.
4. Beat the eggs in a shallow bowl or cake pan and add the cheese, parsley, pepper, and garlic. Place the flour in another shallow pan, and the breadcrumbs in a third.
5. Dredge the zucchini in the flour, dip into the eggs and then the breadcrumbs. Repeat with all slices.
6. Heat 1 inch of oil in a heavy skillet. Fry each slice until golden brown on each side.
7. Spoon just enough of the marinara sauce into a square baking pan (9”x10”) to cover the bottom of the pan. Layer the zucchini slices, sauce and cheese, finishing with sauce and cheese.
8. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until sauce is bubbling and cheese melts.
Hanson's Farm, Massachusetts