Sunday, June 26, 2011

Growing Bread

Anyone have any good tomato recipes?
I've mostly been eating them raw since I love them so!
So I don't know about your gardens, but ours is pretty much going crazy this time of year.  In one day I pulled off all these tomatoes- and I had a lot of pretty-close-to-ripe ones still on the plant! I guess if you are a farmer this may seem like a small yield, but for our two tomato plants I was pretty excited!  And, as every gardener knows, zuchinis are always rather prolific and it seems like every time I turn around there is another one to pick.  Just the other day I was feeling worried because I had given six away and picked a small one for us, leaving no more zukes on the plant. That afternoon, I wanted a little bigger squash than the one I had, so I thought I would just go double-check even though I knew there wouldn't be any mature ones yet.  But, like a champ our zuchini plant pulled through! When I went outside I was pleased to find not one, but two perfectly sized zuchinis just waiting to be picked.  It was like magic.
Don't worry these weren't the "perfectly sized" ones.
I had forgotten about these monsters over the weekend! :)
If you have a similar champion plant, you might find yourself wondering just how to prepare all that summer squash.  Well, I have lots of ideas, but for today let's start here, with a delightful, healthy, and slightly unexpected riff on the usual fate of excess zuchini.  I found this recipe for Zuchini Cornbread in this month's issue of Bon Appetit (more on the disconcerting changes to that mag later).  Give it a whirl, you'll be glad you did.
*A note: I don't think this zucchini bread will last outside of the fridge as long as regular cornbread does, because of the veggies in it.  So be warned;eat it quick (that won't be hard) or store it in the fridge for a few days.* 

1/2 cup unsalted butter, plus a little more to grease the pan
2 large eggs lightly beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 largeish zucchini (10 oz.) I say large-ish because if you grow your own you don't want to use one of the really large ones (you know those baseball bat ones you forgot about that just grew and grew?) Yeah.  Don't use one of those babies.  This bread just isn't ready for that yet.
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (you could probably substitute white flour here if you don't have a nifty wheat grinder or whole wheat flour on hand.  I do, so I used wheat!)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (I only had regular salt, and mine turned out fine)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup medium grind cornmeal

1)  Grease a 9x5x3" loaf pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2)  Trim zucchini ends, then slice 5-6 thin pieces to place on top of the bread.  Coarsely grate the remaining zucchini.  Now, even though this wasn't in the original recipe, I highly recommend wrapping that grated zucchini in a couple of layers of paper towels and then pressing down to release as much juice/water from the grated zucchini as possible.  After that, repeat the process with a clean kitchen towel and let zucchini sit until step four. If you skip this step, your zukes might be too watery and your bread may not cook properly.

3)  Melt butter over medium high heat in a small saucepan, then continue cooking 3 minutes (mine took longer) more until the butter solids at the bottom of the pan begin to turn golden brown. Scrape butter into medium bowl, then set aside and let cool. Once butter is cool, whisk in eggs and buttermilk.

4)  Dry zucchinis once more, then add to the buttermilk/egg mixture, stirring until well blended.

5)  Sift both flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda into a large bowl.  Whisk in cornmeal, then add zucchini mixture.  Fold just to blend, mixture will be very thick.  Transfer batter to prepared loaf pan and place reserved zucchini slices along the top of the bread in a line.

6)  Bake bread until golden and a toothpick comes out clean, about 55-65 minutes.  Let cool in pan for ten minutes, then remove to a wire rack and finish cooling.
Enjoy your home-grown bread!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Happy Summer!

So I think we can all agree that Summer is the best season around.  Think about it.  It stays light til' 8 o'clock, there's good weather, you have time to have parties because you're not drowning in school work or deadlines, World Market becomes even more appealing than normal (hello, can I just buy their entire outdoor entertaining collection please?!) squash, tomatoes, and jalapenos explode out of your garden (at least they do out of my garden), strawberry freezer jam, fruit crisps and crumbles galore, peach cobbler, peach cobbler oh and peach cobbler.  Anyone who knows me well knows I have a soft spot in my heart for peach cobbler.  Of course, it's still a bit early in the season for ripe peaches, so that post will have to wait for awhile.  Still, while I have plenty of time to ponder, if any of you have any stellar peach cobbler recipes, feel free to pass them along.  In the meantime, let's talk about this little baby:
Striped Salmon Salad
I got the idea for it here, one of my newest favorite food sites.  Jenny (yes, I'd like to imagine that we're on a first name basis) included this in an article for Real Simple about being a Dinner Doula for a friend.  The salad is supposed to have added appeal for kids because hey who doesn't love stripes? And also, because they can choose which elements to add to their plates, hence less complaining from any picky eaters you might have.  As we have no ninos, I cannot verify whether either of those statements are true, but for the adult eaters out there I can assure you it's delicious!  The "recipe" if you can call it that is as follows:

1 12 oz. salmon fillet
1/2 lb green beans
2 ears fresh corn
1 cup grape tomatoes sliced in half (the stripe trick didn't work to get my husband to eat tomatoes-rats!)
1/2 English cucumber
Sliced Bell peppers
Simple vinaigrette of your choice*

 Cook the salmon in oven @ 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes.  While Salmon cooks, shuck, boil, and cut the kernels off the corn, blanch the green beans (3-4 minutes in boiling water then dunk 'em in ice cold water to stop the cooking) and slice the tomatoes and cukes.  When the salmon is done you  can slice it or shred it, whatever you prefer.  Finally, I  served the salad on a bed of spinach with some roasted rosemary potatoes.

Quick, easy, and since the oven is on for such a short amount of time it makes a practically perfect summer meal.  Enjoy!

*I used Jenny's citrus vinaigrette: Whisk 2 tablespoons orange juice, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, a lil sugar, s&p to taste and 1/3 cup olive  oil together.  Or shake well in a clean small mason jar as I like to do.  Drizzle over salad after you've plated your own.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Coming Soon...

 Ginger Sour Cream Bundt Cake with Gingered Strawberries.  
Mine is baking now and smelling entirely enticing.  Stay tuned for more delicious- especially if you're a ginger fan!

Aioli: Artery Clogger of the Gods

Since the weather here is simply stunning right now, we decided to barbecue and eat outside last night.  Sometimes when we grill I have a hard time picking out what to make because I like so many things, but yesterday Dean suggested we just make deluxe burgers and I'm so glad he did!  We served the burgers with extra sharp New Zealand grass-fed cheddar cheese (on mine only of course) applewood smoked bacon and plenty of homemade chipotle bbq sauce. And yes, we had some honeydew melon on the side so as not to be complete carnivores. 

Since we were eating deluxe burger fare, I figured I would also try to recreate one of my favorites from our local Zin Burger.  They serve french fries with truffle oil aioli, and I can never get enough of it.  My heart may be clogged, but it is very happy whenever I eat those fries!  Truffle oil is a bit out of my league expense wise, (unless any of you dear readers know something I don't) so I figured I'd start with just regular old aioli which I'd never made before. 

I had seen a recipe for it in my America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, and figured I'd start there.  I have to admit, I'm usually a bit underwhelmed by ATK.  I know, I know it is practically sacrilege to admit that on a food blog, but it's true.  Maybe it's the hype about it, maybe it's the fact that they include a recipe for chili mac in their cookbook-(do people really need recipes for that?) or maybe it's the recipes that I've tried that have been just okay, and not worth the work required.  In spite of all this, I think ATK redeemed itself for me with their aioli.  (Or maybe aioli is just outstanding regardless.)  Their recipe was quick easy and delicious!  I followed the recipe exactly and it turned out beautifully.  It was quite amazing actually, in 15 seconds or less, eggs, lemon juice, garlic and some olive oil were magically transformed into a luxurious, creamy delight.  It was like magic.  Try it out people- I promise, (as always) that you won't be disappointed.

Here's the ATK recipe I used:
2 large egg yolks
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon (I didn't measure) sugar
3/4 cup olive oil- using extra virgin olive oil was not recommended, but it was all I had on hand so I went for it.  I think regular olive oil would be superior, but in a pinch the extra virgin was ok.

Process the egg yolks, lemon juice, garlic and sugar in a food processor until combined, about 10 seconds.  With the machine running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream, about 30 seconds.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and process 5 seconds longer.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  I also added a splash of lemon juice and grated parmesan & romano cheese to the top of mine before serving it, similar to what I'd seen at Zin Burger and it was excellent! Enjoy the creamy goodness!

Ps- since the aioli was an unplanned discovery, I regret that I do not have any pictures for this post. Try it out and see how it looks for yourself! :)

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Since we have breakfast for dinner on the regular at our house, I'm always eager to try mixing things up. I'm happy to report the following two smashing successes from my kitchen to yours.
1-Cornmeal waffles + blueberry compote- these waffles are lightly crispy, have a pleasant crunch and the blueberries are an essential finishing touch. Make the basic buttermilk waffle recipe found here, but substitute one cup cornmeal for one cup of flour. Beat the egg whites as directed in the original recipe. Again, courtesy of my food crush, Mr. Mark Bittman himself.
2- And this is a big one people. I recently aquired some Bacon from Trader Joes, quite accidentally I assure you. It was uncured, which I was unsure about (would it be good, bad, too hippie or just delicious?) Well after trying it with the aforementioned waffles, I am giving it my full endorsement. This stuff is amazing, and reasonably priced. (Cheaper than many inferior brands if you want to get right down to it.) Do yourself a favor and go buy some now. Try it with breakfast, on a sumptuous BLT, in a green bean and potato salad or just by itself! You won't be disappointed!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mashed Potato Perfection

I am WAAY behind on posting. My apologies to anyone unlucky enough to be reading this. I have been intending to post a yummy peanut butter cookie recipe, the best chicken soup of all times, and a few other goodies, but alas, school has taken over my life. So in the meantime, I just wanted to pop in and ask if everyone else is as excited as I am about Thanksgiving?! I'm mucho excited and only a little nervous, since last year I had a small fiasco with one of the apple pies. I might have forgot to add the sugar. Possibly. It's unclear exactly what went wrong but needless to say it was overly tart. Oops! Here's hoping to an error-free Turkey day this time around! Be sure to check out the great decorations here and the delectable recipes here. Okay as long as I'm just linking recipes- here's one for the BEST mashed potatoes ever! We have been using this recipe at our Thanksgiving table for over ten years and it is absolutely fabulous! My mom's to die for gravy certainly helps out as well. Still- give these taters a try- you'll be supremely happy you did! Gobble gobble dear readers!

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Lemon curd is such a delight. I feel more refined when I eat it, and also more full because I could probably eat about 10,000 pounds of it. Luckily, this sunny, eastery dessert is a cinch to make!

4 eggs
3/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 stick butter

Beat eggs lightly. Add beaten eggs, butter, sugar and lemon juice to small sauce pan. Cook over LOW heat (don't be tempted to turn it up here people) stirring constantly until mixture thickens and spoon is coated.

Serve with angel food cake, in individual tart shells, or with fresh strawberries for the perfect spring time treat. And yes, this post should have been written up long ago! :)