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Friday, September 24, 2010

last day of summer, september 21

i'd like to call back summertime 
have her stay for just another
month or so

but she's got the urge for going
so I guess she'll have to go.

-- joni mitchell, "urge for going" 

Monday, September 13, 2010

cherry tomato salad with baked ricotta and olive tapenade crostini

i think i've posted about crostini, like, a dozen times. it's such a default for us because if you toss beautiful vegetables and herbs together, you've got a great veg salad. put it on toast, however, and you've got a meal. and since the matt's wild and white currant cherry tomatoes have been cranking out ripe fruit by the daily pint, making a meal from them has become a necessary delight. 

this recipe is from my gorgeous book (a gift from my spectacular boyfriend) by amy goldman, the heirloom tomato. it's basically a crostini topped with olive tapenade, baked ricotta, and tomato basil salad. she includes instructions for making the olive tapenade, but i frankly saw that as no more than an opportunity to spend a bunch of money on ingredients i wouldn't otherwise have around. thus, i bought a small amount of kalamata tapenade from the olive bar at the grocery. the baked ricotta looks pretty, but i found it rather dry and an unnecessary step. do with it what you will!

cherry tomato salad with baked ricotta and olive tapenade crostini
adapted from the heirloom tomato by amy goldman

for baked ricotta:
1 1/2 lbs ricotta cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
fresh-cracked pepper

for tomato salad:
2 pints mixed cherry tomatoes, halved, or larger tomatoes, cut into pieces
1/4 cup chopped basil
1 Tbps sherry vinegar
2 tsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp finely diced shallots
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

for crostini:
1 baguette, cut into 1/2 - 1" slices
olive oil
salt and pepper
olive tapenade, store bought or homemade

preheat oven to 450 degrees. combine the ricotta with 2 Tbps of the olive oil and spread in greased ovenproof dish. drizzle with remaining olive oil and top with fresh cracked pepper. bake until heated through and beginning to brown on top. allow to cool before serving.

mix the vinegars with the shallots and soak for 30 minutes. whisk in the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. pour over tomatoes, add basil, and mix gently. adjust seasonings. 

reduce heat in oven to 400 degrees. brush the bread slices with olive oil on each side, and season with salt and fresh cracked pepper. toast in oven until golden brown (but not too dried out!), around 5 minutes.  

serve warm toasts with a layer of tapenade, then ricotta, and tomato salad. delicious. 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

herbed potato salad with lemon and olive oil dressing

every summer requires a reliable potato salad, and this summer mine was the herbed potato salad with lemon-olive oil dressing from bon appetit. some batches turned out better than others, but having an in-a-pinch recipe to turn to for dinner or last-minute barbecues has simplified several evenings over the course of the season. 

the recipe caught my eye because it calls for fresh herbs that happen to be growing in my herb pots. i've also never been in to mayo-based potato salads and appreciated that this one has a light and tart dressing of olive oil and lemon juice (which i spiced up with a little whole grain mustard and sugar). it comes together super fast, but the salad needs to sit for an hour or so before serving in order for the potatoes to take on the flavor of the dressing-- otherwise, it can seem like a flavorless bowl of steamed potatoes.

use super-waxy potatoes-- in the batch in the photo above i used yukon golds, red lasodas, and viking purples for a colorful mix. they held up beautifully, even though i over-steamed them! (i also forgot the red peppers in the batch pictured, and really missed them. won't make that mistake again.)

herbed potato salad with lemon-olive oil dressing
adapted from bob appetit, june 2000

2 lbs waxy potatoes
1/2 cup rough chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup (or more) extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp (or more) whole grain or dijon mustard
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet or red onion
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
fresh cracked pepper
3 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 Tbsp chopped parsley

scrub potatoes and cut into bite-sized pieces, about 1". steam in a basket steamer until tender, about 10 minutes. put potatoes in bowl and add red peppers. in a separate bowl, add lemon juice, mustard, onions, sugar, and salt and pepper. whisk in olive oil, taste, and adjust seasonings. pour dressing over potatoes, add chopped herbs, and mix thoroughly. cover and refrigerate 30 minutes to 4 hours for dressing to flavor the potatoes. serve at room temperature. 

potatoes: olsen farms

Monday, September 6, 2010

zucchini fritters with basil pistou

i often make zucchini fritters in summer, and generally don't fuss too much over what recipe i use. this one was in organic cooking, and since i knew right where to find it, when the urge struck to make zucchini fritters i went straight to it. in the middle of getting the batter ready, chatting away with rob about our respective days, i said, "beat the egg white? i wish i'd read this recipe all the way through before i started on it. *sigh.*" at that moment, beating the egg white seemed like way more of a hardship than was likely to be outweighed by the results. but i dutifully grabbed the whisk, whipped the egg white into self-supporting peaks, and stirred it into the glossy batter. it was so worth the 2 extra minutes of prep time when they puffed up fat and light, like savory, creamy, crunchy-on-the-outside pancakes. 

the pistou sauce is essentially a pesto without the pine nuts. i added a little lemon juice (dern near too much, honestly!) to brighten it from the original. fritters and sauce were perfect together, and were just as good for lunch the next day. cook in vegetable oil (we use peanut oil for shallow frying) and they shouldn't soak up much at all. 

zucchini fritters with basil pistou
adapted from organic cooking by ysanne spevack

1 lb zucchini, grated
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg, separated
1 Tbsp olive oil
5 Tbsp water
vegetable oil for frying
salt and pepper

1/2 cup basil leaves
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (or other italian hard cheese)
grated peel of one lemon, yellow part only
juice of one lemon, to taste
2/3 cup (or less) olive oil

begin by tossing the grated zucchini with salt (between a teaspoon and a tablespoon) in a sieve over a bowl and leave to drain for 1 hour. 

meanwhile, for the sauce:
finely chop basil leaves in a food processor. add crushed garlic and process into a paste. (these steps can combine into one using a mortar and pestle.) transfer to bowl and stir in grated cheese and lemon rind. add some of the lemon juice to taste. move back to food processor or blender and blend in oil, a little at a time, until it reaches consistency you want, and is well combined. (watch the oil, as i found that using the full amount was going to seem rather oily to me.) taste and adjust seasonings. 

for fritters: 
sift flour into a bowl and make a well in the center for the egg yolk and 1Tbsp olive oil. add a little of the 5Tbsp water and mix, incorporating a little of the flour and water into the egg mixture, adding more water as you go. stir/whisk until a smooth, glossy batter. season with salt and pepper and set aside for 30 minutes.

rinse grated zucchini well and squeeze out as much moisture as you can. stir into batter. beat the egg white until soft peaks form, and fold gently into the batter until well mixed. 

heat 1/4 inch of vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat. drop golf-ball sized amounts of batter into hot oil and cook 2-3 minutes each side, until golden brown. drain on paper towels. serve hot with the pistou.

zucchini-- alvarez farms
garlic-- stoney plains farms
egg-- stokesberry farms
basil-- us!