Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mamas & Memories

Nothing is more memorable than a smell. Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines hidden under the weedy mass of years. Hit a tripwire of smell and memories explode all at once. ~ Diane Ackerman

Ever notice how some of our earliest memories of our Mamas center around food? A certain smell or taste will take me back to helping Mama in the kitchen, or sometimes just watching her cook and bake. This morning I went over to visit my eldest daughter's blog, A Perennial Garden Lover, to find that she had recreated a happy childhood memory. That of me frying squash for her and her baby brother when they were just wee ones. They would snatch the squash right off the plate despite my warning of burnt little fingers. When we talked on the phone this morning, I told her the recipe came from my own Mama, who would cut the squash in strips like french fries. So in memory of my Mama, I recreated her dish today. Here is to three generations of cooks in the kitchen.

Fried Yellow Squash

Slice squash diagonally or lengthwise into strips, dip in a mixture of milk and egg and seasoned flour. I combined 2 parts all-purpose flour, 1 part whole wheat flour, Old Bay Seasoning (to taste), freshly ground pepper and 1 Tbsp. dried parsley. Dip the squash in milk and egg mixture, dredge in flour mixture and fry in a little hot oil just till nicely browned. Drain on paper towels.

In case you are wondering what those little balls are, take some time and visit Lucy over at Sweets, Savories, Etc. to enjoy a very tasty treat.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Be fruitful and multiply...

....my wee little urban garden is indeed fruitful and multiplying. Took some pics to show you how it has grown from one month ago. It has done so well, I have expansion plans for next year. I received zucchini seeds from my dear friend Lucy of Sweets, Savories, Etc that I will plant and also a variety of tomatoes, some beans and maybe some yellow squash too? Oh the possibilities are endless.

Mortgage Lifter Tomatoes

The legend of this tomato is that it was developed by M. C. Byles of Logan, West Virginia. For six years he crossed German Johnson, Beefsteak, English and Italian varieties, selecting the largest specimens. It is said that he then sold plants for $1.00 each and paid off his mortgage in six years.

Broad Leaf Parsley

The renegade rabbit ate this down to nubs last month, I placed it up on a stool and it has recovered and is doing nicely.

Oregano

This is the second growth, I have already harvested and dried quite a bit and stored it in a glass jar. Since I cook with a lot of oregano, I am very glad I planted it.

Cinnamon Basil

Another herb that I have already dried, this is the second burst of growth.

Sweet Baby Girl Cherry Tomatoes

One of these little beauties was a very early girl, I ate her warm from the vine one morning. Oh yum!


Big Bertha Peppers

A sweet dark, jade-green pepper that changes to a brilliant red. I planted three pepper plants, I plan to roast them for my winter larder.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Market Odds and Ends

I made up some marinara sauce this morning. Looking in the vegetable drawer I discovered some odds and ends vegetables from the market that needed to be used up so I made lasagna rolls for supper, tutorial for rolling can be found here.

Zucchini Lasagna Rolls

2 medium zucchini, grated (skin on)
1 large carrot, grated
2 young leeks, minced
mushrooms, sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 green pepper, diced

A 9x12 baking dish, spread about 1 cup marinara sauce over bottom evenly.

16 Lasagna noodles, cooked according to pkg. directions

Sautee mushrooms just to liquid cooks off, set aside. Combine the zucchini, carrot, leeks and green pepper. Salt and pepper, to taste. Combine 2 cups Ricotta cheese, 1 cup Parmesan cheese and two eggs. Add to veggie mixture and mix well.

Spread veggie-cheese mixture on lasagna noodles, along with mushrooms and roll up. Place in baking dish and top with a B├ęchamel Sauce, which is a white sauce made with flour, hot milk, butter and Parmesan cheese.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve with a green salad and crusty bread.

B├ęchamel Sauce:

3 cups of milk, heated
4 Tbsp. butter
4 Tbsp. all purpose flour
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Heat milk in saucepan over medium-high heat, add butter. Whisk in flour and stir till sauce thickens. Add cheese and salt and pepper, blend well and remove from stove.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Life Is A Combination of Magic & Pasta

"Life is a combination of magic and pasta." Fellini

My friend Lucy's baby sister, Theresa of "Baking and Beyond", posted her Cavatelli with Broccoli Rabe and Shrimp on her blog the other day. I had never tried rabe, and this dish looked like the perfect time for me to try something new. The food critic gave it a 10 on the "yum meter". Grazie Theresa!

Cavatelli With Broccoli Rabe and Shrimp

Monday, July 21, 2008

Summer Fruits

“Fruits each in its season, are the cheapest, most elegant and wholesome dessert you can offer your family or friends, at luncheon or tea ~ [Mary Virginia Terhune (1875)

Fruit Salad with Honey-Lemon Dressing

Another hot and muggy day here in NE Ohio, I am not cooking or baking! This simple and flavorful medley of fruits with honey-lemon dressing is as much effort as I am willing to extend today.

4 to 5 cups fresh fruits

Honey-Lemon Dressing Recipe

2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp. honey
1 Tsp. fresh ground cinnamon

Whisk together and pour evenly over the fruit. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.



Grace, of A Southern Grace, is hosting a "beat the heat" blogging event. The only rule for this event is you cannot turn on the oven, this is my entry for beating the heat.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

One Year Ago ...

......today, I entered the foodie blogosphere and it has been a blast. Foodies Rock!

My first post was a lemon and fruit dessert, and in honor of my "birth-blogday" I am going with another great lemon and fruit dessert. My dear friend Janie An Obsessive/Compulsive Plant Collector knows I collect cookbooks, especially the vintage ones and she sent me two cookbooks from the 40's, Meta Givens (1947) I immediately found a Butter Sponge Layer Cake and Lemon Butter Jelly that I had to make. I spread the lemon butter jelly between the two layers of cake. The food critic and I are not much for those too sweet creamy frostings, a light dusting of confectioners sugar and some locally grown raspberries are just to our taste. I have transcribed the recipe exactly as it is written. If you are looking for that perfect cake to make for summer fruit shortcakes, look no further. This cake is delicious, moist and light.

Butter Sponge Layer Cake

Looks like pie, tastes like cake

Recipe:

1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder or 1 1/2 tsp.
tartrate or phosphate type
3/4 cup lukewarm milk
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
3 eggs, room temp
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla
1 1/2 cups sugar

Line bottoms of two 8-inch layer cake pans with waxed paper, grease paper lightly. Start oven 10 minutes before baking, set to moderate (350 degrees).

Sift flour, measure, resift 3 times with baking powder. Scald milk in top of double boiler, remove from heat, add butter and cool to luke warm.

In a 3-qt mixing bowl, beat eggs with salt and vanilla until thick and lemon-colored, gradually add sugar and beat until thick and spongy. Then quickly stir in milk. Add flour all at once, then beat until batter is smooth. Turn into prepared pans. Bake 30 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool in pans on cake racks 5 min, then turn out on racks, loosen paper and turn right side up to cool.

Lemon Butter Jelly

This rich, lemony filling made with whole eggs or yolks keeps well. It may be made 3 to 4 days before using. Delicious for layer cakes, filled cookies and tarts.

1/2 cup butter
3 eggs or 2/3 cup yolks, beaten
2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, 3 lemons
1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind, pkd

Melt butter in top of double boiler. Blend sugar and flour, add eggs and beat well, then stir into melted butter. Now stir in lemon juice. Cook over gently boiling water, stirring constantly until mixture is thick and clear, from 10 to 12 min. Remove from heat, stir in rind. Cool, then pour into a clean jar. Cover and store in refrigerator. 2 1/2 cups filling. Enough to spread between and over tops of three 9-inch layers of cake, or fills fourteen 2 1/3 inch tarts.


May your mornings bring joy and your evenings bring peace
...May your troubles grow less as your blessings increase!


Monday, July 14, 2008

A Market Meal

I wanted to create a meal out of the vegetables I had from my local farmers market for Sunday supper. Marie of Proud Italian Cook had posted her Primavera Pasta Pie last week that I wanted to make. I had a zucchini, green tomato, candy onion, portobella mushrooms, fresh mozarrella cheese and a couple of organic carrots from my local grocer. The food critic who will tell you he is not a "spaghetti" person absolutely loved this dish and I will be making it again.

Primavera Pasta Pie


Friday, July 11, 2008

Grilled Corn Salad

Ohio-grown sweet corn was at the Coit Road Farmers Market this week, and you know I had to grab up some. In fact, just like with all the locally grown summer vegetables, this is one that I put up in the freezer for winter. I usually buy 12 ears at a time and put up 6, so by the time Fall comes around I am able to cook slow food holiday dinners for my family, as well as having some for soups and stews. Also picked up some Ohio-grown cilantro at my local family-owned grocer, Zagara's Marketplace, they are great about carrying local produce. I wanted to make a healthy salad. Salads are the perfect summer meal for me, because they mean little or no cooking. The following recipe was adapted from a magazine article I clipped, I put my own twist to it.

Grilled Corn Salad

Recipe:

6 ears sweet corn
1 bunch of cilantro
1 red onion, chopped fine
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 carrots, peeled and grated
Garlic powder, to taste
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 head leaf lettuce

Grill seasoning for corn:

1/2 stick butter
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. Guajillo Chile powder

Shuck sweet corn. Combine butter, lime juice and Guajillo chile powder. Brush generously on corn, grill until done. (10-15 minutes) Set aside to cool.

Cut the corn off the cob, scraping with blunt side of knife to collect the remaining hominy. Chop cilantro roughly and bruise with the side of knife to realease juices. Add to bowl with corn.
Combine the remaining veggies and add to corn mixture. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

In a small bowl combine cider vinegar, lime juice, olive oil and garlic powder. Add to corn mixture and toss gently.

Serve with a pile of lettuce leaves to eat wrap-style.


Cilantro, the leaf of the young coriander plant, is an herb in the parsley family similar to anise. Cilantro's taste is a fragrant mix of parsley and citrus.

Holler of Tinned Tomatoes is hosting a food event this month, No Croutons Required, a soup or salad with your favorite herb. This is my entry for the event.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Zucchini Parmesan.

Zucchini is commonly thought of as a vegetable, and in layman's parlance, of course, this is more useful; however by strict definition the zucchini is a fruit, being the swollen ovary of the zucchini flower ~ Wikia

I stopped by the Coit Road Farmers Market yesterday to pick up some produce, and couldn't resist picking up some more zucchini. Here is yet another way to enjoy this summer squash.

Zucchini Parmesan

Recipe:

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup chopped garlic scapes
6 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1 cup tomato sauce
6 oz. tomato paste
2 tsp. dried Basil
2 tsp. dried Oregano
Salt & Pepper, to taste
5 large zucchini
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in heavy duty pot. Add scapes and mushrooms and cook until tender. Add chopped tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook uncovered for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside and keep warm.

Cut zucchinis lengthwise into 5 slices. Cook in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.

Spread 2 cups tomato mixture in bottom of a 9x12 baking dish. Place half of the zucchini slices over sauce, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle half of mozzarella and parmesan cheese over zucchini. Repeat layers, topping with remaining tomato mixture. Sprinkle top layer lightly with mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.

Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven 30 to 40 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Peach Sorbet

Sorbet is a frozen dessert made with sweetened water and flavored with juice or pureed fruit; in finer restaurants it is served between courses as a palate refresher.


What better dessert during the hot and humid days of summer than a fruity sorbet, and the best part is this is a treat low in fat and calories. For a look at some more cool summer sorbets, stop by and visit with Ben and Sarah at Heights Eats.

Peach Sorbet

Recipe:

Place metal mixing bowl in freezer to chill
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 cups pureed peaches
Scant Tbsp. lemon juice

Combine sugar and water in small saucepan, bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and chill completely. Add pureed peaches and lemon juice, blend well. Pour into pre-chilled mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set in freezer. Stir occasionally, I stirred it about every 30 minutes for the first two hours.

Lemon Squash

We have arrived at that time of year when Ohio-grown summer squashes are abundant. This is just one way to enjoy your grilled squash, add some lemon flavor. The sprig of Oregano is from my urban container garden.

Lemon Squash

Recipe:

1 zucchini squash
1 yellow squash
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. butter
1 Tbsp. dried Oregano
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Fresh Oregano sprig

Slice squashes and grill till crisp tender.
Combine broth, lemon juice, cornstarch, butter
Oregano and salt and pepper in a small saucepan
over medium heat; cook stirring constantly until
slightly thickened.

Pour over vegetables, toss gently. Garnish with
Oregano sprig.

Loosely adapted from "Cooking Light" (1995)

Note: This is also the time of year when you want to store away produce for the cold months ahead. I grate zucchini and store it in 2 cup containers (or freezer bags) for muffins, cakes and fritters, that way I can enjoy locally grown produce year round.


Sunday, July 6, 2008

Garlic Scapes & Frittata

I missed going to the Coit Road Farmers Market yesterday, but my daughter went and picked up some Garlic Scapes and farm-fresh eggs. Scapes are the flower stalks of hardneck garlic. They are cut off the plant so that the garlic bulbs will grow bigger.

Since I had the scapes, some zucchini and green and red peppers I decided to make a Frittata for Sunday brunch. A frittata is an Italian dish made of eggs, vegetables and cheese.

Frittata

Recipe:

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 cups garlic scapes, chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped in small pieces
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
Salt & Pepper, to taste
6 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic scapes, zucchini, peppers, basil and oregano. Sautee for about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Beat eggs in medium size bowl, add sauteed vegetables, cheese and salt & pepper, blend well.

Wipe the skillet well and return to stove top. Heat the other 1 Tbsp. olive oil in same skillet over medium high heat. When oil is hot, pour in the egg mixture and cook for 3 or 4 minutes, until eggs are set on the bottom.

Transfer the skillet to a preheated broiler and broil for about 3 minutes of until Frittata is firm in center and lightly browned.

Cut into wedges and served hot, warm or at room temperature.





Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Urban Vegetable Garden

When life gives you concrete and you want to garden, improvise. Living in an apartment building in the city can be challenging for a would-be gardener, but I was born to challenge life. Walking out the backdoor of my building, you step onto the roof of our underground garage, which provided me with the perfect platform for a container garden.

I bought my vegetable and herb plants at the Coit Road Farmers Market, so with high hopes and found and bought containers I was ready to plant.

Early Morning June 1st

Good organic soil, organic plant food and blessed with good rains the garden is thriving. I planted Big Bertha peppers, Mortgage Lifter heirloom tomatoes, Sweet Baby Girl cherry tomatoes, oregano, thyme, basil and parsley. Notice the oregano in the right hand corner, that was one little sprig when I planted it.

One month later ...

There was one small incident with a renegade neighborhood rabbit, who mistakenly thought I planted my parsley for his enjoyment, even though he ate it down to the nub there is new growth. Wonder if he has ever heard of rabbit stew?

Basil tucked in with the tomatoes ...

Look close, see the little bitty tomato?