Friday, June 24, 2011

Zucchini Fritters with a Summer Succotash.

You know those Southern grandmothers that can just grab some flour, some butter and a pinch of something else and - viola! - make the best biscuits you've ever had in your life? All without measuring a single thing? 

Yeah, well that's how fritters are for my girl. She can work some serious fritter magic, and the best part is, they are all done by feel. These are some delicious zucchini fritters that she made. My sole contribution was chopping some red onion and some cherry tomatoes and tossing it with corn for the topping- what a slacker!

I wish I could give you a recipe, but it really is just that type of thing. 

We use fritters as a type of veggie loading excersise. Which, by the way, they are perfect for it. Deciding on the type of fritter goes like this:

How about some zucchini?
Toss in some corn?
Oh, gee, we have ________ too!

Everything is perfect in a fritter. And, it's healthy.

Well… healthy enough. 

Zucchini Fritters with Summer Succotash 
No recipe, but I’ll give you a simple run down:
1.) Put veggies that you want to use in a bowl. If you’re using zucchini or summer squash, grate it on a box grater and sprinkle lightly with salt. Then, wait 10 minutes, and squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can. This way, the mixture stays together better and gets crunchy when its cooked.
2.) To the bowl, add 1 egg, 1 tsp of baking powder, and enough flour to bring the mixture together to a consistency that is like a batter. Season with some salt.
3.) Spoon them into a hot pan - medium high - with enough hot oil to coat the bottom of it.  Fry them up until they are golden brown and delicious on both sides.
4.) Enjoy!


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rotini with Caramelized Onions and Sausage

Call me crazy, but caramelized onions can do no wrong. Their richness and complexity can elevate a simple dish to an extraordinary experience.

I love them.

And damn, love is a fickle beast.

I have memories - blurred only by my vision - of slicing my way through dozens of onions at my station, the tears stinging my eyes. Learning the ridicule of working on a line. Crying, it seems, is never manly, even if it's caused by cebollas.

Yet, these memories ultimately taught me the power of patience, as I watched -- stirring only ever so often -- those onions sweat down and gradually turn into a rich golden brown, their flavor metamorphosing into a true culinary phenomenon.

You see, onions have a lot of sugar locked up inside of them. It takes patience, a lot of time and a bit of skill to coax those sugars into a caramelized delight instead of an uneven burnt mess. 

Fight the urge to stir the pan too often, the onions need contact with the pan to start to turn color. If making caramelized onions, the best tip is to just take your time.   When you do stir them, make sure to get the onions that are less cooked on the bottom of the pan, so they cook evenly.

Paula Deen will rejoice, but butter really is a good friend to caramelizing onions.  Its not necessary, but it can really help.

It takes a lot of onions to make a good amount of caramelized onions. Because of this, I recommend making a good batch at once. 

You can find an appropriate use for caramelized onions with just about anything. I love tossing them with some pasta. I did that here, with italian sausage and spiral pasta. By adding some wilted radicchio  some bitterness was introduced to offset the sweet onions .  
Rotini with Carmelized Onions, Italian Sausage
and Radicchio
Serves: 4 - 6
Total Time: 35 minutes

  • 4 large spanish onions
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil, devided
  • 1 Tbsp butter (optional)
  • 1 pound of whole grain rotini pasta
  • 2 links italian sausage, removed from casing (note: I like spicy for this recipe)
  • ½ head of radicchio, cored and sliced into ½ inch strips
  • ½ cup of pasta water, reserved from cooking pasta
  • 2 oz of fresh goat's cheese, crumbled
  • Chopped Italian Parsley to garnish

1.) Cut the onions in half, and then remove the top and bottom ends. Cut the onions lengthwise into ⅓-inch strips.
2.) In a large saute pan, or a dutch oven over medium heat, add 1 Tbsp of oil. Add the onions, and cook, stirring occasionally. Cook the onions, adding the butter if you'd like, until they start to take on a deep rich, golden color. You may need to drop the heat if they are cooking too quickly. As they grow darker in color you will need to stir them more often. They will cook for about 20 minutes. When caramelized, set aside to cool
3.) Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil, season with 2 Tbsp of salt. Add your pasta and cook for 2 minute shy of the package directions.
4.) Meanwhile, while your pasta is cooking, heat a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add 2 tsp of oil and the sausage. Cook until the sausage is browned, breaking up into pieces with a wooden spoon.
5.) Too the hot pan add your radicchio and cook quickly to wilt the greens. Add your caramelized onions.
6.) Remove your cooked pasta from the pan, reserving ½ cup of pasta water, and add to the saute pan with the sausage and the onions. Toss the mixture to combine, adding the pasta water to create a light sauce.
7.) Add the goat cheese and serve warm, garnishing with chopped parsley.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Castella with Strawberry Jam

So, I was finally digging through my freezer the other day and discovered the remains of a Castella - a Japanese sponge cake flavored with honey (recipe here) - that I made a few months back as an experiment to impress my soon-to-be in-laws. I was hungry for some breakfast, so I cut a couple slices of it, toasted it up on the stove and spread some strawberry jam. A great, spontaneous breakfast.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sour Cream Biscuits with Strawberries

I love strawberry season. Stems from hot summers in Kansas and my family constantly trying to fight off the rabbits that love eating the strawberry crop. 

Much like hot dogs and the movie "the Sandlot," strawberries are a completely perfect representation of summer. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Summer Cocktail Series: The Cucumber Tonic

Cheers to summer! I've got a refreshing cocktail for you, so it can be "happy hour" any time of day. So long as the weather is hot and you've got a thirst.

There is something interesting about cucmber juice. It is very striking in flavor. One taste and you know exactly what it is you're tasting. However, the words to describe it are more difficult. It tastes "clean." it tastes "fresh." It tastes "cool."

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Chickpea Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes, Fennel & Pea Shoots

Whew! When's it hot outside, sometimes I just can't work up the gaul to fire up the stove or turn on the oven. I just need to give my little 1200w AC unit a break.

I know it's a long way off from tomato season, but the little guys are popping up all over in stores. I couldn't resist. It took me about 17 years, but I learned to love tomatoes. And, the cherry-sized heirlooms are some of my favorite.

This salad combines a lot of fresh, warm weather friendly flavors: fennel, cucumber and one of my favorites, pea shoots.