Monday, July 26, 2010
Even before all the storms last week and this weekend, I saw a flash a fate-lightning that led me to this recipe: Stuffed Zucchini.
For my Stuffed Zucchini, all I did was cut a LARGE zucch in half, lengthwise, spoon out its seeds, add my filling from the Hot Pigs in a Summer Couture Wrap, drizzle a little local tomato sauce in the pan before and after putting the stuffed zucch in it, grate some of CJ's Farmstead Cheddar on top of the stuffing, and cover the pan with foil.
Again, I baked it on my grill for about 40 minutes on indirect medium heat. (Please see the note from my previous post.) And it turned out AWESOME.
Truthfully, the BIG zucchs are perfect for stuffing but they are a bit overwhelming to eat. I want you to know it's okay to eat half a half and then the filling from the other half and then see how full you are. If your stomach is full, you can grate its leftovers into a lunch salad or grate it and put and freeze it. No worries.
What's awesome is zucchinis have fed us two solid meals in two days in a row with abundant leftovers.
I can't complain.
I couldn't have said it better myself.
This growing season there so many summer squash I can barely grate it and freeze it enough before some more finds its way into our kitchen again. Be it from the community garden, a friend's garden, the farmers market, or the local farmer we order produce from, zucchini has aimed its target at me. And like a good cook, I'm up for the challenge.
On the Epicurious website, I found this recipe for Cabbage Stuffed with Beef, Zucchini and Herbs. While all the ingredients sounded like a perfect fit for my crisper drawers, the recipe reviews were something left to be desired.
But I braved it and tweaked this so-called bland recipe into a keeper. At least I feel confident saying that after getting the approval from our gracious neighbors and friends A & J who dedicated their Saturday night as taste testers.
What follows is the very revised version of the recipe from Self magazine using quite a bit of the comments from A Cook from California. I also must thank my mum-in-law Sally for giving her original pigs-in-a-blanket recipe that I used as a foundation.
Note: The baking instructions are clearly for summer. Being this last week Bowling Green only saw temps in the higher 90s, there was NO way I was going to turn on the oven. So I turned to my grill. I baked the cabbage rolls over indirect medium heat for 50 minutes. To get indirect heat on a charcoal grill, place a disposal aluminum pan in the middle of the charcoal tray. Fill the open space around the pan with 2 layers of charcoal. Bake the rolls in another disposable pan. (After cooking you can either recycle the pans or wash them for re-use. It's up to you.)
Hot Pigs in a Couture Summer Wrap (aka Pigs in a Blanket--Summer Style)
Suggested albums while cooking: The Beatles White Album, especially "Piggies" and Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard's One Fast Move Or I'm Gone. (Thanks, Jenn!)
1 large head of local cabbage
1 medium local zucchini
1 medium local summer squash
1 small local eggplant
1/2 bunch of kale
1 can diced tomatoes (local), drained (reserve juice)
2 medium local onions (red or white or mix)
3 local garlic gloves, minced
1 lb local, grass-fed ground beef
1 T each fresh local basil, parsely, thyme, & oregano
2 T organic olive oil, divided
1 c cooked rice
pinch of cloves
pinch of nutmeg
1 can zesty tomato soup (local) with 1/2 water, mixed well, and all of the herbs with some leftover for sprinkling.
Begin by cooking rice. Use wild grain rice, jasmine, minute brown rice, etc. Whatever you have on hand that floats your boat.
While rice is cooking, blanch cabbage. From the top of the head cut a straight incision that goes through the head (so surgical, I know) but that does not cut away any leaves. Blanch for 5 minutes or until bright green. If inner leaves aren't blanched enough, you can always re-submerge. Of course, you'll have ice cold water on hand to stop the cooking immediately after the head has been blanched. Set aside to drain and cool after ice bath. After cool, half and core cabbage, carefully tearing away leaves. Set leaves aside to dry and drain.
In an large non-stick skillet, brown ground beef with 1 T olive oil, salt, and pepper. Drain. Set Aside.
Saute onions and garlic until soft. Add squash, zucchini, eggplant, diced tomatoes, cloves, and nutmeg with a little of the diced tomato juice (I'm sorry I'm not technical like Cook's Illustrated). Cover and cook until soft. Add kale for last two minutes and cover again.
Stir in meat and cooked rice with veggie mixture.
Trim cabbage leaf veins so they are easier to fold. Be sure not to cut leaves.
Repeat until cabbage leaves are gone. (Recipe can be doubled and frozen, if you so wish.)
Pour remaining sauce over the rolls before covering with the pan with foil.
Bake on the grill according to the above note. If baking in the house, preheat the over to 350F and bake for 45-60 minutes.
When done, as the French say, "Mange!"
How to Boil Water. As a brownie fanatic all I can say is that they were AWESOME, especially after they added whipped cream and Baileys to them.
Cheers to a fantastic dinner party!
Friday, July 23, 2010
This past week I harvested a few cukes from the community garden after my weeding shift. I came home, flipped through some cookbooks for ideas, and decided on a cucumber mint salad. Dressed with olive oil, yogurt, and lemon, this salad was a breeze to make and felt like eating a cool breeze on a hot summer day.
Perhaps my favorite summer salad has been Moosewood's Raw Veggie Salad. I cleaned out our crisper drawers making this salad. Diced beets, carrots, broccoli, zucchini, spinach, cukes, and herbs in a oil-vinegar dressing. That's it. Really awesome, healthy, and light.
Also, I've been digging on Water's Lentil Salad, Food and Wine's Santa Fe Quinoa Salad, and a lot of fresh green salads.
A few recipes I'm planning for these upcoming weeks: Raw Kale Salad, Michael Symon's Zucchini Crudo, Deborah Madison's Tomato and Avocado with Lime-Herb Dressing, and the Summer Pasta Salad with Tofu from Everyday Food July/August 2010.
I hope these salads help you stay cool!
Monday, July 19, 2010
This post isn't going to review Greenhouse Tavern. That review, in addition to one about Lucky's Cafe, will be live in the BG News this coming Wednesday.
This post is an account of my sweating duck fat during a yoga class. (And, yes, it smelled awesome as well as gross.) It's the unedited version of our girls night out.
The ambiance of the Greenhouse Tavern is sophisticatedly "green." From its fancy toilets that offer two flush settings (one for liquid, two for solids) to recycling old un-used menus as fry cones, this restaurant is thoughtful in its sustainability and certified for it too. I felt proud that my eating that evening was totally eco-friendly.
Without a doubt, the best choice on the menu is the 4 Course Chef's Tasting Menu. You get to choose one appetizer, one "second" appetizer, one entree, and either a dessert or a side for $39. Jeannie and I played it smart by each ordering the tasting menu and sharing a side and a dessert. However, as the plates started arriving we realized we should have split the tasting menu.
I ordered the French Buttered Radishes as my first. If you've been keeping up with my BG News articles, I've taken a liking to radishes lately. And these were amazing. Jeannie had the fried hominy, and I had a bit of food envy. Fried should be my middle name; crispy, salty, crunchy--the hominy rocked.
For seconds Jeannie had a lamb patty (sorry I forgot...I was having a food orgasm and wasn't taking notes when I should have been) that was AMAZING. I had the Hand Ground Beef Tartare, which rocked my world. As a kid I would sneak crumbs of raw ground beef before it went into a meatloaf or goulash. I have a raw meat problem, and unfortunately most raw meat is not fit to eat. So when I see tartare, I'm on board. Accompanied with housemade condiments, pickles, crostini, and a two minute egg, it was DIVINE. MINDBLOWING. INSANE.
While waiting for our entrees I realized to my left was a table of douche bags who were clearly there to be seen and maybe score some pu-tang. Maybe they thought they were cute, but truthfully they were obnoxious. So much so--we found out from our totally friendly, attentive waitress after they left--that the older couple sitting at our table before us asked to be moved. Ha! Jeannie and I tuned out all of their degrading comments about every woman in the restaurant simply by discussing each frame of Eclipse in-depth. Quickly, we became some weird, obsessed nerd girls they definitely wouldn't "fuck, marry or kill," which meant they left us alone for the most part. Until Jeannie's Half Roasted Chicken in Brioche Bread arrived at our table.
Dear reader, maybe you imagine shredded chicken in a bowl topped with buttery, rich French bread. If so, you are wrong. Chef Sawyer and his crew serve the half chicken in a HUGE LOAF of Brioche Bread. It's so huge that the runner asks if you'd like to slice it or have the kitchen slice it for you. Of course, any person in their right mind would have the kitchen do it.
So when the chicken returned, the douche bags next to us tried to claim it. Funny and cute? No, we wanted to eat. Patrick Swayze says, "No one puts Baby in a corner." I say, "No one comes between me and my food." After we laughed off their idiocy, Jeannie tried to make a dent in the chicken dish. If my guess is right she's still eating it right now for dinner.
I had the Sea-2-Table Halibut, which was beautiful. But the only reason I got it was so I wouldn't feel so guilty sharing and quite frankly devouring Jeannie's fourth dish: Gravy Frites. I'm not sure I'm prepared to talk about how much I think I'm addicted to these hand-cut potato sticks deep-fried in duck fat and topped with brown gravy and mozzarella curd. I can see why Michael Symon of Lola (a couple doors down on East 4th) calls them his guilty pleasure on the tv show The Best Thing I Ever Ate.
I swore to Jeannie I'd only eat a couple. I ate 3/4 of the plate. Yes, on top of the Halibut, beef tartare, and radishes. Clearly, I have problems. If I lived in Cleveland, I would be there right now eating them. And tomorrow morning I would wake up and be at the gym for 4 hours--I'm not lying--so I could go back and eat them tomorrow night. I'm having Walleye and a Raw Veggie Salad for dinner tonight. I'm not happy, and both are quite good (not to brag). I should have written this post after I ate.
That's how much I love those fries.
And we shared dessert--Carmel Milk Chocolate Pot de Creme. It was salty and sweet and a perfect ending to our fantastic meal. But the whole time I was thinking about the fries in Jeannie's to-go box.
And we got home and attempted to watch Little Ashes, which was horrible, but I got through it because I was thinking about the fries. (I couldn't eat them because I was that full and not that drunk.)
And I went to sleep and would wake up at random times with only the words "duck fat" on my mind and lips.
And in the morning we got up at 7:30 and went to Yoga Lounge where Kevin had us going through all these crazy advanced poses, including side crow and headstand, in a 98 degree room and all the while I'm thinking about duck fat fries. And I'm sweating duck fat all over my yoga mat. Which is a blessing and a curse. Because I can sniff my mat and remember the fries, but I probably should clean my mat after all the sweat that dripped on it.
I can't believe I admitted that for all the world to see...
(Grey Colt picture courtesy of their website.)
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
In the meantime, I made Vegetable Lasagna from the Cook's Illustrated Light Cookbook, and it was divine. I recommend, though, carving out a lot of time to focus on this recipe. You begin it by making your own sauce (make a double batch!). It's time consuming and worth it, especially if you're trying to use up some of those endlessly harvested summer crops.
Postscript confession: I used Canal Junction's Gruyere cheese with a bit of mozz, but I did use a "light" ricotta and cottage cheeses. The WW exchange points are a 7, if you stick strictly to the recipe. I gauged my revisions would be 10 points.
Another consideration: Only make this if you have A/C; otherwise, the kitchen could get a little hot.
I promise "cool" recipes for summer squash in the near future.
Serves 6 to 8. Published September 1, 1997.
Smoked mozzarella, Gruyère, or Fontina can be substituted for the mozzarella and Pecorino Romano for the Parmesan. Also, three and one-half cups of your favorite prepared tomato sauce can be substituted for the sauce in this recipe. Because no-boil noodles come twelve to sixteen in a box, we suggest buying two boxes to ensure that you'll have the fifteen required for this lasagne.
|2||tablespoons olive oil|
|2||medium cloves garlic , minced|
|petite diced tomato|
|2||tablespoons chopped fresh basil or parsley leaves|
|15||no-boil lasagna noodles (dried, 7-by-3 1/2-inch)|
|3||cups vegetables , cooked and seasoned (see below)|
|1||pound mozzarella cheese , shredded (about 4 cups)|
|5||ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 2/3 cup)|
|Vegetable cooking spray for foil|
|Vegetables: Toss with enough olive oil to coat them lightly before roasting or sauté them in a few tablespoons of olive oil.|
|asparagus spears - trim tough ends, slice in half lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces; blanch until crisp-tender, drain well, and sauté until tender, about 3 minutes|
|broccoli or cauliflower - cut into florets, blanch until crisp-tender, drain, chop into 1/4-inch pieces and sauté until tender, about 4 minutes|
|eggplant - cut into 1/2-inch dice, roast until tender, about 35 minutes at 400 degrees|
|fennel - cut bulb into very thin strips; sauté until tender, about 15 minutes, or roast until tender, about 30 minutes at 400 degrees|
|mushrooms - trim and slice or dice; sauté until golden, about 5 -7 minutes, or roast until tender, about 20 minutes at 400 degrees|
|onions - peel and cut into thin slices; sauté until soft and golden, 5 -7 minutes, or roast until soft and golden, about 20 minutes at 400 degrees|
|spinach or Swiss chard - wash, stem and chop; sauté until wilted, about 5 minutes|
|zucchini - cut into 1/2-inch dice; sauté until tender, about 7 minutes, or roast until tender, about 35 minutes at 400 degrees|
|minced garlic (optional)|
|minced fresh herbs (optional)|
|red pepper flakes (optional)|
1. Heat oil and garlic in 10-inch skillet over medium heat until fragrant but not brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes; simmer until thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Stir in basil or parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Pour into large measuring cup. Add enough water to make 3 1/2 cups.
2. Spread 1/2 cup sauce evenly over bottom of greased 13-by-9-inch lasagne pan. Lay three noodles crosswise over sauce, making sure they do not touch each other or sides of pan. Spread 3/4 cup prepared vegetables evenly over noodles, 1/2 cup sauce evenly over vegetables, and 3/4 cup mozzarella and 2 generous tablespoons Parmesan evenly over sauce. Repeat layering of noodles, vegetables, sauce, and cheeses three more times. For fifth and final layer, lay final three noodles crosswise over previous layer and top with with remaining 1 cup tomato sauce, 1 cup mozzarella, and 2 tablespoons Parmesan. (Can be wrapped with plastic and aluminum foil and frozen for up to 1 month. If frozen, defrost in refrigerator).
3. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Cover pan with large sheet foil greased with cooking spray. Bake 25 minutes (30 minutes if chilled); remove foil and continue baking until top turns golden brown in spots, about 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven and let lasagne rest 5 minutes. Cut and serve immediately.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Today it is 90+ degrees outside and I can't fathom doing hot yoga. This Ohio wet, breeze-less heat makes me feel dizzy and nauseous. And even a little irritable, especially because no matter what I cook it makes the house even hotter.
Bleu and I have taken to standing in front of the open fridge, acting like we're looking for something. It feels good for about a minute, but then I get nervous seeing the mustard bottles sweating and I close the door.
Today during our fridge cool-off time, Bleu and I spotted a bag of 7 small zucchinis that needed cooked. Being that it was early in the morning, it was the perfect time to cook.
Of course, I turned to Alice Waters and found her Spicy Summer Squash Soup with Yogurt and Mint.
Sure, let's add even more heat to an already hot summer day.
This soup is one of the easiest ones I've made, and it's awesome. But you need to like heat. I added the 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper it calls for and the first bite opened my throat and nostrils. After the second bite my brow began to perspire. Luckily, the yogurt and mint dressing begins to kick in and cool down the soup after about the fourth slurp.
The heat from this soup reminded me of hot yoga. It was cleansing and fresh. And there was a bit of struggle with sticking with such a spicy soup, especially on a day when it seems even the A/C unit is too hot to work, but the struggle turned into joy, which turned into a slightly religious, euphoric experience.
It was actually the perfect dish for today and made me appreciate "heat."
But I don't see myself doing hot yoga until at least November...
Spicy Summer Squash Soup with Yogurt and Mint
adapted from Alice Waters, The Art of Simple Food
1/4 cup olive oil
3 medium new onions, sliced fine
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
5-7 medium green or yellow summer squash, sliced
2 cups veggie broth
4 cups water
4 mint sprigs, leaves only
2 T olive oil
2/3 cup low-fat plain yogurt
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Add the onion, garlic, and spices. Stir often, and cook until the onions are soft and not brown. Add the squash to the pot, then the salt. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the squash is tender, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the garnish: Cut the mint into julienne. Pound half of it in a mortar and pestle. Transfer to a bowl, add the rest of the mint, and stir in the yogurt, olive oil, and some salt. When the squash is tender, let it cool for a few minutes, then puree until smooth. Serve topped with mint yogurt and with lime wedges on the side.
Monday, July 5, 2010
I tried to find her biography on the internet today while thinking to myself, "God, if she was just in Us Weekly and on Perez Hilton, my life would be made."
Alas, the best I have is Waters' recipes, which I am more than grateful for.
And so my obsession with Alice Waters keeps growing and my obsession with Jamie Oliver is as solid as ever. So tonight for dinner, I consummated my "food parents." I planned the meal entirely around what I had on hand and recipes only from Jamie at Home and The Art of Simple Cooking.
No, I'm not that bored, just that crazy.
Oliver's Grilled Lamb Kofta Kebabs with Pistachios and Spicy Salad Wrap are the BOMB! Instead of using the food processor to grind up a neck fillet of lamb, I used ground lamb I had bought from Luginbill Farms at the Perrysburg Farmer's Market two weeks ago. I finely chopped the thyme and pistachios by hand and then mixed, by hand, them with all the spices and lemon zest (in place of sumac) with the lamb. The nutty spicy smell had me under a spell so much so I was considering eating the lamb tar-tare.
Oliver's spicy salad was easy too. I didn't have red onions on hand, but the spring onions that I had just gotten from Homestead Gardens were more than perfect substitutes. And we didn't have flat bread on hand, but we did have tortillas, which worked just as well.
Grilling the kebabs was stressful, though. First of all, watch for flare ups. Lamb is more fatty than most meat. Also, they wanted to slide right off of our metal skewers, so it was sometimes difficult to turn them, and they cook FAST! I was worried when a few of our kebabs (and we got 6, not 4 from a one lb of meat) started blackening. We pulled them off right away with silicone tongs. (Grab them in the middle of the meat. Oven mitts just don't work.) All the kebabs were on the grill for no more than 5 minutes. It was whirlwind well worth it. The charcoal flavor perfectly compliments the game-ness of the meat, the spicy salad, and the cool yogurt. All the stress is forgotten after the first bite, especially if you and/or guests love Middle Eastern food; just be ready to cook FAST.
Knowing I had my Jamie Oliver recipe all ready to go, I needed to pick an Alice Waters' one that would suit the Middle Eastern theme. I knew exactly what recipe I had to try in The Art of Simple Cooking: Lentil Salad.
Waters' Lentil Salad is absurdly easy and beyond flavorful. The red wine vinegar gives it a tang while the onions (I used my green onions from Homestead Gardens) add a little kick. We added diced cucumber to ours because I had one I had to use that I got from the BG Farmer's Market last week.
I made the salad in the morning and served it cold, and it was fantastic. I just added the cuke right before I served it.
What I'm learning to love about lentils is their versatility. They can be the main course. They can be a side. They are crunchy or can be mushy, if the recipes calls for so. They are sweet and sometimes spicy. They remind me of tofu's ability to take on any flavor well, but lentils have their own distinct flavor nutty, grainy flavor and texture.
I've been in a hormonally pissy mood the past two days (thanks to FD for putting up with me!), but I must say after eating this meal all feels right with the world, my body and my hormones again.
I'm sure that's strictly because my "food parents" are always looking after me and providing me with exactly the right food and nutrients I need.
Now if only I could say the same for Bella and Edward or Bella and Jacob.
And I'm food obsessed.
Mixing the two is what I imagine being on ecstasy is like.
Before going to the midnight opening of the Twilight Saga: Eclipse with my sis-in-law Suz and my husband FD, we had an exquisite dinner at Revolver in Findlay.
Dare I say, I enjoyed dindin more than the movie...
While Taj Mahal played in the background, Suz, FD, and I approached dinner from a family-style perspective; we shared all of our first courses and even our entrees.
Though it might be a HUGE stretch to think that our first courses were in any way linked to Eclipse, I somehow concocted a story to connect the two. We started our meal with Pickled Cow's Tongue with roasted beets and a soft boiled farm egg; Crispy Bone Marrow with shiitake mushrooms, braised beef, rhubarb, and star anise; and Local Porkbelly with potato galette, spring peas and curry.
The Cow's Tongue was divine. Imagine a flavor and texture combination of flank steak meets chuck roast. The beets gave it some moisture and the egg complimented the pickling. Eclipse has a lot of kissy moments in it, including the first not-so-romantic kiss between Bella and Jacob, which was a bit "offal"; therefore, the tongue was appropriate.
The Crispy Bone Marrow was juicy and salty with a bit of heat--much like the shirtless Jacob. (Wink, wink.)
The Local Porkbelly was smoky, chewy, and surprisingly light. It definitely represented the Cullens' fighting abilities. (Okay, that's a HUGE stretch.)
Seriously, we had a blast catching up and sharing family stories throughout the courses of our dinner as well as building the anticipation of the movie and the lines to get into the theater.
For my entree, I had Dickman Farms Chicken Breast with heirloom lima beans and black kale. My craving for kale is what drew me to this dish, and it did not disappoint. The tenderness of the chicken, lima beans, and kale worked beautifully together, especially with the slight hint of vinegar.
Suz and FD shared the pork sauerbraten for two with butter poached potatoes. Both are sauerbraten fans because their mum STR made it a lot from them when they were kids. Both really like Michael Bulkowski's stripped down version with a sauerbraten reduction drizzled over a pork tenderloin. The component that made the dish, though, was the butter poached potatoes. If crack potatoes hadn't already been coined, that's what they would be. The fingerlings were perfectly buttered and salted that they could have been mashed potatoes if I was blindfolded.
Quite frankly, even though I am obsessed with Twilight, I don't think the movie could have ever compared to our dinner. Which must mean I'm way more obsessed with food.
We saw Eclipse at the Carmike Theater in Findlay where it was showing on all 12 screens. You can only imagine the lines and the pre-teen mayhem. Unlike my experience of the New Moon midnight showing in Bowling Green who made several in-person announcements to our showing, the manager of Carmike did NOT ensure that there was NO saving of seats, outside food, or recording of the movie on digital devices. Basically, the manager of Carmike was NO WHERE TO BE SEEN. In other words, it was a cluster-mess of an event where every theater had rows of saved seats, aisles were littered with baggies of chips and gummy bears, and pubescent girls recorded all the "hot" scenes on their phones. I vow if I ever go to a midnight screening again, it will be in BG--no matter how geeky I have to feel by checking Fandango every hour to see when tickets can be purchased.
But even after all that frustration and the disappointment I felt with the movie's pacing as a whole, with the lingering of slow scenes, and the sometimes tacky acting, what made the evening so awesome were the fight scenes, the tent scene, the company of two of my favorite people, and the memory of another fantastic celebratory meal at Revolver.
Meal: 5 out of 5 stars
Movie: 3 out of 5 stars