Thursday, August 28, 2008

Robust End-of-the-Summer Spaghetti

Our summer is winding down now, and we probably had our last visit the Kendall Square Farmers' Market last week.  We're heading off on vacation tomorrow, and once back will fall into the crazy routine of school, activities, and work, which will leave less time for trips to farmers' markets and cooking complicated meals.  I'll still try to get a post up here and there, and hopefully my fellow bloggers will continue sharing recipes as well.

I chose to make this recipe from Local Flavors by Deborah Madison.  I made a few modifications. I left out the anchovies, since we don't eat fish.  I also discovered after broiling all the eggplant that just-broiled eggplant tastes really, really good, so not all the eggplant made it to the dish.  I also thought the dish needed more protein, so added in a can of white beans.  

The dish was fairly easy to make, although it was time consuming.  If I did it again, I'd probably broil the vegetables in the morning, since they would have kept well.  I was wondering how the vegetables would combine with the olives, and whether the white beans would fit in, but it all came together quite nicely and made for a good meal.  I doubled the recipe so that we'd have lots of leftovers, but I never got to eat any leftovers since they disappeared from the fridge, so I guess it was a popular dish.

Something very strange happened when I was broiling the eggplant, though.  When I took out the second batch, parts of it were a fluorescent blue color.  It was perfectly fresh and cut right before it went in.  It looked like the blue-ness had somehow seeped from the pores of the eggplant.  I've done some googling to see if this is normal, but haven't found any information, so if anyone knows why some slices of my eggplant turned partially blue, I would love to hear the explanation.  I took a picture, since it seemed to need documentation, but I swear it was even bluer in real life.  (My son was doing watercolors in the next room at the time, so there's a slight chance there was some paint contamination, but I couldn't figure out how that could have possibly happened.)  

I just googled again and found this link about garlic turning blue, and googled again and found that eggplant also contains arthrocyanin, so perhaps I have answered my own question.  What did we do before Google when our food turned mysterious colors?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Barley, Kale, and Kidney Bean Stew

Rachel had recommended this recipe in the comments, and I wanted to give another recipe a try from the book Vegetarian Planet.  I hadn't yet cooked with kale this summer, and this looked like a pretty hearty dish.  Here is a link to the recipe.

We tend to enjoy lots of stew for leftovers, and were expecting guests for dinner, so I doubled the recipe.  The kale and carrots were both from the farmers' market, but I had to substitute in some baby carrots since my kids insisted on eating raw carrots while hopping around the kitchen like bunny rabbits, and that was hard to say no to!

There's a warning in the book not to oversalt, so I was careful to undersalt so that everyone could adjust according to their taste preferences.  The stew was good, and the barley was a nice change of pace for a grain.  One of our guests suggested adding more kidney beans, since they brought a lot of flavor to the dish, but there didn't seem to be enough of them.  It was quite easy to prepare, especially if chopping is done in advance.  Even though kale is in season now, it felt like more of a fall/winter dish.  I might make it again at some point, but I wasn't excited enough about it for it to be part of our regular meal rotation.

In addition to the stew, we also had some fried squash blossoms with dinner, following WhatACard's recipe here.  I'm sort of terrified of deep frying, but they came out really good, though were sort of luke-warm by the time they got to the table.  I didn't read that I was supposed to leave the stems on until I had already taken them off, which would have made them a little easier to handle in the scary hot oil.  The rest of it was pretty straightforward, though it did take a good amount of prep for such a small part of the meal.  My picture isn't nearly as pretty as the one posted earlier, but here's what they looked like.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Magic Pickles and Delicious Baba Ghanoush

True confessions time: I don't like cucumbers. At all. I mean, I don't even like them to touch my real food. Their icky flavor invades everything it touches. Yuck. But I love pickles. Oh, the hidden depths of me. So, when I saw the post on Boston Dish about making pickles, I figured I'd give it a go. I used the recipe she linked as my starting point, and made just a few changes.


4 medium sized cucumbers (I only had regular cukes, no pickling cukes)
1 Tablespoon pickling salt
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
2 or 3 sprigs of fresh dill
2 cloves garlic
1 serrano pepper


Thinly slice cucumbers and place in a large bowl. Add salt, mix, and place in the refrigerator for 90 minutes to 3 hours (no need to be exact...I forgot about mine!).

Place cucumbers in a colander and rinse under cold water, then return to the bowl.

Peel and crush garlic cloves. Cut the serrano pepper in half and remove seeds.

In a medium saucepan, place all remaining ingredients (except the cucumbers). Bring to a boil over medium heat and stir until all the sugar dissolves. Take my advice and do not put your face over the boiling vinegar. And if you do, certainly don't take a big breath. Just my two cents, based on hard-learned experience!

Pour the boiling vinegar mixture over the cucumbers. Cover, refrigerate, and wait around 24 hours. Then voila! Magic occurs, and those cucumbers have become pickles! Keep refrigerated and eat within 2 weeks. Or 5 days, if you're us.

These pickles were surprisingly good. I took them to a picnic, and overheard a couple of elementary school kids talking about how good they were. And how sweet they were. These pickles are pretty sweet, which isn't a big surprise given the huge quantity of sugar in the recipe. The longer the pickles sat in the fridge, the more sour they became. So if you don't like very sweet pickles, you may want to give it a few days before you try them.


On an unrelated note, one of my favorite eggplant dishes is Baba Ghanoush. However, I've never been able to find a recipe that is anywhere near as good as our favorite, which sadly is from a restaurant in Atlanta. Not exactly some place we can just pop in when the urge takes us. So in my ongoing quest to find a great Baba Ganoush recipe, I tried one from The Figs Table by Todd English and Sally Sampson. I was intrigued by this recipe as it included mint, an ingredient I never thought to try in Baba Ganoush. I made a few minor changes to the recipe:


4 Chinese Eggplants
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons tahini
Juice of one lemon
8 mint leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
minced scallions, lemon zest, and additional olive oil for garnishing
Pita bread


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prick egglants all over with a fork, then rub with olive oil. Place on a cookie sheet, and roast in the oven, turning once, for approximately 30 minutes (until soft...depends on the size of your eggplant). Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 10 mintues.

Peel the garlic cloves and throw into a blender (or large food processor if you're lucky enough to have one. My mini just didn't seem up to the challenge of four eggplants!). Cut then ends off each eggplant, cut a slit down the side of each eggplant, and peel the skin off with your fingers. Add the flesh of the eggplant to the blender. Add the tahini and blend until smooth. You'll have to stop and use a rubber spatula to mix the ingredients around from time to time.

Add the lemon juice, mint leaves, salt, and pepper, and continue blending (and stirring when necessary) until the mint leaves have been completely incorporated.

Chill covered in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

Remove to a plate, drizzle with a small amount of olive oil, and garnish with scallions and lemon zest. Serve with pita bread for dipping.

We enjoyed this recipe, although it still didn't quite live up to our restaurant favorite. The mint was a very interesting addition, and this worked just fine with Chinese Eggplant (the original recipe called for one regular eggplant). While this was good, though, I'll probably keep searching for the elusive "perfect" Baba Ghanoush.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Calabacitas Casserole

Hello, cooking and blogging friends!

This is my first blog post, after spending most of the summer away. (Away in places like Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, where all you can get are delicious, fresh local veggies and fruits ... but that's another post!) One recipe-planning scheduling issue that I'm having in my push to use the farmer's market as our meal-planning driver is that I'm used to planning meals on the weekend and getting all of the week's food shopping done then. Our local farmer's market in Davis Square is on Wednesdays, and it's hard for me to get into the routine of waiting until then to plan. I know I could find a weekend market, but part of the appeal of farmers market shopping for me is walking to it, and seeing neighbors there, etc.
I decided to go with a squash and zucchini recipe because squash and zucchini seem to be still abundant, though I know posters have been supplying "use-up-zucchini" recipes for a while. This recipe, Calabacitas Casserole with Polenta and Cheese, was retrieved by a friend from the Food Network site in 2005, and I'm happy to see it's still here:

Essentially, the key ingredients - corn kernels, garlic, a green chile pepper, zucchini, yellow squash, onion, and tomatoes (recipe recommends a can of stewed tomatoes) - are sauteed.

They are then placed in a baking dish and topped with polenta and cheese. (Photo is taken before baking.)

This is a really comforting dish, and our kids were more open to it than they are to other all-mushed-together foods because the polenta and cheese part, at least (yes, the less-healthy part!), almost tastes like a mini-pizza. They ate some of the veggies, but like many of my casserole-type things, alas, it would be better to keep some zucchini and squash separate so that they can eat those without the influence of the spicy pepper, chili powder and garlic.

Here is a picture of the yummy but messy-looking leftovers, of which there are plenty:

To make the dish even more in season than the recipe linked above, you could cut the kernels off corn on the cob, and you could modify the tomato part to use fresh tomatoes. I haven't tried that yet, mostly because the recipe as written is quite quick - I also have relied on the pre-made tube of polenta rather than making my own. It's a good dish to start in the morning - chopping everything - and then very quick to assemble and cook (8 minutes) at dinner time.
I bet this could be made with many other veggies - I love that the polenta allows you to use less cheese, and yet the dish has an overall cheesy, comforting feeling.
Happy eating!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Corn and Tomato Salad. Plus, Zucchini cookies

It's hard to believe, but I think I'm finally getting sick of corn on the cob. We've been eating it nearly every day for almost a month, and I'm just starting to look for recipes besides shuck-heat-eat. One of my girlfriends had mentioned she made a corn and tomato salad, but couldn't remember the recipe. So I just winged it. I mean, corn, tomatoes, what else does it need?

I guess I thought of a few more ingredients!

3 ears corn
20 or so cherry tomatoes
10 leaves of basil
Splash of olive oil
Slightly larger splash of balsamic vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste


Shuck corn, removing all corn silk. Boil the corn for about 2 minutes. Place in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and cool them down. When they are cool, cut off the kernels (be careful, the corn may be hotter near the cob). Put the corn kernels into a bowl.

Cut cherry tomatoes in half and add to the bowl with the corn.

Mince the fresh basil, and add to the bowl. Splash in some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, add a few cracks of pepper and salt, give it a stir, and you're done. If you have time, let it sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour to let the flavors develop. Or just eat it right away.

We all enjoyed this, although I wasn't that happy with the visual appeal of the dish. Our corn from the CSA was very light this week, nearly white without any sprinklings of yellow. And we had picked mostly golden cherry tomatoes at the farm (I rooted through the salad to get some of the few red cherry tomatoes in the picture above). The balsamic vinegar almost made the light colors look muddy. I don't know, this is all tasted just fine. But if I was making it again, I'd look for yellower corn and redder tomatoes. Or I'd try a red wine vinegar instead of balsamic. It needs something to brighten up the colors of the dish to match the bright, fresh flavor. Let me know if you figure it out!


This week I also made the chocolate chip zucchini cookies mentioned in Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I followed the recipe exactly, so I won't reprint it here, and I have to say while they were okay, I was a bit disappointed. The cookies were very soft and cakey, no crunch at all, no matter how long I cooked them (well, within reason. The recipe called for 10-15 minutes cooking, I went as long as 20 minutes with one batch. Still very soft).

They were okay, but nothing special. If I was going to make baked goods from zucchini in the future, I'd probably stick with zucchini bread. And if I felt like adding vegetables to my cookies, I'd probably stick with oatmeal carrot chocolate chip cookies.

But I include this here in case you want to give it a go for the novelty of the recipe, or because you're making all the Animal, Vegetable, Miracle recipes, or just to steer you away if you were on the fence. But as I said, they weren't bad. I mean, it used a whole bag of chocolate chips. How bad could they be? And at the very least, my boys are eating them as fast as I'll let them. Hey, it counts as a vegetable, right?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Chard Stuffed with Risotto and Mozzarella

Although our favorite chard with tofu and tomato dish is still a summer staple, my husband found an article in the New York Times that encouraged me to try something different with chard.  The title intrigued me, since I could figure out how to stuff chard, but it turns out that you just roll balls of rice and cheese in chard, so that made more sense to me.

The New York Times only allows subscribers to access its archives after a certain point, but I found a copy of the recipe online here so everyone can access it.

The recipe was time consuming, but seemed pretty worthwhile.  I'd probably make it as a special occasion meal, but it was a little involved for a regular dinner.  Risotto on its own is time-consuming, and this added several more steps after the risotto.  For those who don't want to read the whole recipe, basically you make risotto, wrap mozzarella cheese in balls of the risotto, and then wrap a poached chard leaf around it.  You make six of these and put them in a pan, then put about half an inch of vegetable broth in the pan, and bake for 10 minutes. Here's a picture of it when it came out of the oven.

I felt like the end product was a little salty for me, so would probably do half broth and half water for the risotto next time.  Otherwise, it was really good and the melted mozzarella and the risotto tasted great together.  The saffron added great flavor, and the lemony taste was pretty obvious too (and I did actually zest the lemons, Lee!).  The chard didn't really taste like much, but was crucial for holding the whole thing together and presentation.  I found that I needed a lot of chard leaves to make this work since some were too small or had holes in them, so I had to be picky.

I think the kids would have liked the risotto and cheese part, but they were sort of put off by the chewy green wrapping.  They love mozzarella cheese (or "Cinderella cheese" as my 3-year-old calls it), so had some pieces of that on the side, along with lots of bread. Here's a picture of a kid's plate, which shows a cross-section of the stuffed chard.

I also had some broccoli from the farmers' market, so tried a new broccoli side dish from Local Flavors.  It's called Braised Broccoli with Olives.  It turned out fine, but I think I prefer the fresher and crisper taste of simple roasted broccoli.  Here's the recipe:

4 small heads broccoli or 1.5 or more pounds broccoli sprouts
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion
1 tablespoon chopped majoram or oregano
3 garlic cloves, coarsley chopped
2 tablespoons olive paste or finely chopped Gaeta olives
grated zest of 1/2 lemon

1. Separate the stalks and peel them, then chop into 1/2 inch pieces.  Separate the broccoli into florets and peel the base of the crowns.
2. Cook the broccoli in boiling water for 5 minutes.  Reserving a cup of water, take out broccoli and chop into smaller than bite-sized pieces.
3. Cook the onion, majoram or oregano, and garlic in a skillet for 5-7 minutes until the onion is soft.  Add in the olives or olive paste, then add the broccoli and stir to coat.  Season with salt and pepper and add the lemon zest, then add in the reserved water and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

I couldn't find Gaeta olives at Trader Joe's, so I just got a small can of chopped black olives and used the whole thing since I like olives.  Make sure you peel the stalks really well, since I missed a few spots and it was pretty obvious.  I was all about the lemon zesting when prepping this meal, but lemon juice would probably have had the same effect.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Curried Carrot-Walnut Burgers and Eggplant Gratin

Among other things, we got carrots and eggplant from the farmers' market last week. I decided to try a recipe for Curried Carrot-Walnut Burgers from the great cookbook, Vegetarian Planet by local author Didi Emmons. I bought this cookbook a couple years ago and have flipped through a few times thinking of the possibilities, but had never attempted a recipe. I also just bought the cookbook Local Flavors by Deborah Madison, since Lee keeps talking about it, and decided to make Eggplant Gratin as a side dish.

Curried Carrot-Walnut burgers
2 tablespoons canola or corn oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1.5 cups sliced white button mushrooms
1.5 cups cooked and drained chick peas
4 medium carrots, grated
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste
unbleached white flour (for dredging and forming the burgers)

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil, add the onion and saute for 2 minutes. Add spices and cook for 3 more minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat.

2. Put chickpeas and contents of the pan in a food processor, and run in spurts until everything is well-chopped.

3. Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Flour your hands and form the mixture into patties. Heat oil in a skillet, and cook the patties four minutes on each side until the bottoms are golden brown.

This recipe was somewhat successful. Unlike my husband Josh, who is a chemist, I tend to be pretty approximate with recipes. I think this recipe would have come out better if I had been more precise. I added in an extra carrot because we had a bunch and threw in another handful of walnuts becuase I like them. When it came time to form and cook the patties, the texture did not seem quite right, and I had a really hard time keeping them together. It helped to squeeze handfuls of the batter to drain them a bit, but it was still quite delicate work flipping the burgers. Towards the end, I added in some flour to the batter, and then everything worked much better and it was easier to cook.

Overall, this recipe was a good amount of work. For some reason anything involving the food processor seems complicated to me, and since the ingredients had to be cooked first, then transferred and chopped, and then cooked again, it took quite a while. I also had to wait a while before forming the patties since the mixture was too hot to touch at first. I really liked the final product, though. I had one on a bun, but that seemed like a lot of starch, so then just ate a few more like pancakes with ketchup on top.

I also made the following recipe for Eggplant Gratin. It said it could be served at room temperature or warm, so I made this in advance while the burger batter cooled.

2.5 pounds eggplant, peeled if white
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large or 2 medium onions, sliced
4 large eggs
1 cup milk or light cream
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
10 large basil leaves, torn into small pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350 and oil a casserole dish. Cut the eggplants into rounds half an inch thick. Salt and set aside.

2. Heat some oil in a skillet and cook the onions for about 12 minutes. While onions cook, combine the eggs, milk, cheese, vinegar, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, and pepper.

3. Rinse salted eggplant and wipe off water with a towel. Heat oil in the skillet and fry each piece of eggplant. Turn right away in the oil and then fry until golden.

4. Mix the eggplant with the onions, basil, and salt and pepper. Put it in the dish and pour the egg and milk mixture over the top. Bake until golden, firm, and puffed for 30-40 minutes. Dish should cool for a bit before serving, or can be served at room temperature.

This dish was good, but time consuming. Frying the eggplant took a while, so I'd make this dish again if I could come up with a shortcut for that step. The rest of the steps were easy, and I like that it could easily be made in advance. My 3-year-old helped by tearing up the basil.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Kathirikkai Vengaya Masala and Bok Choy Poriyal

Hi all,

Well, I was browsing the web for recipes and I came across a bunch of really yummy sounding Indian style recipes that use ingredients we can currently get at the local farmer's market. This one and the following one can be found on a website called Just for Fun, But don't worry, I am also printing the recipe here.

First one is for "spicy fried eggplant in a tomato tamarind sauce" (only a translation of the tastes, not an actual translation of the title unless this was a lucky guess). And by the way, it is not spicy or doesn't have to be - you control the chili powder.

For the gravy
Sliced onion - 2 medium size
Chopped tomato - 2 medium size
Ginger / garlic paste - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Chilly powder - 1 tsp
Tamarind paste - 1/4 tsp

For the fry
Indian Eggplant / Kathirikai - 5 to 6 medium size
Chilly powder - 1 tsp
Corriander powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Add all the powders to the eggplant and marinate it for 15mins. Heat little oil and fry the eggplant slices and keep it aside

1. Heat little oil in pan and pop mustard and then add the sliced onion, ginger garlic paste and fry until the onion is half done (soft) . Add the chopped tomato, chilly powder and turmeric and cook till oil separates from the gravy.
2. Add the tamarind juice and cook for 2 to 3 mins. Finally add the fried eggplant slices and mix it gently.
3. Cook on low flame for few more minutes. Enjoy with biryani or any kind of pulao. You can also have this with white rice , curd rice too.

Now with the Bok Choy Poriyal, my husband was helping to prep and decided the recipe on the site didn't quite make sense so he googled another recipe. Before I realized it I was cooking a much more complicated recipe than the original, which was so simple, I thought it would be nice to make it alongside the eggplant. Needless to say this dinner was on the late side, but worth the wait.

Here is the complicated recipe that I used. Don't ask me what a nos is. I was not totally sure about all the measurements but took an educated guess. I did not use fresh coconut, but instead used dyhdrated coconut flakes bought at Whole Foods. They rehydrated to some degree during cooking so they worked for me. I also did not use
curry leaves as I had none so I used Indian style curry powder, just a dash. I don't know what Split black gram is and didn't have time to look it up, so I didn't use that either. And where it says mustard, I used black mustard seed, which is what they meant.

1 no

Onion (diced)
1 bunch Bok choy
2 clove Garlic (crushed)
¼ cup resh grated coconut
¼ tsp

¼ tsp

Cumin seeds
¼ tsp

Split black gram
2 nos

Dry red chilli
2 nos

Curry leaves
1 dash

Salt (or to taste)
3 tsp

1 pinch

Turmeric powder
1 dash


Simple solution to clean the Bok choy is to cut off a small portion of the stalk at the bottom. This would easily separate the stalk and makes cleaning quick and easy. Both stalks and leaves are edible, rinse them under cold water and chop finely. Heat oil in a pan, splutter mustard, dry red chilli, cumin seeds, split black gram and curry leaves. Fry the onions and garlic for a while then add the chopped bok choy with turmeric, asafoetida and salt. This veggie cooks quickly and in about 5 to 7 minutes it becomes tender. (Do not cover to cook) Add the fresh grated coconut, toss a couple of times and serve with rice.

A note of caution: watch the turmeric. No more than what is suggested. It can quickly overtake the other ingredients.

"Just for fun," here is also the original, simpler, recipe that attracted me. But as you can see, the instructions refer to ingredients that are not listed. That is what sent my husband googling.

Bok Choy / Chinese Cabbage - 3 medium size
Shallot Onion - 3 to 4
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Grated Coconut - 2 tbsps
Garlic pods - 2
Green chilly - 2

1. Wash and chop the leaves.
2. Grind green chilly, cumin, garlic, coconut into a coarse paste.
3. Heat little oil and pop mustard, add the sliced onion fry for a minute. Add chopped leaves and fry for 2 to 3 mins. Add the ground paste , salt and sprinkle little water and cover it with a lid and cook for few more mins.
4. Open the lid and fry until all the water evaporates and the leaves cooked well. Serve with white rice as a side dish.

Anyway, I recommend the basic ideas.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

fresh tomatillo salsa

This is an easy yummy way to use fresh tomatillos. We made this a lot last summer, and as we just got a batch of tomatillas from the farm (and the cilantro, garlic and chilis, too), we made some last night. It is from Rick Bayless', Mexican Everyday, which is a great book.

4 medium tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and quartered
1 large garlic clove
hot green chilis (he recommends 2 serrano or 1 jalepeno), stemmed and roughly chopped
1/2 - 1/3 cup loosely packed, roughly chopped cilantro

Put it all in a blender or processor with a little (1/4 cup) water and 1/2 tsp salt. Get it to the consistency you like (I like it sort of runny). When you put it in a bowl you can add extra water if it needs it. Season to taste. It's best eaten right away.

He includes lots of variations (add parsley, add lemon zest (we do that), try mint, etc...)

I chopped the chilis seeds, pith and all because we like it spicy, but adjust for yourself!


Corn Fritters with Arugula

I must warn you, this dish is pretty decadent, for corn. And I say that as a woman who usually prefers her corn on the cob grilled, drizzled with butter, lime juice and cajun pepper and then rolled in parmesan cheese. So if you’re the sort who frets that anything more than a little butter and salt might be too much for your ears, this is not the recipe for you.
But for the rest of me, these fritters are just as good as they sound.
(It’s another one from Local Flavors, and seriously, I’m not on the payroll. I’m just suffering from a new cookbook crush. I’m sure when my summer fling is over I’ll go back to my old favorite, The Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home).
Cutting the corn and getting the milk for this recipe is a messy business, though sort of fun in a weird way. So if you’re cooking for company either do this well in advance or outside unless you are having the kind of guests who won’t mind that your kitchen is covered in corn flecks.
My version ended up a bit more fricassee than fritters which I attribute to not quite enough flour, too small a pan, and the fact that I’m a Lutheran from Long Island and my people do many things well but cook balls of things in oil is not one of them. Those of you from more fritter-friendly cultures will not have the same problems, I suspect.
I have to say almost forwent the arugula since the bunch I had slated for this dish had to pinch hit for spinach in another recipe the previous. But my husband offered to go fetch some more and I’m glad he did, even though ours was no longer local Farmer’s Market yumminess but rather from a neighborhood grocery store that I normally don’t buy anything from that’s not beer, chips or in a factory-sealed can. But the sharp flavor of arugula contrasted against the cheesy corn is what makes this dish. Arrange it around the fritters and make sure each plate has enough to have some in every bite.

6 ears sweet corn
2 eggs beaten
4 scallions, finely sliced
1/2 cup chopped parsley (having no parsley, I substituted some cilantro which worked nicely)
2 tablespoons shredded basil or dill
1 cup grated aged cheddar
1/3 cup flour (I used whole wheat flour)
salt and pepper
butter or oil for frying
a few handfuls of trimmed arugula

1. Slice the kernels off the corn with a sharp knife and then squeeze out the milk with either the back of the knife or a butter knife. Mix the corn kernels with the eggs, scallions, herbs, cheese and as much flour as can be easily absorbed. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Coat a pan generously with oil or butter and heat. Divide the batter into sixths and drop into the skillet. Fry over medium heat until golden brown, about two minutes a side.
3. Put the fritters on plates with the arugula and eat immediately.

Black bean and corn salad? Salsa? And another bonus zucchini recipe

I love corn on the cob. I mostly just eat it lightly steamed, or occasionally grilled. But, I've been trying to branch out a little and try some new recipes. One thing I decided to throw together was a corn and black bean salsa. Or salad. I'm not sure which I'd call it, but it was yummy.


1 can (15 oz.) of black beans
4 ears of corn
3 green onions
1 tablespoon fresh minced cilantro (or more to taste)
Ground cumin to taste
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Salt to taste


Husk corn and cut the kernels off the cobs. Everyone has a favorite way to do it, but if you're a newbie, here's what I do:
1) When you husk the corn, leave the stems intact (don't break off!)
2) Cut a small amount of the bottom (tip end) of the corn off so you have a flat surface (and it gets rid of the kernels that are generally too small or a little yucky at the tip).
3) Get out a big roasting pan. Holding the corn upright in the pan, use a sharp knife to cut rows of corn off. Keep turning the corn until you've cut off all the kernels. The roasting pan will catch all the kernels as they fall from the cob.

In a medium pot, boil water, then add the corn. Boil for about 2 minutes, then drain and rinse in cold water. (You could also cook the corn on the cob before you cut the kernels off. I just didn't have time to let the corn on the cob cool before cutting it, so I cut it first). Place corn into a large bowl.

Drain and rinse black beans until the water runs clear. Place into the bowl with the corn.

Thinly slice the whites and greens of the green onions and add to the bowl.

Add the olive oil, minced cilantro, ground cumin, and salt. Stir gently and well.

Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

That's it. You can eat it as a salad, but I especially liked it as a salsa with pita chips.

For once, this was something my three year old boys would actually eat. They especially loved picking out their black beans, and loved to spoon it onto pita chips (although it would mostly fall off the chips before it reached their mouths).


And here's a quickie bonus recipe: Zucchini Grinders. It's a vegetarian sandwich inspired by a meatball sub. Except you use zucchini instead of meatballs. It's a favorite in our house that I make a few times each summer. When I made them last night, I threw in 4 small diced tomatoes while I sauteed the zucchini. I didn't even bother to peel or seed the tomatoes. You could also add in some eggplant or mushrooms or onions or peppers or really, whatever you happen to have around. Or just follow the recipe as written as it is quite yummy.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Summer Vegetable Couscous (sort of)

I modified this recipe so much I feel like I can barely post it, but figured it's still worth sharing with others.  It's from The Classic Zucchini Cookbook.

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, slivered
1 green or red bell pepper, diced
2 medium-sized yellow summer squash or golden zucchini, quartered and sliced
2 medium-sized zucchini, quartered and sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1.5-2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, drained
1.5 cup seeded and diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
1 cup water
1.5 cups couscous
2 1/4 cups boiling water
1.4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions: Cook the onion and pepper for 3-5 minutes until soft, then add the rest of the vegetables and spices and saute for 5 minutes, then simmer for 30 minutes.  Stir in cilantro.  Cook couscous separately and serve together.

This was sort of a thrown together meal from things I had around the kitchen.  I didn't have couscous, so made it with quinoa instead.  I didn't have a pepper or cilantro, so I just left those out.  I didn't have summer squash, so I just used lots of zucchini.  So I'd basically call this "Zucchini and Chick Peas with spices over quinoa."  I also used a ton of chickpeas, since we had a 7-pound can in the pantry older than my youngest child that I was happy to finally open.  (As I've explained to Josh, just because you can get something really cheap at Costco, it doesn't mean we actually need it.)

The meal turned out OK.  It's something I would make again if I had all the ingredients on hand, but wouldn't necessarily shop for.  Since I probably doubled the amount of chickpeas, I should have used more tomatoes and spices to make the meal more flavorful.  I think the pepper and cilantro (which I left out) probably would have added some nice flavor as well.  There was a note saying you could substitute mild chiles for the pepper, which I meant to do, but then forgot about.  

If you try this recipe and actually follow the directions, let me know how it turns out!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Melon and Tomato Salad with Mozzarella and Oregano; Scrambled Eggs with Mushroom and Tomato

This is from a photocopied recipe that appeared in the kitchen.  Katie's friend Crissy had passed in on a while ago, and it got shuffled in with other papers, and reappeared right when we had ingredients to make it.  I made fresh mozzarella last weekend so this seemed like a good thing to try.
1 cantaloupe, peeled, seeded, cut into 1" cubes
2 tomatoes, cut into cubes
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Fresh mozzarella- the ball I made was probably 3/4 pound- sliced

Mix melon and tomato cubes, drain in colander 5 minutes to remove excess juices.
Mix melon, tomato, oregano, oil and vinegar without mushing up the tomato.
Arrange slices of cheese on a platter, season with salt and pepper, and put melon mixture onto slices. The recipe says to do a spoonful onto each slice, but there was a lot of melon mix, so I just dumped it on a bed of cheese slices. Fresh oregano and melon is something I'd never heard of before but it's a very good mix of flavors. The salad would probably also be good with the little fresh mozzarella balls (ciliegie) just mixed in.

The other recipe I made was a breakfast for dinner dish. During my cheese making last weekend, in addition to the mozzarella and an attempt at monterey jack (aging until October), I also made creme fraiche. I had seen this video a while ago and had been planning to try it out. We tend to get a lot of cherry tomatoes from the garden, although I've never bothered cutting off a whole cluster.

3 eggs
1 cluster of 4 cherry tomatoes
Mushrooms- I used baby bellas, stems removed
1 Tbsp creme fraiche
1/2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp minced chives
olive oil
salt and pepper
whole wheat bread, thick slice toasted.

I actually tripled the recipe to feed the whole family. Heat oil in a frying pan, put the entire cluster in the pan and the mushrooms upside down, add salt and pepper and cook over medium heat. The mushrooms ended up with a little pool of their own juice in the caps.
Crack eggs into saucepan and add butter. Stir over medium heat with a rubber spatula. As eggs start to congeal on bottom of pan, remove from heat and keep stirring until the pan cools too much to cook more, then put back on heat. Once the eggs are semi-solid, add salt and pepper and remove from heat, continuing to stir- eggs will keep cooking until done from residual heat. Mix in creme fraiche until melted through, mix in chives, and serve eggs over toast with cooked tomato and mushroom on the side. Only part of the tomato cluster made it to the plate, the kids demanded to eat the other two.