Vegetables

Parmesan-Garlic Hasselback Zucchini

My garden has been pretty good to me this year with plenty of cucumbers, summer squash and zucchini. I really don’t want to talk about my non-existent eggplant or beefsteak tomatoes. Thankfully my cherry and roma tomato plants are picking up a little of the slack; and it also helps my husband has found a way to add tomato to his sandwich that he thinks works out pretty slick; he takes a bite of sandwich and pops a cherry tomato in his mouth and he likes that his sandwich stays dry. I say win win!

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Now how to get a win with someone who doesn’t like zucchini; which I can actually relate to; when I was growing up; besides my aversion to everything green; the only way I had zucchini and summer squash was steamed or boiled to death. I was reminded of this when I was talking with my dad last week about how I prepare versus how he prepares squash. I like mine on the al dente side and he likes his well on the mush side. No thank you!

IMG_4452Before this I had only made hasselback potatoes, never even thought about another vegetable before but why not?

IMG_4453Parmesan-Garlic Hasselback Zucchini

1 Tbs EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1 tsp finely chopped fresh oregano or ½ tsp dried
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp fresh cracked black pepper
4 small or 2 medium zucchini
⅓ cup shaved Parmesan cheese

IMG_4454Preheat grill or oven
Combine the first 5 ingredients in a small bowl
Make crosswise cuts every ½ inch along each zucchini. Make sure to slice almost to the bottom of the squash but not all the way through. I use a round handle of a wooden spoon to help me get the same size cuts. Gently fan the squash to make them a little wider.
Place a shaved piece of Parmesan in each of the cuts and then brush the oil mixture over the top.
Place the squash on a double layer of foil and grill (without turning) until browned and tender about 15 minutes.

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Adapted from Eating Well Magazine

Zucchini Chips and Zucchini Boats

If there were an Olympic event for harvesting the most cucumbers from just a few plants or growing the largest cabbage in a raised bed or even who can find and pick the best shaped squash; I think we could be in the running. Despite the drought and thanking my personal “water boy” my gardens are looking pretty damn good!

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look how adorable my butternut squash are!!!

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Now comes the task of what to do with everything. Yesterday I spent the day baking zucchini bread that will last probably till next year, I actually did have to rotate last years bread to the front. I have also been kind of obsessed with fried Parmesan zucchini chips. I think I have made them at least 3 times in the last month; I also made a couple of zucchini hasselback packets for out on the grill. Last night I decided to use up some items I had in the fridge. When I was going through my freezer I noticed a container of last years processed tomatoes that I made into a nice Italian sausage marinara sauce, and there was a small container of ricotta cheese and yes many squashes to choose from.

The ingredients screamed zucchini boats; ya don’t ask me why that is what they said but I personally think it was because I didn’t want to make a full fledged lasagna out of them so I took the easy way out.

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Zucchini Boats

1-2 medium sized zucchini
15 oz. container of ricotta cheese
1 egg
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Handful of fresh parsley chopped
1-2 sweet Italian sausage casings removed; crumbled and cooked
Homemade or jarred marinara sauce
Mozzarella for the top

IMG_4493Zucchini cleaned, trimmed and sliced in half lengthwise

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Using a spoon scoop out the flesh making sure to leave enough to hold the cheese and sauce.

Mix the ricotta, egg, parmesan and fresh parsley

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Fill the zucchini with the ricotta mixture then cover with marinara sauce. Cover with mozzarella and bake at 350’F for 30-45 minutes.

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Zucchini Parmesan Crisps

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1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup Panko*
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 zucchinis, thinly sliced to 1/4-inch thick rounds
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, beaten

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.

In a large bowl, combine Panko and Parmesan; set aside.

Working in batches, dredge zucchini rounds in flour, dip into eggs, then dredge in Panko mixture, pressing to coat.

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Add zucchini rounds to the skillet, 5 or 6 at a time, and cook until evenly golden and crispy, about 1 minute on each side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

 

Serve immediately.

Summer Garden Salad

Well it is about time we are going to be getting some much needed rain here today in New England. Thankfully we have a well instead of being on town water so we; well actually my husband who I rename every summer to water boy; has tried very hard to keep our gardens and lawn looking a little less brown than others I see around town. But it will be nice to give our well and pump a little break today and yes my husband gets a little break from playing “where to place the sprinkler now”

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This is the first weekend so far this summer where I haven’t left the house yet, I will probably venture out a little later today just to pick up a few things for this week’s staple items for meals.  Or maybe I can get my daughter to do it wink wink!

 

My garden is still doing really well despite the lack of natural rain, I picked the rest of my garlic yesterday, we have 50-ish bulbs of various sizes which should last a little while. The cucumbers and squashes are doing excellent; I made 7 jars of kosher dill pickles yesterday and I was able to pick 7 heads of broccoli. Yeah that one stumps me too of what to do with it all. I know I should be staggering my plantings; but I don’t. I have yet to like what happens to my broccoli when I freeze it so I have been sharing our harvest with family and friends.

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If you need something quick and delicious with some of what you grew yourself or bought from a local farm stand or grocery store. This one’s a keeper!

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Best if you can make this first before you start whatever you are serving it with so it has time to meld and let the veggies soak up the dressing.

Summer Garden Salad

⅓ cup cider vinegar
2 tsp honey
1 small clove of garlic, minced
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup sliced cherry, grape or like tomatoes
½ medium cucumber, halved, seeded and sliced thin
½ medium yellow summer squash, quartered and sliced ¼ inch thick
¼ medium sweet onion sliced thin
Kernels from 1 ear of corn
1 Tbs coarsely chopped fresh basil

Whisk the first 5 ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add the next diced/sliced 5 ingredients; stir well to combine. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Stirring occasionally before serving. Garnish with the basil.

Cider Glazed Pork Belly and Brussels Sprouts

I realize that a couple of the ingredients in the title might scare a few people off in not only reading this blog but making it is completely out of the question. I can only say that if you have never tried pork belly you need to put it on your short list. I have some in my freezer pretty much all the time now. It does take a bit of planning and cook time for the belly to use it but you won’t be disappointed.

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Speaking of disappointment; I found a recipe that I thought looked and sounded interesting enough that I bought a couple of the ingredients I didn’t have so to make it the following week. I will take part of the blame and I will heed you into reading not only the list of ingredients but run through the instructions of the recipe. This one recipe that I had planned for a Sunday dinner we ended up eating it on a Tuesday night after work. Long story short, there was an overnight soaking, a 1 to 1¼ hour of cooking, a 3-4 hour of cooking and a rest of an hour on the counter and  another 2 hours in the oven. This was probably one of the most stressful recipes I actually was determined to make. My family was very patient with me, well honestly they were excited to eat it but couldn’t understand why it took 3 days to get it on the table.

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Because I like all of you who continued reading even after the title, I will NOT share the 3 day recipe that stressed me out and was very good but will not be repeated in my kitchen; not by me anyway. I will share with you and give you the heads up that this one can be a Sunday meal that you can start earlier in the day OR make the pork belly a day or two ahead of time and then finish it when you want. You will need braise the pork for 2-3 hours and while that is cooking you can make the glaze. Once those two are done, the rest is easy peasy.

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For the Belly
2 lb boneless, skinless pork belly
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
1 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
½ medium head of fennel, coarsely chopped
1 12-oz. Bottle of hard cider
2 cups chicken broth

For the Glaze
2 cup apple cider
1 12-oz bottle of hard cider

For the Brussels sprouts
5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, sliced lengthwise ½ inch thick (about 4 cups)
1 medium shallot, minced
¼ cup sherry vinegar
1 head frisee, cut into bite-size pieces
1 red apple, unpeeled, cut into ½ inch dice
3 Tbsp coarsely chopped Marcona almonds
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
¼ cup crumbled Gorgonzola

Braising the Pork Belly

Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350’F. Pat the pork belly dry with paper towels. Using a sharp paring knife, cut a ¾ inch crosshatch pattern through the fat but not through the meat. Season with 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy-duty 7 to 8 quart pot, over medium heat. Put the pork belly, fat side down, in the pot. If you need to cut it to fit that is fine. Cook until golden brown, about 7-10 minutes flip the belly, add the carrots, celery, onion, fennel, hard cider, and broth. Cover, transfer to the oven and braise until the pork is fork tender, 2-3 hours. Remove and cool. Cut into 12 pieces, about 1 inch wide and 3 inches long. Discard the braising mixture. Again you can store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Make sure to bring to room temperature before continuing on.

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Making of the Glaze
Put the apple cider and hard cider in a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until syrupy, about an hour or so.

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Make the Brussels sprouts and serve
Heat 2 Tbsp of the oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork belly and cook, fat side down, until the meat is warm and the fat softens, about 2-4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

IMG_4130Add the Brussels sprouts and cook undisturbed until browned on one side, about 3-5 minutes. Add ¼ cup water, stir and cook until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Add the shallot and cook stirring until fragrant, about another minute or so. Add the vinegar and toss. Add the frisee, apple, nuts, and the remaining 3 Tbsp oil and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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Brush the pork belly with the glaze, then drizzle the remaining glaze evenly over the Brussels sprout mixture. Top the Brussels sprout mixture with the pork belly pieces. Sprinkle with the Gorgonzola and serve.

 

Maple-roasted chicken and acorn squash

I found another one-pan dinner that I think you need to try; super easy and very tasty and did I mention only one dish? Over the last couple of weeks, I have attended a couple of events where I have run into some blasts from the past if you will. I am finding it very humbling when they come up to me and the first words are “I love your blog, or “I am enjoying reading and seeing all your food” “I want to come to a class or can I just come to dinner” “I made this weeks and it was awesome; thank you” I am enjoying writing and sharing my love of food and new recipes that I don’t even think of who is actually reading my words so I am just very grateful when someone I know mentions they read and enjoy I truly thank you!

 

One such compliment was from my sister-in-law who came to visit a couple of weeks ago. I love when she comes up; she is smart, funny and loves food AND wine. Some of my favorite attributes in company; well she is family she’s not company.

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I love that she would much rather cook in than go out to dinner; she watches me, takes home recipes and notes and  I know she goes home and makes what she takes with her because I have gotten a few texts with minor questions. I love it!

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This is one dish that I threw together kind of last minute as I wasn’t sure if we were staying in or going out. My girlfriend KP can attest to this indecisiveness. She was here one night when the wine was flowing and we still needed to eat, going out was not going to be an option, I mentioned the wine right? So we threw together a delicious meal and a phrase we still kind of use today “my sous chef sucks” long story short, the veggies were not cut into uniformed pieces.

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I need to admit that acorn squash was never on my radar; I bet it has to do with it being green. I know the inside is not but the outside is DARK green. I know I am evolving as an adult and green is no longer an issue but I never really knew what to do with it. I have already bought it twice in a month so I could make this dish. From making it a couple of times, I want to mention to leave the squash I larger pieces, when I made it chopped up it got too mushy.

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Maple-roasted chicken and acorn squash

1 medium Acorn squash
4 Carrots, chopped
1 medium Onion
6 Chicken thighs bone in skin on
½ cup Maple syrup
1+ tsp Kosher salt
½+ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
sprig of fresh Rosemary stem removed and chopped

Preheat oven to 450’F

Cut squash lengthwise in half; remove seeds, cut each half crosswise into ½ inch slices; throwaway ends.

Place squash, carrots and onions sprinkle with some of the rosemary, salt and pepper in greased 13×9 baking pan. Season both sides of the chicken with remaining rosemary, salt and pepper place skin side down over the vegetables. Roast for 10 minutes.

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Turn chicken over; drizzle with maple syrup; roast another 25-30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken is 170’-175’ and the vegetables are tender.  If you find that the vegetables could use a little more time, remove the chicken to a plate cover loosely with foil and return the pan to the oven while the chicken rests.

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Adapted from taste of home magazine