Friday, August 31, 2012

FFWD ~ Zucchini Tagliatelle with Mint, Cucumber and Lemon

Zucchini Tagliatelle with Mint, Cucumber and Lemon
Summer is the time of year when all those fresh vegetables and fruits are so plentiful! I grow many of my own. In fact, as I write this, there is a tray of  Dorie’s Slow Roasted Tomatoes in my oven. Our group made them last year.  They are one of my favorite recipes…great with pasta! I make them all summer long to use up those cherry tomatoes that are so prolific this summer!  

Today our recipe is for Zucchini Tagliatelle with mint, cucumber, and lemon.  Zucchini is one vegetable that I have had no luck with this year. I planted five plants and harvested only four zucchini, before all my plants shriveled and died off.  I had some kind of worm eating my plants at the base, and until this year, I did not know what it was.  I’m sure all you gardeners out there are saying…"I know what it is”.  Well, if you guessed cutworm you’re right!  Next year I plan on using cardboard sleeves around the base of the zucchini. It should prevent the cutworm from gnawing at the base of the plant. I’m also open to any other suggestions to keep these varmints from ruining my plants. So, for this recipe I had to go to the farm stand and buy some zucchini.  They were beautifully fresh and just picked. Nice to have such fresh local produce! 
Zucchini and cucumber
The hardest part of this recipe was cutting up the zucchini! I had a Mandoline, but the strips were still not thin enough.  This basically is a cucumber, zucchini salad with chopped mint, and a lemon-oil dressing. It called for pistachio oil...I used walnut oil. Sorry, but I wasn’t going to buy a bottle of pistachio oil (if I could find it, which I couldn’t)  for a salad that I wasn’t sure I would like.

This salad was just ok. The flavor reminded me of a tabouleh salad without all the delicious tomatoes and bulgur wheat! I found it to be flat and lacking flavor. Since I was the only one eating this salad in my house, I ate it three days in a row, it never got better.  I'm sure it won't be finding its way back to my table anytime soon!  Sorry to say this was not a winner for me! Happy Friday everyone!!

This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspans’ cookbook "Around My French Table" or you can find it here at  Epicurious.  To see what other Doristas' are doing this week, you can check it our here.

I had high hopes for this salad!
The colors look so pretty, but the flavor was flat!
I wish I could say I liked this but….

Oh, and on another note…If you have arachnophobia you should leave this page now!  I’ve had a visitor lately…he just won’t go away even though I keep sweeping his web off my deck!  I watched him weave this web in about an hour…incredible! 

My resident spider…he can’t take a hint!
I keep sweeping his web away and the next day it’s back again!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Butternut Panzanella Salad

Butternut Panzanella Salad
The last few weeks my garden has been abundant in cucumbers, and now tomatoes.  Having used cucumbers in just about every imaginable way that I know how, including just slicing and eating them with no embellishment, I gave a bag to one of my friends and neighbors.  Purely selfish…I just couldn’t look at another cucumber…and for this very selfish gesture I was rewarded with a most wonderful Panzanella salad! The next day I gave my friend a call to thank her for bringing me some of her delicious salad and asked if she would share the recipe.  I knew she would. We happen to share recipes all the time. She’s a very talented cook. On her way to work, the next morning, she dropped it in my mailbox. I made it the next day…Yum!

Panzanella (pahn-zah-NEHL-lah) is a rustic Italian bread salad.  It tastes like bruschetta in a bowl! I’m sure it was a salad of necessity. Italian cooks waste nothing and, this was a way to use up stale bread. It dates back to the 1500’s.  It always includes bread and tomatoes.  Other vegetables that may be included are peppers, cucumbers, and onions.  Also, lots of garlic, capers, black olives, and anchovies are usually included. The Panzanella salad I’m sharing with you today includes roasted butternut squash.  This is a fabulous salad! Thanks Diane for sharing it with me!

I used rosemary-sea salt focaccia 
Butternut squash ready for the oven
Roasted and ready to use
The veggies cut up for the salad…minus onions and anchovies 
This is an incredible salad…the flavor of the butternut squash melded so well with all the other ingredients.  
Delicious Butternut Panzanella Salad!

Butternut Panzanella Salad
This salad adapted from 

The Organic Seasonal Cookbook

serves 4-6

2 butternut squash
⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 stale ciabatta loaf
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
9 oz. halved baby plum tomatoes (I used red and yellow cherry tomatoes)
12 canned anchovy fillets in olive oil, rinsed and chopped (optional)
1 small cucumber
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, crushed ( I used one)
1 bunch fresh basil, coarsely torn
sea salt


Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Peel the squash, then remove the seeds. Cut the flesh into ¾ inch chunks and spread out on a baking sheet.  Drizzle over a little of the extra virgin olive oil and add a light scattering of sea salt. Roast in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until soft and caramelized.

Meanwhile, cut the ciabatta into small chunks, then drizzle with some of the remaining oil and season to taste with sea salt.  Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until golden and crunchy.

Put the celery, onion, red bell pepper, tomatoes, and anchovies, if using, in a large bowl.  Halve the cucumber lengthwise and scoop out the seeds, then cut into thin slices and add to the bowl.  Add the roasted squash and seeds and the baked ciabatta. Mix the vinegar and garlic with the remaining oil and season to taste salt and pepper.  Pour over the salad, then add the basil and toss thoroughly, making sure that the ciabatta chunks get a good coating of the dressing.  If possible, let stand for an hour or so to enable the flavors to develop and the bread to soften very slightly.

Friday, August 24, 2012

FFWD ~ Peach Melba

The lovely Peach Melba or pêche Melba 
Auguste Escoffier, the famous French chef, gets the credit for pairing two of summer’s most delicious fruits, peaches and raspberries, to create his classic peach Melba dessert. Escoffier created his famous dessert in honor of Nellie Melba, a famous Australian Opera singer in the 1800’s. French Fridays with Dorie gets the credit for us making it this week. A perfect dessert for a summer evening! Peaches are at their peak, sweet and delectable!  The raspberries are from my garden. I’m picking about a pint daily! 

This recipe, while easy enough, was a bit time consuming. If you make the components in stages, you can put it together quickly! First, plunge your peaches into boiling water for twenty seconds, then put them into ice water. The skin will peel off easily. Then make your syrup with sugar, water, lemon peel, and a vanilla bean. If you choose, you can add some lemon verbena leaves to the syrup. I had lemon balm so I used that! You then poach your peaches in the syrup. Refrigerate until cool or ready to use. Done!! Oh, and some Chambord, or creme de cassis…which I forgot!! 

Poached peaches
Next, puree your raspberries…that was easy enough…I used my Magic Bullet! The Magic Bullet has been a source of contention in my house. My husband bought it for me while watching one of those late night infomercials. He also bought one for my daughter because, if he called right at that moment he got a second one for half price.  I have a food processor, a blender and an Immersion blender, all of which I prefer to the Magic Bullet. I have owned it for about four years and used it very sparingly. For this recipe I needed a small amount of puree so, out came the Magic Bullet. Viola... a big smile on my hubbys face! So easy to please…now back to our dessert….
Putting this lovely sundae together was very easy. A teaspoon of poaching liquid in the bottom of your dish, one of those lovely poached peaches, a scoop of ice cream (I used my homemade peach ice cream), another peach half, raspberry puree drizzled over all of this, garnish with fresh raspberries and sliced almonds. I left out the whipped cream…we really are trying to cut back!! 
This was a delicious sundae…but then, what could be bad about an ice cream sundae! Happy Friday everyone!!

To all my French Friday friends….Happy 100th!!  It’s been a pleasure!!
This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspans’ cookbook "Around My French Table”. You can also find this recipe here.  To see what the other Doristas' are doing you can check it our here.
This looks like red paint…but honestly it’s my raspberry puree!
This was luscious!
What could be bad about a dish of peaches, raspberries and ice cream?? Nothing!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tuesdays with Dorie ~ Popovers

Popovers with my homemade fig jam….yum!
The pick for this weeks Baking with Julia comes from Marion Cunningham for Popovers.  It’s been a long time since I’ve made popovers so, I was really looking forward to this weeks recipe. I have a fascination with popovers. They have an almost custard like inside and taste so wonderfully delicious!  They rise so incredibly high that, just taking them out of the oven evokes excitement! Popovers are also easy to make, with simple ingredients…flour, eggs, milk, a touch of salt and some butter. Put all the ingredients into a blender and mix well. They pop because of the high amount of liquid in the batter, that creates steam and causes the popover to puff up!  And they're versatile, they can be made for breakfast or dessert. I just found a recipe on line for Blueberry-coconut cream popovers.  Don’t they sound great? I know I’ll be giving those a try! 
I made them for our second breakfast yesterday morning. Sounds strange I know but, we get up very early and eat soon afterwards.  Then, my husband and I always take a morning break together, and have one last cup of tea and coffee before we start our day.  Usually only tea and coffee!  Most of our morning breaks take place out on our deck, so that we can enjoy our humming birds and the morning sunshine. However, today we also enjoyed wonderful popovers with some fig jam!  It was a very good morning!  I made six popovers and froze four. A treat for another day!

I made mine in custard cups…as they baked….
they rose out of the cups
An odd shape…..
but totally delicious!
I froze the extras so that we could enjoy these another morning
Note to self…make popovers more often

And a word about Marion Cunningham, who just passed away at age 90.  I recently was part of a group  that blogged weekly about the women chosen by Gourmet magazine as the 50 Women Game Changers in Food.  I could not believe that Ms. Cunningham was not part of that list. She was not only very influential to me and my interest in cooking, but to a whole generation of home cooks. The "Fannie Farmer" was my go to cookbook, while I was learning to cook as a young bride.  So here’s to you Marion…Number 1 on my list! 

If you would like the recipe for the Popovers, please visit my friend Paula of Vintage Kitchen Notes and Amy of Bake With Amy our lovely hosts for this week!! Thank you ladies! It can also be found in the cookbook Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

Friday, August 17, 2012

FFWD ~ Cafe-Style Grated Carrot Salad

Cafe~Style Grated Carrot Salad

This weeks French Friday pick is an old standby for me. I have been making carrot salad since my kids were teenagers. It has always been a favorite, that I would make most weeks during the summer. It's great with barbecued burgers or chicken. Dories' salad is much the same as mine, with the exception of adding a ½ cup of crushed pineapple.  My dressing was different, too!  It consists of mayonnaise, pineapple juice, vinegar and powdered mustard.
When I started this salad, I knew it was going to be well received, even with a different dressing! Dories' dressing calls for Dijon mustard, honey, cider vinegar and oil. When I read the ingredients, I wasn’t quite sure about the addition of mustard and the omission of mayo.  I kept thinking... I could just do my old standby…who would know? Well, the answer to that question is me…I would know! The whole reason we do this is to expand our cooking horizons so, I plunged ahead with Dories' dressing.
This salad consists of grated carrots. I used my food processor…quick and easy! Then I added the raisins, walnuts and mixed in the dressing…again quick and easy…ready to serve!
The salad was delicious, and fresh tasting.  The dressing was light and quite good. The flavors just melded together wonderfully.  We enjoyed it, however the picky eater in our twosome preferred my original salad. He missed the pineapple!  Happy Friday everyone!!

This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspans’ cookbook "Around My French Table" or you can find it
here at Bon Appetit where it has been posted. To see what other people in the French Friday group are doing you can check it our here.

I loved the dressing…had just the right tang 
This was quick,  fresh tasting and delicious!
My “Go To” Carrot Salad until now

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy 100th Birthday, Julia Child and Julia’s Cherry Clafouti

Julia Child was an American cook, cookbook author and TV personality! If you’re reading this you already know that!  However, Julia was so much more…she was funny and never took herself too seriously! I just read that, during one of her shows she was flipping pancakes, dropped one…said Oops…picked it up and continued with the show!  August 15th would have been her 100th birthday. As a food blogger, I could not let the day pass without a tribute to this wonderful, talented lady, whom I greatly admired.  She was an icon in the food industry.  Her cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, changed the way Americans cooked. In the early 60’s to promote her cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, she started to cook on a PBS station in Boston.  PBS thought no one was watching, until the fan mail started to come in. In 1963, after appearing on a television panel show, Child began a weekly half-hour cooking program called,  The French Chef.  This show pioneered an entire genre of cooking shows.  The show proved more successful than her book. She had an off-beat style, a what the hell attitude, knowledge, and a flair for teaching.  She was hilarious!  This made her very popular. Her work was recognized with a Peabody Award in 1965, and an Emmy Award in 1966.   Her success on television landed her at number 46 on TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time.”  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

French Tuesdays…Warm Scallop Salad with Corn, Nectarines, and Basil

The delectable Warm Scallop Salad with Corn, Nectarines, and Basil
Phew! What a week I've had! Hosting my 4 year old twin grandsons and 8 year old granddaughter was great fun and...very exhausting!!  We visited the NJ State Fair, ate fair food and rode many rides!  We made an excursion through an old Zinc mine, where the kids saw wonderful mineral colors exposed by Blue Light.  I baked with Josie instead of Julia! We had many fun adventures to add to our memory box! The food for the week was simple and kid friendly…no scallops in sight! So I decided to make my French Friday Scallop Salad on Monday!
Enjoying a puppet show at the State Fair
Baking with Josie!!
Josie’s teapot…her favorite cookie
This salad was sophisticated, elegant and scrumptious. It was definitely worth the time it took to pull it together.  Corn is at it’s peak here in New Jersey! Delicious and so sweet! Perfect for eating in this salad!  So, I stopped by my local farm stand and picked some up the day before.  Fresh corn is a staple in my house durning the summer…my grandkids really loved eating it each night for dinner!   I shucked the corn early in the day and refrigerated it.  I then made my lime dressing, which took less than 5 minutes.  The basil coulis also came together quickly.  The basil and tomatoes were picked fresh from my garden!  Perfect!! With all components made and refrigerated, the salad was a breeze to put together.  When dinner time rolled around I grilled my scallops and nectarines, then put this wonderful salad together!
Dorie’s Warm Scallop Salad was enjoyed by both my husband and me!  It was declared "a keeper” by my husband!  I really enjoyed the delectable taste of the lime dressing with the corn…so fresh tasting! Another winner for Dorie!
This recipe can be found here at Epicurious and also in Dorie Greenspans book Around My French Table!

Lovely tomatoes from my garden
Fresh corn….so wonderful
Such a beautiful fresh salad
I will be making this again…and again!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

TWD ~ Baking with Julia Berry Galette

Yummy Berry Galette…this would be great with so many different combos…what next?

This week our pick for Tuesdays with Dorie ~ Baking with Julia was, a Berry Galette.  When I saw this recipe, I knew immediately the fruit I would use in my galette... Blackberries!!  My garden is sprouting beautiful big juicy blackberries! Not enough for a pie yet but, plenty for the galette.  I decided to add a peach to the berries…because I love that combination!

Some of my berries
Yesterday morning, I started out by making the crust, using my food processor. It made mixing this dough quite easy. The dough calls for flour and cornmeal, placed in the bowl of the food processor, with the salt and sugar.  I then added three tablespoons of plain yogurt, mixed with about ¼ cup of ice water. I went light on the water, watching the consistency of the dough.  At first this dough was a bit sticky. However, after sprinkling with a bit of flour it was fine.  When I finished mixing I made two disks, wrapped them in plastic wrap, and refrigerated them for several hours.  This dough not only came together easily, but rolled out beautifully!
When it was time to put the galette together,  I followed a tip from the Ps&Qs on rolling this dough out.  Shiloh of Cheese with Noodles suggested rolling out the dough on parchment paper…it was a great idea and it worked out perfectly.  I mixed 1¼ cups of blackberries with one sliced peach,  spread them on the dough, sprinkled on the sugar and pulled up the crust.  The crust was a little soft so, I'm really glad I rolled it out on the parchment. This was a perfect way for lifting the dough to the baking pan and, baking as directed. 
This week my grandchildren are visiting, so my house has turned into Camp Grandma, and this is a perfect dessert for us to enjoy with a scoop of ice cream!! 

If you would like to see this recipe, please visit my friend Andrea of The Kitchen Lioness and Lisa of Tomato Thymes in the Kitchen our lovely hosts for this week!!

Mixing the dough in the food processor 
The rolled dough with the fruit spread on top
Ready to be baked
Want a piece??
Lovely and delicious!! 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Huff Post and Me….And Pistachio Gelato

Two weeks ago I found out that my Limoncello Pine Nut Biscotti was one of the featured recipes in the Huffington Post Kitchen Daily’s article about desserts using Limoncello. I don’t know how they found me, but it seems they scanned the web looking for delicious desserts using the Italian Liquor Limoncello. I was so surprised, and probably would have never known except, I generally check my stats every week to see how I’m doing. I noticed a lot of traffic coming from The Huffington Post. I thought that rather odd…what would be driving them to my blog? When I clicked on the link I was so surprised to find my Limoncello Pine Nut Biscotti and a link to my blog! I was also honored and thrilled to see my biscotti picked as one of fourteen desserts that were featured in this article. If you’d like to see the article you can check out the link here. If you’d like to get my recipe you can find it here.

Limoncello Pine Nut Biscotti
There were some delicious looking desserts in this article, from some pretty talented bloggers. Hope you check them out! All I can say is…Wow!!


Now for the Gelato! It has been very hot in my neck of the woods this summer, prompting me to turn on my ice cream maker and make David Lebovitz’s Pistachio Gelato. I was hoping to post my gelato during July for National Ice Cream month…but my life got in the way! It was made, it was enjoyed but, it never got posted! This was the best Pistashio Gelato I have ever eaten!

Pistachio Gelato 
by david lebovitz

About 3 cups (3/4 liter)

2 cups (½ liter) whole milk
1/3 cup (65 gr) sugar
2 tablespoons (16 gr) cornstarch (also known as corn flour)
7 ounces (200 gr)  pistachio paste  
 a few drops of lemon or orange juice

1. Make a slurry by mixing the 1/4 cup of the milk with the cornstarch, mixing until the starch is dissolved and the mixture is smooth.

2. Heat the rest of the milk in a medium-sized saucepan with the sugar.

3. When it almost starts to boil, stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook at gentle simmer for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

4. Remove from heat, scrape into a bowl, and chill thoroughly, preferably overnight.

5. Once chilled, whisk in the pistachio paste and just a few drops of citrus juice until smooth.

6. Freeze the gelato in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.