Monthly Archives: July 2015

THE Panzanella

PANZANELLA

It’s toasted bread! It’s veggies! It’s panzanella coming to the rescue!

First off, apologies all around for the technical difficulties last week, and to those of you who got a sad, gray, “Legacy IP DNS blah blah” message instead of a recipe for Watermelon Rosemary Lemonade. Thanks to a kind man named Piotr who desperately needs a vowel, we are back up and running. Now, on to this weekend.

Some recipes you just have to know. Ina Garten’s panzanella is one of them, especially in summer. In addition to being a way to use a whole lot of summer’s best produce, it’s easy to prep, easy to bring, easy to assemble and it’s DELISH. Plus, it’s a way to eat crispy bread and call it dinner (or breakfast if you can’t help yourself the morning after). Ina (AKA The Barefoot Contessa, and the goddess of bringing it) has many panzanellas in her repertoire, including an awesome greek version, but if you only master this one (and you will on your first try) the Kingdom of Picnic Greatness is yours. 

As I mentioned in the recipe for Asparagus Panzanella, you can use your imagination, your cravings and the contents of your produce bin to tweak panzanella in all kinds of ways. It’s a tasty go-to on some seriously hot days. And by the way, if you live in the Upper Valley and are looking for some places to cool off check out this post on Swimming Holes and Soft Serve.

Ok peeps, stay cool out there!

Ina’s Panzanella

Serves 12

INGREDIENTS

For the Salad:

  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes (I have used halved cherry or grape tomatoes as well.)
  • 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

For the vinaigrette, whisk together the ingredients.

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

Bringing it:

You can prep the bread, veggies and vinaigrette in advance and store in their own containers. Mix it all up on site a half hour before serving.

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Watermelon 911

 watermelon1

We’ve all been there. It’s the height of summer and you get a watermelon every time you go by the big bin of them in the store because it just seems like the right thing to do. You can get ambitious and whirl it into watermelon gazpacho or mix up some watermelon sangria or just cut it in cubes for snacks. Inevitably you reach the point where a watermelon hangs around a tad too long so you give it precious fridge space. And then by some crazy plot twist you end up with another watermelon. You’ve got yourself a watermelon emergency. What do you do?

Well you start drinking of course. And you drink watermelon juice. In the name of research I watched nearly all of a six minute video on making watermelon juice until I realized it was just an excuse for people to watch a hot yoga instructor with expressive hands talk breathily about her “watermelon secret.” I felt so violated. There is no secret here—just throw watermelon chunks in a blender and press the button. I should have used my time to watch this video, inspired by a facebook find from Sister B:

 

 

In honor of Sister A, I wanted to put my watermelon juice to good use by making a big batch of cocktails, but the week was young. Soooo, with inspiration from Sandy’s freezer dacquiris I froze the whole batch in my brilliant rectangular Tupperware pitcher. Now, my fridge has been freed, I’m still stone sober, and I’m ready for a weekend expedition without needing to find ice packs for the cooler. Boom!

A few details, as ever. This drink, inspired by Food52’s  Boozy Watermelon Lemonade, relies on rosemary simple syrup for sweetness. It’s well worth your time to make up batches of simple syrup, with various flavorings (mint, rosemary, citrus, peppercorns, etc, etc) and have them on hand to fancy up everything from iced tea and plain old seltzer to your firewater of choice. Inspired by my favorite Aveda shampoo, I added some mint to my rosemary syrup as it steeped because, why not?

This is an excellent non-alcoholic drink as well, but don’t freeze it without the booze or you’ll have one huge ice cube. I made this drink with gin because it has that little edge to it. But feel free to use vodka or whatever feels right to you. And finally, this recipe is easily scaled up or down, so if you’re on a date just change cups to ounces.

Now let’s get mixing. The weekend’s a comin’ and you need to free up that fridge for bacon and burrata!

Watermelon Rosemary Lemonade

Serves lots

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups watermelon juice *
  • I ½ cups rosemary simple syrup **
  • 1 ½ cup lemon juice, lime juice or any combo of the two, fresh squeezed (or use that frozen minute maid juice I won’t tell!)
  • 1 ½ cups seltzer
  • 3 cups gin

 Method:

Combine first four ingredients and stir well. Pour the mixture into a large pitcher. Add gin if using. Stir to combine. Serve over ice in jars garnished with a rosemary sprig or fresh mint or both. If freezing this for later, do not add seltzer and allow to freeze at least 8 hours and up to a day. Remove from freezer and stir/scrape it into Slurpee form. As it thaws it will get easier to pour. If there are leftovers just refreeze them. 

*To make Watermelon Juice (no thanks to Yoga woman)

Chunk up a watermelon and puree it in a blender in batches. Pour juice through strainer (if desired, and definitely if freezing) and into a wide bowl. Save yourself sticky anguish and do this over the sink. Transfer to a pourable container if not using it right away.

** To make Rosemary Simple Syrup (thanks to the Kitch’n)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 fresh rosemary sprigs

Method:

Stir together first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and boil 1 minute or until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, and let stand 30 minutes. Pour liquid through a wire-mesh strainer into a cruet or airtight container, discarding rosemary sprigs. Cover and chill 4 hours. Garnish, if desired. Syrup may be stored in refrigerator up to 1 month.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

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Mini Banana Muffins

Mini Banana Muffins III know it’s the height of summer and the gardens are bursting with fresh produce. I really wanted to write about kale or Swiss chard or basil.  My garden is overflowing with these greens and there are many other veggies and fruits on the scene as well. However, I felt I would be remiss in not posting this recipe for banana muffins. These are seriously the best banana muffins I have ever tasted. I kid you not! They are healthy too.

‘These muffins come to you from my friend Janeen. She is beyond talented in the kitchen and has a knack for creating her own twist (click here to check out her website for hand crafted cookies).  Next I promise, you’ll see a post with something from the summer bounty. But for now, make these muffins and count yourself lucky to be in Janeen’s circle. Some day when she’s a famous blogger and TV personality, you can say you first saw her on Bring It Eats.

Happy summer everyone!

Ingredients

2 cups almond meal
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts 

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tins with paper or foil liners (I used mini muffin pan).

In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients – almond meal, coconut, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a medium bowl, mix together wet ingredients – banana, eggs, melted coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla.

Add dry ingredients, all at once, to wet ingredients. When batter is almost completely mixed add in walnuts. Mix to combine well but do not over mix.

Spoon into prepared muffins tins. Fill ¾ full. Bake 20 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Serve warm and eat immediately. Store in plastic bags and eat over several days. Or freeze and pull them out as needed.

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Beet Caviar—for the No Roe Gourmet

 

beet-caviar

Meaty, beety, sorta sweety. Keep some of this in your fridge to fancy up any toast or cracker.

Yes, summer should be about melons and berries and fruity deliciousness. But let’s have a moment with beets, shall we? They are hearty but also virtuous, sneakily sweet without being considered dessert. Put them with a few other secret ingredients (like dates, walnuts, and a dollop of creme fraiche) and they are downright decadent. Speaking of secret ingredients, a note here on the booze: When using bourbon I went a little overboard once and it was overpowering. Stick with the 2 Tbsp. And if you’re not into booze, try using some good apple cider instead.

Roast a load of beets, however you like to do them, and keep them in the fridge for this, or easy deconstructed salads, or beet hummus or pretty smoothies. And hang in there—fruity summer goodness is coming at you soon…I promise!

Beet Caviar

Lifted from 101 Cookbooks and adapted from The Eastern and Central European Kitchen: Contemporary and Classic recipes by Silvena Rowe (2007).

Prep time: 5 min – Cook time: 60 min

If you have bourbon or vodka on hand, you can use one of those in place of the cognac.

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium beets, washed and trimmed
  • 5 plump dates, pitted and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cognac (bourbon, or vodka)
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons creme fraiche, plain yogurt, or sour cream
  • lots of freshly chopped chives

Method:

Preheat the oven to 400F with a rack in the center. Puncture the beets with a fork a few times, and roast for an hour, or until the beets are completely tender when you test by cutting into the center with a knife.

In the meantime, gently heat the cognac in a small saucepan. Place the dates in a glass bowl, and, when just hot, pour the alcohol over the dates. Jostle around a bit, and soak for at least 10 minutes.

When the beets are cooked and cool enough to peel, remove the skins and chop into cubes. Place in a food processor with the dates, cognac, and garlic. Puree until the texture is to your liking – I left a bit of texture here, but you can go smoother if you prefer.

Transfer to a serving bowl before adding the lemon juice, walnuts, and salt. Taste, and adjust the seasoning if needed. Serve swirled with the creme fraiche* (or on a creamy little mattress of it), and finished with chives.

Serves 6.

*buy creme fraiche, or make your own by one of these two methods, depending on what you have on hand:

Whisk together equal parts heavy cream and sour cream. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let stand in the kitchen or other reasonably warm spot overnight, or until thickened. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. The tart flavor will continue to develop as the creme fraiche sits in the refrigerator.

or…Mix one cup of room temperature heavy or whipping cream with two tablespoons of butter milk in a glass jar and cover. Let it stand at room temperature for 8 to 24 hours, or until it thickens. Stir well and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

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Spicy Salmon on a Stick

Fish on! Pure goodness on the grill…and a pro photo by Tania. The single skewer technique is for risk takers. Two skewers per kebab makes the grilling and flipping easier.

I know. It’s the 4th so you’re thinking burgers and dogs on the grill. It’s All American, it’s easy and it’s good. But one of many happy consequences of having the 4th fall on a Saturday is that it makes for a really long weekend. And that means more opportunities to get your grill game on. It is the perfect time to try something new. For me, that was salmon kebabs. I’m slightly intimidated by cooking fish on the grill in the first place, but cubed fish? With little lemon slices? This was a leap.

It was so worth it. This recipe came to me from my Rocky Mountain Correspondent Tania, purveyor of all things spicy and delicious. She also happens to be a fantastic photographer (of fast ski racers and food). She advised me to get the salmon skinned at the store which I did. My fish mongress tried to boss me otherwise (it was from a loving not lazy place, because she likes the skin) but I persevered and am so glad I did. Who wants bits of salmon skin at clean up time? Correct—not me.

I was nervous that the fish would fall apart, or be a pain to skewer or just not be that good, but it was pretty easy and very tasty. One slacker note: I wanted to skewer these a few hours ahead of time, so I did this before prepping the salmon with the oil and spices. Just before grilling I brushed them with oil and rolled them in the spice mixture which I had spread on a baking sheet. Second slacker note: I could not wade into the garden to find my fresh oregano so I used dried. Again, it was really good, but I know in my heart it could have been even better. These are the sacrifices we make.

Spiced Salmon on Skewers

By guest cook Tania Coffey via Bon Appetit

Ingredients

Servings: 4

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless salmon fillet (preferably wild), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 lemons, very thinly sliced into rounds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 16 bamboo skewers soaked in water 1 hour

Method:

prep: 25 min total: 25 min

  • Prepare grill for medium heat. Mix oregano, sesame seeds, cumin, salt, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl to combine; set spice mixture aside.
  • Beginning and ending with salmon, thread salmon and folded lemon slices onto 8 pairs of parallel skewers to make 8 kebabs total. The parallel skewers are pretty key in keeping the fish stable. Brush with oil and season with reserved spice mixture (or brush and roll entire kebab as described above).
  • Grill, turning occasionally, until fish is opaque throughout, 5–8 minutes.

Serve these with lemon cauliflower couscous, a green salad with everything from your CSA and maybe even some watermelon sangria. Save the burgers for your next bbq—it’s right around the corner. Happy 4th to all!

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