Wish Upon A Dish: June 2010

June 30, 2010

'Lil Zucchini Mistake Bites

What should have been a baked, airy & savory puff ended up becoming fried, airy & savory puffs. They taste really good and they are so addictive. Hubby will love these. I almost ate them all.

Serves 24 bites

* 1 cup AP flour
* 1 stick butter
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup water
* 4 eggs, room temperature
* 2 zucchini, seeded, grated, salted and squeezed dry
* 1 cup Locatelli Cheese, grated
* Pepper to taste

1. In saucepan add water, butter and bring to a simmer. With the burner on low, add the flour and with a wooden spoon (not a whisk) mix until the paste pulls away from the sides and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes to remove any flour taste.
2. Immediately move paste to food processor and while on, add 1 egg at a time until all are incorporated. Add zucchini and cheese and pulse until mixed in. (If you don't have a food processor you can turn the heat off of saucepan and mix 1 egg at a time with a wooden spoon, adding another when there is no visible signs of glistening egg left). Remove paste from processor bowl to pastry bag or large zip bag.
3. I refrigerated the paste for 4 hours before frying.
4. In deep heavy sauce pan or electric fryer at 375F squeeze in or drop in 1 tablespoon squirts of paste. Fry till bottom is golden brown and flip over for other side, about 3 minutes on each.
5. Remove to paper towel lined pan and sprinkle with sea salt (preferably) or kosher. Can refrigerate or freeze until ready to serve and heat in 350F oven for 10-15 minutes before serving,

A little honey mustard or ranch dip, even ketchup would be ok, but alone they are at their best.

Tonight is hamburger night and along with the other recipes I made and tested I also made dough for burger buns. I am tired of cooking, washing dishes and typing.

June 29, 2010

Pea Pesto with Homemade Raviolis

We went to our little local framers market this Saturday and I bought a few interesting items I have seen on TV but never tried. One was a romanesco broccoli (I have no idea what to do with it) and the other was an 8-ball zucchini (do I stuff it?).

I did get some fresh garlic, small new red potatoes, small red onions and English peas. I can't remember the last time I shucked a pea. I blanched and refrigerated them for pea raviolis or pea pesto with fresh pasta. Either way I have to make pasta dough today.

I have summer squash recipes to develop and test today and a goat cheese torta from Mario that I want to taste before I bring it to a picnic.

Looks like my processor will get a workout today.

Pea Pesto

* 1 cup fresh peas
* 1 cup parsley
* 1/2 cup mint & basil
* 2 tbls lemon juice
* 1 tbls capers, drained
* 1/3 cup EVOO
* 1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts

Process everything in a blender till a paste.

I will be serving this with the raviolis so I am thinning it out with cream, capers, vegetable broth and EVOO if needed.
Cheese is optional but I am roasting sliced portabello mushrooms. What ever is not eaten I will put on my burger tomorrow night.

Tomorrow I have to make a mozzarella and ricotta dumpling dish, profiteroles, make hamburger buns for dinner, mignon my salmon steak for Thursday and stuff a zucchini....sigh.

June 28, 2010

All about baked clams

Hubby took Friday afternoon off to visit his Mom because we weren't sure she was doing as well as she should have been and we wanted a surprise visit so the staff wouldn't know we were coming.
Caring for the elderly is a waking up experience because you know, soon it's your turn. Anyways...
We had a very encouraging visit and on the way home it was late and I just didn't have anything defrosted or prepared for dinner so we stopped at a local Italian place for some food. I ordered the clams oreganata and crab stuffed snapper for dinner and besides the saltiness of the food, I forgot how much I liked baked whole clams. Usually I buy the chopped clams and make a stuffed clam shell. I just love clams.
Seems everyone is confused about oreganata vs. casino, so I decided to do some research on my own.
Here's what I found out:
Clams Casino is bacon, garlic, wine, red peppers, spices and it's baked in the oven.
Clams Oreganata is bread crumbs and oregano and garlic, etc. that is either added after the clams are steamed and tossed together or it can be lightly packed onto a whole clam and baked in the oven.

I made my own on the grill on Saturday along with fresh oysters and lobster.
First you shuck the clams, saving the juice. To the juice I added fresh herbs from my garden (oregano, chives, parsley, lemon thyme) unseasoned fine bread crumbs, lemon juice and zest, roasted garlic olive oil to moisten and grated cheese. I took about a soup spoon of filling and covered each of 6 clams with it, brushed the tops with melted butter and put them on the grill along with the lobster.


Some grilled bread, a touch of wasabi for a nice kick, squeeze of fresh lemon, some white wine and we had a very nice dinner at home for a quarter of the price.

Sunday was so oppressive that I made just sausage and ziti (with my canned sauce) and we ate in the air conditioning.

June 24, 2010

Shrimp with Chermoula Sauce

Does anyone know what kind of sauce Chermoula is? First of all, it's Moroccan, well North African to be exact.
I am on a Moroccan kick this month since hubby found out he works with a man from Morocco. He was nice enough to give us Harissa to use in my cooking.
There are many versions of Chermoula made, each house has it's own recipe handed down from generation to generation. Almost like pasta sauce.

In Morocco they use it for fish, which is how I am going to use it.
I do not have preserved lemons. I would love to make them myself but it calls for thin shinned lemons or spring lemons and I can only get the thick skinned type here in the NE.
I will probably buy a jar next time I go to a specialty store, my Whole Foods doesn't carry it.
I will use the zest and juice from 1 lemon instead.
Recipe calls for marinade and grill sauce but I am also extending it to include dipping sauce.
I added an egg yolk to the processor while making the paste. It has the consistency of mayonnaise but kicked up a few notches.........lol.

My Chermoula Sauce

* Zest and juice of one lemon
* 2 garlic cloves
* 3 tbls flat-leaf parsley
* 3 tbls cilantro
* 1/8 tsp saffron threads
* 1/2 tsp paprika
* 1/8 tsp cayenne
* 12 tsp cumin
* 3 tbls olive oil
* Lemon wedges, to serve

* 4 x-large (16-20) shrimps per person.

Process all ingredients.
Add 1 egg yolk if looking for a mayonnaise-type sauce.

My take on shrimp and grits....lol. I cooled the polenta in a mini muffin tin and circled the shrimp around each one.

I will baste them on the grill with the Chermoula sauce and serve it with roasted broccoli on the side.
I love polenta in any form, but especially firm and grilled.
In the winter I bake it with grated cheese over it.

I am addicted to recipe contests....

I am not good at them, but I love the process.
I just finished one for cherries. I can share it with you now that it's posted.

1 1/2 cups of Ruby or Tawny Port
1/2 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup dried tart cherries, unsweetened
1 large shallot, chopped
2-3 springs of thyme
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbls whole peppercorns
2 tbls unsalted butter

Boil all but the butter until reduce to 1/3 cup and pour into food processor.

Process just to break up solids and pour into fine-mesh strainer. Using spoon or spatula, press on the solids to extract all the liquids (don't forget the bottom of the strainer, there is always something hiding there).

Swirl, do not whisk, the butter into the sauce using the same pan (I hate doing dishes).

Refrigerate till use. Will keep for 2-3 weeks tightly covered in a container.

Although I use it for pork and beef tenderloins, I have used it for shrimp & scallops, duck and chicken and roasted butternut squash.

June 23, 2010

Stuffed Yellow and Green Squash

I have seen these done many different ways but I don't think they have ever been stuffed with kasha. You have heard of it, right?

It's buckwheat groats. You can buy it in 3 different cuts. Actually it is a grain, like oats and in Europe they make cereal from it. It is thousands of years old and it's more common in the Jewish community. It is often paired with farfalle and mushrooms for a dish called Kasha Varnishkes.
Buckwheat is one of the best flours and grains you could eat, especially for a diabetic because it contains the least amount of sugars and it's got a low GI.
Instead of rice or pasta, I am using it to stuff the squash. It also makes a great stuffing for cabbage rolls, peppers (like a picadillo) and if you make it Mexican (with chilies) you can layer it with Edam cheese, meat, cheese, etc. and bake it for a really good dip for tortilla chips.

With a melon baller or a metal measuring spoon, remove the flesh from the courgettes.
Save the insides, chop and add to the onions which we will saute.

Stuffed Squash
makes 4 servings

* 1/2 a medium sweet onion (I used a Vidallia)
* 3 garlic cloves, minced
* chopped inside flesh from squash
* 2 cups good chicken broth
* 1 cup large cut Kasha
* 1 pound chop meat, cooked
* 1 (280z) can crushed tomatoes
* 1 bay leaf
* salt & pepper
* 1 tsp cinnamon
* 1/2 tsp coriander
* 1/4 tsp cloves & allspice
* 1/2 cup water to thin it out if needed

After the pot has simmered for 20 minutes, cool and measure out enough for your amount of squash.
I will be adding ricotta, mascarpone cheese and Locatelli cheese, so I will use about 1 cup of stuffing.

You don't have to add the cheese but it's always better with good cheeses. Before baking I will sprinkle some mozzarella over and bake for 20 minutes until cheese is browned.

This was excellent. So healthy but tasty. An excellent way to try kasha for the first time. The kids won't even know.

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June 22, 2010

Ciliegie Giubileo Budino ♥ Cherries Jubilee Pudding - Love Italian Style

This recipe is for a contest, theme being "cherries", so I made an Italian semolina pudding.....Cherries Jubilee style.
I had to taste it and it's light and sweet and just enough for dessert, not over the top. The best part is, it's all done in a stand mixer in the same bowl. Took me all of 15 minutes for prep time and 35 to bake.
I will be making this all year using whatever fruits are currently in season, figs next, then pears and apples and cranberries and..........well you get the picture. Hubby will love this, he loves puddings.

Serves 8
Jubilee Sauce:

* 2 cups pitted, sweet cherries
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 2 tablespoons water
* 1 pinch salt
* 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
* 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
* 1 tablespoon Kirsch, Cherry Brandy, or Brandy

Budino (Pudding):

* 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
* 3/4 cups sugar + 2 tbls + 4 Tbls
* 4 eggs, separated
* 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
* 3/4 cups buttermilk
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 cup semolina Flour
* 1/3 cup cake Flour
* 1 tablespoon Kirsch or brandy

1. Place cherries, sugar and water in medium saucepan. Simmer for 8-10 minutes. Add salt, lemon juice, zest and Kirsch. Simmer until thickened. Can be pureed or left chunky. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
2. Grease 8 (4oz) ramekins with butter. Sprinkle them with sugar to evenly coat. Tap out the excess and place in a baking dish large enough to hold all ramekins at least 1/2" apart.
3. With mixer, beat whites, pinch of salt and 2 tbls sugar until stiff peaks. Remove.
4. In same bowl, mix yolks and 3/4 cup sugar until very light yellow. Add extract and the melted butter, then beat in buttermilk.
5. In small bowl combine flours, and gradually add that to egg mixture, beating lightly.
6. Fold whites into batter. Divide evenly amongst ramekins and add enough hot water to come 1/3 of the way up. Cover entire dish with foil and bake in a 350F oven for 20 minutes.

7. Remove foil CAREFULLY because of steam escaping and continue to bake for an additional 5-7 minutes until slightly golden brown. Remove to rack and cool.
8. Invert onto bowl or deep dish and spoon cherry sauce over the top. Serve with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

I substituted Splenda No Calorie for the sugar and Cool Whip FREE for the whipped cream and I sprayed the ramekins with PAM instead of butter.

June 15, 2010

THE very best, easiest homemade Hamburger Buns !!!

Today is the perfect day to make dough so since Hamburgers are on the menu and tomorrow it is going to rain, guess what I'm making?

Adapted from Saveur.com

* 2 1/4 tsp Instant Yeast
* 1 1/3 cups warm milk (105-120 degrees)
* 1 1/2 tsp Agave Nectar
* 4 cups AP flour
* 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
* 1 egg, beated
* 4 tbls unsalted butter, softened
* 3 tsp sesame seeds (optional)

In a bowl fitted with hook, mix flour, nectar, salt, egg and butter till blended.
Into milk add yeast to proof. When foamy add to mixer and on medium speed (about a 4) mix for at least 8 minutes. Depending on the day, you may need more flour.
I always reserve 1/4 cup to make sure. It's easier to add flour than more liquid.

Cover and let rise 2 hours. Punch down and cut into 12 pieces.
Shape into balls and let rise another 30 minutes.
Place on parchment-lined sheet pan and brush egg wash on tops.
I pressed down on the tops with my fingers so that they would not be so poofy (round).
Bake at 400F for 18-20 minutes.
Remove and cool completely.

It is a very elastic puffy dough so I imagine the rolls will be soft. I also like when they add butter to it like a brioche, makes it buttery......lol.

It took only 1 hour to rise outside in the sun.
I weighed them out at 4 oz each which gave me 9 rolls instead of 12.
I want them bigger then the usual.
I guess if I made them 3oz each that would be more in line for a standard 1/4 burger.
I'm making 1/3 pound burgers.....so there.

I let them rise again for 30 minutes, brushed egg over the tops, set the oven to 400F and when pre-heated will bake them for 18-20 minutes.

First 5 buns, there are 4 more in the oven.

I am dying to cut into one to see the inside but I'm trying to practice patience with my baking, you can't rush dough. It needs to cool completely. It doesn't form a good crumb with you cut into it warm. You can always reheat them in the oven or tonight, the grill.
I will give my neighbors 4 of them because they don't keep more than 2 days and I throw more homemade bread away then I care to count.

I highly recommend making these buns, not just for hamburgers, I shaped one into a hoagie-style bun and am eating a sandwich of sliced chicken with it and it's really good.

I can see using these for a Italian Beef Sandwich, also.

June 10, 2010

Blackberry Swirl Scones and food pictures

I am not a baker. I don't like to bake but I'm very competitive with myself and when I can't do something I make a point of doing it but doing it really well.
To the point that I become obsessed....and then it wears off.
Take the site Tastespotting for example.
I wasn't even aware of it 3 months ago when I started this blog.
When I discovered it, I thought...OK, let's sign up and submit a picture.

Yeah, right.
I have this little hand held Olympus camera that, while it's fine for basic pictures, it really sucks for food pics.
I do have photoshop, so I taught myself how to adjust the brightness and contrast of my pics.
They still get rejected but not so much for lighting but now my composition stinks.

I go back and forth and back again and rework a few pictures and....ta da....I FINALLY get one published....YAY for me, right?
Oh no, that's not good enough for me. I want another one up there to prove it wasn't a fluke.
I am determined to get composition down so I can put up professional-type food pics. I read all the time if you want peeps to follow your blog you have to have really good food pics.
I don't make any money from my blog, nor do I eventually want to make money. I want to cook gourmet, with dietary concerns and share my successes with people who also have dietary goals.

I forget to take pics some nights. I really should just do the best I can and if it gets published then I feel good. I try to do the best I can.
Alas, this too shall pass..........I feel obligated to be a good photographer but I just want to develop diabetic friendly recipes not pictures.

I will continue to submit food pictures because I need Diabetics to find me.....so........if the pics are shadowed or a little blurry I'm sorry, but I can guarantee the recipes won't be.

Blackberry Swirl Scones
* Use my Cinnamon Scone Recipe but subtitute 1 container of fresh blackberries (about 6oz) for the dried cranberries and 1 cup Pastry Flour and 1 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour for the 2 cups AP flour (only if you want them healthier).

I blend all the dry ingredients in my processor, then add the butter and pulse until small peas (you know the drill).
Refrigerate the processor bowl while prepping the other ingredients.
I chopped up the blackberries because they were way too big and I coated them in flour to absorb the juices that exude from the berries.
Dump the processor mixture into a big bowl and with a fork, make a well in the middle.
Add the liquids and mix until moistened.
Dump that mixture out onto a wood board and knead it until it comes together, adding more flour or cream if needed. The whole wheat flour being drier than regular flour I did have to add about 2 tbls more cream.

Roll out the dough to about 1" thick and a 12x8 inch rectangle. Spread the berries evenly over the dough and using a dough scraper flip 1/3 of the dough over and then over again, making what is actually a jellyroll. Compact the ends and round out the dough and cut into 1" thick slices. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a Silpat, sprinkle tops with demerara sugar and bake at 400F for 24-25 minutes.
If you want to add a glaze, that's up to you but hubby doesn't like them too sweet.

June 6, 2010

Grilled Salmon Mignons with Grilled Asparagus

Wild caught King Salmon is just about the best salmon you can buy and eat. It's not available all year and it can be quite expensive at about $16.99 a pound, at least around here it is.
If you can get it, I suggest buying it and cooking it within 1 day.
I have heard that in the Northwest they practically give it away and at every restaurant it's on the table like a loaf of bread or rolls would be.
I wish we were that lucky. With my market, this is the standard cut of King Salmon that I usually find. I will cut it down the middle, pull out the bones and remove the skin. One half is a portion (about 5 ounces), so one whole steak is enough for the two of us.

This was the cut that I bought this week at my market. They had no steaks, just fillets. That won't stop me from buying it, so I bought a 3" wide piece and cut it in half. Anyone that cooks salmon knows that fillets are uneven in height. The belly flap, which is the best part (fish fat wise), is the thin side so its hard to bake or grill evenly. I found that making the 'mignons' creates a 'steak' that is even all the way through (just like a beef mignon) so it cooks perfectly.

This is what I do to make the mignons.
I roll the fillet up, other small side in first or larger part first. Whatever gives me the tightest roll. I take cotton kitchen twine and using the surgeon's knot I tie the salmon tight because it will shrink and I don't want it to fall apart on the grill.

They are easier to grill this way and they look really cool too.

I make this simple marinade and grill sauce and it's one of the best ways to eat King Salmon.
Salmon Marinade and Glaze
1 tbls Colemans Dry Mustard
2 tbls Brown Sugar
1 tbls water
1 tbls Tamari
1 tsp Ground Ginger

Hot grill, 4 minutes on one side, turning a quarter of the way at the 2 minute mark. Flip and brush with the marinade. Grill 4 minutes on last side, repeating the quarter turn at 2 minutes.
You will have a perfectly grilled, or roasted, Salmon Steak every time.
Imagine that.

As we were eating outside the last of a storm front passed over us without a drop. They were calling for Tornado Watches all along the East Coast but as usual, here in Lake Hopatcong we have our own weather......LOL
We went from 80 degrees, hot, humid and miserable all weekend to 74 degrees, cool and beautiful. I am constantly amazed at how fast the weather can change...I believe the old timers say......on a turn of a dime.