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Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

As I work my way through our very abundant zucchini harvest this summer, I thought I’d post a few of my fave zucchini recipes. As well as zucchini, I am picking a bowlful of zucchini flowers pretty much daily that I feel the need to use in a productive way. Though the zucchini flowers do not have a lot of flavor on their own, their vibrant color makes them a great addition to many dishes, in addition to just stuffing them.

This week I made this creamy risotto using up some of my zucchini, summer squash and zucchini flower buds… along with a leftover ear of corn on the cob in the frig just screaming.. ‘use me up!’ LOL I also added just a spoonful of basil pesto made fresh from the garden that really added a bright note to the dish.

If there is one thing I have an over abundance of growing here, besides zucchini.. it’s the basils. I am constantly picking basil before it flowers and often make a batch of pesto to garnish a bowl of soup, to toss with hot pasta or to stir into a risotto, such as this one. If you do not have your own supply of fresh basil on hand, you could use a good quality store brand pesto instead. ( for shame! 🙂 Just a mere spoonful of pesto is all that is needed in this dish. If you use too much, it will take over and all you’ll end up tasting is basil, and you’ll lose the summer fresh flavor of the zucchini.

2 TBLS unsalted butter

2 TBLS olive oil

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

1 small shallot, minced

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

3/4 cup dry white wine.. I used Pinot Grigio

5-6 cups vegetable or chicken broth, warmed

1 1/2 cups finely diced zucchini ( or summer squash, cousa, pattypans etc) (1/2 ” dice)

10-12 zucchini flowers, stamens removed & diced

1 ear, steamed corn on the cob, cooled and kernels removed

1 heaping tsp basil pesto

1 tsp lemon juice

Sea salt & ground pepper

To finish….

1 TBLS butter

1/3-1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Place the olive oil and half the butter in a saucepan and heat until sizzling over a medium heat.

Add the onion and shallot and cook until translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes.

Add the rice, and stir to coat the rice completely with the oil mixture. Cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, stirring often.

Add the wine to the pot, stir to mix and continue cooking over medium heat until the wine has been absorbed.

Add a large ladleful of warm broth and continue to cook, stirring constantly.

Halfway through the cooking period, or 10 minutes, add the diced zucchini.

As each addition of broth has absorbed, add another, stirring until the rice is just slightly firm to the bite.. about 20 minutes.

With the last addition of broth, add the chopped zucchini flowers, corn kernels, pesto and lemon juice.

Stir to mix, and season with sea salt and ground pepper.

Cook another 3 to 4 minutes, then remove from heat.

Stir in the butter and grated Pecorino cheese, stirring until the cheese has completely melted into the rice.

Serve immediately with some rosemary focaccia bread and a fresh garden salad as a stand alone meal. I served it as a side with grilled salmon. Either way, it’s just plain yummy! Enjoy.

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Every summer when the vegetables in my garden burst into color, it’s hard for me to think about eating anything else.

I still remember sitting in the middle of my dad’s victory garden, where each vegetable seemed a work of art, creating my own private pageants by lining up the eggplants, zucchini and peppers, arranging them — then re-arranging them as the light bounced off their shapes, sizes and colors.

Once I tired of my game, I would help myself to an impromptu picnic, the ripe tomatoes, radishes and carrots still half covered with dirt. And today, I still conduct these pageants… and still enjoy biting into the first pulled carrots.. dirt and all. After all, which man-made image can surpass the silhouette of a plump purple eggplant, a pear shaped yellow pepper or even a bulbous garlic? And what of the elongated cylindrical zucchini? Or.. that perfectly rounded juicy first tomato off the vine. But in today’s fast paced world, most rarely pause to appreciate them.

More often, they arrive in our kitchens swathed in paper and plastic and are sliced, diced, squeezed, chopped, julienned.. even puréed, becoming secondary components of larger dishes.

Since I love ❤ examining these miracles of nature, I use every excuse to create dishes where I can keep my vegetables whole. Crazy I know LOL.. but hey, that’s just me.

But think about this for a moment.. by leaving vegetables whole, scooping out the center, then piling back complementary ingredients, a new and nourishing relationship is born. Sometimes, the outside indicates the inside. But even though zucchini traditionally cries out for onions, and peppers and tomatoes; mushrooms provoke Parmesan, shallots and bread crumbs; and sweet peppers propose meat, tomatoes and garlic, when we travel afield… you begin to realize the choices and combinations are endless and flavor synergies are limited only by our imaginations. And if you are imagination stumped hop over to my other blog here for some new ideas.

Nature’s bounty can produce parades of stuffed veggies for your tables, from the plethora of various squashes, to eggplant and even tomatoes! Plus offering you some tempting new items for your menus, rather than just plain old boring steamed zucchini, for next to pennies if you plan right. Stuffed vegetables– the summer’s bounty–can make any meal a special event and so healthful too!

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It’s a raw, cloudy dismal day today in Maine, and getting ready for a rainy/snowy mix…. sigh 😦  When  I came in from my walk I was reminded of warmer days and a delicious soup.
While once vacationing in Sorrento we spent a week at the Albergho Lorelei Hotel located off the main Piazza, overlooking the Bay of Naples and Mt. Vesuvius. Within it’s vine covered patio overlooking this breathtaking view, they serve their  guests and visitors scrumptious meals..all made to order.

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One cooler afternoon after shopping all over Sorrento.. we returned back to the Lorelei exhausted, but not too hungry, as we had been sampling all the street vendors we came across, tempting treats. Not wanting a full course meal, I asked if they could make me some minestrone soup. They were more than obliging… a half an hour later I was served my soup. It was the best minestrone I’ve ever tasted.

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I asked if the chef would share his recipe with me.. and graciously Marco agreed, though it took another hour for me to translate all that he was explaining to me. LOL! I make this soup often, sometimes as I recorded it.. and sometimes with my own twist.. either way, it’s one of my favorite meals.

So while waiting for this wonderful soup to cook.. pour yourself a nice cold birra and dream of blue blue seas, with the warmth of the sun lounging lazily under a bougainvilla vined pergola. My kind of day! 🙂

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Is there a correct way to eat an Eclair or Cream Puff?  Some friends and I were just discussing this the other day. Are you one of those that starts with the filling or one that slowly licks the chocolate sauce on top first? Have a favorite filling? Custard or whipped cream? Can you stop with just one?!  C’mon, fess up all you eclair & cream puff officianado’s!  🙂 I know my friend Paul says ‘one is just not enough’…. and my friend Joe says ‘Jady, the correct way to eat them is by yourself so you don’t have to share! You can share the second one.. with me 🙂  Merry Christmas!

I suppose if I’m to be honest, I’d be hard pressed to argue his point. 🙂

I’ve been wanting to make these for some weeks now, and since it’s been years since I have made them … and it’s baking season, I decided to cheat on my boring special diet and give them a whirl. And besides, I’m certain my friendly neighbors would enjoy any leftovers..  Ha! Fat chance that’ll happen! Excellent executive decision..  They are light and yet still slightly butter flavored and brown up beautifully. The biggest problem I had was piping them onto my cookie sheet and filling. (Yes, my piping bags and tips are also still missing since the kitchen make over… ugh!) But I’m certain the  Ziplock Storeage Bag Company just knew there would be millions of cooks across America just like me, with this same dilemma when they designed their handy little bags. 🙂

As I moved along piping a lovely scrumptious custard cream and whipped cream into these delicious morsels.. I thought to myself.. ‘you’ve been very good this       year’ ( *insert… as I chuckled to myself! LOL) ‘ if you’re going to cheat.. why not a major cheat’?  So… I then drizzled a chocolate bourbon ganache over all of them! Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas to me!

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Easy recipe alert! Some scrumptious goat cheese… on toasted baguette with some fresh basil pesto, roasted tomatoes will be what you are craving all season. Yum!

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I had a few requests for my blueberry ice cream.. so here you go.  Stay cool!

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Homemade Blueberry Ice Cream

3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp extract of vanilla
1/4 tsp ground coriander
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup water

Warm sugar in 1/2 cup water in a medium sauce pan over low heat until sugar is completely dissolved.
When sugar is dissolved, add the berries, extract, coriander, lemon juice and salt.
Cook over low-medium heat until the berries begin to burst open, stirring occasionally. Once they burst, remove from heat and mash lightly. Allow to cool down and then chill in refrigerator an hour.
Whip cream with milk in a blender. Transfer into ice cream maker. Add blueberry mixture to the cream mixture and follow manufacturer’s directions.

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