CALABACITAS CON CREMA (Zucchini squash with cream)

May 1st, 2015

This recipe comes from Diana Kennedy’s “The Cuisines of Mexico”. Diana writes: “There are hundreds of ways of cooking squash in Mexico, and every cook has her own method and seasoning. This was our maid Godileva’s way of preparing them, and the dish frequently appeared on our dinner table. It has an exotic flavor, and is quite unlike any other squash dish I have come across.”

* Diced zucchini, about a pound and a half (can include chopped up zucchini blossoms if you have them)
* Small ripe tomato or two, diced
* 6 whole peppercorns
* 4 sprigs fresh coriander
* 2 sprigs fresh mint
* 1/2″ stick cinnamon
* 4 whole cloves
* 2 whole chiles serranos
* 1/2 cup light cream
* Salt to taste

Combine everything in a pot and cook over a very low flame, stirring occasionally so it does not stick. Add a little water if it looks like it is getting too dry. It will take about 30 minutes to cook, the zucchini should be very soft, the milk or cream should be absorbed with no liquid remaining in the pan. The chilies should remain whole and just flavor the squash — it should not be picante. It is even better reheated the next day.

Green Beans & Potatoes in a Thin Tomato Broth

April 1st, 2015

When I first joined the garden in 2008, I shared half a plot with Linda Marucci. Linda gave me this recipe from her mother, who used to prepare green beans and potatoes this way for her family. To me, it is the ultimate comfort food and I make it often when green beans are plentiful. Simple and delicious!

Green beans cut in 1 inch pieces

Potatoes, cut in a 1 inch dice (peeled or not as desired)

1 or 2 tomatoes

Splash of olive oil

Salt and pepper

Skin the tomatoe(s) if you like, then chop, add enough water and simmer until you get a light tomato broth. Season with salt and pepper and a splash of olive oil.

Add the green beans and potatoes and continue simmering until done.



Anne Harvey’s “Potluck Pesto”

July 12th, 2014

Last evening in the garden, Ted was trying to give away a huge bunch of assorted fresh herbs, and he and Anne and I got to exchanging recipes. Anne mentioned her “Potluck Pesto” which she said turned out to be amazingly tasty. It will keep indefininly if you freeze tablespoons of it on a cookie sheet and store in zip-lock in the freezer. Here’s what to do:

Survey your garden for any herbs you might consider “pesto worthy”. Anne specifically mentioned arugula, mint, celantro, basil, tarragon, dill, marjoram, perhaps a tiny bit of lavender — use your imagination, there are no rules here. Pick everything in the proportions that will taste good to you, and when you get home get rid of stems and other “grassy” non-flavorful parts.

Here’s a basic pesto recipe to get started:

    1 cup assorted pesto herbs
    4 heaping tablespoons of parmesan or romano cheese, chunked or grated
    A few fresh garlic cloves (optional)
    Enough extra-virgin olive oil so that your blender can do it’s thing (start with 4 or 5 tablespoons)
    Handful of walnuts
    Salt to taste

Wash and spin dry the herbs. Put herbs in a blender along with the parmesan/romano and olive oil and blend till you get a lumpy paste. It may take a bit of coaxing to get the blending process to initiate. Add a handful of walnuts and blend till not-quite smooth. Transfer to serving dish and add salt to taste. Adding a squeeze of lemon is also another possibility.

I made it last night and Anne is right, it is delicious.

Imam Bayildi (“Swooning Imam”)

September 22nd, 2013

This is a lovely way to prepare Japanese eggplant — the long thin dark purple ones.

There is an old story of an Imam swooning over this most famous of eggplant dishes which is enjoyed from Greece to Iran. However, there seems to be disagreement whether he swooned because the dish was so delicious or because it was so rich and used so much expensive olive oil. In any case, it is very good and gets even better the second day. [From Tess Mallos' The Complete Middle East Cookbook]

6 or 8 long eggplants of medium size
1 large onion
1/2 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic, chopped
3 medium-sized tomatoes, peeled
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
pinch of sugar
1/4 cup water

Remove stems from eggplant, then peel off 1/2 inch stripes of skin lengthwise to give a striped effect. Cut a deep slit on one side of each eggplant lengthwise, stopping short of top and base. Place in a bowl of cold, well-salted water and leave for 30 minutes. Drain, squeeze out moisture and dry with paper towels.

Slice onions lengthwise then cut into slender wedges. In a heavy pan heat half the oil and fry onion gently until transparent. Add garlic, cook 1 minute, then combine in a bowl with chopped tomatoes, parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

Place remaining oil in pan and fry eggplants over high heat until lightly browned but still rather firm. Remove pan from heat and turn eggplants so that slit faces up.

Spoon vegetable mixture into slits, forcing in as much filling as possible. Spread remaining filling on top. Add lemon juice, sugar and water and cover pan tightly. Cook over gentle heat for 45 minutes until tender. Add more water only if necessary as eggplants release a lot of moisture.

Leave to cool to room temperature and serve as an appetizer or as a light meal with bread or chill and serve as a salad accompaniment.

Amy Thompson’s Grilled Eggplant

August 27th, 2013

So simple, so good! Wash a nice sized eggplant and do not peel. Use a good sharp knife to slice vertically about 3/8” thick and try to keep them uniform. That way you are less likely to have parts burn and others not cook on the fire. Heat your grill to low. Salt then brush with a little olive oil on both sides. Put on the grill and close the cover. Flip when you have some nice marks and wait patiently for them to be soft and nicely brown on the other side. Serve warm or at room temperature! Enjoy~

Zucchini Blossom Frittata

August 26th, 2013

A beautiful omlette which tastes like, umm, flowers…

Clean and prep the squash blossoms: to find out how to do this, see How to Clean Zucchini Flowers

Beat eggs with a little milk as if you were going to make scrambled eggs. Melt butter or olive oil in a skillet and when hot, add the egg mixture, turn the heat to low, arrange the squash blossoms on top of the egg and dot with crumbled feta cheese. Cover till the eggs set and the squash blossoms wilt, or broil briefly to get a slightly browned top. Garnish with herbs and serve.

An alternative method is to gently sauté the cleaned blossoms in butter with a little grated onion. When they are softened, pour egg mixture over them. Lift gently with a spatula so the egg runs under the blossoms. When the bottom is solidified, turn the whole frittata using a plate to help turn it over and sauté briefly till the bottom is cooked. Slide onto a serving plate and enjoy.

Herbed Eggplant

August 26th, 2013

A good way to prepare eggplant without a lot of oil…makes great left-overs too

Another delicious eggplant recipe from fellow gardener Amy Thompson:

Cut a large unpeeled eggplant in half lengthwise into two pieces, leaving the stem end intact. Cut a slit lenghtwise through the middle of each eggplant half parallel to the original cut, but don’t cut through the stem or blossom end. Salt the eggplant and inside the slit lightly and let sit for a bit to draw out some of the liquid.

Rinse off the salt and squeeze lightly to remove some of the moisture. Chop up some herbs of choice (I used thyme, oregano and rosemary) and some garlic, mix with a little olive oil and stuff into the slit.

Heat a frying pan with PAM or a little olive oil and brown the cut side of both eggplant halves. Add a little chicken stock or wine (or both), cover and simmer till the eggplant starts getting soft. Turn the eggplant, add some veggies of choice (I used green beans, red and yellow peppers and a bit of tomato), and simmer till everything is done.

Serve with slivers of fresh basil and a grating of parmesan. This dish is also wonderful the next day, served on pita with a bit of feta cheese.

Mexican Squash Blossom Soup (Sopa De Flor de Calabaza)

August 25th, 2013

This is a really delicious soup and a wonderful way to use some of those beautiful zucchini (or squash or pumpkin) flowers before they turn into too many little zucchinis (or squashes or pumpkins). Squash blossoms are considered a seasonal treat in Mexico and are sold in large bunches in the markets. This recipe comes from Diana Kennedy’s “The Cuisines of Mexico”.

20 (or more) large zucchini/squash/pumpkin blossoms
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 cups well-flavored chicken broth
1 tblsp butter
1 sprig epazote (a Mexican herb. Barb McK grows it in her plot & is glad to share)

Remove the stems from the flowers, strip off the sepals, and inspect for insects. Chop the flowers and any little attached zucchinis and sauté in butter with the chopped onion. Cover pan and cook until tender.

Blend cooked flowers/onion mixture and 2 cups chicken broth to a puree. Add 1 cup of milk (or milk/cream mixture) and heat but do not boil. Season with a sprig of epazote to get a very exotic Mexican flavor.

Rutabaga & Mushroom Soup

January 1st, 2013

I first encountered this fine winter soup at the Essene Cafe, where it was love at first taste. I “reverse engineered” it in my own kitchen so I could have it whenever I wanted.

1 (preferably unwaxed) rutabaga, peeled and cubed
several handfuls of fresh mushrooms, any kind will do
1 tablespoon (or more) butter
onion and/or shallots, minced
splash of white wine (optional)
3 cups chicken or vegatable broth, more or less
enough milk or cream to thin to desired consistency
nutmeg or mace for garnishing at the end

Remove grit from mushrooms with a paper towel or brush, then slice thickly. If you use shiitake, remove the inedible stems and simmer them with the broth to get a nice mushroomy flavor.

Melt butter and saute the mushroom slices till they have given off their juice and are beginning to brown. Set aside in a bowl. In the now-empty mushroom pan, sauté the minced onions/shallot mix, adding a bit more butter if necessary. When the onions are cooked and beginning to brown around the edges, add a splash of white wine (optional) and let it quickly evaporate, then transfer to a soup pot and add the broth. Stir in the diced rutabaga and simmer till very tender, adding more broth along the way if necessary. When ready to serve, either mash the rutabaga (for a lumpy, more peasant style) or run through a blender (for creamy European-style first course type soup). Return everything to soup pot, add reserved mushrooms and enough milk or cream to thin to desired consistency and creaminess. Heat but do not allow to boil, then serve garnished with fresh grated nutmeg or mace.

WARNING: All measurements are estimates and not meant to be taken too seriously. Feel free to add a few parsnips or a small potato to the rutabagas if your rutabaga is small. You can make a wonderful “on the fly” veggie broth by simmering the onion and shallot peelings, mushroom trimmings, and rutabaga peels plus celery or parsley or perhaps a stray carrot.

Linda Witts’ Holiday Party Momofuku

December 21st, 2012

Linda Witt received many requests for her holiday party potluck recipe, so she sent the following with her compliments:

The pork recipe is “momofuku” (don’t say that part too fast) “bo sam” — and some restaurant in NYC charges $200 for it. But pork shoulder is about $1.29 a pound, and this is the easiest recipe you’ll ever make other than “boil water.”

As you noticed, I didn’t bother with the sauces — but did serve hot sauce on the side, like you would in the south with pulled pork. I think one could add BBQ spices to the sugar/salt mix and do this forever on the grill. But it is so simple as is, with none of the Korean sauce frills.

The two stories — one is the background on the recipe, the other the recipe itself. The pork shoulder I used the other night was 11.49 pounds — didn’t get it in the oven early enough so it wasn’t darkly glazed as the one in the NyTimes.

Description of Dish