Summer

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Tomatillo salsa. Salsa verde. Green salsa. Call it whatever you like. It’s amazing stuff. I wait anxiously each year to see tomatillos appear at the markets. These tomatillos are from Northridge Organic, and I was thrilled when I saw them.

I’ve tried many recipes over the past few summers, many of which have added lots of various peppers, and I’ve discovered that I like the salsa as simple and pure as possible. I like to highlight the tomatillo flavor, not the other ingredients.

And so to begin:

Remove any smoke detectors near your kitchen and turn your kitchen fan on high. Things are about to get smokey.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Start by gathering:

about 20 tomatillos 

tomatillos 2

tomatillos 3

Remove the husks from the tomatillos and rinse them in a colander. If using more, adjust the other ingredients accordingly.

Spread the tomatillos on a baking sheet. Also add:

one large, or two small, jalapenos, halved twice and seeds/membrane removed. 

I only used one because it was huge. They ones I currently have are from my dad’s garden and are the size of my palm. If you want your salsa to be extra spicy, don’t remove the seeds and membrane from the jalapeno.

Also add:

One clove of garlic, peel still on

The peel allows the garlic to roast without burning. Sprinkle all of the ingredients with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Stick the baking sheet in the oven and roast for at least 15 minutes. They will start to burst and the pan will start to smoke. Don’t panic. That’s normal. You want them to char slightly for flavor. When they’re done, they will look like this:

roasting pan

Let cool on the pan for a minute. In the meantime, get out your food processor. Add:

1/4 cup of yellow onion, roughly chopped

1 hand full of cilantro

Also carefully add the tomatillos, jalapeno, and garlic (don’t forget to remove the peel!). Be sure to scrap in any juices from the pan. Give the mixture a few pulses and then puree until smooth.

Pour into a bowl. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed. Also a few drops of lime juice. Add a little at a time and taste until it’s at your liking. I have found that it doesn’t need much.

salsa

This salsa is wonderful warm.

Serve with my homemade chips or poor on top of enchiladas (recipe coming soon!).

 

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Warm Potato Salad with Mustard and Dill

I love potato salad in all of its glorious forms. I grew up eating two different kinds of potato salads: the typical midwest version that’s covered in mayo and has hard boiled eggs mixed in (and sometimes bacon), and also my great-grandmother’s Italian version, which has an olive oil-based dressing, bacon, and chives.  Though I love both, in recent years, I discovered another one that I love just as well. The one I will describe below I consider to be more of a French-style potato salad. It’s wonderful warm but can be served chilled as well. And the farmers’ market has wonderful red-skinned potatoes right now, so it’s a perfect time to make this salad.

Potato

Start by boiling:

1 pound of red skinned potatoes, scrubbed clean and quartered

Boil them in enough water so that they’re covered by about an inch of water. Don’t boil them in too much water, for they’ll loose their flavor. And don’t forget to salt the water.

In the meantime, select a bowl large enough to not only hold all of the potatoes, but also one that has room enough for you to stir the potatoes without making a mess all over the counter. In the bottom of the bowl, whisk together:

1 heaping tablespoon of Dijon mustard
about 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
a handful of fresh dill, chopped*
a dash of paprika
salt and pepper

Once the potatoes are fork tender, drain them and then add them directly to the bowl with the mustard dressing. Toss the potatoes with the dressing. Since they are steaming hot, the potatoes will absorb the mustard and create a wonderful fragrance. While they are still steaming hot, add:

a few splashes of vinegar (champagne, red-wine, and apple cider all work well)

Also add more olive oil, if need be, and taste to see if they need more salt, pepper or mustard.

Serve while it’s still warm.

*The dill in the above photo is from my little apartment balcony herb garden. That’s the wonderful thing about herbs. You don’t need a lot of space to grow them, and one plant will give you wonderful herbs all summer.

 

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Green Beans with a Mustard Dressing

When I was 14 years old, I visited New Orleans. It was a trip that probably started my obsession with food. One of the restaurants we went to was Court of Two Sisters, where I had asparagus with some sort of a mustard sauce. That mustard sauce has stuck with me during all of these years, and countless times I’ve tried to copy it. At this point, I have no idea what it originally tasted like or what was in it, but this dressing strongly reminds me of the dish, nonetheless.

green beans

Start with a large enough bowl to hold all of the green beans (in this case, about 3/4 of a pound). In the bottom of the bowl, whisk together:

2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
1 clove of garlic, minced or finely grated
about 1 teaspoon of lemon juice (it’s strong, so start with a little. It’s easier to add than to take away). 
salt and pepper

Once it’s all whisked together, add enough extra virgin olive oil to thin out the mustard.

Next cook the green beans. Either steam them or boil them. Either way, cook them just for a couple minutes so that they still have a nice crunch to them and a nice bright green color. (If you boil them, use just enough water to cover them.)

Once the green beans are done, give the mustard dressing a quick whisk and then add the green beans right into the bowl. Add:

1/2 cup of slithered almonds (optional)

Toss it all together. Taste the green beans and adjust the salt. If the dressing is too strong, add more olive oil.

Top with freshly ground pepper and serve.

green beans2

This dish pairs well with Fettuccine with Mushrooms and Mascarpone.

 

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Zucchini-Carrot Bread

When I first heard of zucchini bread, I thought it sounded odd. This was during my not-quite-as-adventurous food days. I was in college and my roommate’s grandmother sent her back to our apartment with a loaf. I was hesitant to try it, but after my first bite, I was hooked. It’s so moist and so glorious that I can’t wait for the first sign of zucchini at the market every summer.

The following recipe is based off of one found in Sur la Table’s cookbook Eating Local. As usual, I’ve made some adjustments. Though I’m not including it in the below recipe, the book uses 1/2 a cup of minced candied ginger. It is a wonderful addition, and if you happen to have some, do add it. I don’t often have it on hand, so I don’t usually use it.

zucchinibread3

And so, the recipe:

Preheat the oven to 325. Coat two loaf pans with butter or cooking spray. (I, personally, prefer butter.)

Stir together:

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour*
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

In a separate bowl, whisk:

3 eggs

Whisk in:

1 cup of canola or safflower oil
1 1/2 cups brown sugar*

2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly ground ginger

Once the sugar has dissolved, whisk in:

1 cup of grated carrots**
1 cup of grated zucchini**

Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture all at once. Stir just until blended. Divide the batter into the two loaf pans. Bake about 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let it sit in the pans for ten minutes before removing the bread from the pan and cooling it on a rack.

Once the bread has cooled, you can freeze a loaf, if need be.

*One of my goals this summer is to try and tweak this recipe even more and use less sugar and white flour. If I succeed, I will post it here.

**I use my food processor to shred the carrot and zucchini. I’ve used a box grater before, but it’s time consuming. If you have a food processor, use it.

zucchinibread

zucchinibread2

 

 

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Summer Squash Risotto

Risotto

One of my favorite comfort foods, this time with summer flavors.

Simply follow my Basic Risotto Recipe, but make the following changes:

  • Use vegetable broth instead of chicken.
  • Use two varieties of squash for the vegetable
  • At the end, stir in fresh basil and lemon zest

Some directions:

Sauté the squash first in olive oil. You can use any summer squash. I used one zucchini and a pattypan squash, and I thought the pattypan worked particularly well with this recipe. I also chopped the zucchini but cut the pattypan into thick strips, just for some variety. Both shapes worked well. Sauté until they’re just barely tender, but still have a bite. Remove from the pan.

In the same pan, follow the instructions in the above link to make the risotto.

Towards the end, once the rice is tender and it’s time to stir in the parmesan or Romano cheese, add the squash to the rice, along with a handful of basil leaves, chopped into strips, and the zest of 1/2 a lemon. Now, this time when I made the risotto, I also stirred in a spoonful of Mascarpone cheese, just for the heck of it. The result? It certainly gave it a nice creamy texture, but I don’t think it’s necessary  The risotto is wonderful on its on, without the Mascarpone.

Garnish with Parmesan or Romano cheese and fresh ground pepper.

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Berries, Berries and More Berries

I just can’t get enough of Ohio’s berries. If you’ve never had a freshly picked berry, you just don’t know what you’re missing. There’s just no comparison to the ones found at the grocery store. The raspberries, especially, bring back fond memories for me. One bite of a fresh raspberry immediately takes me back to my grandmother’s Cape Cod garden, where she’d let me pick raspberries right from the garden and eat them.

I don’t have a recipe right now for these beauties. For now, just some photos:

Raspberries

 

Raspberries2

 

blueberries

 

blueberries2

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