Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes

I had some very special guests for a few days and had to come up with some good breakfasts for them. I'm trying to eat and use as many blueberries as I can because I know I wont have them again for a long, long time and you already know how I am smitten with ricotta -and so these pancakes were born. As annoying as it may it seem to whip the egg whites and more annoying to clean another bowl- the whites made these pancakes sooo soft and fluffy even though thericotta that could have potentially weighed them down. I have to say these were delectable and I look forward to making them again and again. Enjoy!

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 eggs, seperated
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 3/4 cups milk + 2 Tbl
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups blueberries
butter for the griddle

Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In another bowl mix the  yolks with the milk, ricotta, sugar and vanilla. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and mix well without over mixing. Whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form and fold into the mixture. Heat the butter on the griddle or spray the griddle or frying pan with cooking spray. When hot, Drop about an 1/8th of a cup full into the pan and sprinkle some blueberries on top. Flip the pancakes when they start to bubble on top and cook another  30-45 seconds on the second side. Serve with real maple syrup and whip cream-yum!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Zucchini Galette

I have so much zucchini and yellow squash in the house from the farm stands that I don't even know what I'm going to do with all of it. I think by the time I get through with all of it my family wont want to see a zucchini again till next summer. First dish up is this Zucchini and Yellow Squash Galette. A galette is basically just a round, free-form pastry with roots in France that has a lovely rustic look and is the best friend of the dough-phobic because it's not supposed to look perfect and that makes this recipe perfect for me. The dough is nice and dairy with butter and sour cream (read: yum) and has a simple but fresh ricotta and basil filling topped with our ever present zucchini and squash. I surprised my husband with this when he came home from work (with more zucchini, by the way) and he was one happy camper. There is enough wow-factor in this galette to serve it on its own as a light dinner. I served it with vegetable soup and called it a day- a darned yummy day. Enjoy!

For the dough:
(recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
1 1/4 cup flour (plus more for rolling)
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick butter, cold, cubed
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup ice water

Mix the flour and salt together and cut the butter in with a pastry blender or your hands. Mix the lemon juice, sour cream and water in a bowl and add it to the flour mixture. Refrigerate for 1/2 an hour (the dough will be sticky). Remove from refrigerate and add enough flour to help knead the dough. Roll the dough into a circle (it doesn't have to perfect and transfer it to a parchment lined baking sheet.

For the filling:
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
3 Tbl chopped fresh basil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup, shredded Mozzarella
2 Tbl olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 small green zucchini, sliced into rounds
1 small yellow squash, sliced into rounds
1 Tbl olive oil
1 egg, beaten

Mix the ricotta, basil, garlic, cheese and olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread it over the dough leaving a 2 inch border all around. Lay the zucchini and squash around the filling and fold the border over. Sprinkle a little salt over the zuchinni and  drizzle the tablespoon of oil as well. Brush the crust with the beaten egg and bake the galette for about 40 minutes in a 350 degree oven until golden brown.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Summer's Bounty Soup

Up here in the Catskills (a.k.a The Borscht Belt) there are wonderful little farm stands that dot the sides of the   country roads. You can pass the same stand every day and find totally different produce- from freshly picked cucumbers that are crisp and sweet to beautifully gnarled heirloom tomatoes. My husband cannot help himself when he drives by and at least three times a week he greets me at the end of the day with a big paper bag of fresh produce. I never know what will be in the bag (it's kind of like a vegetarian Chopped box for you Food Network junkies) but it is always straight from the ground and delicious. This week I got tons of gargantuan yellow squash and corn so sweet you could eat it raw (and we did!) Unfortunately, the weather this week has not been as delightful and I found myself yearning for soup to chase away the chill. This is what I came up with to use up the vegetables- it is both hearty from the split peas and barley but also has great summer flavor from the vegetables and there is just no dish better than one that uses such fresh produce. And to just take it over the top I whipped up a batch of my famous dumplings (knuckelach) and served it in the soup-Deeeeelish!

3 carrots, sliced
1 large onion, cubed
1 parsnip, cubed
2 large yellow squash, cubed
2 large zucchini, cubed
8 oz fresh baby spinach
2 ears of fresh yellow corn, kernels removed
1/2 cup yellow split peas
1/2 cup barley
1/8 cup chopped parsley
1/8 cup chopped dill
2 bouillon cubes
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion and carrot in some olive oil until the onion is tender. Add the parsnip and zuchinni and about 7 quarts of water. Bring to a boil and add the corn, split peas, barley, herbs and bouillon. Season with salt and pepper. Let the soup cook over medium heat for about an hour until the barley and peas are are cooked through. Add the fresh spinach 5 minutes before the soup is finished.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Hamburger Helper

I am hereby ready to confess that I watched way too much T.V. as a child. And what have I retained from all those hours of frying my brain? Tons of commercials that should win Oscars for their PR because 20 something years later I am still thinking of Hamburger Helper. You don't have to admit it publicly, but I know you know what Hamburger Helper is and I know you also used to wish your mother made it for you (but it will be our little secret.) Little pasta shapes cooked with meat and sauce and maybe some cheese that just looked uber-shiny on screen and that has surely caused many dents on television screens as kids tried to get their spoons through. I passed a box of Hamburger Helper in the store today and was transported back to my childhood and I was determined to make it though it can hardly be called gourmet. This is my version and it ROCKED- even better, the amount it made could feed an army.

2 1/2 lbs  or about 1 kilo chopped meat
1 1/2 pounds small shells or any other small pasta (elbows, ditalini)
1 29oz  can tomato sauce
3Tbl tomato paste
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbl dried basil
1 Tbl dried oregano
2 Tbl good quality granulated garlic
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pan saute the onion and garlic until translucent. Add the basil and oregano and mix a little more. Add the chopped meat and break it up into little pieces with a wooden spoon and let the meat brown a little. Add the tomato sauce, paste, and granulated garlic and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and let the meat simmer for about 25 minutes. In the meantime bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until almost full cooked. Add the drained pasta into the pot with the sauce while the sauce is still cooking (this is crucial because this will allow the sauce to really permeate inside the pasta). Let it cook another 2-3 minutes together and its ready to serve!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wasabi Mashed Potatoes

Wow. Yum.
I know something like mashed potatoes is so simple and ordinary but the flavor in these potatoes with all the dairy (read: fat) and using amazing Yukon potatoes and of course the wasabi really transformed  the potatoes to deliciousness. I served these with my maple-sesame salmon and together it was really a great 9 days meal. For the wasabi I used Gold's brand Wasabi sauce which I was really impressed with. It had great wasabi flavor without too much heat but if you like heat then skip the sauce and just use wasabi powder which would work just as well. It seems an odd combination at first but it really goes well and just adds great depth of flavor to plain old mashed potatoes. Enjoy!

3 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
3 Tbl butter
3 Tbl heavy cream
1/2-3/4 cup sour cream
2 Tbl Wasabi sauce
salt and pepper

Boil the potatoes in well salted water until full cooked. Drain and transfer to a bowl and immediately add the butter, cream and sour cream and mash well. Mix in the wasabi sauce  adding more if you want a stronger wasabi taste and add salt and pepper to taste.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Maple-Sesame Salmon

It's hard to come up with dairy meals during the 9 days but one of the things I find most challenging is the fish. Fish is really the main protein of the 9 days and after I've had my fill of the fried version (my fave!) I look to try new and exciting ways to make fish. Apparently, I've been on an Asian kick this week because inadvertently everything I've been making is Asian including this yummy Maple-Sesame Salmon. The maple gives a great sweetness to the fish which is balanced nicely by the soy and wasabi and toasted sesame seeds just make everything better. I served this with Wasabi Mashed Potatoes (next recipe up) and garnished with lots of scallions and we were happy campers. Enjoy!

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbl sesame oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup real maple syrup
1 tsp wasabi powder (optional)
3 Tbl sesame seeds
6 Salmon Fillets

Place all the marinade ingredients except for the sesame seeds in a ziplock back and mix around. Place the fillets in and let it marinate about an hour or up to 3 hours. Lay on a baking sheet, sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake in a preheated oven for 10 minutes at 350 and then broil for another 2 minutes to get them caramelized (make sure to keep a close eye on them in the broiler because the maple syrup can burn easily.)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tortellini Salad

Every summer during the nine days, the bungalow colony I go to hosts a luncheon where the ladies get together to eat (read: gorge) a pot luck lunch. Everyone contributes something and we eat and shmooze and then roll ourselves back home. The luncheon ladies fall into two categories: those who bring the same thing every year ( rokot krumpli for those of you in the know) and those who try something new. I try to fall into the latter and I usually try to think of something original and creative to bring. I happened to find these beautiful cheese tortellini in the store and decided to use them to make this fresh, colorful and delicious salad. It was a big hit  and the bright colors make you just want to dig right in. For the dressing I used rice vinegar even though it is more prevalent in Asian dishes because it has a milder flavor and I didn't want the dressing to overwhelm the delicate taste of the tortellini. Feel free to throw whatever veggies you have in but I highly recommend using the broccoli- its color and crunch really hit the spot. Enjoy!

1 lb cheese tortellini ( I used the brand Yoni's)
1 large head broccoli, cut into florets and blanched
1 1/2 cups small cherry or grape tomatoes
1/2 cup scallions, sliced
1/2 cup black olives. sliced

For the dressing:
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2/3 cup light olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Place the blanched broccoli, tomatoes, scallions and olives in bowl. Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing until well combined and pour over the veggies. Cook the tortellini according to the package instructions and place with the vegetables. The warm pasta will absorb the dressing well. Serve the salad at room temperature or cool and re-season with salt and pepper before serving.