Tag Archives: olive oil

SAUSAGE-STUFFED ZUCCHINI

Zucchini season, and the bounty keeps rolling in. We do not have any squash plants in our garden patch, but there is an abundance at the farmers market and from our neighbors. It is a common situation. Many folks this time of year are experiencing zucchini burn-out. Squash blossoms are delicious, but they require immediate attention to maintain their freshness. Sautéed squash begins to get a bit boring, and so the search of the web and a shelf of cookbooks begins. Deborah Madison, the Santa Fe-based vegetarian cookbook author has numerous suggestions in her collections. I especially recommend her Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (Broadway Books, New York) and The Savory Way (Broadway Books, New York) for all sorts of suggestions.

One of my favorite ways to cook zucchini is to grate it with a box grater, sauté it along with some scallions and sliced mushrooms in olive oil, drain any excess oil, stir in some sour cream and fresh lemon juice, and serve. So simple that no recipe is needed

Today, though, I am going to write about stuffed zucchini. The first time I ever had a stuffed squash was years ago at the home of a colleague from Greece who stuffed the tender fruits with feta, Cheddar cheese and bread crumbs. This version is a little more complicated but still not difficult.

RECIPE

Sausage-Stuffed Zucchini

Ingredients

  • 3 firm, medium zucchini (make certain they are not too big)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 medium crimini mushrooms, washed and chopped
  • ½ pound bulk breakfast sausage (mild or hot, your preference)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup almond flour (use all-purpose flour if you prefer)
  • 1 egg, beaten slightly
  • 3 medium tomatoes, sliced thinly (or enough to cover the zucchini)
  • ½ pound Swiss cheese, grated
  • cooking spray
  • butter

Method

  1. Slice the zucchini lengthwise. With a grapefruit spoon or sharp paring knife, hollow out the squash with about ¼ inch of a rim remaining. Try not to pierce the skin of the squash.
  2. In a medium sauté  pan, heat the olive oil over a medium flame. Add the chopped onions and cook until they are translucent but not browned. Stir in the chopped mushrooms, and cook until they give up their liquid and the liquid has evaporated.
  3. Add the sausage, breaking it up with a cooking spoon so that it is completely crumbled.
  4. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and while it is still warm, stir in the cream cheese so it is completely incorporated. Stir in the almond flour and egg. Set aside until you are ready to stuff the zucchini.
  6. Choose a baking pan that is large enough to hold all of the squash, or use two dishes, and spray generously with baking spray.
  7. Arrange the zucchini in the pan, and spray them lightly with baking spray.
  8. Fill the hollowed-out zucchini with the sausage mixture.
  9. Top with tomato slices seasoned with more salt and pepper, and cover with the grated Swiss cheese.
  10. Dot with butter, and bake in the middle of an oven pre-heated to 350° F for 30 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted and the zucchini is tender.
  11. Serve immediately.
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PESTO

It is basil season. We have harvested the plants in our back yard, and many stalls at the farmers market have big, beautiful bunches of basil picked just that morning. That means it is time for pesto.

Pesto is really one of those things that you can make without a recipe and adjust it to your personal preferences

Pesto is also something that you can keep for a while. For years we made fresh pesto and ate it all, believing that if you didn’t do that it would immediately turn an unappetizing brown. We didn’t even think about freezing it. The truth is, you can do both.

If you want to keep it for a day or two, put it in a container with an air-tight lid, cover it completely with olive oil, seal the lid, and pop it in the refrigerator. If you are going to freeze it, divide it into amounts that fit into the cups of a muffin pan, freeze pan overnight, pop out the pesto “muffins”, and double bag them in zippered freezer bags so you can use the amount you need without having to thaw the whole batch.

RECIPE

Pesto

Ingredients

  • large bunch of freshly-cut basil, enough that the leaves will fit into the beaker of a food processor
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, more if needed to make a sauce-like mixture
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 ounces Parmesan, grated
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Wash the fresh basil, cut or pull off the leaves, and dry them in a clean kitchen towel.
  2. Transfer the leaves to the beaker of a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade.
  3. Add the olive oil and process until the basil has been chopped very finely.
  4. Add the garlic and Parmesan. Continue to process for 30 seconds or until thoroughly combined.
  5. Add the pine nuts and pulse until the nuts are well-chopped but not puréed. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Adjust consistency with additional olive oil, if needed.
  6. Serve over cooked pasta with additional grated Parmesan and dry-roasted pine nuts. If desired, store for a day or two in an air-tight container topped with olive oil and refrigerated or freeze and double bag individual portions for later use.

PS: Here’s a little lagniappe from our garden:

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GAZPACHO CRUDO

A couple of weeks ago, Sarah and Evan cooked at the James Beard House operated by the James Beard Foundation in New York City.  We had the pleasure of watching them via a webcam in the kitchen.

Their dinner menu included a number of the dishes that have become favorites at Rich Table in San Francisco, including gazpacho with strawberries, chicken skin, and burrata. I have enjoyed that dish several times, but I am not a skilled enough cook to duplicate it, so I’ll just need to make do with gazpacho.

For me, the taste of traditional gazpacho is wonderful. But I don’t like the mouth-feel. It reminds me of baby food. I much prefer seeing the vegetables and bread intact so that it’s almost like eating a liquid salad in a bowl or cup.

I found just the right ingredients at the farmers market, including an Armenian cucumber, aka snake melon. It is not really a cucumber, but it has the crispness and crunch of the freshest of regular cucumbers and without having to worry about seeds. It also has the charm of being slender, long, and coiling around itself. It’s easy to see why it has the name of snake melon.

Vegetables for gazpacho

Vegetables for gazpacho

Easy to make, and refreshing in the fading days of summer.

Croutons on top, ready to serve

Croutons on top, ready to serve

RECIPE

Gazpacho Crudo

Ingredients

  • juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 ripe large heirloom tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, seeded, membrane removed, and coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 small Armenian cucumber, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed into paste
  • ½ cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 large, I inch-thick slice of good-quality bakery bread, crust remove and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thinly

Method

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil.
  2. Stir in the tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, cucumber, garlic paste, and parsley, making sure to coat the vegetables with the lemon/olive oil mixture.
  3. Stir in chicken stock. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
  4. In the meantime, let the bread cubes dry at room temperature for 1 hour.
  5. In a small skillet, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add the sliced garlic and sauté for a few minutes until the garlic is lightly browned. Remove the garlic slices, and add the bread cubes, stirring frequently until lightly browned and crisp. Drain the croutons on several layers of paper towel. Cool, and set aside until ready to garnish the gazpacho.
  6. Serve the gazpacho in bowls or in large cups with a spoon. Garnish with croutons.
  7. Serves 4.

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COLE SLAW – MY CONTRIBUTION TO THE CRAWFISH BOIL

A week or so ago my post provided the details of a crawfish boil in Silicon Valley. For that great event, my daughter-in-law asked me to make coleslaw. I call her the “Salad Queen” because she whips up the most delicious salads on a moment’s notice, but she claimed that coleslaw was not something she liked to make. I confess that I’m not a big fan of most coleslaw, either. That’s because they often contain the core of the cabbage head, the cabbage is in big chunks with the heavy taste of cabbage, and the salad is swimming in runny mayonnaise.

Years ago I learned the first important lesson for coleslaw from my younger daughter when she was only about ten years old. She was assigned to do the cabbage chopping for a family gathering. We thought she would be finished in just a few minutes, but a half hour later she was still chopping and the cabbage was as fine as I had ever seen it. She had also removed the core of the cabbage before she started the project. Everyone loved one of her first cooking projects.

The second lesson comes from a consideration of the origins of the word, coleslaw. It is derived from the Danish word, koolsla, meaning cabbage (cole) salad ( sla, a contraction of salade). The point of all that is you can use any kind of cabbage or even cabbage relatives you want (especially shredded Brussels sprouts, but also broccoli, rabe, or cauliflower) , and you can put anything else that catches your fancy in the salad.  Apples, carrots, celery, and chopped nuts are among the most common additives.

The third lesson for me is that a little mayonnaise goes a long way – much farther than you think. In recent times, I always add less mayonnaise than I think the dish needs. That includes tuna salad, sandwiches, and coleslaw In every instance what I have learned is that less is better, and you can always add more. Of course, homemade mayonnaise is better than bottled, and it doesn’t take too much extra time to make. Another option is not to use mayonnaise at all; freshly made vinaigrette is a refreshing substitute.

For the crawfish boil, I decided to use napa (Chinese) cabbage and red cabbage along with red onion, carrot, bell pepper, and celery for the basic salad. I used vinaigrette with a shot of sesame oil for the dressing. Here is the recipe.

RECIPE

Coleslaw

Ingredients

  •  1 large head, napa cabbage, cored, sliced and chopped very finely
  • 1 small head red cabbage, cored, sliced and chopped very finely
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled, grated, and chopped finely
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded, ribs removed, and diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 teaspoons celery seed
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients

Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard, preferably Dijon
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, mustard, garlic powder, and sugar.
  2. While whisking continuously, drizzle in the olive oil until completely incorporated.
  3. Stir in the sesame oil, and correct seasonings with salt and pepper

Dressing the Salad

  1. Pour only about half of the vinaigrette onto the coleslaw and gently stir in until the salad is completely dressed
  2. Add more dressing as needed, being especially careful not to use too much. The coleslaw should be moistened but not damp with dressing
  3. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Napa cabbage

Napa cabbage

Red cabbage

Red cabbage

Red onion

Red onion

Carrots

Carrots

Celery

Celery

Green bell pepper

Green bell pepper

Chopped vegetables

Chopped vegetables

Finished coleslaw

Finished coleslaw

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SHRIMP, CORN, AND BLACK BEAN SALAD WITH CHILE-LIME VINAIGRETTE

I’m still working on emptying the freezer. I found more shrimp. I also had some leftover corn on the cob from a cookout the day before. With a can of black beans from the pantry, all of that seemed like the makings of a spring salad. For this recipe, you need to boil the shrimp in their shells, along with some crab boil. My choice is Zatarain’s liquid boil, because it is easy to use, but any brand will work.  Don’t cook the shrimp too long or they will become tough. Chill them in ice water before you peel them, and then refrigerate  until you are ready to use them.  Prepare the corn by cutting the kernels off the cobs. A sharp knife is just fine for the job, but if you are a gadgeteer, you might have fun using a special device for removing the kernels while leaving a beautiful, symmetric cob.

Dress the salad with the accompanying chili-lime vinaigrette to complete the Southwestern slant of the salad. This should serve two to four.

 

RECIPES

Shrimp, Corn, and Black Bean Salad

Ingredients

  • 10  16-20/pound frozen shrimp with shells, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons liquid Zatarain’s crab boil
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 cooked ears of corn
  • 1 can (14 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 ribs, celery, diced
  • ½ medium red onion, diced
  • ¼ cup pecan halves, chopped coarsely
  • ¼ cup sliced black olives
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Add the thawed shrimp to 4 quarts of boiling water to which has been added the salt and crab boil. Return to the boil and boil for 5 minutes. Drain and chill the shrimp in water and ice. When cool, peel the shrimp. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. With a sharp knife or circular corn cutter, cut the kernels off the corn cobs. Set aside until ready to assemble the salad.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the corn kernels, black beans, bell pepper, celery, onion, pecan pieces, and olives. Add the feta cheese crumbles and toss lightly.
  4. Dress with the chile-lime vinaigrette, toss lightly, and top with shrimp and tomato halves.
  5. Serve. Makes 2 to 4 servings

Chile-Lime Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 1 large lime, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground red chiles (your choice of heat)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon  turbinado sugar
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the lime juice and mustard together untill well combined.
  2. Whisk in the dry ingredients until completely incorporated.
  3. Slowly, one tablespoon at a time, whisk in the olive oil. Make sure that each tablespoonful is completely incorporated before adding the next.
  4. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper. Then use the entire recipe to dress the shrimp and vegetable salad. Serve immediately.

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