Friday, August 28, 2015

Sweet and Sour Zucchini

This week at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, you can look forward to summer produce from Good Food Easy at Sweetwater Farm, pastured meats and eggs from Fair Valley Farm, and beautiful fresh cut flower bouquets from Tiger Lily Art Company.

While summer squash are at their peek, I recommend you try Fuchsia Dunlop's sweet and sour zucchini from Every Grain of Rice. As Dunlop points out, zucchini are not a common vegetable in Chinese cuisine, but I was happy to find a different approach for preparing these abundant summer vegetables. The squash are pre-salted to drain away some of their water content and then stir-fried over high heat. The recipe couldn't be simpler: slivered garlic, a pinch of salt and sugar, and a kick of Chinkiang vinegar, making a delicious accompaniment for Ma Po Doufo.

Sweet and Sour Zucchini

from Fuchsia Dunlop's Every Grain of Rice
2 zucchini
2 Tbsp cooking oil
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp Chinkiang vinegar

Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise, then cut each half into about three sections. Thinly slice each section lengthwise and place in a bowl. Add 1/2 tsp salt, mix well and set aside for 30 minutes or so. When you are ready to cook, drain the slices and squeeze them to get rid of excess water.

Heat a wok over a high flame. Add the oil, then the garlic, and stir-fry for a few seconds until you smell its fragrance. Add the zucchini and stir-fry until they are hot and just cooked, but still a little crisp. Add the sugar and vinegar, with salt to taste, stir a couple of times, then tip on to a dish and serve.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Millet with Roasted Corn and Summer Squash

Tomorrow at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, you can look forward to plenty of summer corn, summer squash, peppers, and tomatoes from Good Food Easy at Sweetwater Farm, pastured meats and eggs from Fair Valley Farm, and beautiful fresh cut flower bouquets from Tiger Lily Art Company.

To use up the leftovers from our latest batch of grilled corn on the cob, I cooked up a pot of yellow millet and combined it with roasted summer squash wedges, yellow peppers, and onion, topped with a shower of torn basil. This cheerful yellow grain and vegetable side made a perfect accompaniment to several meals during a sunny summer vacation week.

Millet with Roasted Corn and Summer Squash
1 cup millet
2 cups water (or make a quick stock with the corn cobs)
4 corn cobs
2 summer squash
1 yellow pepper
1 onion
olive oil
1 handful of basil leaves

1. In a medium pot, combine 1 cup of millet, 2 cups of water, and a pinch of salt. Alternatively, if you've grilled the corn ahead, cut the kernels from the cobs and boil the cobs in 3 cups of lightly salted water for 15 minutes to make a quick stock. Use 2 cups of this stock for cooking the millet. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the millet tastes cooked. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for at least 10 more minutes.

2. Remove most of the husks from the corn cobs, leaving a single layer of leaves, and grill on a hot grill, rotating, until the cobs have become quite charred. Remove from the heat, allow to cool enough to handle, and remove the remaining husks and silk. Use a large knife to cut the kernels from the cobs and reserve. 

3. Cut the summer squash into half or quarter moon slices. Core and chop the peppers into small wedges. Peel the onion and cut into small wedges. Toss the squash, peppers, and onions with a glug of olive oil and a generous pinch of salt. Grill on a vegetable rack over the grill or roast on a baking sheet in a 450 oven, flipping occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and have started to char.

4. Combine the millet, corn kernels, and other vegetables in a big serving bowl. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Garnish with torn fresh basil leaves. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Beans and Baby Potatoes with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, you can look forward to a bounty of summer produce from Good Food Easy at Sweetwater Farm, pastured meats and eggs from Fair Valley Farm, and beautiful fresh cut flower bouquets from Tiger Lily Art Company.

Sweetwater Farm has started harvesting their tomatillos, which, when juxtaposed last Sunday with spicy peppers and baby potatoes, seemed to dictate dinner.

I pan roasted halved tomatillos, along with some garlic cloves and peppers, for my favorite roasted tomatillo salsa from Rick Bayless. Then I drizzled the salsa over baby potatoes and tender yellow beans for a delicious vegetable side with broiled salmon. Summer simplicity packed with flavor.

Beans and Baby Potatoes with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Salsa (adapted from Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday)
1 pint of tomatillos
1-2 cloves garlic
1-2 spicy peppers such as jalapeños

To roast the tomatillos, you will want to use a cast iron or nonstick skillet, or to avoid a messy cleanup, you can line a regular skillet with foil. Heat the skillet over medium high heat, and place in the unpeeled garlic cloves and whole jalapeños. Meanwhile, remove the husks from the tomatillos, rinse them, and cut them in half. Turn the jalapeños and garlic and cook until they are charred on both sides. Remove from the pan to cool. Place the tomatillo halves into the hot pan, cut side down, and allow to cook until they start to soften and collapse, turn more yellow, and char on the bottom. Flip them over and cook them for a few minutes on the other side. Remove the skillet from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. While the tomatillos are cooking, peel the garlic and place in a blender jar. Remove the stems from the jalapeño and all or some of the seeds, according to your preference for spiciness, and add these to the blender jar. Once the tomatillos have cooled a bit, add them to the blender jar, including all the charred bits from the bottom of the pan. Add a generous pinch of salt and blend until smooth. Taste and add more salt if needed. Reserve. 

I pint baby potatoes
2 handfuls yellow or green beans

Set a medium pot of salted water with the baby potatoes over medium high heat and cooked until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, slice in half, and arrange on a platter.

Set another medium pot of salted water to boil. Trim the beans. When the water is boiling, add the beans and cook for 4 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Arrange the beans over the potatoes. Drizzle with the salsa and serve water or at room temperature.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Zucchini Flatbreads with Gazpacho

Summer's bounty is reaching its peak right now, so come to the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market tomorrow for ripe summer produce from Good Food Easy at Sweetwater Farm, pastured meats from Fair Valley Farm, and beautiful fresh cut flower bouquets from Tiger Lily Art Company.

At the height of our last heat wave, I made a delicious summer meal of zucchini flatbreads with chilled gazpacho. For the soup, I used Sweetwater Farm tomatoes, cucumbers  and lipstick peppers, following this New York Times recipe, which uses plenty of olive oil added slowly to the blender so that it emulsifies into a smooth juice (I was lazy and didn't strain the soup at the end, and it was still delicious).  

The zucchini flatbreads were inspired by a recipe for Turkish Kablaki Lahmacun that my sister shared from Rebecca Seal's Istanbul: Recipes from the Heart of Turkey. Zucchinis are sliced thin with a vegetable peeler and tossed with olive oil, green onions, and aleppo pepper, and then piled on flatbread dough with crumbled feta cheese. Again, I was lazy and rather than making the flatbread dough, I used some flour tortillas. And to avoid turning on the oven, I cooked the onions and zucchini on the stovetop and then finished the tortillas under the broiler of our toaster oven. It was a delicious meal that will become a summer standard.

Zucchini Flatbreads
makes four tortillas
2 small zucchini
4 green onions or 1 small onion or shallot
2 tsp aleppo pepper (or use a combination of sweet paprika and cayenne)
2 Tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt
1/2 cup crumbled feta or cotija cheese
4 flour tortillas

1. Trim the tips off the zucchini and then use a vegetable peeler to cut them into long slices lengthwise. Mix the zucchini in a bowl with 1 Tbsp olive oil, a pinch of salt, and the aleppo pepper. Trim the green onions and slice (or peel and dice the onion or shallot). 

2. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil and the onions and cook until they become glassy. Add the zucchini and continue cooking until the zucchini is just cooked through. Remove from the heat.

3. Pile a quarter of the zucchini mixture on each of the tortillas and top with a quarter of the cheese. Cook the tortillas under the broiler of a toaster oven or regular oven until the cheese is melted and the tortillas toasted, being careful not to burn them (in the toaster oven they were each done after about four minutes). Serve at once.

Best Gazpacho
Adapted from the New York Times
About 2 pounds ripe red tomatoes, cored and roughly cut into chunks
1 Italian frying (cubanelle) pepper or another long, light green pepper, such as Anaheim, cored, seeded and roughly cut into chunks
1 cucumber, about 8 inches long, peeled and roughly cut into chunks
1 small mild onion (white or red), peeled and roughly cut into chunks (optional)
1 clove garlic (optional)
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar, more to taste
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, more to taste, plus more for drizzling

1. Combine tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, onion and garlic in a blender or, if using a hand blender, in a deep bowl. (If necessary, work in batches.) Blend at high speed until very smooth, at least 2 minutes, pausing occasionally to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula.

2. With the motor running, add the vinegar and 2 teaspoons salt. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil. The mixture will turn bright orange or dark pink and become smooth and emulsified, like a salad dressing. If it still seems watery, drizzle in more olive oil until texture is creamy.

3. Strain the mixture through a strainer or a food mill, pushing all the liquid through with a spatula or the back of a ladle. Discard the solids. (The straining is optional). Transfer to a large pitcher (preferably glass) and chill until very cold, at least 6 hours or overnight.

4. Before serving, adjust the seasonings with salt and vinegar. If soup is very thick, stir in a few tablespoons ice water. Serve in glasses, over ice if desired. A few drops of olive oil on top are a nice touch.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Limite Market Hours August 2

The Fairmount Farmers Market will have limited hours tomorrow, from 11 Am - 1 PM, with pastured meats from Fair Valley Farm, but Sweetwater Farm will not be in attendance because Eric and Tom will be celebrating their daughter's wedding. We wish them all the best.