Farm Bounty

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We made a trek to Old Brookville, Long Island to Rottkamp’s Farm with Charlie, he enjoys seeing the tractors, fresh flowers and tons of veggies at the farm.

We came home with Green Leaf Lettuce, Escarole, Radishes, Green/Red Peppers, Green and Yellow Zucchini, Lavender Eggplant, plum tomatoes and of course corn.

Late summer Long Island Corn is probably my favorite!  So yellow and so sweet! We ate two ears Friday night roasted in the oven unshucked and have decided to head back to the farm Sunday with a dear friend and gather some more.  This corn had been picked in the morning before we bought it and was amazingly fresh!

The plan is to prepare an amazing pot of Ratatouille.  I set upon making my roasted ratatouille–enough to last us several meals.  I roasted 1/2 of the plum tomatoes by slicing them in half lengthwise, seasoning with salt, pepper, Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset and olive oil.  Roasted in hot oven cut side down until the skins were blistered.  Removed the skins and reserved the tomato pulp and liquid for the base of the vegetable stew.

The other 1/2 of the plum tomatoes were sliced, 1/2″ thick crosswise, seasoned as above and roasted to be used in other recipes.

Next I sliced red and white onions, the peppers and chopped a few garlic cloves.  This was tossed with the same seasonings and put on baking sheet then put directly onto the pizza stone at the bottom of the oven.  This ensures a good caramelization as you can see on the after picture on the right!

The Zucchinis and eggplants were sliced and seasoned and roasted until slightly browned.

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I also roasted a can of chick peas seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika and roasted garlic powder, tossed in olive oil and also roasted in a small baking sheet on the pizza stone!

All cooked veggies were then combined and simmered in the dutch oven for 30 minutes to blend the flavors adding torn fresh basil leaves.

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Tonight’s dinner was Ratatouille & Herbed Goat Cheese Flatbread Pizza with more torn basil and balsamic glaze, and salad with green leaf lettuce, roasted beets, sliced radishes, slivered almonds and Honey Mustard Vinaigrette.

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The addition of the chickpeas has been around awhile but this was my first time and we enjoyed it for a new variation.  Some of the ratatouille will be served over pasta with a dollop of ricotta and/or pesto! And probably as a side condiment to grilled chicken breasts!  Also possibly in an omelet!  Mmmmmmm so many ideas!

Dessert was Fresh Fig & Maple Tarte Tatin w/Vanilla Ice Cream!  The Tatin was simple Maple Syrup and butter boiled down and vanilla added, then the figs and puff pastry.  Made it in my new 10″ cast iron skillet.  It was wonderful, slightly syrupy, would probably cook it down further before adding the figs next time!

I scored 2 pounds of fresh figs @Trader Joe’s and decided that one way to use them was for dessert.  Probable next use will be Fig, Prosciutto, Goat Cheese Flatbread Pizza topped with Fresh Spinach!

Looking forward to our visit to Young’s Farm tomorrow and possibly revisit Rottkamp’s for the corn!!

Eat Well….Be Well!

 

 

 

 

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Light and Tasty Summer Fare

As Chef’s, in the summer, we are always thinking about quick food that requires less use of the oven and/or stovetop.  Yet so much of the summer bounty benefits from amazing roasting, sauteeing and stewing cooking methods!  Even the “coolest” of salads needs some veggies blanched, eggs, potatoes and pasta boiled.  Grilled proteins on top of a composed salad still require some heat!  And good ratatouille certainly doesn’t come in a jar!!  FYI my favorite version is Roasted Ratatouille!

So often my darling sous chef wife will ask what I’m going to make for dinner and when I proclaim something roasted @450º in our NYC galley unairconditioned kitchen on a 90º day, the response is that scornful scrunched up Irish face (which she has perfected) that says: “I hope you don’t need any help!”

I’m usually OK with answering:  “It’s what I do….I cook…..it’s hot…..we eat…..so?”  And mind you, she’s never not shown up at the table to enjoy any of this sweat-producing summer fare!

This year I started collecting some summery recipes requiring minimal or no cooking with the plan to utilize them on the hottest dog days of summer.  And quite honestly, they haven’t happened yet.  (Although today is turning out to be good and hot as well as humid!)

On Sunday I ventured into my stash of newly procured Summer To Be Tried recipes and decided on Spiralized Zucchini & Yellow Squash nests filled with a Ricotta, Parmesan & Basil blending.

The original recipe is from Eating Well Magazine’s July/August 2017 issue. It is titled Spiralized Zucchini & Summer Squash Casserole I almost passed it up due to the word Casserole!  The assumption on my part was that a casserole = tons of prep and fair amount of time in the oven!  Boy was I wrong!

Prep is painless and cooking time is 6-8 minutes under the broiler………….period!  Heating the accompanying hunk of frozen Ciabatta Bread and making grilled bread slices was slightly more tedious!

Here’s what I did differently than the recipe calls for:  I mixed my spiralized zucchini and yellow squash, so that each nest would be yellow and green; placed the zoodles on a paper towel lined sheet pan, covered with more paper towels and gently patted out excess liquid then I created my nests freeform.

This is a great side dish, but I converted it to be our entree by adding a raw Diced Fresh Tomato Sauce to put between two nests on our plates and served the aforementioned grilled Ciabatta Slices.

Here’s what I’ll do differently next time:  I will use the larger holed attachment when spiralizing the squashes, as they shrunk a good bit when cooked.  I would increase the amount of ricotta in each nest and instead of adding basil to it I’d put a healthy dollop of fresh pesto in the center of each mound of ricotta and sprinkle the top with salt, pepper and chili flakes!

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As you can see in the picture we garnished with a few extra halve cherry tomatoes and shaved Parmesan.

The raw tomato sauce was a mashup of several recipes but basically these are the steps for two pounds of tomatoes

  • Grate two fresh tomatoes on the largest holes of your box grater into a large bowl
  • Take the remainder of your tomatoes and core them, removing any trace of seeds and chop the flesh into smallish dice add to the bowl
  • To the bowl add salt and pepper to taste 1 tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar, 1-2 Tablespoons EVOO, 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 clove of garlic minced
  • Stir and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour or more.
  • When ready to serve add 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil

This was great as a condiment with the squash nests, spread some on the grilled bread also!  It is pretty liquidy so I served it using a slotted ladle.  If I were putting it on hot pasta I would not strain it.

Eat Well….Be Well!

 

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The Old Fashioned Date Nut Bread Verdict

Yum, Yum, Yum it is perfect! I resisted the temptation to nibble on more than the crumbs that stayed behind on the loaf pan. While those were flavorful a full slice for dessert was heavenly!

We served with a schmear of Greek Cream Cheese and sliced Strawberries with a drizzle of Balsamic Glaze!

Wow!  Just WOW!

Date Nut Bread ain’t just for breakfast no more!

Eat Well….Be Well!

 

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