Saturday, June 15, 2013

Shiitake and squash quesadillas

Ah squash, perhaps the most abundant vegetable ever.  After sighting the first one of the year I made a commitment to use this summers lengthy squash/zuchinni season as an opportunity to innovate! I want to make squash exciting!  Here's take 1........
Squash and shiitake quesadillas
1 large squash sliced
2 cups shiitakes (caps only)
1/2 onion thinly sliced
1 green pepper thinly sliced
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 cup cheddar cheese
4 flour tortillas 

Heat oil in skillet, add in shiitakes cook until shiitakes begin to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add in squash, onion, and pepper.  Cook for 5-10 minutes until vegetables are softened.  Remove vegetables from pan.

Place 1/4 cup of veggie mixture and 1/4 cup of cheese on a flat open tortilla.

Place flat tortilla in a lightly oiled skillet set to medium heat. Cook until cheese is melted, fold and them cook until crispy on each side.  

Some quesadilla tips.....
Until recently I've had bad luck with making crispy quesadillas so this time I scoured the Internet for some crispy quesadilla techniques, here's what I found. 

1. Less is more,  don't put too many goodies inside your quesadilla or it will have trouble staying together.  About a 1/4 cup of filling plus cheese for a 10 inch tortilla is ideal.

2. Less is more part deux.  Though we all love cheese too much will make your quesadilla oily and soggy.  Stick with a lighter sprinkling, just enough to bind both sides of the quesadilla together.

3. Don't use too much oil.  Lightly coat the bottom of the pan with oil.  Use just enough so that the tortilla doesn't stick. 

4. Start with a flat open tortilla, not a folded one.  This allows you to place the ingredients on the tortilla and have the cheese bind them in place without everything falling out.  After the cheese has bonded the ingredients together you can fold the tortilla and crisp both sides. 

Hope this helps everyone!  These were lessons long learned for this girl, glad I can share! 

Leek and Potato soup

I adapted this recipe from a book I recently read called The Dirty Life.  It's a wonderful true story of a New York reporter who gives up her city life to start a CSA farm in northern Pennsylvania.  The book is filled with humorous and heartfelt stories that really make you appreciate where your food comes from. I highly recommend both the book, and the soup! 
Potato and Leek soup
2 lbs potatoes finely sliced
1 bunch leeks finely sliced
1 cup Ryals farm cheddar grated
1 qt chicken or veggie stock
4 cloves garlic minced
1 tbsp butter 
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter in a deep pot.  When butter is melted add in leeks and garlic, sautéed on medium heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes.  Add in sliced potatoes and stock.  Cover and let simmer for about 20 minutes.  
When potatoes are softened remove pot from heat.  Use an immersion blender to purée all ingredients together.  Stir in salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with cheese sprinkled on top. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Mardi gras rice

When I first moved to the Big Easy my favorite culinary discovery was jambalaya.  "It's like Cajun fried rice!" I exclaimed.  After many attempts to make my own jambalaya, without the box,  I've created this recipe.  Not quite the traditional jambalaya that us New Orleanians are used to but delicious none the less.  
Mardis gras rice
2 green peppers diced
1 purple onion diced
4 smaller carrots diced
4 cloves garlic minced
3 creole tomatoes crushed
2 cups cooked rice
2 tbsp cooking oil
2 tsp salt
4 tbsp soy sauce
Shredded chicken (optional)

Heat cooking oil in large pan.  Once oil is hot add all the chopped veggies besides the tomatoes.  Sauté until cooked through, about 10 minutes.

It's mardi gras in a pan!

Once veggies are cooked add in crushed tomatoes and salt and let ingredients simmer together, about 5 minutes.

Add in rice, soy, and chicken if using,stir well.  Add salt to taste, and enjoy! 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Polenta pizza

When making polenta I always make a lot extra.  It's great leftover,  you can cut it and make it in to polenta fries, and most recently I discovered polenta pizza! 

5 cups cooked polenta
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 eggplants sliced
1small zucchini sliced
1/2 small red onion sliced
1 cup shredded cheese
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 tsp salt

Toss eggplant, squash, onion, cooking oil, and salt until coated.  Spread mixture evenly on to a baking sheet.
Bake at 375 for 30 minutes tossing mixture occasionally. 
While mixture is cooking spread polenta out evenly in to a cast iron skillet.  If you don't have a cast iron a rimmed metal baking dish will do. 
Top polenta "crust" with the tomato sauce, followed by the roasted vegetables, and topped with the cheese. 

Cook for 15 minutes at 375 or until cheese is melted.  I like to broil it at the end to get the cheese nice and toasty but this step is optional. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Polenta with summer sauce

I am a die hard fan of Italian food.  Pizza, pasta, bread, if it has complex carbs I love it.  The Eat Local Challenge always forces me to find healthy substitutions for  these not so healthy items.  Insert polenta with summer sauce, it's so delicious, you won't even miss the noodles! 
Summer Sauce
2 small carrots diced
1/2 onion diced
4 cloves garlic minced
4 tomatoes crushed  (to crush tomatoes run them along a box grater)
2 tsp salt
2 cups water 
1 cup red wine (optional but highly recommended!)
10-15 basil leaves 
1 tbsp pecan oil or butter 

Place oil and onions in skillet on high for about 2 minutes or until onions become fragrant.
Add in carrots and 1/2 cup of water, and a bit of the wine let this cook together stirring frequently until water is evaporated.
When water is evaporated add in garlic and another 1/2 cup water and a bit more wine cook until liquid is gone about 5 minutes.
Add in crushed tomatoes, the rest of the liquid, and salt.  Reduce heat to medium low and let the sauce simmer 10-15 minutes.
While sauce is cooking chiffonade the basil.  
Remove sauce from heat, stir in the basil and serve! 

Asiago Polenta
4 cups water
1 cup polenta
1/4 cup asiago (optional)
1/4 cup cream (optional)

Bring 4 cups of water to a rolling boil.
When water is boiling add in polenta stirring continuously until polenta no longer falls to the bottom of the pan.  This usually takes 2-3 minutes.
Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer stirring occasionally for 20-30 minutes.
When polenta has a smooth non grainy consistency stir in cream and cheese if using and cool for 5 more minutes. Add salt to taste and serve! 

This recipe is great on its own though I served grilled green tomatoes and boudin from Cleaver and Co alongside mine.  It was a great pairing! 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Moroccan meatballs with cucumber salsa

I love making exotic meals out of local ingredients and Moroccan meatballs are the perfect example of that love.

Moroccan meatballs
4 tbsp chopped mint
1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup diced onion
2 cloves diced garlic
2 tsp salt
1 lb ground beef or pork
1 egg

Combine all ingredients in large bowl and mix with hands until combined.

Roll in to meat balls and place on greased baking sheet.

Cook at 350 for 10-15 minutes or until meat is cooked thoroughly.  I usually cut 1 in half to check for doneness.

Cucumber salsa 
1/2 onion diced
1small cucumber diced
1 small tomato diced
2 tsp chopped fresh dill
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp vinegar

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Salsa is ready to serve immediately but it's even better if it has about 30 minutes to sit and let the flavors marry.

Spoon cucumber salsa generously over meatballs.  

I served my meatballs and salsa over brown jasmine rice but it would also be great over polenta, spinach, or even on their own.