Thursday, July 28, 2016

Zucchini Olive Oil Cake w/ Chocolate Chunks & Walnuts

I think I am finished with the spiralizer "zoodle" craze for now, so I guess it's time to move on.

Zucchini was meant for zucchini bread anyway, but for me, it conjures up memories of a greasy, too sweet loaf cake, made w/ too much vegetable oil.


The world is a different place today, and we know I love olive oil in my baking, so let's try it with the Italian stuff.
And let's make it even healthier, by using yogurt, full fat, my new favorite instead of sour cream.

I like lots of spices in my zucchini cake and I couldn't decide on a lemon poppy seed vs. a chocolate chip walnut version.

The chocolate nut won.

Here goes.

Zucchini Olive Oil Cake (or quick bread) with everything good in it:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 medium zucchini, grated
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup olive oil (use a mild flavored oil, like Colavita), or coconut oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
6 oz. full fat yogurt (I used Chobani honey w/ 17 grams of protein!...tastes like ice cream), or sour cream
1/2 bittersweet chocolate chips
handful of chopped walnuts

Mix the flour with baking soda, powder, spices and salt in a bowl.

In a separate large bowl, mix the eggs with the sugar, oil, vanilla and yogurt. Add in the grated zucchini.

You know the drill: add the dry ingredients into the wet and mix.
Add in the chocolate chunks and nuts at the end. Mix until just incorporated.

This is going to make a big loaf, so use a deep 9" loaf pan and grease it with butter or cooking spray, or use 2 smaller loaf pans to make 2 small loaves (which I will do next time....don't forget to cut down the baking time if making 2 loaves).

Pour batter into pan and bake at 350F for 1 hour.

Let cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack.

You can sprinkle with powdered sugar or icing if you like.......and I like.

This cake needs to sit overnight to meld the flavors, it is one of those loaves that is better the next day.

This stays moist for days.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Hasselback Zucchini w/ Parmesan, Butter & Herbs

When did this playing with our food become so popular?
I guess when food blogs popped up about 10 years ago.

There is always some kind of fun food gimmick, like avocado roses (which if you follow me on instagram, you know I am obsessed with!); any food made into a flower; zoodles; and of course, the hasselback potato thing, which makes a pretty presentation.

Mad knife skills, is all it takes. The idea is not to cut thru to the end of the vegetable, and to not cut your finger off.

I saw this idea on Ciao Chow Bambina, and decided to try it with my lonely tasteless zucchini (which by the way, I am not a fan of....they are so bland).

Slice your zucchini without cutting thru (method here) and lay in an oval baking dish, nice and tight if you can.

Season with kosher salt.

Tuck in basil leaves in between the slices then brush w/ 3 tbsp of melted butter.

Now a big pinch of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese goes over the butter. It will get thick and gloppy and seal the slices, especially if your zucchini is cold out of the fridge.

I added a bit of piment d'espelette for heat (Basque chili powder).

I threw in some fresh oregano stalks with leaves and flowers around the zucchini and roasted at 425F for 45 minutes, until nice and crispy.

This not only made the kitchen smell great, but it tasted so good!

Try like it!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Shrimp, Avocado & Watermelon Salad

This salad is only allowed to be made during the hot summer months.

It's been hotter than hell here in NJ the last few days, this will cool you down for sure.
It is so refreshing and light.

You can grill the shrimp or boil, your choice.

I'm too hot to even write a longer post!

Shrimp, Avocado & Watermelon Salad:

1 lb. shrimp, grilled or boiled (I leave tails on)
1 cup of cut up watermelon (1" pieces)
1 ripe avocado, diced or sliced
sea salt
juice and zest of 1 lime
1 tbsp honey
3 tbsp olive oil
hot pepper flakes (optional)
handful of scallions, chopped
handful of fresh cilantro

I boil my frozen shrimp for 2 1/2 minutes only, then plunge into an ice bath to chill. Dry off and keep in fridge until ready to use.

Add the sliced or diced avocado to a bowl or platter and sprinkle w/ sea salt.
Now decorate w/ the watermelon pieces and sprinkle with lime zest (I use a microplane zester).

Add the cooked, cooled shrimp to the top of the salad.

Make a dressing with the honey, olive oil, lime juice and hot pepper flakes. Whisk with a fork and pour on top of salad.

Garnish w/ cilantro and scallions.

Serve immediately.

Delicious and refreshing!

Monday, July 25, 2016

I made Donuts

I saw my sister-in-law's facebook post during 4th of July....she made gluten free donuts made w/ coconut flour.
They were beautifully decorated and looked fantastic!

How you do that? (purposely misspelled).

She sent me the recipe on the back of the coconut flour bag......I was intrigued.

I immediately hopped on amazon, bought a donut pan (cheap)......googled donut recipes, and here I am.

A donut maker/baker.

I did not do the gluten free recipe yet....these are traditional cinnamon sugar donuts made with all purpose flour, and baked not fried.

And if I am being honest, these were the BEST freakin' donuts ever. I mean it.

I followed Sally's Baking Addiction recipe to the letter. No changes, I even used the Chobani no fat yogurt as she suggested, and piped thru a ziploc bag.


Time to bake the donuts!

Baked Cinnamon Sugar Donuts (adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction) makes 6-7 donuts

1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 large Eggland's Best egg, at room temperature
1/3 cup (65g) packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup (60ml) milk
1/4 cup (60g) yogurt (I used Chobani no fat Greek plain)
2 Tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup (200g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a donut pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Whisk the egg, brown sugar, milk, and yogurt together until smooth. Add the melted butter and vanilla, whisking until fully combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not overmix. The batter will be very thick.

Sally recommends using a ziploc bag to pipe the batter into the donut molds. Cut a corner off the bottom of the bag and pipe the batter into each donut cup, filling, 3/4 of the way full.

Bake for 9–10 minutes or until just the edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool for about two minutes and transfer to a wire rack set on a large piece of parchment paper or on a large baking sheet.

Melt the butter in a glass pie dish (I use the microwave). Mix the cinnamon and sugar in a separate bowl.

Once the donuts are cool enough to handle, lay one side (I used the pale side) in the melted butter, then dip in the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Fantastic warm or at room temperature. They freeze beautifully, if you have any leftover!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Cherry Almond Galettes w/ Pistachio Gelato

It's cherry season, peach season, tomato season, green bean's everything at once season in NJ right now.
(except fig season!).

Each day I try and make something using local produce.
Salads for lunch; tomato sandwiches; berry all comes at once and for such a short time only. We are so deprived here with such a short growing season.

Here, I partnered with Kings Food Markets in NJ and paired their delicious all natural Kings Own Brand Premium Gelato from Italy with my cherry galettes.
It just seemed like the right thing to do.

I chose pistachio flavor, because cherries and pistachios go so nicely together.

If you live in NJ and get your hands on some of this gelato, then I suggest you do so.
The dark chocolate is especially delicious. All natural, small batch made in Italy.

You can make one big crostata if you like, but here, I made 6 individual ones for a dinner party using frozen puff pastry.

This is pretty simple, though it might look difficult.

Here we go.......

Cherry Galettes w/ Frangipane: makes 6 individual crostata or 1 big one

1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, defrosted, cut into 6 squares
30 cherries (approximately), pitted

1 cup of almond meal (or ground almonds)
1 large egg
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 tbsp flour
3 tbsp melted butter

1 tbsp milk for brushing
1 tbsp turbinado sugar
Pistachio gelato for accompaniment

Mix up the almond meal, egg, extract, flour and melted butter to make the frangipane (almond paste). Set aside.

Cut the puff pastry into 6 squares and roll out each square to make it thinner.

Spread a spoonful of the frangipane in the center of each square and dot with about 5 cherries.
Fold up the sides as best as you can. It's ok if they are a bit sloppy, these are rustic tarts.

Assemble 6 rustic galettes, and brush the puff pastry with some milk to seal the edges.

Sprinkle the tops w/ turbinado (raw) sugar.

Bake in a preheated 375F oven for 25 minutes on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Transfer the galettes to cooling rack.

Best served warm with a scoop of Kings Own Brand Premium Pistachio Gelato and chopped pistachios.

These can be made ahead and left at room temperature, and they freeze well too!

This is a top 10 dessert.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Summer Pasta Salad w/ Charred Corn & Cherry Tomatoes

Basil and tomatoes are my favorite part of summer....yes, and also corn.

I now grow 6 varieties of basil in my garden and use it every day in something or other.

This is the most delicious pasta salad, if that's what you want to call it.
You might think the dressing is weird, but it's SO DELICIOUS, trust me.

This is amazing with grilled chicken for a main dish, or without for a picnic salad.

Here's how:

Pasta Salad w/ Charred Corn & Cherry Tomatoes:

8 oz. (half a box) of fusilli pasta
1 lb. of mixed cherry tomatoes (use yellow, red, purple and orange)
16 oz. bag of frozen corn, defrosted
1 tbsp butter
kosher salt & pepper
big handful of basil (I used Genovese and Opal basil...fancy pants)

1 heaping tbsp of pesto (store bought is fine)
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp mayonnaise (don't omit this!)
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 tbsp honey (yes, that's right)

In a large seasoned cast iron skillet, heat the butter and add in the corn. Make sure it is in one layer.
Do not disturb for 7 minutes, until you hear it popping.

Turn the corn over and let cook another 7 minutes. The corn will be popping and charred.

Dump into a bowl with the cooked pasta.

Whisk up dressing and pour over the cooked pasta corn.

Mix in the cherry tomatoes and the basil leaves.

I love this colorful pasta salad and have to keep it in the outside fridge, or I will eat the whole thing!

So good.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Grilled Salmon w/ Mango Salsa & Cilantro Pesto

This may seem like a big production, but it really isn't.

You can make the mango salsa a day ahead, and the cilantro pesto is easy to whip up.

Just grab your fish spatula and let's go.

Do you remember the grilled chicken method I showed you for the grill?
It works even better with fish.

Spray a piece of aluminum foil w/ cooking spray and lay the fish on the foil.
Drizzle the filet w/ a small amount of olive oil, kosher salt & pepper.

Heat the grill to 450F and close the lid.

Depending on the size of the fish, grill skin side down for about 7 minutes, then carefully flip and cook for another 7 minutes (for a 1 lb. filet), the skin will be nice and crispy.

Drizzle some cilantro pesto on a platter and plate the grilled fish on top.

Drizzle w/ more pesto and top w/ mango salsa. Garnish w/ lime wedges and cilantro.


Here is the recipe for the mango salsa and the cilantro pesto: I used a 1 lb. piece of salmon for 2 people. You will have leftover salsa for sure.

Mango Salsa: (adapted from Simply Recipes)

1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and finely diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 Tbsp finely chopped red onion
1/2 Jalapeño chile, minced
3 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
juice of a half a lime and the zest

Mix all ingredients together and taste for seasoning. Adjust as you like. Stays in the fridge for 3 days.
Great with chips and avocado too!

Cilantro Pesto:

2 cups of cilantro leaves and stems
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp lime juice
1/4 cup or less of olive oil (see how much you want to add as you go)
pinch of kosher salt
pinch of hot pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and whiz. Add more or less oil, until you have the consistency you like.

This is an impressive summer meal.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Strange but GOOD: Charred Persian Cucumbers

I love the blog Lottie & Doof.

Tim is a bit negative at times, but posts great travel pics, and he loves to bake.
Anything he posts I know is going to be good. He hates lemon zest, btw. Oh well, his loss.

Recently, he posted charred Persian cucumbers with a disgusting sounding tumeric crema from the Wisconsin restaurant, Estrellon.

It sounded so odd, roasting a cucumber?
Hey, why not? They are a gourd, and they certainly have more flavor than the dopey zucchini (which is flavorless!).
He swore these were delicious, and they were.

I skipped the crema, and made my own concoction with tahini (ground sesame seeds) and pomegranate molasses.
Feel free to just place on a bed of store bought hummus.

You will not believe how delicious these little treats were!

Make sure you are using the tiny Persian cukes, which have much less water than a regular cucumber (which I don't think would work here).

Charred Persian Cucumbers:

5 Persian cucumbers (not regular ones), sliced in half, lengthwise
kosher salt & pepper
olive oil

some tahini mixed with pomegranate molasses; or creme fraiche mixed with pimenton......or sour cream mixed w/ dill and garlic (like a tzatziki), whatever you like.

Sprinkle the cucumber halves with kosher salt & black pepper.
Mix with a little olive oil in a bowl to coat.

Heat a well seasoned cast iron skillet and lay the cucumbers face down in the hot pan to sear.

Do not disturb for about 6 minutes, they should be nice and charred.

Slice the cucumbers in half down the middle and plate on top of your choice of crema!

Sprinkle w/ fresh parsley or chives.


Let me know if you try this weird but good recipe. :)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Best Blueberry Bundt

Peaches are in, so I promise this will be my last blueberry dessert of the season.

I can't help myself. When I see the pints at the farmer's market, I buy a bunch.
I freeze the muffins and cakes so I always have them on hand.

Here is the pièce de résistance. I saved the best for last.

A nice big bundt cake with blueberries and lemon.
Moist and not too sweet.....sort of a pound cake. Just right.

Since I never buy buttermilk, it goes to waste, I make my own.
Just add fresh lemon juice to lowfat milk and let sit 15 is close enough to buttermilk and no waste.

Best Blueberry Bundt Cake (in my opinion):

2 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt

4 eggs
2 sticks butter (1 cup), softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup lowfat milk mixed with 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (or substitute buttermilk)
zest of a lemon
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 cups of blueberries, depending on how you like it

Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the eggs, extracts, butter, sugar and zest together.

Add in the dry ingredients then mix in the milk to form a nice batter.

Fold in the blueberries by hand.

Grease and flour a 10 cup bundt pan.
I like to lay some blueberries on the bottom of the pan so when I invert the cake, there are berries at the top.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 350F for 50 minutes.

Let rest in the metal pan for 30 minutes, then the cake should easily come out of the pan (make sure you butter and flour it well).

Invert the cake onto a plate for icing.

1 cup confectioners sugar
1-2 tbsp milk

Whisk up icing with a fork and drizzle over cake.

Let the icing harden on the cake before serving.

I say, you can never have too many blueberry cakes!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Colors of Summer

No real recipe here today, just wanted to show off some pretty summer NJ produce.

Who knew all of these vegetables came in so many colors?
When I was a kid, all vegetables were green, or so I thought.

Now there are purple carrots, orange cauliflower, rainbow chard, yellow beets.......nature's color wheel.

We are growing green beans, purple and green in pots on our driveway.
We started them from seed and we have enough for a few salads each week.

Warning: Though the purple beans may look glamorous, once you cook them they turn green!
Hey, I want my money back! :(

So, I keep them raw and throw them in salads for some purple prettiness.

Speaking of purple.....I feel like I hit the lottery when I see purple cauliflower at the farmer's market.

I buy every color I can get my hands on.

Here, I roasted a big hunk of salmon with the mixed color cauliflower on one sheet pan.

Mixed them up with quinoa and some other good stuff (recipe here) and served w/ the salmon.

Delicious and healthy.

Save some leftover roasted veggies for tomorrow, so you can make this delicious frittata with green onions, roasted colorful cauliflower and Parmesan cheese.

Next week will be the start of tomato season here in NJ, so you had better get your tomato vision in check.