Monday, July 21, 2014

Zucchini Fritters

While I was taking my cookbook tour of Greece, I saw a recipe for Kolokithopites aka zucchini fritters served with Tzatziki and since it is summer and since there is always an abundance of zucchini in the frig, it seemed like a great way to use up some zucchini and enjoy a tasty appetizer or side dish!  The cookbook is It's All Greek to Me by Debbi Matenopoulos.  It was an excellent read and is packed with great recipes.

Zucchini Fritters
adapted from It's All Greek to Me by Debbie Matenopoulos

3 pounds zucchini, cleaned and trimmed
1 tsp sea salt, divided
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces Greek Feta, in brine, about 1 1/2 cups crumbled
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
Vegetable oil for frying
Tzatziki (homemade or purchased)

Preheat the oven to 250° F or turn on the warming oven

Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a small spoon or small scoop, hollow out the zucchini shells.   If you will be using the "boats" leave a small amount of zucchini in tact next to the skin. Or, if you like, you can shred the entire zucchini in a food processor.  (I scooped out the pulp thinking I would use the shells for another meal...when I finished I realized that I could have saved a great deal of time by shredding the entire zucchini!  I will shred them the next time...)

Place the shredded (grated) pulp into a colander and toss with 1/2 teaspoon of the sea salt.  Set the colander in the sink.  Cover the zucchini with a plate and weight it down.  Drain the zucchini for about 10-15 minutes, gently rinse and then squeeze as much liquid as possible from the zucchini.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, eggs, mint, remaining 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and pepper until smooth.  Gently fold the drained zucchini into the flour mixture and then add the feta and the Parmesan.  The mixture will resemble a thick batter.

Heat 1/2 inch oil in a deep skillet set over medium heat until it shimmers.  Working in batches, use a 1/8 cup measure to scoop out the batter.  Carefully drop it into the oil.  The fritters should flatten out during cooking.  Cook the fritters three to five minutes per side, until they are golden brown. (Flip the fritters as you would a pancake.)  Removed the fritters when they are golden brown and drain them on a baking sheet lined with paper towels.  Keep the fritters in the oven or warming oven while you continue frying the remaining fritters.

Serve the Zucchini Fritters on a platter with Tzatziki.


I would definitely make these again.  They would be perfect for one of those nights when you have Appetizers for dinner!  I love those times...a variety of little bites makes a great light meal...with a glass of wine...perfect!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Chipotle BBQ Baked Beans

There are some sides that you just don't mess mom's baked beans is one of them.  She is always called upon to "bring the baked beans".  Making these beans is not stepping into her territory.   They are different from the ordinary baked beans.  They have a nice smokey, zesty flavor and if you aren't careful they could be down right hot...spicy hot!!

The beans are made with the Chipotle BBQ Sauce that I made for hamburgers.  And, as I mentioned, it is always nice to be able to use a sauce in different ways.  The recipe calls for a tablespoon of cayenne.  Cayenne and chipotles together would make for one powerfully hot dish. Given that thought, I decided to cut way back on the cayenne.  It is all personal choice but if you want to have any taste buds left after eating...I recommend cutting back on the cayenne!  I also removed all but about 2-3 Tablespoons of the bacon fat when I cooked the onion....once again, it is personal choice.

Chipotle BBQ Baked Beans
adapted from The Good Stuff by Spike Mendelsohn

1 cup Chipotle BBQ Sauce
8-10 slices thick cut smoked bacon, cut into small strips (about 2 cups)
1 small white onion, diced
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp molasses
1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
4 15-ounce cans of white beans, drained and rinsed

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp.  Remove the bacon strips and drain on paper towels.

Leave 2-3 Tablespoons of bacon fat in the pan.  Add the diced onion to the bacon fat and cook, stirring, until translucent, about three minutes.  Add the tomato sauce and bring the mixture to a boil.  Add the brown sugar, molasses, and cayenne.  Stir until combined.  Add the vinegar, stirring to combine and scrapping to remove any bits of bacon on the bottom of the pan.  Add the beans, Chiptole BBQ Sauce and bacon and heat throuogh.

Ladle the beans into a 3-quart baking dish and cover with foil.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and bubbly.  (I reduced the oven temperature after thirty minutes and allowed the beans to continue to cook until thickened.)

PRINTABLE RECIPE (for both beans and Chipotle BBQ Sauce)

It was fun to make a different kind of baked bean.  As with most bean recipes, allowing the beans to sit for an afternoon or overnight allows the flavors to meld....they kept getting better and better...or maybe I just love baked beans!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Chipotle BBQ Sauce

It is always nice to find a sauce that can be used for different things.  I was drawn to this Chipotle BBQ Sauce because I love the smokey and spicy hot flavor of the chipotle.  A chipotle is a jalapeño that is smoke-dried.

The jalapeños used for chipotles are those that are left on the vine after the green jalapeños are picked.  The remaining chiles become bright red.  They are left on the bush as long as possible. When they turn a deep red, they have lost most of their moisture and are picked to become chipotles.

Once picked, they are placed on a grill in an enclosed smoking chamber.  There they are smoked and stirred every few hours to mix in the smoke.  They remain in the chamber for a few days until most of the moisture is removed.  When the process is complete, the chipotles have the appearance of a shriveled up prune or a raisin.

This is another sauce that tastes wonderful on a grilled burger but it also makes a fine pot of beans that I will tell you about the first of the week.

For now I want to share the sauce recipe.  Nobody will believe that this wonderful sauce only takes a few minutes to whip up in the blender!  Complex flavors in just a few minutes!

Chipotle BBQ Sauce
The Good Stuff by Spike Mendelsohn

Yield:  3 cups

Half of a 7-ounce can of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
2 cups sweet, mild barbecue sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp molasses

Place the chipotles and half of the sauce in a blender of food processor.  Puree until smooth.

Add the remaining ingredients and puree, again, until smooth.  Using a fine-mesh strainer, strain the mixture to remove all of the seeds.  Pour the sauce into a jar and set aside until ready to use.


That's it folks.....Two simple steps away from a smokey, tangy barbecue sauce!

I am sharing today at Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Baked Cod with Lemon Garlic Parsley Sauce - "A Trip to Greece" with Debbie Matenopoulos

Welcome to the "Trip to Greece" blog tour with Debbie Matenopoulos featuring her new cookbook, It's All Greek to Me!  What a treat this has been...and on so many levels!  Reading the cookbook brought back many memories of our trip to Greece last year, the wonderful foods we ate and the friendly people that we met.  We immediately loved the fresh and healthy food presented at each meal. And, that is what you can expect in the cookbook, It's All Greek to Me:  delicious recipes focused on fresh and healthy eating!

One thing that really resonated with me when I read through the cookbook was Debbie's outlook on food.  She says, "To Greeks, food is not just food.  It represents love.  It represents family. Sitting down to the table to eat is the time when friends and family come together to connect and share their day with one another..."  That philosophy parallels our approach to food and meals. There is always time to cook good food and to bring family and friends together to share a meal!  I am on-board!

The wide variety of recipes available in the cookbook make it easy to eat healthy and to eat well! There were so many that I wanted to try:

  • Kolokithopites (Zucchini Fritters) sounds like a perfect appetizer, 
  • Horiatki Salata (Greek Village Salad) looks as though it is packed with freshness and popping with flavor, 
  • Gigantes (Greek Giant White Beans) that we became so fond of on our trip, and they are oh, so delicious, not to mention 
  • Dessert Fruit Salad with honey and yogurt....yum...
What to make first!?

I selected Baked Cod with Lemon Garlic Parsley Sauce as my recipe to prepare.  Mr. T. and I were really excited to participate and since we just happened to be visiting a little fishing town on the coast, it was easy to find fresh fish!  We selected two lovely pieces of Rock Cod to prepare.

Baked Cod with Lemon Garlic Parsley Sauce

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 skinless cod fillets, 6 ounces each, rinsed and patted dry
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
4 tablespoons lemon juice, divided (about 2 lemons)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Coat the bottom of a large oven-safe baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.  Lay the cod fillets in the baking dish and season them with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt (1/8 teaspoon per fillet). Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice over the fish.  Bake, uncovered, until the fish is opaque and easily flaked with a fork, about 15 minutes.  Be careful not to overcook the fish.

While the fish is baking, make the sauce.  In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, parsley, garlic, and lemon zest.  Slowly whisk in the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil and season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper (if using).

Serve the cod immediately on warmed dinner plates, with the sauce spooned evenly over each fillet.

Debbie is right.  This is a quick, healthy recipe.  The sauce is light and lemony and infuses the fish with a subtle garlic flavor.  This is my new way to prepare fish!

I was so happy to add this wonderful cookbook to my library.  It will be well used.  I am looking forward to preparing Zucchini Fritters served with Tzatziki next week....we will enjoy them with a crisp white wine and dream of blue seas, blue skies, great food and our wonderful trip to Greece.....

Debbie will be tweeting throughout the tour.  Use the hashtag #GreekSummer.  Here are her social media sites should you wish to connect with her:  Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.

I am sharing at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage and Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Frozen Treats for the Summer

I dipped into the archives to remind myself of the frozen treats that I have made and find a few worthy of repeating. I focused on ice cream as the fourth of July is just around the corner.  They are all different and they are all totally delicious!! Take a look, you are certain to find an ice cream that suits your palate.

Blubarb Pie

This is a most unconventional pie!  Blubarb Pie doesn't even bare any resemblance to does has a few shards of crust served alongside rhubarb ice cream with a spoonful or two of blueberry sauce.  What could be more tasty?

Lemon Velvet Ice Cream

You will want to make just has a wonderfully balanced combination of sweet and tart....and, it lives up to its name....Lemon Velvet.  Lemon Velvet...yep, the perfect name...smooth, creamy....perfect!  It did not last long at our house.  Yes, you will want to make this one!

Rum, Date and Pecan Ice Cream

Have you ever had a date shake?  Well I had never...and it didn't really sound good either.  But, Mr. T. kept telling me that I had to try it so...we went on a date.  One taste....Boy, was I was amazing and no, I did not share my shake!   Date shakes rock!

With that in my mind, as I read through The Perfect Scoop, I was a bit biased when I saw a recipe for Rum, Date and Pecan Ice Cream.  This is the perfect combination of flavors....dates and rum...I was happy to have the dates move over and share the stage.  Delicious!  Come to think of will want to make this one too!

I am sharing today at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen't Country Cottage and Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Slow Cooker Barbacoa

When my daughter said that we were having barbacoa for dinner I had no idea what to expect.  I had never heard of it.  I saw the slow cooker on the counter so I knew that it was an all-day affair....I knew that we had gone to the market late in the evening to get pork and would you believe, they were out?  Stores are not supposed to be out of pork...we had a plan...alas, it was dashed by all those folks in Seattle who also wanted pork!  That led us to the beef counter.  A nice beef roast would be fine....we were still having barbacoa.

What is barbacoa?  I was told that it is on the menu at Chipotle.  I rarely, rarely eat there so that still meant nothing to me....except I new it was Mexican cuisine.  As it bubbled and cooked I was constantly drawn to the kitchen by the wonderful aromas...braising beef, a simmering pot of beans, pickled onions....this was going to be delicious and it was!

When I got home, I knew that I was going to make it for Mr. T.   I really needed more information so I started researching and realized that there was no better source than Rick Bayless and I just happened to have a few of his cookbooks.  According to his cookbook, Mexico One Plate at a Time, barbacoa is a slow-cooked meat, pit style. The meat is wrapped in leaves and lowered into a pit dug in the ground, placed on heated rocks glowing from a bonfire.  The meat is sealed in the pit which becomes a smoky, steamy oven.  Hours later the pit is opened and the pit-cooked meat is removed with a bit of anticipation and ceremony.  That is really a simplistic description as in some styles of barbacoa, the actual process involves placing the meat on a grate over a cauldron of soup and then sealing the pit!  Cooking with steam....meat juices falling into the a process....

The type of meat and the type of leaves vary by region....lamb, cow's head, goat, pork...leaves from agave, avocado or banana...  It is all about the process...steam-roasting the meat whereas, in the United States, pit cooking is more about the smoke.

So what does that have in common with what I did?  Meat, spicy sauce (soup), steam, braise for hours in a slow is all good!

Slow Cooker Barbacoa
adapted from Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans and The Slow Roasted Italian

3 pounds beef roast, top round, eye of round
Kosher salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
2 bay leaves

1 white onion, chunked
6 cloves garlic, peeled
4 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 Tbsp dried Mexican oregano
1/8 tsp ground cloves
4 chipotle peppers (from a can of chipotle packed in adobo sauce)
1 Tbsp adobo sauce
1/4 cup cilantro leaves  (optional)
2 Tbsp vinegar - cider, red wine or rice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh lime juice

Prepare the roast:  Trim fat.  Cut the roast into large chunks.  Sprinkle all sides with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Prepare the sauce:  In a food processor or blender combine the sauce ingredients.  Blend until smooth.  Set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy bottom skillet or pot.  Sear all sides of the beef chunks. Do not crowd the meat as you want it nicely browned, not steamed...yet.  :-)  When browned, remove the pieces of meat to the slow cooker.

Pour the sauce over the meat.  Add the bay leaves.  Cook on high for 6 hours.

After five hours, use two forks to check the meat to see if it is shredding.  If so, remove it from the slow cooker and pull the meat apart, remove any pieces of fat.  Place the shredded beef back into the slow cooker.  Stir to cover the meat with the sauce.  Continue cooking for another hour on warm.

Serve in warm tortillas.  Garnish with cotija cheese, radishes, pickled onions, thinly sliced or shredded cabbage and cilantro.


We enjoyed the Barbacoa served as tacos with pickled onions, shredded cabbage, thinly sliced radishes, cotija cheese and a sprinkling of cilantro.  The meal wouldn't have been complete without a pot of beans!  You can find the recipe for pickled onions, here.  The recipe for the Bacon-Simmered Pot Beans is here.

While we served the Barbacoa in tacos, it can easily become burritos!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Baked Sweet Potato Wedges

Isn't it wonderful that sweet potatoes are not limited to just the Thanksgiving table?  When I was growing up that was the only time we had sweet potatoes and what a treat it was!  Of course, as a youngster I loved the melted marshmallows on top of the wonderfully sweet potatoes...whose to say if the preference was for the melted marshmallows or the sweet potato!  Yes, quite a treat and it wasn't for dessert, either!

I remember a few years ago when I first had sweet potato fries...what a novel idea and why did it take so long for somebody to think of it?!  If the fries taste so good, then baked wedges had to be just as tasty and they weren't little, thin strips.

When I was perusing the aforementioned Good Stuff Cookbook, I saw a recipe for Baked Sweet Potatoes and knew that we had to try this version.  We weren't disappointed....and, there is a multitude of dipping sauces if you are so inclined.

Baked Sweet Potato Wedges
adapted from The Good Stuff Cookbook, Spike Mendelsohn

Serves 4

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
Sea Salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

In a large bowl, combine the oil, brown sugar, sage.  Add the sweet potatoes and toss.  Spread the mixture on a baking sheet.  Bake for 40 minutes.  Serve immediately.

You could even sprinkle just a smidge of brown sugar over the top before serving....  :-)


If you like sweet potato fries or wedges, you may also like this recipe for Sweet Potato Oven Fries with Yogurt-Curry Dipping Sauce.