Saturday, June 29, 2013

Fried Squash and Nasturtium Patties

I thought it would be fun to include a common flower in this recipe for my fellow gardeners out there. Nasturtiums are super easy to grow, even from seed, and you can easily find them in yellow, orange or red. 

Here in the hotter parts of California and other southern states though, be careful when you read the label, "full sun"- it doesn't really apply here. They need plenty of sun of course, but morning sun is better. All of my nasturtiums that get too much harsh afternoon sun are looking pretty haggard.
This recipe is of course super similar to the zucchini patties that I've made before, except that this batter is more of a dough than a batter. The others are really more like zucchini pancakes, but when you stir up this batter you should have more of a thick cookie dough or meatball mix consistency. 

They're so yummy.

3 small tender squashes, grated.  I used one small crookneck, 1 small patty pan and 1 small zucchini (because that's what was ready in my garden).
5-6 large fresh nasturtium leaves, chopped fine
several nasturtium flowers,petals removed
1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped fine
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped fine
1/4 cup fresh flat parsley, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste, I didn't really measure)
1 egg
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup crumbled feta or other sharp or tangy cheese
2-4 tablespoons of olive oil for frying

After you grate up or food process your little squashes, you have to pick the pile up and squeeze out as much moisture as you can. This is very important, they taste watery and bland and don't cook right if you skip this step. Put it all in a bowl with the other ingredients. 

You really need to use wheat flour instead of regular, it absorbs more moisture and has a nice nutty flavor. After you stir it all up really well, you should have a fairly stiff sticky dough. 

In a non-stick pan, heat up about 2 tablespoons of olive oil on med-high heat. Take about a small ice cream scoop of dough (a scant 1/4 cup?) at a time and make a very flat patty with your hands and fry them in the olive oil for 3 minutes per side. Make sure they are nice and flat, in fact when you flip them you can squish them down a bit with your spatula to make sure. You should get about 8-10 of them.

Serve them garnished with your beautiful nasturtium petals, a sour cream or yogurt based sauce on top, and a nice cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc on the side.

The sauce I made was just a big glob of full-fat sour cream mixed with a splash of red wine vinegar and a half teaspoon of harissa paste. You could also use a teaspoon of sun dried tomato pesto or basil pesto mixed if harissa is too spicy.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Roasted Sausage with Fresh Figs and Carrots

My lovely neighbor very generously gave me a HUGE bag of fresh figs from her giant fig tree, and they were sweet and delicious. I ate ten or fifteen, but the thing is with fresh figs is that they get squishy very quickly, and sometimes if you have a lot of them getting ripe at the same time, you just can't eat them quickly enough.  

Obviously you can make jam, but they are really good in breads and meat dishes too.

5 spicy Italian or Spanish sausages, cut in half
10 large fresh figs, whole
1 large sweet onion, chopped roughly into fairly large pieces
1/2 cup chopped fennel bulb
1 bunch small baby carrots, or 4 large carrots chopped into 2 inch pieces (if you don't like cooked carrots substitute sweet potato or Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed into small pieces)
2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon dried orange peel (or zest about half a fresh orange)
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt(or more)
1/2 cup fruity red wine OR if the figs are not very sweet use a ruby port
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle a large roasting pan with one tablespoon of oil, then arrange all of the fruit, veggies and sausages in the pan, then pour the wine over everything, then the other tablespoon of olive oil, and then sprinkle over the spices.

Roast in the oven for about 30-35 minutes. You can dish out the sausage and carrots first, then mash up the figs and onions into the juices before serving over the top. This serves about four people, and would pair nicely with an arugula salad and a nice Tempranillo wine like Black Hat from Scribner Bend.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Summer Squash "Moussaka"

4-5 medium sized yellow summer squash
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup olive oil  (or more)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper pepper
2 cups of your favorite meat sauce recipe (or just add cooked ground beef, a whisper of cinnamon and extra oregano to a jar of tomato sauce if you're feeling lazy)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup shredded or crumbled sharp cheese (any kind)

1 pinch of nutmeg
1 cup of whole milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pinch white pepper
1 egg 
1 dash Tabasco

Slice the yellow squash lengthwise into three or four flattish pieces each, depending on how fat they are. I would say you want them about a 1/4 inch thick. 

Coat the slices with the flour and fry them in about 1/4 cup of medium-high hot olive oil, in a non-stick pan. When they are brown on both sides (about a minute per side if the oil is hot enough) remove them from the pan to a paper towel to drain. I had to cook them in two batches, using my biggest frying pan. 

When they come out of the pan, salt and pepper them well. You might need to add more oil for the second round, but if you don't want to waste this much expensive olive oil on frying, mix it half and half with some other oil like corn oil. 

Yeah, mine is GMO corn oil, but corn oil is delicious. When they come out with organic corn oil at the grocery store (I'm looking at you, Whole Foods), I'll be the first to buy it. 

Layer the bottom of a 9x9 inch casserole dish, the square kind works well, with some of the squash slices, trying to cover evenly. Spread about a third of the meat sauce on top and sprinkle with a third of the cheese and basil. Do this two more times, but leave yourself like a 1/2 inch of room at the top (squish things down if you have to) because you're going to a put some white sauce on top.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, fry up the tablespoon of butter and flour, stirring it with a whisk. (I use rounded tablespoons here actually). Add a pinch of salt and white pepper as well as a very tiny pinch of nutmeg (optional) and a dash of Tabasco. Pour the milk in slowly, whisking the whole time. Whisk frequently as it cooks, you know, like making gravy, and then when it looks thickened (it doesn't take long) take it off the heat and very quickly whisk in a beaten egg. Pour over the top of your squash dish and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until the top gets some brown spots on it. 

The picture up there is actually taken of a leftover piece, I love eating this cold.

Serves 4