Zucchini with Corn and Ricotta Pasta

serving pastaZucchini and I have a complicated relationship. She and her sister, summer squash and her cousin, the adorable pattypan squash, lure me with their shiny skin and vibrant colours. I bring them home from the farmers market, bathe them in olive oil, honey, salt and chile flakes and grill them for a few minutes. Sadly, I am always disappointed by their bland flavour and watery texture. yellow and green zucchinipattypan squash Then I saw a recipe in the June issue of Bon Appetit for Summer Squash and Basil Pasta and I was convinced to give zucchini another chance. Apparently, if you sauté the heck out of the zucchini, for over 15 minutes, it becomes jammy and saucy. That’s when the flavour transformation happens. All the water evaporates out of the zucchini and the flavour becomes concentrated and delicious.

This is my take on the Bon Appetit recipe. I have adapted it slightly.

Slice up lots of garlic and start frying it gently in some olive oil. The original recipe leaves the sliced garlic in the final dish. I don’t love crunching down on big bits of garlic so after the garlic is lightly golden brown and has imparted its gorgeous perfume to the oil, scoop out the sliced garlic and discard it. slicing garlicsauteeing garlicZucchini needs salt. Lots of salt. Don’t be afraid. adding saltOnce the zucchini has wilted down, add some raw corn and keep cooking until the zucchini deepens in colour and gets all jammy. Don’t forget some spicy heat. I used red pepper flakes.zucchini cooked down to jammy consisitencyI finished the dish with some grated Parmesan, fresh mint, basil and a big dollop of ricotta cheese. If you happen to have any homemade ricotta hanging out in the fridge, even better. big bowl of pasta

Click here to print recipe for Zucchini and Corn Pasta with Ricotta.with a scoop of ricotta

 

Halloumi, Arugula and Dried Strawberry Salad

one plate I wouldn’t characterize myself as a greedy person, but something takes over me when I drive by a farm stand or visit a farmers market. I always buy way more than I can possibly eat. It happened to me last week with local summer strawberries. Winter strawberries trick you into thinking they will be good, but when you cut into them, the white centres are so disappointing. These local ones were deep crimson, inside and out!Baskets of strawberries_1Bowl of strawberries_1I needed to use these up fast before they spoiled. No to pie, cobbler, crisp, galette and jam. Been there, done that. I wanted to make something new. And then this recipe for oven dried strawberries popped up in my inbox. Unlike dehydrated strawberries, which are quite dry  and leathery, these oven dried strawberries are chewy, with a plump, juicy consistency. The roasting really concentrates the berry flavours.

Halved strawberries are mixed with a bit of sugar and allowed to macerate for about 30 minutes. Spread them out on a non-stick silicone baking mat and cook at 200°F for about 3-4 hours, until dried at the edges, but still juicy in the center. Once dried, they will keep in the fridge for about a week.strawberries ready for roastingstrawberries roastedThese berries made their way into a seriously delicious salad. The sweet strawberries play beautifully with the bitter arugula and salty halloumi. Toasted hazelnuts bring the crunch.Salad on r and w stripe clothFried halloumi is one of the cheese world’s greatest inventions. If you’ve never tried it,  you’re in for a treat. It’s kind of hard to describe. Salty and squeaky/firm on the outside and creamy and melty in the center.

 

Mike's Hot HoneyThe finishing touch was a drizzle of Mike’s Hot Honey over the fried halloumi. Sheer perfection. I met creator Mike Kurtz about 4 years ago on a NYC pizza tour. He pulled a bottle out of his bag on our third stop and offered us all a little squirt on our pizza. I was hooked! Sweet heat with cheese is fantastic. I buy mine online here in Canada from The Vanilla Food Company.

Click here to print recipe for Halloumi, Arugula and Strawberry Salad.

half eaten

 

 

Malted Milk Cookies with Milk Chocolate and Pecans

Malted Milk Cookies on chocolateI have a big jar of Hoosier Hill Farm malted milk powder in my pantry. Pastry wizard Stella Parks, told me to buy it. She promised me I’d find all kinds of uses for it.Malted Milk Cookies stackedI adore the flavour of malted milk. I made malted milk drumstick ice cream cones a few years ago. For the uninitiated, a little primer on malted milk powder. All malt products come from barley. The grain is sprouted, then dried and ground. During this procedure, starches are converted to sugar and the end result is a sweet, dried grain powder. This is the base for much of the beer that is produced today.

The ground powder is  also combined with wheat flour, milk powder, salt and sometimes sugar to create malted milk powder. Some brands, like Ovaltine also add cocoa powder to the mix. Malted milk powder has caramel, toasty, roasted notes. The addition of milk powder to the blend adds a creamy rich dairy note. It enhances most baked goods, complementing both vanilla and chocolate flavoured goods.hoosier and ovaltineI decided to add some to cookies. I started with a recipe for Chewy Malted Milk Chocolate Cookies from Yvonne Ruperti over at Serious Eats.mise en placeI added some toasted pecans and switched out the honey for Barley Malt Syrup, to really boost the malt flavour. Honey or malt syrup help keep these cookies chewy. I also added a tiny sprinkle of flaked sea salt on top before baking. I’m considering mixing in some chopped Malteasers next time I bake these.

Instead of milk chocolate chips, I chopped up some Lindt milk chocolate bars. I really like the big chunks of milk chocolate studded throughout these cookies. A mix of milk and white chocolate would also be good. I think dark chocolate might be too overpowering. adding milk chocolateUsing a portion scoop ensures that you get uniform cookies that are all baked at the same rate. I used a 1.5 ounce (3 tablespoons) sized scoop.scoopingGently flatten the cookies with the palm of your hand. I added a tiny sprinkle of flaked sea salt to the top of each cookie. It balances all the sweetness perfectly.

These are a hefty, chewy, delicious cookie. Hints of caramel and a unique toasty roasted flavour keep them from being too cloyingly sweet. They are quite fantastic frozen, as my family can attest to. broken cookies

Click here to print recipe for Malted Milk Cookies with Milk Chocolate and Pecans.

milk and cookies

 

Jammy Eggs

for breakfast 2There are some that believe #putaneggonit is a fad on its way out. I disagree. Topping anything with an egg makes it more delicious and I plan to keep on doing it, trendy or not.Egg sliced 3I was topping latkes, breakfast sandwichesturkey hash, and turkey burgers, with a fried egg, but lately I’m into jammy soft boiled eggs. The whites are set but the yolks are still slightly runny and almost the consistency of “jam”. So yummy.for breakfast 3The method is simple

Once you start, you’ll be topping everything with jammy eggs.

I started with a salad. There is no recipe for this one. Just use what you have and like. If you’re like my friend Sandy, you may need more specific details! Here’s what to do:

Start with a whole raw chicken. Liberally sprinkle it with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and paprika. Roast it in a 375°F oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Once it’s cooled slightly, take all the meat off the bones and dice it up. Or, even easier, just buy a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket.

Make Pickled Red Onions.  Cut a few ears of corn off the cob and sauté corn in olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Slice up some celery, radishes and green onion. Slice a ripe avocado and squeeze some lime juice over it. Sprinkle with salt and a tiny pinch of red pepper flakes.

Wash some lettuce. I used romaine, radicchio and Belgian endive. Arugula would be excellent too.

Make a vinaigrette: in a glass jar, add 1 teaspoon dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon honey, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 cup red or white wine vinegar. Put lid on jar and shake well. Add 1/2 cup olive oil, and shake well to emulsify.

I plated each salad individually, but feel free to put it all on a large platter. Put the eggs on unbroken and let each person cut it open to watch the custardy golden yolk appear.unbroken egg

Egg sliced 1

Click here to print recipe for Jammy soft boiled eggs.

 

 

 

 

Broccoli, Raisin and Olive Salad with Pine Nuts

with all the mix insfront of mugThis is my favourite mug. The weight and shape of it feel just right in my hand. It is part of my comforting morning ritual. If  you’re wondering, the mug is from Anthropologie,. Sadly, they don’t make them anymore. I bought a bunch of them with the initials of favourite family members and friends so they would feel welcome when visiting. Now I can’t make any new friends, unless their names start with certain letters that I already have on the shelf. Such a dilemma! It would be awkward to serve my new friend Xavier a latte in a letter M mug.back of mugHere is my mug from the rear view. With the small chip in the base it’s not quite as attractive as the front view. (Most of us look better coming rather than going) Despite this flaw, the mug is still quite functional, so I refuse to replace it. I am also flawed but functional, so my mug is a perfect analogy for me.

This broccoli salad was created the week before we moved. I had been trying not to shop for any groceries and use up what was in the house, so that we would have less stuff to haul. A lonely bag of pine nuts escaped the freezer purge earlier in the week, so they were added for crunch. A jar of raisins survived the pantry purge, so in they went for sweetness. The top shelf of the fridge held a few Kalamata olives and some leftover pickled shallots. don't throw out the stemsPlease don’t chop the florets off your broccoli and discard the stems. Once you peel the outer woody skin, the inside is quite tender.

I had some help in styling this salad from the talent behind the fabulous Instagram account   @bowlsand beats (where health and hiphop collide). Full disclosure, she’s my daughter and she was home visiting for the weekend.

This was my first try at styling the salad. I wasn’t thrilled with the composition so I called her in to help.salad on white oval plate 1She immediately grouped all the little elements together for greater impact. bowls and beats stylessalad on white oval plate 2Better but not quite satisfied, she suggested we try a round bowl instead. styled by bowls and beats 2Perfect. We shot it with my iPhone for her Instagram page and then we ate!Instagram it

Click here to print recipe for Broccoli, Raisin and Olive Salad with Pine Nuts.