Summer Classic

Potato Salad.

I can think of many classic summer foods but potato salad has to be number one. However I rarely make it. I find it to be generally a lot of effort. Especially for 2 people. If I volunteered to bring it as my “pot luck dish” to the family cookout, well than I am happy to make the effort. Otherwise it’s a lot of work; all the peeling of potatoes and boiling, etc.

But recently I was inspired to make the effort with help of some conveniently sized and packaged small red potatoes. (about 3/4 to 1 lb) I simply scrubbed them up good and boiled them until just tender. Drained them and let them cool a bit while I chopped up a few other things. The other things were dried chopped rosemary (about a heaping tablespoon) and scallions (about a cup, medium dice, green parts only) and bacon*. (fully cooked, not too crispy, about 5 slices) Don’t forget a generous couple of pinches of salt and pepper – potatoes need lots!

The dressing was simple – mayonnaise, vinegar, crushed mustard seed or celery seed, sugar, salt and pepper to taste. I know this sounds suspiciously like a coleslaw dressing and you would be right, but why not let this dressing do double duty!

For this amount of potatoes, I started with a cup of mayo, 1-2 tb of vinegar (depending on how tangy you like it) a couple tsp of sugar to smooth it all out and a couple tsp of the mustard seed. (I was out of celery seed!) As with all cold salads, mix in the dressing in batches to see if you need more or less and reserve a bit on the side to re-moisten after the salad has sat a bit in the fridge to fully chill and potatoes have absorbed the flavors. The other most important tip is adding the dried rosemary and bacon to the potatoes after they have drained and while they are stilling cooling. The warm potatoes really activate the bacon and rosemary and absorb their flavors. Let this cool to at least room temp before adding on the scallions and dressing. This way the scallions will stay crisp and crunchy.

rosemary and bacon potato salad with pork tenderloin

I served mine with grilled pork loin. You can serve it with whatever.

*obviously you could leave out the bacon – but why would you want to ;)

Corn Season

This time of year in New England fresh “Corn on the Cob” is king!

And while many people are busy thinking up new ways to use up all the Zucchini, I spend my time thinking up ways to eat more fresh corn!

The latest way…..

“Fresh corn pudding with roasted sweet potatoes & red bell pepper!”

(served with grilled steak or not)

final plate

 

The key here is the not only the 4 cups of fresh raw corn taken right off the cob, but the roasted sweet potato.

Sweet potatoes - Simply peeled, cubed, drizzled with oil, salt & pepper. Roast at 400 degrees till tender and browed a bit.

Sweet potatoes – Simply peeled, cubed, drizzled with oil, salt & pepper. Roast at 400 degrees till tender and browned a bit.

Tip: Scrub and roast your potatoes in the cool summer nights and make the corn pudding the next day or better yet if early morning is your thing, get it all done before the heat of the day sets in.

Another Tip: I like roasting potatoes or any veggies just to have on hand for quiche fillings, sandwich stuffers, omelets or quesadilla.

 

the recipe

2 cups cubed, roasted sweet potatoes

1 small-medium sweet red bell pepper diced

1 cup small dice white onion

4 cups fresh corn kernels (be sure to reap the “milk” from the cobs too!)

1 heaping TB fresh chopped sage

1/2 cup melted and slightly cooled butter

4 medium size eggs (adjust according if yours are smaller or bigger)

1 Tsp Baking Powder

1 1/4 cup finely ground corn meal (yellow or white okay)

1 1/4 cup “half and half”* or Whole milk     *I used fat-free because that is what I had but I think it would be richer with full fat.

salt and pepper to taste

preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray an 8×12 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

mix the potatoes, onion, bell pepper, corn kernels and corn milk together and dump into the baking dish. In another bowl mix the butter, eggs, sage and baking powder together. Alternately whisk in the cornmeal and milk (or half and half) – watching consistency. The batter should be thick but still very pourable. You may end up using more or less of one of these two ingredients. Salt and pepper should be added in and pour over the veggies in the baking dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake 30 minutes, uncover and bake 20 more mins. Baking time may vary – the edges should be brown and the middle firm but soft – kinda like quiche.

Serve hot, warm or room temperature.

 

Superfecta Of Summer

Corn and tomatoes are one of  my favorite parings and I have written about them before….here and here.

This time I paired them in a quiche. Easy and summer-y this quiche tastes like a fancy brunch dish and is so light that you feel almost like you are eating healthy! (never mind the eggs, cream and cheese in the mix!)

summer quiche The key was the fresh corn – sweet and in season now -  I carved it raw off the cob making sure to include all the “milk” into the bowl as well. I had never used a soft, fresh cheese like goat cheese before, in a quiche, but I had some already crumbled in the fridge and decided to throw it in. The fresh basil and cherry tomatoes cut in half rounded out this trifecta (or perhaps its a “superfecta?”) of ingredients. The moist goat cheese added a bit of luscious-ness to it.The quiche is rich but not heavy.

Production Notes

I just use a store-bought crust that I blind bake for 10-15 minutes so the crust will be crisp and not soggy. I also firmly believe that glass pie dishes get the best result with crust. For the liquids I simply start with 6 whole eggs and about a cup of dairy – milk cream or even half and half. I fill the cooled crust with the filling of the choice and carefully pour the liquid mix over it all. Be careful not to pour to fast as sometimes the liquid doesn’t get into the nooks and crannies as fast as it should and you can easily spill over the edges! S & p to taste.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven until set in middle. Cool a bit before slicing.

quiche ingredients

The “superfecta” of summer ingredients!

 

Back To Basics

Before TV networks were devoted to food, endless magazines dedicated food and in general a whole niche industry revolving around food (I am not complaining) there was… well just some basic recipes and every once in a while some relative or friend of the family might have a twist on a basic recipe.

Sometimes I just like to revisit the basics.

basic pasta salad

Nothing is more basic than standard pasta salad. This kind of pasta salad is as simple as it gets and in its “heyday” was the star of the summer side dishes. It still a great simple salad, it’s just been forgotten amid all the fancy variations these days. The only thing “new” about it is the tri-color rotini. (Remember when pasta only came in “white” and the tricolor was revolutionary? I do.)

The ingredient list is simple: boiled, drained and cooled al dente pasta, diced green bell pepper, diced red onion, diced pepperoni and a bottle of your favorite Italian dressing. This salad is easy and can feed a crowd. But it can be the basis for some other more exotic ideas too. Add sun-dried tomatoes and cubed mozzarella for a twist on antipasti. Add feta,olives and pepperoncini for a Greek-inspired version. Substitute the pepperoni  with chickpeas for a vegetarian version. You get the idea. Make it  your own.

or leave it as a good, solid basic.

 

Production Tip

As with all pasta salads, its good to dress it liberally with the dressing while the pasta is just a tiny bit still warm. Refrigerate, taste after a while and add a bit more dressing in. The pasta really soaks up the flavor if you do it this way.

Parrot Head

I am a card-carrying member of the “parrotheads” elite.

And if you think I raise and breed birds you would be wrong.

For those who don’t know a “parrothead” is a big time fan of Jimmy Buffett’s music. We even have our own wiki page here!

So after having attended over 6 shows and many related events over the years, you would think I would have the lyrics to one of his most famous songs, “Cheeseburger In Paradise” perfectly memorized. Well I do, but recently I cleared up some grammatical confusion.

See I thought he was saying ” …not zucchini fettuccine or bulgar wheat…”  but what he was really saying was “not zucchini, fettuccine or bulgar wheat “

Small difference (see comma marked in red above) but it means the difference between 3 food items ( Zucchini AND Fettuccine AND Bulgar Wheat) instead of two food items. (Zucchini Fettuccine AND Bulgar Wheat)

Phew! glad I cleared that up!

zucchini 2

Actual “zucchini fettuccine” lightly sautéed in olive oil with fresh tomatoes, herbs, garlic,onions and a little feta cheese on top!

 

In case you want to verify the lyrics or maybe even catch a show…. www.margaritaville.com

Mother’s Day On The Porch

This year Mother’s Day also turned out to be the “season opener” for her deck. And nothing is better than an early evening supper on the porch of corn and tomatoes…

And of course I brought her “flowers” (the edible kind!)

rose

The next morning we enjoyed last night’s leftovers in a whole new way…a savory breakfast bread pudding!

I simply cubed up about 8 slices of good quality bread ( something alike a “pullman loaf” but really anything you have would do) and let them get all toasty and dry in a low oven for a few minutes. I piled them into a sprayed oven-proof dish and threw in all the rest of the leftover corn and tomatoes. I added some generous dashes of dried oregano, a couple good pinches of garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste, some pats of butter ( maybe like 4) and about 3 ounces of sharp cheddar. (Some grated and some chunked.) Now the wet stuff: whisk 6 large eggs with about 2 cups whole milk and make sure to use the back of your knife down the corn cobs and get all that delicious “milk” hiding in the cobs.  Pour it all over the top of everything.

Into a preheated 375 degree oven – covered tight with foil- for about 20-25 mins. No peeking under the foil. Remove the cover when the liquid is firm and edges just starting to take on some brown. (this is nice and easy to see in a glass baking dish!) Let it baked uncovered 8-10 mins longer just to dry out the top a bit as needed. Remove from the oven and let it cool a bit, just like lasagna, this is better served warm and not piping hot!

Read about my other “corn and tomato” adventures here!

A Match Made In Heaven

Name two things that are just destined to go together and I bet spinach and eggs would not be on the top of your list. But I often put these two together, in fact I almost always pair them up unless I am doing a straight up fried egg. (and even then a fried egg on a bed of wilted spinach would be great!)

Some classic pairings include:

spinach omelets

spinach salad with hard-boiled eggs

spinach frittata

scrambled eggs with spinach and Parmesan cheese

baked eggs in creamed spinach

There are probably more.

Here is one I made recently….

sliced

Spinach, potato and sweet onion frittata.

I happened to have some extra baked potatoes (because when I fire up the oven to bake two, I bake four.) and adding these in gives this frittata some “heft.” And my husband is more likely to eat it if it’s packing some “heft” in lieu of “meat.” :)

Production Notes:

Be sure to spray your pan liberally with cooking spray, and I use a large pat of butter as well, heat till bubbly on the cooktop and layer in the potatoes, onions, spinach and S &P to taste. Once that gets going, I pour in 6 eggs (+/- depending on pan size) that have been whisked with a little bit of (1/2 cup?) of whole milk or cream or half-n-half or whatever you have on hand. Add a little optional crumbled cheese (sharp cheddar or feta is nice) and some dried thyme and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven (right in the same oven proof skillet you started with on the cooktop) till firm and starting to brown and pull away from edges. (30 mins +/-)

Notice I am NOT using a non-stick pan… I am not afraid.