Friday, September 3, 2010

I’m being squashed …

While I’m not a vegetarian (actually, I'm quite carnivorous), I like to eat fresh and support local growers. I’m really trying to convert to a more locovarian lifestyle when it comes to purchased produce – eating what is organically grown within 150 miles of my abode. I love spending my Saturday mornings at the Pearl Farmers’ Market supporting local farmers, bakers and gardeners. (I was recently at the Barton Creek Farmers' Market in Austin. It's a good one, too.)



While just a month or two ago the local markets were full of summer's bounty, they are now looking a bit spare – down to the last veggies of the growing season. So, my locovar menu is consisting of a lot of peppers, corn and loads of squash – particularly zucchini. But, that’s okay. I’ve recently added some yummy recipes that are real keepers. Both of the zucchini-based, easy recipes I’m sharing with you (below) are perfect for daily dinners or when entertaining.


ZUCCHINI CAKE APPETIZERS

Zucchini Cake Appetizers are easy to make and a pefect 'game day' finger food
for the football fans at home.

These zucchini cakes make a great appetizer fit for casual gatherings or elegant parties. Shredded fresh zucchini is mixed with a little Parmesan, Panko, paprika, garlic and a hint of ground nutmeg. The mixture is then pressed into patties and pan fried in olive oil until they are golden brown. Makes 8 cakes.

You will need:
  • 1 large zucchini grated, excess water removed (Note: To do this, after you grate the zucchini, put the grated zucchini into paper towels and squeeze to release the water)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • Sprinkle of ground nutmeg, about 1/8 teaspoon (Note: If you add too much it can quickly take over the taste, less is more)
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine all ingredients, except olive oil, in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Using a heaping tablespoon form the mixture into 8 patties.
Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Once heated, add patties and cook until golden brown. About 3-4 minutes per side. Serve with a dollop of ranch dressing. Enjoy!


ZUCCHINI-CORN CAKES

Zucchini Corn Cakes take a bit more time that the appetizers, but the corn adds a great texture and flavor.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 medium-sized (6-7 oz) zucchini
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh whole-kernel corn (shaved from 1 ear)
  • 1 green onion (including top), minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Directions:
In large bowl, stir together cornmeal, flour, soda, cumin salt and pepper.

Using large holes on a shredder, shred zucchini to make ¾ cup (pack in cup to measure). Squeeze with your hands to extract excess moisture. In a medium-size bowl, mix egg, buttermilk, oil, zucchini, corn and green onion. Pour liquid into dry ingredients and stir until evenly moistened.

Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Grease lightly with butter. Spoon about 2 tablespoons batter onto skillet for each cake, spreading batter to make 3-inch diameter cakes. Cook until tiny bubbles form in the centers and edges of cakes appear dry; turn and cook other sides until browned and cakes puff slightly. Serve 2 or 3 cakes per person. Makes 12 cakes.

Optional: Serve with a marinara sauce.  Or, if you want to be daring, try a drizzle of poblano cream sauce over the top instead. (Note: if making Roasted Poblano Cream Sauce from scratch, as I did, go easy on the poblanos. I was lucky not to spontaneously combust!)


ROASTED POBLANO CREAM SAUCE

I strained the actual peppers from Roasted Poblano Cream Sauce before serving to minimize the 'fire.'
The sauce can be made a day ahead and refrigerated.
Ingredients:
  • 2 large poblano peppers roasted, peeled and seeded
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 12 oz evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon (not broth)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Roast the peppers on the grill until nicely charred and blackened skin on all sides and then place in a bowl and cover with saran wrap. After they cool, the skin will peel right off. Cut in half and remove the ribs and seeds (For the heat, you can leave some in depending on how hot you like it. I'm a wimp, so ribs and seeds are removed.) Rough chop.

Add the peppers to the milk along with the garlic and chicken boullin and add to a blender and puree. Then set aside.

Now make the bechemel. Melt the butter in a small pot and add the flour and mix to make a roux. Then add the milk and pepper mixture, check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Cook on medium high heat to thicken. If too thick, you can add a little regular milk, cream or chicken broth.

Can be made one day ahead and refrigerated. Reheat in microwave or on the stove.



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