Saturday, June 21, 2014

Zucchini & Squash Recipes

Last post, I mentioned we've been eating squash and zucchini almost daily it seems.  This is still mostly true. So, I thought I'd start keeping track of how many ways we have found to eat these great summer veggies for posterity.   Last night, we modified a family favorite, corn fritters.  All of my kids eat, and frequently request these corn fritters that are in my Williams Sonoma Comfort Food cookbook that is one of the best and most used cookbooks in my arsenal.  If you have never made these, you should.  We dip them in maple syrup and everyone eats them like candy. So, since I have zucchini coming out of every orifice, seemingly, I decided to swap out some corn for zucchini. 

Here is the recipe:

Corn & Zucchini Fritters

1 cup shredded zucchini
2 cups flour (I used whole wheat just because I'm like that)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp. honey
1 cup fresh corn cut off the cob (from about 1 or 2 ears)
1 cup kefir (or buttermilk, use what you have)
2 eggs
lard (or oil), for frying

So.  I waited too long to pick a couple of zucchini and they were like 3 lbs. each.  I took one of those, which are super watery at this point, and shredded it.  You can do this with smaller zucchini, but either way you should put the zucchini in a colander and salt it, to get some of the moisture out.  If you wait too long to pick like I did, you may need to wait a little longer.  10 minutes or so should work.  Then rinse, and squeeze as much water out as you can with your hands.  You can freeze whatever you don't use to make more of these later or put in bread or something.

While the zucchini is sweating, mix all your dry ingredients together in a bowl
Put the honey, corn, kefir, and eggs in a food processor and puree.  Then mix it with the dry ingredients, and stir in your shredded zucchini.

Heat your lard (or oil) until it's good and hot.  I don't have a thermometer to measure what temperature this is, but if you are using lard, then once it has all melted and then started to heat up you should be close.  You can test it by dropping some of the batter in, it should float up to the top fairly quickly and begin to fry. Drop about 1 Tablespoon in at a time and fry up all the batter.  You should get about 40 or so.  I lost count because several of us started eating them before I was finished frying.  We dip them in maple syrup but they are tasty without as well. None of my kids love zucchini, and they all eat this. Even the two little boys, who don't eat dinner unless it's pizza or hot dogs ate these.  Any that are leftover are usually eaten for breakfast the next day. 

Note about frying in lard: the stuff you buy in the store is bad for you.  I only cook with olive oil and coconut oil, neither of which I would deep fry in.  If you can find a reputable farmer and render this stuff yourself, it is worth the time and effort.  Plus you can fry in it several times, just strain the big pieces out and put it in the refrigerator. 

Monday, June 2, 2014


I just truly don't even know where to begin.  Every spring I cannot wait to get out in the garden, and I normally plant at least one thing too early.  But soon, things start growing, and then I become just a little.... obsessed.  

For some reason I spend more time on the internet in the spring -  trying to diagnose my plants and whatever new spot they might have on them.  Or trying to find out what bug I just saw eating my plant.  And then running back outside to kill it. It's like this out of body experience in which I observe myself acting like an insane person caring about my garden so much but not being able to actually stop myself from the madness.  Inevitably, it is the squash every year that consumes most of my time and thought.  If I ever look deep in thought in the months of March, April or May, I'm probably thinking about squash. 

 There might be the off day, where the new thing I tried, like this potato box, isn't working (all of these potatoes have since died and I'm having to start over) and so you could catch me thinking about it for a few minutes.  

But then we're back to squash.  If there were one central squash place that told me exactly what I wanted to know, my life would be easier.  For example:  If your squash has bacterial wilt it will die and you cannot save it.  Do you know how many websites I had to go to find this out?  (My plants, thankfully, do not have this.  Yet.)  

At any rate, this year, I am hopeful that all the efforts will pay off at least a little.  We have eaten some kind of squash every day for the last week.  Fixed a different way, no less! (except for the day we had leftovers).
So, here is one of the new things we tried that I was super excited about and went to at least a dozen websites to try to figure out how to cook.  I will save you some of the research.

Squash Blossoms.

I really wanted to be able to make these days in advance, and I found one website that said you could use blossoms picked up to 2 days in advance (although they recommended same day).  You can but I wouldn't, because I did.  So you see the really wilty looking ones in the middle?  They were the same size as the really big beautiful ones on the day I picked them.  So they basically became half the size by picking them two days before.  The quality really declines quickly.  The ones picked the day before were fine, but the ones picked that day were great.  For two primary reasons:  1) The size and 2) It was nearly impossible to put the filling into the 2 day old ones because the petals were so fragile at that point.  I got almost 3 times as much filling into the fresh blossoms, which really changes the flavor if you consider cheese/flower/breading ratio.  So do what you will.  I sort of had to go this route in order to get enough blossoms for an appetizer for a dinner party.  Also, only pick the male blossoms (but leave some so that you still get your female blossoms pollinated!), and pick them early in the morning, when they are open.  If you let them close up (which they do mid-morning, early afternoon) then you may have some bugs closed up with them. Also, when you pick them - CUT them, leaving about 2 inches of the stem intact so you can hold on to it while you eat.  I had some leftover breading from a "zucchini chip" recipe that I had made earlier in the week, so here is what we did, and I'm assuming this would make about 12 or 15 blossoms - I made 18, but some of mine were wilty so if they had been fresher I would have needed more filling.  

Baked Stuffed Squash Blossoms

15 squash blossoms, washed, with stamen and pistil removed 
4 oz goat cheese
4 oz softened cream cheese
2 Tbsp. honey
1/2 cup bread crumbs or panko
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil leaves
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, 

Combine the goat and cream cheeses and honey together and whip until you have a spreadable consistency. Gently fill the squash blossoms, about 2 Tablespoons of filling per blossom (more or less to taste). When you are filling the blossoms, try to sort of squeeze the petals of the flower into the filling so that the filling is more or less enclosed by the petals.

In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and basil leaves.

In another small bowl, stir the egg.  

Dip each squash blossom into the egg and then roll through the bread crumb mixture.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until bread crumbs are slightly brown and crispy.