Rollin’ With My Zucchinis

zucchini rollatini, plate

ready to roll

You probably don’t think prosciutto can come from Serbia. At least I didn’t before a few weeks ago. But silly me, it does. And my friend Boris (who’s Serbian) was nice enough to bring me back some from his recent trip home. He promised it would be different from the Italian stuff: meatier, smokier, not as dry. Which, come to think of it, is a lot like Boris.

Of course you don’t need Serbian prosciutto for this dish, but it would be a great touch. Just be careful slicing your zucchini so that it’s not too thin. Then it might be too delicate to roll after sautéing. And while Serbian prosciutto isn’t a must-have, please don’t use some boring jarred tomato sauce. Making your own is so, so much better.

Zucchini Rollatini
2 medium zucchini, sliced 1/8-inch thick lengthwise
6 to 8 slices of prosciutto
8 oz of fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
1 bunch of basil leaves
1 ½ to 2 cups of tomato sauce
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
8×8 baking dish, or similar

Heat your oven to 425º.

Season the zucchini slices on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the zucchini in batches and cook until golden on both sides, about 2 minutes. Let cool enough to handle.

Top each zucchini slice with a piece of prosciutto cut to fit, a slice (or two) of mozzarella cut to fit and 1 basil leaf. Carefully roll each stack into a pinwheel and secure with a toothpick. Place the tomato sauce in the bottom of a baking dish and then place each rollatini side by side in the dish. (You can remove the toothpicks at this point, or wait until after baking.)

zucchini rollatini, dish

bake & roll

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbling. Plate and then eat.


Marinate on This for a While

citrus marinated chicken thighs

lime gonna eat you up

Get this: It appears that I haven’t posted a chicken recipe in 4 months. For this chicken-obsessed cook, that’s a really (really) long time. Not that I haven’t been making chicken. Oh, because I have. I think I just felt that I was inundating everyone with too many chicken recipes. Although, as I’ve said before—you can never have too many chicken recipes. It’s true. Look it up. Go on, I’ll wait. In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying some grilled chicken thighs. Mmm. They’re so tasty, thanks to an Asian-inspired marinade that’s both salty and citrusy.

Citrus Marinated Chicken Thighs
4 to 6 skin-on bone-in chicken thighs
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon of lime zest
1/4 cup of lime juice
1 teaspoon of orange juice
1/4 cup of orange juice
1 bunch of scallions, diced
1 teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of pepper

In a food processor or blender, combine the soy sauce, vegetable oil, garlic, lime zest, lime juice, orange zest, orange juice, scallions, salt and pepper. Reserve about 1/4 cup of the marinade and pour the rest into a large Ziploc bag. Add the chicken thighs, seal and gently toss so the chicken is covered with the marinade. Chill at least 30 minutes.

Heat your grill to medium-high heat. Add the chicken thighs and grill until cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes on each side. Let rest a few minutes, top with reserved marinade, and eat.

Putting on My Suit and Bow-tie Pasta Salad

broccoli, grape & bow-tie pasta salad

let me show you a few things

Summer cooking should be easy. And nothing is easier than this pasta salad.

Well, except for ordering take out. Although that still requires some effort. Answering the front door is hard you guys, just about as hard as figuring out what to tip the delivery guy. For that matter, why are you even ordering food when there’s a fridge full of perfectly good ingredients in the very next room? Get off your lazy duff and go make some dinner!

See, that’s the kind of conversation I have with myself on a weekly basis. If I only were able to motivate myself like that for other things, like going to the gym or cleaning out my junk room. Oh, I know: because those aren’t nearly as fun as cooking, or eating. It’s the eating part that really persuades me.

Broccoli, Grape & Bow-tie Pasta Salad
8 oz of bow-tie (farfalle) pasta
2 broccoli crowns, cut into small pieces
2 cups of red seedless grapes, halved
½ cup of mayonnaise
1/3 cup of red wine vinegar
1/3 cup of diced red onion
1 teaspoon of garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
½ cup of chopped pecans, toasted

Cook the bow-tie pasta al dente, and then drain.

In a large bowl, whisk together the mayo, red wine vinegar, red onion, garlic salt and pepper. Add the hot pasta, broccoli and grapes, and toss to combine. Cover and chill at least 3 hours.

To toast the pecans, heat your oven to 350º. Place the pecans in a shallow baking dish and bake for 5 to 7 minutes, until lightly toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.

Stir in the toasted pecans right before serving. And then eat.

Frittering Around

corn fritters

fried & true

You know what I like? Lazy Sundays. When there’s nothing on your schedule, you’re free to catch up on crappy TV or read a good book (or a good-bad book) or leisurely make yourself dinner.

You know what’s easy? Removing kernels from a cob. I know they make gadgets that do that now, but why bother? A knife will do just fine. Plus, it’s very satisfying running your knife down the side of an ear (that sentence sounds scarier than it actually is, btw) to make little strips of kernels fall off.

You know what’s weird? Those little white hairy threads that you find between kernels of corn.

You know what’s really tasty? Hot corn fritters with lime aioli on top. If you’ve ever squeezed fresh lime juice on your salt and peppered corn, you’ll understand how awesome and refreshing a combo that can be.

Corn Fritters with Lime Aioli
For the fritters:
½ cup of flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/3 cup of 2% milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 ½ cups of fresh corn kernels (about 2 to 3 ears of corn)
½ cup of scallions, finely diced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil

For the aioli:
3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
2 tablespoons of lime juice
1 clove of garlic, minced

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and the baking powder. Add the milk and egg and whisk until smooth. Add the corn, scallions, red pepper flakes and 1/4 teaspoon of both salt and pepper. Chill in the fridge for about 10 minutes.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Drop 1/4 cups of batter into the skillet (don’t overcrowd the skillet) and cook until the top bubbles and the edges are golden, about 2 minutes. Flip the fritters and cook another 2 minutes or until golden. Place on a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Continue with the additional batter, adding more oil as necessary, until all the fritters are fried.

corn fritters 2

you know what’s a good supper? these fritters

To make the aioli, combine the mayo, lime juice and minced garlic in a small bowl. Top with each fritter with a dollop of aioli.

Midweek Meltdown: Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

dulce de leche ice cream

dulce delicioso*

Thankfully, the heat spell we’ve been having for the past so-many weeks has finally broken. (At least I hope so.) Now the days have settled into the very pleasant mid-80s, with a bright blue sky overhead and a gentle breeze sailing in from the ocean.

Sounds delightful, doesn’t?

As delightful as a bowl of dulce de leche ice cream.

If you’re not familiar with dulce de leche, it’s a caramel-like substance that’s very rich and creamy, but a little mellower than ordinary caramel. You should be able to find a can of it in the “international” aisle of your grocery store. But if not, there are a few methods out there where you can turn a can of sweetened condensed milk into dulce de leche. One of them involves boiling a can for 3 to 4 hours. While homemade stuff is great, boiling something for 4 hours when you can buy the stuff already in a can seemed like a silly idea. Plus, I didn’t want to ruin one of these very pleasant summer days stuck inside watching a pot boil. I much prefer devouring a bowl of creamy ice cream instead.

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream
3 cups of half & half
1 13.4 oz can of dulce de leche, plus more for topping
2 vanilla beans, seeds removed

In a large saucepan, heat the half & half over medium heat until nearly boiling. Remove from the heat and whisk in the dulce de leche until dissolved, and then stir in the vanilla bean seeds. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold or overnight.

Place the mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the machine’s instructions. Most machines take 20 to 40 minutes to make ice cream. When the ice cream is thick and creamy, place into a freezer-safe container (with piece of parchment paper between the ice cream and the lid) and let it harden for a few hours. Let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes before scooping. Top with lightly melted dulce de leche and eat.

*Thanks Wendy!

Midweek Meltdown: Blackberry Ice Cream

blackberry ice cream

purple makes me happy

It continues to be hot. Like H-O-T hot. I feel like I’ve been melting, or on the verge of melting, for weeks. Which is good and bad when ice cream is involved. You want your ice cream cold and tasty, but not too cold that you can’t eat it without a dreaded brain freeze. And then you don’t want it too melty so it turns into a big drippy mess and gets all over your face and clothes, or whatever else happens to be around, like your iPhone, or your cat.

These are the things I was thinking about when I was making my latest batch of ice cream. This time I’ve gone the fruity route, using blackberries, those darker, richer cousins of raspberries and strawberries.

I really love the color of this ice cream, it’s such a happy purple. It just makes me smile. It’s like staring into a bowl of Grimace or something. Wait, is that weird? Forget I said that. The heat has gotten to me. It’s nothing like a bowl of Grimace. It’s sweet and creamy and berry good … and might just be one of the tastiest varieties I’ve made.

Blackberry Ice Cream
2 pints of blackberries
1 1/4 cups of sugar
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
3 cups of half & half
5 large egg yolks

In a medium saucepan, combine the blackberries, 1/4 cup of sugar and the lemon juice. Simmer over low heat until the blackberries have broken down and are syrupy, about 20 minutes. Next, pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl, using a spoon or spatula to get as much of the liquid through as possible. Discard the remaining pulp and seeds and let the liquid cool.

In another saucepan, heat 1 ½ cups of half & half and 1 cup of sugar over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a bowl until pale yellow and thick, about 3 minutes. Gradually add some of the warm half & half mixture into the egg yolks while whisking constantly. Then pour the egg-half & half mixture into the saucepan and continue cooking over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and can coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes.

Add the remaining 1 ½ cups of half & half to the blackberry mixture, and then add the egg-half & half mixture and stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold or overnight.

Place the mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the machine’s instructions. Most machines take 20 to 40 minutes to make ice cream. When the ice cream is thick and creamy, place into a freezer-safe container (with piece of parchment paper between the ice cream and the lid) and let it harden for a few hours.

blackberry ice cream

i color coordinate my ice cream and ice cream containers

Let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes before scooping, and then eat.

Chip In

zucchini chips

betcha can’t eat just one

Okay, for those of you keeping count (and I do hope some of you are), it’s been more than 2 weeks since my last post. Don’t worry, there’s nothing wrong – I’m still making eggs and crafting bad puns. I’ve just taken a little time off to rest and recharge.

A quick recap: I got a bad sunburn. I’ve nearly melted due to the oppressive Boston humidity. I spent some time way (way) up in Maine with my friends. I’ve been testing and re-testing new recipes, some that will definitely find their way onto this blog in the near future, including a cake that just might have done away with my long-standing notion that “I don’t like cake.” But more on that later.

For now, I’m offering something quick and easy and tasty. My old friend zucchini is back for a visit, this time in crispy chip form. These little guys would make a great alternative to potato chips, or even french fries. I thought about concocting a complementary dip for them, but you know what? They don’t need it. They’re that good on their own.

Zucchini Chips
1 large zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices (the mandolin is your friend)
½ cup of breadcrumbs, plus more if needed
2 teaspoons of Adobo seasoning
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
3 tablespoons of milk
Cooking spray

Heat your oven to 425º.

Combine the breadcrumbs, Adobo seasoning and pepper in a shallow dish. Put the milk in another shallow dish. Dip the zucchini slices in the milk and then dredge in the breadcrumb mixture. Place the slices on a wire rack lightly coated with cooking spray, and then place the rack on a baking sheet. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until browned and crisp.