Blueberry Buttermilk cake

Perfect in late July!

Ingredients:

Flour AP, 240 g
baking powder, 1 t
baking soda, 1 t
Salt, 1/2 t

Butter, 8 T, softened
270 g sugar
zest of 1 lemon

eggs, 2 (room temp)
1 t vanilla extract
Buttermilk (well-shaken), 1 c / 226 g

2 c blueberries (10-11 oz)

Directions:

Take out butter, eggs, and buttermilk to come to room temp
Preheat oven to 400 degrees, conventional or convection; position rack in middle of oven
Prepare baking pan: 9×13 pan lined with parchment paper, hanging over sides of pan (to create handles). (Spray or butter parchment?)

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Break eggs into small bowl.
Measure out/weigh buttermilk

Measure sugar into mixing bowl. Zest lemon into sugar and mix with fingers to release oils of lemon. Add cubed butter and mix about 2 mins at medium high speed until pale and fluffy.

Add egg and vanilla and beat well.

At low speed, mix in flour in 3 batches alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, mixing until just combined.

Empty contents into prepared baking pan, smoothing out with spatula. Sprinkle on blueberries on top. Sprinkle on an additional 3T sugar on top.
Bake about 30-35 minutes until golden, and toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool 10 minutes, then remove cake from pan and place on rack to cool.
Very delicious still warm, perhaps with some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream!

 

Variation:
Raspberry buttermilk cake: Substitute 2 c raspberries (10 oz) for blueberries; omit lemon zest, perhaps adding 1/4 t almond extract with vanilla.

 

Source: Gourmet Magazine Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

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Eating zucchini in a non-healthy way

Eating zucchini or, how to eat in season without chomping on sunflower sprouts

Not there’s anything bad about sprouts. But sometimes an eater wants to skip over the raw kale salad and vinegar slaw and eat some comfort food, even if IS summer and the bounty is plentiful!

Here’s how to do it:

Take a non ginormous zucchini or two, plop in a bowl of water to soak (Marcella’s technique for loosening ground sitting vegetable from its soil), boil some pasta, chop a bit of onion and sauté it in butter, add zucchini which you have cut into julienne, pour in some pasta water to reduce, add cream and saffron and reduce again. That’s it!

When your pasta — I recommend fettucine — is done, serve under cream sauce and add grated parmesan. I think I can skip the ice cream on this night. I had my cream in savory form, thanks!

Ingredients:
1/4 # fettucini
4 T chopped onion
1-2 small zucchinis, cut into julienne strips, 1-1/2” by 1/4”
1 c heavy cream
Pinch saffron
grated parmesan

 

Spring variation: substitute asparagus for zucchini; steam it ahead before cutting into 1-1/2” lengths before sautéing as above.

Impromptu summer lunch salad

Hungry mid-day and don’t want to fuss much? Take what you have that is farm fresh and toss together a casual salad.  Here’s what went into today’s salad chez moi: chopped kale, chickpeas, artichoke hearts, raw summer squash, diced peppers.  If I had a red onion, I would have added that to the mix. But this is a no-stress lunch, so not to worry, I told myself.

I wasn’t in the mood for a sharp vinaigrette, so here’s what I did: I started with leftover extra mayonnaise/sour cream from potato salad. To that I added buttermilk and a bit of olive oil and salt.  Voila!

Canned items:  chickpeas, drained and rinsed, artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed, and soaked in olive oil (the oil I later added to creamy dressing, above)

Farmers market/CSA items:

yellow summer squash, sliced thin on mandoline

assorted sweet peppers, cut into large dice

Several leaves of lacinato kale, soaked, dried and chopped fine

YUM!

Summer lentil salad extravaganza

When you find yourself with lovely local lettuce in early summer, and perhaps some leftover grilled chicken, cook up some Puy lentils and assemble a main course salad, great for a crowd. Pomegranate molasses adds a new flavor element to sherry vinaigrette brightened with lemon zest and juice.

Ingredients:
Stewed puy lentils, chilled
Chicken or vegetable stock for cooking lentils
Sherry shallot vinaigrette with shallots macerated in apple cider vinegar, lemon zest & juice, walnut & olive oil, sugar and pomegranate molasses
Leftover chicken, sliced thick or hard boiled eggs or boiled chilled shrimp (omit cheese)
Canned artichoke hearts and bottled roasted peppers, drained and rinsed.
Toasted walnuts (1 c), broken up when cool.
Little turnips, carrots sliced on mandoline
fresh herbs, minced — parsley and chives, at a minimum

Directions:

Cook lentils: Sauté diced carrots, celery, shallot in large saucepan. Add 1 t cumin, crumbled, ground pepper, and less than 1 t dried thyme, crumbled. When done, stir in chopped garlic and cook for one minute.
Stir in 1-1/2 c puy lentils, picked over and rinsed. Turn up heat and add stock to more than cover. Bring to a simmer and cook at least partially covered 20-30 minutes until barely tender — don’t let get mushy. Drain and chill.
Toast 1 c. walnuts in 350 degree oven for 7-8 minutes until fragrant. Let cool, then break up a bit.
Heat olive oil in small sauce pan, add couple garlic cloves cut in half and cook for a couple minutes until slightly browned and aromatic. Remove from heat and let sit.
Drain and rinse artichoke hearts; put on towel and blot dry. Put in bowl and pour garlic oil over them, adding more oil as needed.
Make vinaigrette: minced shallot and apple cider vinegar to macerate 15+ minutes. Lemon zest, lemon juice, sherry vinegar, walnut oil, olive oil, dash sugar (or honey) and 1-2 t pomegranate molasses, S&P. Taste and adjust acid, salt and sweetness as needed. Using a lettuce leaf is a good method of tasting.
When lentils are cool (or brought to room temp if cooked in advance), toss liberally with vinaigrette. Salt as needed.
Mince fresh herbs such as parsley and chives. Mix into lentils with walnuts.
Wash and spin dry lettuce leaves.
Clean turnips and cut thinly on mandoline with carrots and parmesan, if using. Cover and refrigerate to wait for salad assembly.

Assembly:
Lay lettuce leaves around outside of platter. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Dump dressed lentils in center. Top with chicken, artichokes and peppers. Sprinkle on coarsely broken up turnips, etc.

Roasted corn off the cob

Sometimes it’s nice to have summer corn OFF the cob. My favorite way to do this is to sauté corn with olive oil, peppers and red onion, and then let a bit of garlic join the party near the end. Takes about 10-15 minutes tops to cook. Or you can pop in a hot oven on a sheet pan if it’s not 90 degrees.

That’s it.  The technique comes from White Dog Café cookbook, which has long been a favorite cookbook. Judy Wickes has you make a salsa with lime after the corn cooks, which is a very good idea, but I haven’t gone to that stage yet and have been happily mired in the eat after the first step stage. It’s good. Here’s her recipe: https://tinyurl.com/y8up78sl

Here’s a rough guide:

Remove kernels from corn cobs with a big sharp knife. Dice some nice peppers — a medium hot/sweet and a serrano or other hot pepper makes a nice balance. Or you can use also a red sweet pepper. Rough chop red onion. Mince a garlic clover.

Heat a pan, add olive oil, and corn, peppers and onion and cook at high temp for up to 10 minutes, stirring often. Altnernatively, heat the oven to 450 degrees, mix your corn, onion and peppers together with S&P in a bowl, and toss with a bit of olive oil, glob on some olive oil, dump in your corn, and roast for 10-15 minutes, adding in garlic a minute before it’s all cooked — or you can add the garlic when it comes out of the oven.  All good. Let sit until the rest of your dinner cooks, and enjoy! Corn may only marginally be considered a vegetable, but peppers, onion and garlic are high in the healthy scorecard, and hey, it’s all better than potato chips! Enjoy!

Sautéed chicken breasts, for a change

Let’s say you’ve got the boneless chicken breast sauté technique down, and you have worked it into your repetoire: Cook some vegetables, and then throw a chicken breast or three into a hot sauté pan, make a quick butter/lemon pan sauce and you’re done. Done that 10 times and over it.

Here’s a change of pace I discovered in Diana Henry’s brilliant chicken-all-ways cookbook A Bird in the Hand:  Chicken Breasts with Wild Mushroom sauce.  Here’s an exact recipe: https://tinyurl.com/yd3el7ar

But you will want to buy this book because it will bring chicken back into weeknight — and dinner party — rotation, in a very happy, and low-stress way.

Basically you soak some dried porcini or other wild mushrooms in boiling water for 15 minutes, Sauté some fresh mushrooms in butter — cremini is now my standard fresh mushroom — throw in the soaked dried mushrooms, add in the soaking liquid and some chicken stock, and reduce, and then add in some cream, and reduce again. Easy-peasy. You can make the sauce ahead of cooking the chicken and let it hang nearby while you cook the rest of your meal. Then when you’re ready, you sauté a chicken breast or three, and serve with the sauce. It is very, very delicious. Like the best mushroom bisque. Not too rich, and the soaking liquid adds a bass note/unami flavor. (You may be more of a lady than moi, and serve a delicate amount of sauce with chicken!)

Diana Henry has you serve the chicken and mushroom sauce over lentils, which seems to be a fine idea. But I didn’t take the time first go-round. I made a variation of White Dog Cafe’s roasted corn salsa since I had the first of the summer’s corn on hand.

 

Early summer salad — cauliflower

When Spring hits full-on and it’s time for some warm weather dinner (or lunch) salads, there’s still not much available in the northeast.  But there’s California cauliflower, so enjoy this!

Ingredients:

Cauliflower, 1 head
red onion, 1/2
shallot, 1
hot pepper, 1
red pepper, 1
carrots, 2-3
Artichoke hearts, 1 can (packed in water, not soybean, etc oil)
lemon juice
apple cider vinegar (I like Bragg’s)
olive oil
smoked paprika
Cayenne
Cumin
Optional: garbanzos; blanched green beans, chopped parsley
Grape tomatoes

Directions:

Prepare dressing:
Squeeze juice of one lemon, and strain into medium bowl.  Add cider vinegar, about 2-3 T.  Slice onion thinly and add to vinegar/lemon; chop shallot and mix in to macerate.

Put in large bowl: Rinse and cut cauliflower into florets. Wash peppers and dice.  Peel and cut carrots. Drain and rinse artichoke hearts; dry, cut into quarters or half and add to bowl. If using, drain and rinse canned garbanzos and add in.

Remove onions from lemon/cider and add to bowl with cauliflower.  Whisk into liquid:  dash of cayenne, bit more smoked paprika, and 1 t cumin.  Add S&P.  Whisk in olive oil, increasing liquid volume by 3.  Taste with carrot. Add grape tomatoes to individual servings (you won’t want to refrigerate tomatoes with leftovers).