All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

zucchini focaccia with fresh oregano leaves and cheddar

I have always been mystified by stories of runaway zucchini harvests.  Wouldn't you know it - I,  who love zucchini in all ways , have almost never had success with them.  Happily, this year my daughter has an amazing garden, and has been sharing her extras with me.  Including not only baby zukes, but a large (14 inches) but firm jumbo one.  I'm usually content to simmer thickly sliced zucchini with oregano until just tender, but this day I had a hankering for focaccia.  I made enough dough for three 8 inch rounds,  drizzled with olive oil, topped with sliced onions and matchsticks of zucchini, then topped it off with fresh oregano leaves and parmesan and sharp cheddar.  Something magical happened in the oven, because those were the best little focaccia I've ever made.

For the dough:

1 cup King Arthur whole wheat flour
1 cup King Arthur all purpose flour
1 T. fresh rosemary leaves, pulled off stems
1 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil 

Whisk yeast into warm water, then whisk in oil.

Mix the flour, rosemary leaves, and salt in a large bowl.

Make a well in the flour, pour in the water/oil/yeast mixture, and stir in a circle until dough comes together.  With the whole wheat flour, it may look a little dry, but it is silky after rising. Drizzle with a little more olive oil.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and put in a warm, draft free place, until it doubles in bulk - about an hour.

Make the topping - enough for 3 eight inch focaccia

handful of fresh oregano leaves
1 medium onion, peeled , cut in half lengthwise, then sliced thickly
olive oil
6 cups zucchini, sliced into medium matchsticks
3 cups coarsely grated sharp cheddar and parmesan cheeses
kosher salt and a sprinkle of dried basil and oregano just before baking
Set aside.

When dough has risen, punch it down and divide into three pieces.
Shape each piece into an eight inch disc.
Drizzle a large baking sheet with olive oil and place the rounds on the sheet, not too close.
Let sit in barely warm oven THAT HAS BEEN TURNED OFF until doubled - about half an hour.

Remove dough and set oven to 360F.

Dimple the focaccia with your fingertips and drizzle with a little olive oil.
Toss the onion slices, and sprinkle over the focaccias.
Add the zucchini, about 2 cups per focaccia, then the cheeses, and the oregano sprigs.
Sprinkle with the salt, basil, and oregano.

Bake for 20 minutes or so, or until dough is slightly golden but soft.
Remove to cool, then slice.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

fresh corn salad and the end of the summer

While bittersweet, I love this time of year.  End of the summer:  the heat of July gives way to cool evenings and the glorious bounty of gardens - bushels of zucchini, tomatoes, finally!,  fresh herbs, and sweet corn.  I visit my favorite lake before the frosty nights signal the beginning of autumn, and putter around in the kitchen early in the morning, happy to have the sweet corn and zucchini from my daughter's vegetable garden.  Suddenly, corn is everywhere, and when I found this recipe on Pinterest, I was intrigued.  

As usual, I substituted what I had on hand to what the recipe called for - and for me, that usually means what I can snip in my small herb and vegetable garden, as well as the odds and ends from farmer's market days.  The end result was a delightful and perky salad that works just as well as a side to the leftover chicken or steak from the grill, to standing nicely on its own.  Today I had it for lunch with cottage cheese, tomorrow, I'm thinking it would be a wonderful filling for a cheddar cheese omelet.  

First, the dressing.  I substituted local honey for the sugar:

In a bowl, mix:

1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons local honey
kosher salt and fresh pepper

Set aside.

For the salad, I used:

3 large ears of corn, shucked and cut from the cobs
3/4 cup sliced fresh scallions
1 large peeled and seeded cucumber, diced
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup sliced greens:  I used spinach, sorrel, and celery leaves - I had no arugula but next time will definitely use it.  Mushrooms would be delicious as well.
1 + cup sliced herbs - I used basil, mint, parsley

Place the vegetables and herbs in a large bowl, pour over the dressing, toss and serve.

Update:  I found just a few tablespoons of dressing were plenty on this salad - it's very tart.

Enjoy the last days of August!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

cantaloupe soup with raw beet salad

Last week I was delighted to visit our local library for friend and neighbor Hillary Davis' book signing for her gorgeous, gorgeous new cookbook, Cuisine Nicoise.  I'm so overcome by the recipes and the beautiful photographs - (and the history of her small town near Nice) - that the thought of a review overwhelms me.  The evening was warm, and she handed out glasses of a very pretty but unidentified chilled soup as we settled in our seats.

I thought it might be cantaloupe, but the rosy spoonful of garnish on top was a mystery.  I sipped and chewed, thinking perhaps it was raw cranberry.  Whatever it was, it was tart and delicious.  Later during her talk she identified it as a grated raw beet salad, sweet and sour at the same time, traditionally stirred into the cantaloupe and silky olive oil puree.  Since that night, I'd been longing to make it and finally made it today.

It's a very easy recipe, and perfect for warm weather - whether a light supper or cocktail party appetizers - or, come to think of it, a picnic lunch on the beach.

La Soupe de Melon avec une salade de Betteraves Crues

This makes 4 servings.

1 medium beet, peeled
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided in half
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/4 t. kosher salt

Coarsely grate the beet on a box grater set in a large bowl.

In another small bowl, whisk the 2 tablespoons olive oil, the vinegar, and the salt.  Pour over the beets and toss, then set aside.

4 cups peeled fresh cantaloupe, sliced or cut into chunks
1 cup water
4 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Place the cantaloupe, water, sugar, salt, and olive oil in a blender and puree until smooth.  The olive oil adds a silkiness to the fruit puree that makes it far more interesting than a smoothie.

Pour the soup into 4 glasses or bowls, topping with a tablespoon of the beet relish.  I served the rest of the beets in a small bowl for second helpings.  

Enjoy the last of your August days!  The sound of the crickets has changed, the goldenrod is blooming brightly, and I saw the first pale turnings of leaves on a very tall maple today.  Too soon!

Friday, August 9, 2013

buttermilk pancakes with chunky peach sauce

Maybe it was because we finally had a few cool mornings and evenings, or perhaps it was that little bowl of peaches sitting on the counter that had me wake up with a lust for buttermilk pancakes with peaches.  I couldn't ignore that longing for more than 24 hours, so hungry I was for that first forkful.  So here they are:  puffy plump pancakes and a mouthful of juicy peaches with a spoonful or two of our glorious local honey.

Buttermilk Pancakes:

Makes six small pancakes.

1 cup King Arthur flour
pinch of kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of nutmeg, or a few scrapings on a grater
1 tablespoon mild olive oil or melted butter
1 large egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons water

Mix the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, and nutmeg in a bowl.

Add the egg, buttermilk, oil or butter, and water to the dry ingredients and whisk until blended.  Use one small ladleful for each 4 inch pancake.

Cook pancakes on medium, using a mild oil or melted butter.  They cook quickly, and are very fluffy, so keep your eye on them.


Chunky Peach sauce:

You'll need enough peaches to make at least one cup of mashed pulp.  First, dip the peaches into a pot of boiling water, leave for a few minutes, then spoon them out.  When cooled, the skins will pull right off.  

In a small pot place:

1 cup or more mashed or diced peaches
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons sugar
a quick squeeze of half a lemon

Simmer gently until slightly thickened, then spoon onto pancakes, and drizzle a little honey over the peaches and pancakes. 

Happy eating!