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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Caramelized Onions

The interesting part of this time of year is the availability of sweet onions at every farmers market, not to mention Vidalia onions at the grocery store. Now, in general, I am not an onion person. I cannot eat raw onions at all. I try, but it just makes me sick. But if you take a sweet onion and cook it long and slow over low heat, it becomes food candy. I adore caramelized onions and am especially fond of balsamic caramelized onions.

Yedterday, I woke up at 4:30 am and couldn't get back to sleep. I needed to make some breakfast for the week so I could get back on track after our vacation. I knew I didn't have a lot in my kitchen to work with, but I did remember I had a large sweet onion. While I didn't have bacon, I did have ham, so I decided to make a modified quiche lorainne.

Ham Quiche with Balsamic Onions

1 large candy onion*
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1-2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
6 thin slices smoked ham
6 large eggs**
1 1/2 cups milk
2 oz asiago/fontina cheese blend
Salt and pepper, go taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Thinly and evenly slice the onion. Heat oil over medium heat. Add onions ND cook, stirring until the onions become translucent. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking, stirring occassionally, until onions begin to turn golden brown. Cook, stirring frequently, until desired the last couple minutes, add balsamic vinegar and finish cooking. This step deglazes the pan.

Chop the ham to small pieces (about 1/4 - inch dice). Add ham to the onions an cook until heated. Take this mixture ND place in the prepared baking dish.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs until smooth. Continue beating as you slowly add the milk. The result should be a very smooth pale yellow. Season with salt and pepper. Pour eggs mixture over onion mixture and sprinkle with cheese. Note, when using strong cheeses, you need less, otherwise, they will overwhelm the other flavors.

Bake at 350 about 40-45 minutes until top is golden brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to set 5 minutes before serving. Makes 8 servings.

Note: I am in the habit of making crust less quiches. But I always regret not putting quiches like this in a crust. The savory crust is a nice contrast to the sweet onions. Consider using a crust for this recipe.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

More Zucchini

After I thought I had processed all of my zucchini and squash this weekend, I found a few more in my shopping bag from last week's farmers market run.  So, I was looking for something different to do with them.  I ran across a recipe for zucchini cornbread.  Figured it was worth trying.  While it turned out tasty, I think I would like to find another recipe as this one was a little greasy because of the brown butter.  But it was good and if you are a brown butter type of person, I am sure you'd like it!

Zucchini Cornbread
Adapted from:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter plus more for pan
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten**
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (I made a substitute: 1/2 tsp lemon juice in milk to 1/2 cup)
  • 1 large yellow zucchini* (about 10 ounces)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup medium-grind cornmeal

  1. Position a rack in the middle of oven and preheat to 350°. Butter a 9 x 5 x 3" loaf pan.
  2. Melt 1/2 cup butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Continue cooking until butter solids at bottom of pan turn golden brown, about 3 minutes. Scrape butter into a medium bowl. Set aside and let cool. Whisk in eggs and buttermilk.
  3. Trim zucchini ends. Thinly slice five 1/8" rounds from 1 end of zucchini and reserve for garnish. Coarsely grate remaining zucchini. Add to bowl with butter mixture and stir until well blended.
  4. Sift both flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda into a large bowl. Whisk in cornmeal. Add zucchini mixture; fold just to blend (mixture will be very thick). Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth top. Place reserved zucchini slices atop batter down center in a single layer.
  5. Bake bread until golden and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, 55-65 minutes. Let cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan; let cool completely on a wire rack. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.
 *farmers market ingredients
**CSA ingredients


Zucchini Quiche

I processed a lot of zucchini this weekend because I wanted to make at least another batch of the zucchini taco shells and freeze them to see how they hold up.  If they do well, I will stock up for the winter.  They are so yummy. 

Of course, the trouble with processing a lot of zucchini (grated), is that you often end up with extra.  I froze several 1-cup portions to use during the winter, but saved a couple portions out thinking I would do something with it this week.  While I was looking for recipes, I realized that I needed to make another quiche for this week's breakfasts.  I also had thawed a package of imitation crab and thought that would be a nice combination.  The interesting thing about this quiche is that the texture turned out similar to a frittata made with pasta.  I was really surprised.

Zucchini and Crab Quiche
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini*
  • 8 oz imitation crab, shredded
  • 1/2 cup asiago/fontina cheese, shredded
  • 6 large eggs**
  • 1 1/2 cups 1% milk
  • 1/2 cup cheddar jack
  • salt, pepper and dried basil, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix shredded zucchini, crab and asiago/fontina cheese in bottom of baking dishIn a medium bowl, whisk eggs with milk and seasonings.  Pour over the fillings and then sprinkle with cheddar jack cheese.  Bake 45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.  Allow to set for 5 minutes before serving.

*farmers market ingredients
**CSA ingredients

Eggplant and Spaghetti Squash

I am getting behind on posting recipes.  This weekend, I picked up a couple small eggplant and had picked up a spaghetti squash a couple weeks ago.  While I was thinking about what to make with the eggplant, I realized it has been quite a while since I have made one of my favorite Sicilian dishes, Pasta a la Norma.  This is a spaghetti dish with a basic tomato sauce topped with fried eggplant and then finally grated ricotta salata.  The ricotta salata makes the dish rich and beautiful.  I learned about the dish from our Italian postdoctoral fellow, Alessia Meneghin, when I was in grad school.  For many reasons, I haven't really made it over the last few years. Since it is low in protein, it has to be relegated to a side dish for me now (since the gastric surgery).  Also, pasta is hard for me since the surgery.  But since I had the spaghetti squash, I decided to make it with that as a substitute for the pasta.  And since I had also picked up a bunch of Roma tomatoes at the farmers market, I decided to make a slow-roasted tomato sauce instead of my traditional stove-top sauce.  What resulted was so yummy, I can't wait to make it again!

Low-Carb "Pasta" a la Norma
Adapted from:

  • 8 ripe Roma tomatoes*
  • olive oil 
  • dried basil
  • garlic powder
  • 2 small eggplant*
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • medium spaghetti squash*
  • 2 oz ricotta salata, finely grated 
 Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Prepare a large baking sheet by lining with foil.  Wash tomatoes and cut in half.  Arrange on baking sheet and drizzle (or use an oil sprayer) tomatoes with olive oil.  Sprinkle with dried basil.  Roast for 30 minutes at 275.  Stir and roast another 30 minutes.  Reduce heat to 225.  Sprinkle with garlic powder and roast at 225 for another hour.  If the tomato halves look like they are drying out, remove them from the heat. Place the tomato halves into a blender and puree.  Season as needed with salt & pepper.

While the tomatoes are roasting, cut eggplants in half.  Heat oil over medium-high heat and cook eggplant pieces until nicely browned (oil should bubble the whole time).  Remove from heat and cool.  When cool enough to handle, slice eggplant.  Set aside.

 Raise temperature in oven to 400 degrees.  Cut spaghetti squash in half and remove seeds.  Season with salt and pepper. Place cut side down onto a prepared baking sheet.  Roast for 40 minutes or until you can easily pierce with a fork.  Allow to cool until easily handled and then pull the flesh into strands with a fork.

To assemble: put spaghetti squash onto a plate.  Spoon sauce over "noodles" and then top with eggplant.  Finally, sprinkle with ricotta salata.  

*farmers market ingredients 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Soft taco shells

One of the problems that cones with weight loss surgery is the fact that carbs, which expand after you eat them, take too much room in your stomach, making you uncomfortable and not leaving enough room for the protein you need to eat. I have found that I can substitute for pasta and rice. Spaghetti squash or spiralized vegetables make great substitutes for spaghetti. Quinoa is the best replacement for rice. But I continue to want things like tacos and manicotti. The trouble is, even corn tortillas can be a bit of trouble (although they are better than flour tortillas). As I was searching for recipes yesterday, I found a recipe for Zucchini "soft" taco shells. Since I had a couple summer squash left over, I decided to give them a try this morning. I mean, I see these recipes for cauliflower pizza crust, etc. all the time. But ricing  the cauliflower just seems like work to me. Shredding squash, on the other hand is relatively easy. Well, the turned out fabulous! I will definitely be doing this again!

Zucchini "Soft" Taco Shells

Adapted from:

4 cups zucchini*, coarsely grated
1 large egg*
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 Cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove as much moisture from the zucchini as possible. Mix in remaining ingredients. Cover baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop about 1/4 Cup mixture onto parchment and press into a thin circle, about 5" wide.  Repeat for remainder of mixture. Bake about 20 minutes or until shells look "crisp" and brown around the edges. After the shells have cooled, peel them from the parchment.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Blueberries and Peaches

I love summer! I love being able to get fresh fruits and vegetables in such great combinations. Today, I had peaches and blueberries and crisp just sounded good. So here is my take on crisp with fresh pit fruit and berries!

Peach and Blueberry Crisp

4 small freestone peaches*
1 cup fresh MI blueberries*
1/4 Cup raw honey (from Bob's hives)
1/4 Cup fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup almond flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 Cup light brown sugar
1/4 Cup coconut oil, melted

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Slice the peaches and combine with the blueberries, honey, lemon juice and cornstarch. Pour fruit mixture into a prepared 9-inch pie pan.

In a medium bowl, combine the oats, almond flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Melt the coconut oil and pour over the dry ingredients. Mix until crumbly. Sprinkle oat mixture over fruit.

Bake for approximately 40 minutes. Allow to stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Zucchini and Corn

I needed a recipe for my sister's picnic tomorrow and wanted a fresh side to take advantage of the fresh produce at the farmers market. Not sure exactly how I ended up looking at recipes with zucchini and corn, but I ran across this recipe with lime to brighten the flavors. And, I found some really pretty limes at the market this morning to keep it really fresh.

A good chef always tastes their recipes, right? I did, just to make sure the flavors balanced. I love this dish! I will have to file this recipe away! It ranks right up there with ratatouille in my book.

Parmesan Zucchini and Corn
Adapted from:

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 cloves garlic*, minced
8 medium zucchini*
2 cups fresh corn kernels*
1/2 tsp oregano, dried
1/2 tsp basil, dried
1/4 tsp thyme, dried
Salt and pepper, to taste
Juice of 2 limes
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan, or to taste

Chop the zucchini. Cut kernels from cobs. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for one minute or until fragrent. Add zucchini, corn, oregano, basil and thyme. Cook, stirring occassionally, until zucchini is tender and cooked through. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in lime juice and cilantro. Serve immediately with Parmesan cheese.