Today was a good day. Sunny skies with big puffy clouds. A nice breeze. Lush mountains in the distance and dense forests out the back door.
I was barefoot in the grass and garden for the majority of the day. Usually, not this urban gal’s thing, but this week I am all about some country living! I woke without the rooster, thank god this farm has no chickens. Over coffee I read my favorite food blogs like MattBites, Chocolate&Zucchini, 101Cookbooks, DesignSponge, ApartmentTherapy and others. I NEVER get time to do this. Then a trail run with the dogs which adds a whole new dimension to exercise. Just think which muscles I have probably pulled dodging large tree limbs, stumps, false snakes (you know those sticks that move funny or that leaf that sways???), dog, dog, dog. I managed to stay on my feet but there were moments.
Mom asked me to go to lunch with her and some of her girlfriends. Ok, sure thing. Small town cafe – must have some good eats if not interesting ones. I had my hopes on seeing a homemade apple pie on the counter too 😉 Well, this was no NY lunch friends. Three hours later, four gallons of iced tea in my bladder and no apple pie, are all the ingredients for an almost grumpy Heather. We left soon thereafter when Mom caught my face and boy does she know that look. I am trying to slow down but doesn’t it take a few days?
Itching to get in the garden and then the kitchen, I made a beeline, once we were back on the farm. Ah. The garden is just prolific right now. Plump little watermelons, curvy zucchinis & squashes, grubby little new potatoes, heirloom tomatoes in sunshine yellow, fire engine red, big blood heart variety and tiny variegated green nugget ones – all looked up to meet me as I approached the gate. Then, the sweet peas lustily hanging on the vines winked, the green beans waved hello as the breeze blew and stunning eggplants turned their nose up at me in disdain knowing their color alone could bring me to tears. Herbs galore, every one you can name and then one more. Sun was shining, dogs were playing chase, black eyed susans were smiling at me and for a moment, just one, I felt really peaceful and totally in the moment. I was ready to cook!
I filled the big garden basket with everything that was ready for pickin’ and began to think about how to prepare them. I love doing this. I am usually at the grocery store daydreaming about how I want to prepare whatever just went head first into the buggy. I can lose two or three aisles lost in thought over whether a vegetable should a) hang out with other veggies b) be steamed or sauteed or baked c) get to keep its skin or not or d) end up at the bottom of the vegetable recipe chain – crudite!
Tonites Menu –
Squash Blossoms (Fiori di Zucca) – stuffed with a mixture of creme fraiche, ricotta & goats cheese with fresh basil & lemon thyme.
Squash Fritters (“Pittuliddre I’ Cucuzzieddri”) – with pistachio & panko crumbs & fresh herbs. Served with fresh basil pesto.
Seasonal Greens – dressed with an orange vinaigrette
Baby New Potatoes – Par Boiled, dressed in olive oil & chunky sea salt crystals, gently smashed and then broiled off til crunchy on outside, soft on inside 😉
Heirloom Tomatoe Salad with Garden Picked Red Onion, Basil & Fresh Pesto
Cheese Bread from the local market.
Squash Blossoms – “Fiori di Zucca” – one of my favorite summertime Italian recipes. So easy to make, so impressive and so rarely done. Go figure.
- Wash blossoms very quickly under a quick spray to remove any grit and then dry on a paper towel
- In a small bowl mix 1/2 cup ricotta, 1/4 cup creme fraiche and 1/4-1/2 cup of goat cheese, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh lemon thyme (regular is fine)
- Gently Gently Gently spoon 1 tablespoon of the room temperature mixture into each squash blossom. Then roll the leaves around the mixture so no gaps are present.
- Dust each blossom lightly in flour
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet until hot!
- Fry each blossom in the oil until golden brown on each side. Only flip once.
- Serve just as is. These are a great starter with a glass of Prosecco 🙂
Squash (or Zucchini) Fritters – “Pittuliddre I’ Cucuzzieddri” – Another great little summertime Italian number
- On the largest grating size, grate 1-4 squash, depending on their size. You want 2 cups of grated squash for approximately 8 -10 medium fitters.
- Put squash in a colander and let sit, stirring it a few times to drain out excess liquid
- In a mixing bowl add the squash, 1 egg, 1/2 cup finely chopped pistachios (almost dust-like), 1/2 cup panko Japanese breadcrumbs, freshly grated salt & pepper, 2 tablespoons of thyme or oregano or basil or a bit of all three. Mix well.
- Heat olive oil in a frying pan. When at medium heat and with very clean hands (guest prefer this oddly enough) form patties with the squash mixture and place in pan. Continue until pan is full but not crowded. Flip only once, giving each fritter about 4 minutes per side.
- Voila! Ici! I like them plain. But you can serve with pesto, fresh lemon or even an aioli.
The other dishes I think you can handle without a recipe, no?
Another big day on the farm tomorrow and another big night in the kitchen to follow. Eggplant is on the menu for sure and hmmm…maybe I will tackle some new recipe ideas for green beans, cause I am so over them.
Time to go sit on the back porch and rock for awhile with Sula at my feet, the crickets serenading, the stars twinkling and dancing, the night air lulling me to…that SLOWED down pace! In order that tomorrow I can sit through “country lunch” without having a city girl ants in pants episode. 😉
*Note – I couldn’t resist this note because well, it made me laugh thinking about it today when I saw the garden gate! My dad was full of “quips” that were supposed to impart some great lesson I guess. This was one of them –
“Don’t make love by the garden gate; Love is blind – but the Neighbors ‘Aint!”