Zucchini Fritters

This recipe came directly from Smitten Kitchen (another wordpress site) and strangely enough (for me) I didn’t change it!

Zucchini Fritters 2

Crispy craggy bits of zucchini are a great contrast to the creamy aioli dip.

 

1 pound (about 2 medium) zucchini
1 teaspoon coarse or Kosher salt, plus extra to taste
2 scallions, split lengthwise and sliced thin
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Olive or another oil of your choice, for frying

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Have a baking sheet ready.

Trim ends off zucchini and grate them either on the large holes of a box grater or, if you have one, using the shredding blade of a food processor. The latter is my favorite as I’m convinced it creates the coarsest and most rope-like strands and frankly, I like my fritters to look like mops.

Zucchini fritters 3

In a large bowl, toss zucchini with 1 teaspoon coarse salt and set aside for 10 minutes. Wring out the zucchini in one of the following ways: pressing it against the holes of a colander with a wooden spoon to extract the water, squeezing out small handfuls at a time, or wrapping it up in a clean dishtowel or piece of cheese cloth and wringing away. You’ll be shocked (I was!) by the amount of liquid you’ll lose, but this is a good thing as it will save the fritters from sogginess.

Return deflated mass of zucchini shreds to bowl. Taste and if you think it could benefit from more salt (most rinses down the drain), add a little bit more; we found 1/4 teaspoon more just right. Stir in scallions, egg and some freshly ground black pepper. In a tiny dish, stir together flour and baking powder, then stir the mixture into the zucchini batter.

In a large heavy skillet — cast iron is dreamy here — heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Drop small bunches of the zucchini mixture onto the skillet only a few at a time so they don’t become crowded and lightly nudge them flatter with the back of your spatula. Cook the fritters over moderately high heat until the edges underneath are golden, about 3 to 4 minutes. If you find this happening too quickly, reduce the heat to medium. Flip the fritters and fry them on the other side until browned underneath again, about 2 to 3 minutes more. Drain briefly on paper towels then transfer to baking sheet and then into the warm oven until needed. Repeat process, keeping the pan well-oiled, with remaining batter. I like to make sure that the fritters have at least 10 minutes in the oven to finish setting and getting extra crisp.

Zucchini Fritters 1

Creamy Lemon Aioli

  • 1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp minced basil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Blend it all together, and allow to sit in the fridge until fritters are ready.

Classic Mac …… & cheese

Meals on wheels Mac

Creamy cheesy elbow macaroni hiding under a crispy crackly coating of panko.

Classic macaroni and cheese is one of those comforting dishes for a cool night.  I like to serve this with either cubed ham baked right in with the pasta, or alongside crispy chicken tenders.  Kids love it either way!

I’ve done recipes with the pasta cooked right in with the sauce in the oven; they are great, quick and easy.  But for comfort food, creamy and delicious, it is classic all the way.

You can use skim or whole milk in this recipe, either works just fine.  We used gluten free elbow pasta and it also works just great.

BREAD CRUMB TOPPING

  • 3/4 cup panko crumbs
  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning

Stir crumbs & seasoning into butter until well coated.  Set aside.

MACARONI & CHEESE

  • 1 tbsp (plus 1 tsp table salt)
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 6 tbsp unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • splash Worcestershire sauce
  • 5 cups milk
  • 5 cups shredded cheese, sharp or old cheddar works best

Grease a 9×13 baking dish

Preheat oven to 350

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 tbsp salt and the macaroni noodles.  Boil until just al dente and strain immediately.

Bechamel

Classic béchamel sauce ….. stir, stir, stir until it is creamy and smooth – so easy to turn into delicious cheese sauce for vegetables or this macaroni and cheese bake.

In the now empty saucepan, melt the butter, and stir in the flour, mustard, cayenne and remaining 1 tsp salt.  Whisk until mixture becomes fragrant and slightly deepens in colour, just around 1 minute.  Gradually add milk, drop in a splash of worcestershire, and keep whisking well so you don’t get any lumps and the milky mixture doesn’t stick to the pan.  Allow to come to a full boil in order for the thickening action to get going.  Reduce heat and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally until mixture has thickened and is the consistency of a thick cream.  Remove from heat, stir well and then add cheese.  Once cheese has been fully incorporated, add the macaroni noodles and combine it well.  (If you are adding ham cubes this is the time to do it)  Give the mixture a generous grind of fresh black pepper, to taste. (my grandkids aren’t crazy about pepper, so when it is for them, I’m lightly seasoning the pasta)

Mac & Cheese

Turn mixture into prepared baking dish and lightly cover with the panko crumb mixture.

Oven ready Mac

Ready for the oven, this classic dish will soon be crispy on top and creamy underneath.

Bake, just until you see the cheese mixture bubbling and the topping has browned.

Remove from oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Grilled Shrimp and Cauliflower with Romesco Dipping Sauce

Cauliflower & Shrimp with Romescu
The first thing you need to know is that this sauce is A M A Z I N G.  Put it on your sandwich, toss hot pasta with it, fresh veggie dip or meat skewer dip …. it wins every time.  Today’s appetizer included these grilled cauliflower florets, lightly marinated shrimp and green onions.

Ingredients for Romesco

1 1/2 CUPS SERVINGS

  • 1 large roasted red bell pepper from a jar
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup tomato purée
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Pulse first 8 ingredients in a food processor until very finely chopped. With motor running, slowly add oil; process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Romesco can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill.

romescu

To use as a dipping sauce, heat through until easy to stir and warm.

 

Shrimp and Vegetables

  • 1 head of cauliflower – cut into florets
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 lb jumbo shrimp – tails and shells on
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 bunch green onions

Lightly steam cauliflower until just tender crisp – be careful not too overcook it.

Season with salt.

In a large bowl, toss shrimp with vegetable oil and lime juice.  Allow to sit for 20-30 minutes.

Grill cauliflower, shrimp and green onions just until heated through (and shrimp is fully cooked) – try to get some pretty grill marks on there!

Arrange on a serving platter with the Romesco and dip merrily away.

 

 

Lamb Meatballs with Tomato Olive Sauce and Mint

lamb meatballs

 

These meatballs are tender and delicious – the sauce is rich and that mint sauce is a perfect taste to brighten it all up. If you aren’t a big fan of lamb, then use minced pork.

You could buy lamb merguez sausage to make these meatballs, but if that isn’t available to you, this is an easy fix and tastes amazing.

1 pound lean ground lamb

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp turmeric

3 cloves minced garlic

2 tbsp harissa

1 tbsp tomato sauce

Grind salt and fennel together until smooth, then add the rest of the spices and stir together.  Add in garlic, harissa and tomato sauce to make a paste.  Lightly toss paste with ground lamb, until well blended.

For the best flavour, allow to sit over night but they are great if made into meatballs right away too.

Form balls about 1″ in diameter.  Heat oil until shimmering, then cook meatballs until just crispy on the outside and

 

Meanwhile ….. on roasting pan in moderate oven (375) toss in olive oil:

3 tomatoes, chopped

1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves

1/2 cup black olives

 

Roast until vegetables are tender, and blend with enough olive oil to make a smooth sauce.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Toss meatballs with tomato sauce and serve with mint sauce.

Mint Sauce

Blend fresh mint leaves with a drizzle of honey, freshly squeezed lemon and olive oil just until smooth – season to taste with salt.

Beef Short Ribs in Cinnamon Red Wine Curry

Be prepared for the whole house to smell amazing for a couple of days after you prepare this specialty. I particularly love it in the fall or winter when it also seems to help warm the house….

Don’t be alarmed by what may look like a lengthy list of ingredients, most are items in the pantry anyway, and if not – try out something new and find more ways to use it.

Topped with fresh, fragrant cilantro this rich curry will make you feel like a super star.

Topped with fresh, fragrant cilantro this rich curry will make you feel like a super star.

2 tbsp ghee (or butter (ghee is clarified butter)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp cumin seeds
2 large onions, finely diced (you should get about 2 cups)
10 cloves garlic (yes, really)
1 cup pureed fresh tomatoes (in the winter feel free to use canned)
1 tsp ground fenugreek seeds
1 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tbsp mexican chili powder
1 whole piece cinnamon bark (about 3″ long)
5 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup red wine (make sure to use one you would be happy to drink!)
2 1/2 pounds beef short ribs

Use a large pot for this, with a heavy bottom.

Melt ghee or butter on medium heat. Once melted add oil and cumin seeds. Let seeds sizzle for about 30 seconds, then add onions. (Your house smells amazing already, doesn’t it?)

Take your time with the onions – part of the rich flavour in this dish is from allowing the onions to get nice and browned, slowly. Once they are a rich gold colour add the garlic and sauté until the garlic is a golden brown also. The longer the onions spend slowly getting dark the more rich flavour the curry will have.

Take your time and allow these onions to deepen in colour and caramelize enough to bring out their sweetness.

Take your time and allow these onions to deepen in colour and caramelize enough to bring out their sweetness.

Reduce the heat to low and add tomatoes, fenugreek, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, chili and cinnamon bark. Stir well and slowly increase heat to medium. Allow to cook until the ghee starts to separate from the tomato mixture (you will notice pockets of clear liquid on top).

While your onions are happily cooking, organize the rest of the ingredients so that you are ready to add them all at once - makes everything so much easier.

While your onions are happily cooking, organize the rest of the ingredients so that you are ready to add them all at once – makes everything so much easier.

Stir in red wine and chicken stock – bring to a boil. Allow to cook, stirring enough so that it doesn’t stick, until once again the ghee separates from the mixture.

Add short ribs, stir, cover and allow to simmer for about 4 hours.

NOTE – the cinnamon is meant to be subtle in this recipe … just a hint of it. While it is cooking, if you notice a strong cinnamon scent, remove it from curry, it has done the job.

At this point, I have also put the curry into the oven and just forgot about it for that time, while the house simply became more inviting …

Professional chefs and equipment probably get this ready for the simmer in 20-30 minutes, but it always takes me an hour to develop that colour in the onions and complete the prep stage.

Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and serve with basmati rice. A perfect dish to accompany this? My roasted tandoori cauliflower with mint & cilantro sauce.

For an impressive presentation, roast the cauliflower whole with the cilantro & mint sauce to serve.  If you want the cauliflower to roast quicker, and really just want to get it on the table, simply cut cauliflower into florets and roast.  Florets may take about 20-30 minutes to roast depending on the size.  Only cook them long enough to be fork tender.

For an impressive presentation, roast the cauliflower whole with the cilantro & mint sauce to serve. If you want the cauliflower to roast quicker, and really just want to get it on the table, simply cut cauliflower into florets and roast. Florets may take about 20-30 minutes to roast depending on the size. Only cook them long enough to be fork tender.

This curry is beyond delicious. If you want to make it a vegetarian dish it is easy enough to do – use all vegetable oil to sauté the onions and replace chicken stock with vegetable stock. When it comes time to nestle the short ribs into the stock just substitute ribs with any of your favourite vegetables. If you are using root vegetables that take a long time to cook go ahead and put them into the curry early. If using vegetables that take less time, put them in the curry closer to the end of the cooking time.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

We have a smoker, so when time and weather permits, we love to do a pork butt roast in the smoker – but let’s be honest, that doesn’t always work. The whole point of a slow cooker is simplicity, and being able to walk away ….. This recipe allows you to do just that, and still enjoy amazing pulled pork flavour.

  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4-5 pound pork butt roast
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar or molasses
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 3″ piece cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce
  • In slow cooker, place sliced onions and garlic.

If the mixture needs to be thinned out a bit, add 1/2 cup of chicken stock.

Combine the dry ingredients, and give the pork a massage with the seasonings .. after all, it isn’t called a rub for nothing!
(If you want to make things really easy in the morning, rub the pork up the night before and allow those seasonings to penetrate the pork)

Place seasoned pork on top of the onion garlic mixture. Stir soy sauce, vinegar, barbecue together (add chicken stock if it needs it) and pour over pork.

Allow pork to cook on high (6-8 hours) or low (8-10 hours). Remove from cooker, and allow to rest.

Use immersion blender and create sauce out of mixture in cooker – reduce to about half.

Shred pork with 2 forks, and return both pork and sauce to cooker.

Serve on fresh buns with a bit of crunchy cole slaw.

I will update with a photo next time I make this …. with our crowd, before I knew it, the serving was happening and there was no opportunity to take that shot!

Phyllo Wrapped Halibut with Lemon Scallion Sauce

A little bit fussy to prep, but once you try wrapping a few of the halibut fillets, the rest will be easy to complete. Well worth it and super impressive to serve. Our good friend Jean came up with this, and we helped her do it for her own 40th wedding anniversary celebrations.

Ready for a party, these little phyllo packages are sprinkled with chives, fresh dill and an extra little drizzle of the lemon sauce.

Ready for a party, these little phyllo packages are sprinkled with chives, fresh dill and an extra little drizzle of the lemon sauce.

To serve 4:

4 tbsp butter
8 sheets phyllo dough
4 (5 oz) halibut fillets
4 tsp chopped fresh dill
6 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup whipping cream
4 green onions, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 425

Separate the phyllo – it will take 4 sheets total for every 2 halibut fillets. Lightly butter 1 sheet phyllo dough. Lay another sheet directly on top of the first sheet and lightly butter it. Repeat with remaining 2 sheets of phyllo. Cut sheets in half.

Season halibut with salt and pepper. Place each fillet near the bottom edge of one of the halved sheets – sprinkle with dill. Fold in the sides of the phyllo, then roll the fillet.

Place on baking sheet, lightly brushing with more butter.

Ready for the oven, these little fillets are going to be so moist inside, crispy and crunchy outside.

Ready for the oven, these little fillets are going to be so moist inside, crispy and crunchy outside.


Bake in preheated oven until pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.

While the fillets are baking:

In a small saucepan, bring lemon juice to a boil over high heat. Boil until almost evaporated. Reduce heat to medium and stir in cream. simmer until the cream thickens somewhat. Stir in green onions and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve halibut on a pool of the sauce. Garnish with more fresh dill.